Today’s business world is undeniably getting more challenging, particularly when it comes to money matters. Whether you are starting out a new venture or already running a business, financial hurdles are sure to pop up along the way. That’s a façt. With the ever-changing status of the economy, it’s inevitable for many businesses to face a financial crunch. At one point or another, you are likely to need financial assistance to keep the company running smoothly. Fortunately, there are tons of business loans available for entrepreneurs to help with their business growth needs. However, finding the right one can be quite tricky.
Pick the wrong choice, and you could end up with a business loan that puts your company in serious debt. If your business is in need of extra capital, consider this information that will help you choose the right business loan.
What Is A Business Loan?
In a nutshell, a business loan is borrowed capital intended explicitly for business purposes. It comes with either a fixed or variable interest rate, according to the terms and conditions. Many entrepreneurs turn to business loans to financially support various aspects of their ventures. It can be utilized as additional working capital — from purchasing equipment and maintaining inventory to paying staff salary.
Who Is Eligible For A Business Loan?
Not all entrepreneurs are qualified to apply for a business loan. Lenders tend to look at three critical elements in considering which ones are eligible for such credit. These include the following:
- A business owner with a good personal credit score. Most lenders consider the business owner’s personal credit score in determining whether they should be approved of a loan or not. Your own credit history reflects how well you handle your finances, thus convincing lenders that you are worthy of their trust. Typically, lenders set a minimum personal credit score before approving a loan. That being said, it is essential to maintain a good credit standing to increase your chances of acquiring financial assistance for your venture. Tip: If you structure a business the right way, you can get business credit without a personal guarantee.
- A business owner with an established business. Another factor that makes an entrepreneur eligible for a business loan is the business’ age. Obviously, a company that has been running for quite a while tends to be more established than newer ones. They are also likely to stay in business longer and know their way around the industry. Most lenders prefer a venture that has been in operation for at least two years and maintains an excellent overall performance. However, it is worth noting that even though your business reached the minimum age, other factors can still affect your eligibility, such as profit and success history. Lenders might consider this a high risk business loan and charge higher interest rates.
- A business owner with consistent business revenue. It’s common knowledge that business with good revenue is more than likely to have an excellent reputation in the business world. Not only it shows how successful and stable your venture is but also your financial capability. This is another deciding factor for lenders when trying to determine whether you are qualified for a loan or not. Typically, they will take a good look at your revenue within a given period, either annually or monthly. Once they know how much money your venture is making, they can evaluate whether you are capable of paying back a loan on time or not.Bad Credit – Just because you have bad credit doesn’t mean lenders won’t give you a guaranteed loan. They will. It’s just a matter of finding the right lender and right type of loan. In most cases, you’ll need some type of collateral to give the lender. Don’t take the first loan a lender offers. Thoroughly research lenders, APR, disclosures and payment terms.
Tips on Choosing the Right Business Loans
Choosing the right business loan can be quite challenging. With tons of lenders out there, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the choices. However, obtaining a business loan doesn’t have to be complicated, especially if you know your way around the entire process. Check out some of the factors you have to consider in choosing the right business loan.
Get Your Business Documents Ready
Before applying for a business loan, it would be best to get all your documents and paperwork in order. This will make it easier for lenders to determine whether you are qualified for approval or not. Documents and historical information such as your business’ federal tax ID, social security number, bank statements, processing statements, gross revenues and other legal documents must be ready any time the lender asks for it. Being transparent about the state of your business can make the application process more seamless as well.
Know What Type Of Loan Suits Your Needs
It is also essential to understand the type of loan the works best for you. Some business owners tend to apply for credit that doesn’t actually fit them, thus ending up with a prolonged process or even getting denied. Knowing which specific loan suits your needs can also cut down your waiting time for approval. Aside from the type of loan, it is also important to determine how much money you’ll need to borrow. While applying for a bigger loan can be tempting, it can also negatively affect your business, especially if not utilized properly.
Seek Help From Experts
When applying for a business loan, it wouldn’t hurt to ask for help from professionals who understand the industry better. Although you can do your own research about these loans, it’s still best to get advice from experts who have years of actual experience with business loans. Be sure to look for someone with expertise on business loans. It will be better to find an expert who knows his way around various funding options. That way, you will have a clearer picture of what to expect when applying for a particular business loan.
Maintain Good Credit
The importance of having good credit cannot be stressed enough when it comes to applying for a business loan. As a business owner, your reputation largely depends on your credit score. That being said, it is essential to maintain good credit as much as possible. To do this, be sure to pay your bills on time and do your best to avoid foreclosures, bankruptcies, and charge-offs. You should also apply for a loan one at a time. Applying for too much credit at once can do serious damage to your credit score, so don’t go crazy applying for every business loan you come across. Do your homework, plain and simple.
Demonstrate Sufficient Cash Flow In The Business
Most lenders tend to look at the cash flow of your business. They want to see whether your venture is capable of earning sufficient money to make your monthly loan payments. They might also check your past tax returns and existing debt if there’s any. If your business is relatively new, it’ll be an advantage if you can provide a clear financial business plan that will detail how you will be able to settle your monthly loan payments on time.
Why Apply For A Business Loan
As a business grows, its needs change dramatically as well. To keep up with the demand, business owners must shell out a considerable amount of money. Unfortunately, not everyone is financially capable of doing it. That is when business loans come in handy.
Expansion Of Business
If your business is booming, chances are, you are ready to expand and make significant changes. Whether you plan to move to a new location or add a branch, the up-front cost will definitely affect your funds. Luckily, plenty of lenders can offer monetary support, given that you qualify for it. However, there are several factors you have to consider first before applying for one. For instance, you have to measure the potential change in revenue that comes along with expanding your business. It’s important to know whether your income will be enough to cover your loan payment and recover from all your expenses in a few years time.
Building Good Credit For The Future
If you’re just starting out in the business world and planning to apply for larger-scale financing, you might want to start building your business credit now. To do this, you can begin with a smaller, short-term loan. However, it is a must to make regular and on time payments to improve your credit score over time. It is also an excellent opportunity to build a good relationship with a specific lender, which can give you the connection needed for that bigger loan in the future.
Purchasing new equipment for your business comes with a price. In some cases, business owners find it challenging to set aside a budget for such purposes, especially if the business itself is not doing so good. Fortunately, you can take out a loan, which you can use to buy or upgrade your business’ equipment. Such equipment can even be used as collateral for the loan, increasing your chances of being approved. But before taking out a loan, it is important to determine which equipment you need the most and which ones are unnecessary. This will help you save a lot of money.
Types Of Business Loans
Regardless of the size of your business, there are different types of loans that suit your needs. These loans have different qualification requirements, rates, and terms. Check out some of the most common types of business loans below:
Business Line of Credit
It’s one of the most well-known types of loans, especially for small business owners. A business line-of-credit is where the bank lends you a specific amount of money, extending the funds of your business. It is worth noting though that these loans are intended to purchase inventory and covering operating costs. It is not meant to be used for buying equipment or real estate. Typically, a bank transfers an amount to a business’ account, which they can use to cover their expenses. The business will then have to pay interest on the actual amount advanced from the time it was used until it’s paid back. Since they are considered as fairly low-risk, line-of-credit loans tend to have a low-interest rate compared to others.
Business Installment Loans
Another useful type of business capital is the installment loan. Business owners under this loan are required to pay back equal monthly payments covering both the capital and interest. Unlike the line-of-credit, business installment loans can be used on all types of business needs. Once you sign the contract, you can immediately receive the full amount and utilize it for your venture. Its interest rate will be calculated from the date you acquired the funds to the final day of the loan. Typically, for businesses, such a loan may last from one to seven years, with an installment plan of either quarterly, half-yearly, or annually.
Business Balloon Loans
This type of credit is almost similar to installment loans. When you have a business balloon loan, you can receive the full amount once the contract is signed. However, only the interest is required to be paid off during the duration of the loan. The principal, on the other hand, must be settled with a “balloon” payment on the final day. Balloon loans are usually suitable for businesses that have to wait for a specific date before receiving payment from a client. With this setup, money is guaranteed to come into the business, which they can use to repay the credit.
Secured Business Loans
In some cases, a lender will require a business owner to have some sort of collateral before approving a loan. This type of credit is called a secured business loan. Generally, it has a lower interest rate and can be written for more than a year. Typically, a lender will secure the credit through collateral, such as real estate or inventory, which is expected to outlast the loan. Since lenders expect to use the collateral to pay off the loan in case it defaults, they tend to put an appropriate value on it, depending on its structure. For instance, receivables are likely to be valued for up to 75 percent of the amount due, while inventory could take up to 50 percent of its sale worth.
Unsecured Business Loans
If you and your business have a good standing, chances are, lenders will find you creditworthy. If that’s the case, you might land yourself an unsecured loan. Unlike a secured loan, unsecured loans don’t require any collateral. Once a lender is convinced that your business is doing well and has the capability of paying off the loan on time, you will be considered low risk. However, it is worth noting that if you’re relatively new to the business world, you might find it hard to get an unsecured loan, especially if you still don’t have a track record of business revenue.
Business Term Loans
It’s a lump sum of capital that you pay back over a set period with a fixed interest rate. “Term” simply means you pay the borrowed funds back over an agreed upon time, which is typically one to five years. Business owners use the funds from term loans to finance specific investments for their small business.
How does a business term loan work? It’s fairly simple. Once you understand the basics concepts, you’ll know if a term loan is right for your business or not. Here’s how it works:
- You need funds to expand your existing business and decide a business term loan is your best bet
- You find a lender that offers term loans for your small business and let them know how much you need
- After submitting your business documents, the lender tells you how much your business is approved for, APR of the loan, and the repayment schedule.
- If you agree to the loan terms, you’ll typically be funded within 48 hours of approval (depending on the finance company)
The thing with term loans is, not every payment you make goes to the same thing. Here’s what we mean: since term loans amortize, it simply means you don’t pay equal parts interest and principle month-to-month. Lenders stack the interest payments early on, and every month you pay, the amount going to interest is reduced and applied to the principle. For this reason, you’ll want to weigh the pros and cons of paying your term loan off early. It could actually cost you more to pay it off early. Business term loans are an excellent funding choice for most small business owners. However, you should compare all possible solutions first before making a final decision.
Business Term Loan Pros and Cons
With so many business loan options to compare, it can be downright frustrating to know what type of funding will work best for your small business. Let’s clear a few things up by analyzing the pros and cons of s business term loan.
|Set payment structure||Potential prepayment penalties|
|Suitable for many business purposes||Longer payment terms than short-term loans|
|Lower monthly payments|
Who Qualifies for a Business Term Loan?
Just about any business can apply and be approved for a term loan. However, there are a few caveats. The majority of lenders will need to see proof that you’ve been in business for at least 3 years, have good personal and business credit scores, and most importantly, proof that your business is generating revenue.
A great example of a small business owner likely to be funded:
- Small business has been active for a minimum of 3 years
- Small business has $300k or more in annual revenue
- Has a personal credit score of 680 or higher
When Should You Use a Business Term Loan?
Typically, small business owners use a term loan when they need to make a large purchase or investment. The point of a term loan is to gain leverage to grow your business. However, many business owners use it for various purposes such as:
- Fund a new marketing campaign
- Fund equipment purchases
- Fund inventory purchases
- Meet tax or payroll obligations
- Expand and hire new employees
- Refinance business debts
Tip: Try not to use the funds to repay existing debts. Remember, the purpose of this loan is leverage to grow and expand your business!
How to Apply for a Business Term Loan
Applying for a business term loan is straightforward. You’ll need a few documents to get started on your funding journey.
Documents you need:
- Driver’s License
- Voided Business Check
- Bank Statements
- Balance Sheet
- Profit & Loss Statements
- Credit Score
- Business Tax Returns
- Personal Tax Returns
Working Capital Loans
What is a working capital loan? When you need capital to fund the operations side of things in your business – such as payroll, taxes, purchasing inventory, rent and any debt payments. It’s typically a short-term loan and is not used for large purchases or investments in the business. Simply put, this type of loan is used to finance your daily operations.
How Does a Working Capital Loan Work?
Small businesses frequently run into cash flow problems. Seasonal or cyclical industries seem to experience this more so than others. When a small business doesn’t have cash on hand or liquid assets to cover the day-to-day operations, a working capital loan is used to save the day. If you don’t have stable or predictable income throughout the year, a working capital loan may be what you’re looking for.
Working Capital Loan Pros and Cons
When you need access to cash to handle cash flow issues in your business, it makes sense to analyze the pros and cons of a working capital loan. A working capital loan isn’t for everyone. Be sure you fully understand how this loan works, along with its pros and cons, before making a final decision.
|You will have cash on hand to handle any cash flow issues||You have to repay the loan obviously|
|You keep ownership of your company (no outside investors)||You may need to put up collateral|
|Depending on your situation, you may not need to put up collateral||You may be charged a high interest rate, depending on your financial situation|
|You can borrow and repay cash quickly and easily||Your personal credit rating could be compromised if you miss payments|
|You can spend the money however you see fit||You may have to repay the loan faster than you’d like|
Who Qualifies for a Working Capital Loan?
Anyone that has been in business for 1 year or more, has annual revenues of $50,000 or more, with a personal credit score of 560 or better. If you are an established business with strong cash flow, you may want to look into a working capital loan provided by your bank. However, if this isn’t the case and you need fast cash, you’ll want to use an alternative lender that has less strict requirements.
When Should You Apply for a Working Capital Loan?
Small business owners that need fast cash to support daily operations. When you need quick cash to keep your business afloat, you should apply for a working capital loan. Perhaps your business is seasonal or has unstable revenue throughout the year. This type of loan is likely what you’re looking for. However, small businesses in just about any industry can benefit if they are experiencing cash flow issues. Here’s a few reasons you may want to secure a working capital loan:
- Purchase and manage inventory
- Keep payroll up to date
- Invest in an advertising or marketing campaign
- Unpaid customer invoices
How to Apply for a Working Capital Loan
Applying for a working capital loan is straightforward. Make sure you are prepared with your business documents. Also, be sure to compare your loan options from different lender. Documents you need:
- Driver’s License
- Voided Business Check
- Bank Statements
- Balance Sheet
- Profit & Loss Statements
- Credit Score
- Business Tax Returns
- Personal Tax Returns
Merchant Cash Advance
What is a merchant cash advance? In our opinion, it’s equivalent to a consumer payday loan. Think about this for a minute. You’re a small business owner that needs access to working capital. You’ve been approached by a MCA company and their pitch sounds good to you. But hold up. There are things merchant cash advance companies don’t want you to know. For one, a merchant cash advance is extremely costly and should only be used as a last resort. MCA’s are notorious for carrying annual percentage rates in the triple digits. Often times, they lead to a debt trap — where a business owner is trapped in a never-ending cycle of refinancing the debt just to keep up. In fact, it’s often a one-way ticket to financial ruin for many business owners — even bankruptcy. That said, be sure you do your homework on a merchant cash advance before signing any paperwork.
How Does a Merchant Cash Advance Work?
If your business revenue primarily comes from debit and credit card sales, you’re a prime target for MCA’s. Merchant cash advance providers will tell you their product isn’t a loan. What they do is give you a lump sum of cash in exchange for a portion of your future sales. It may sound appealing at first — especially if you’re desperate for capital — but the terms can get ugly real fast. There are two ways merchant cash advances can be structured. You can opt for a lump sum of cash in exchange for a portion of your credit and debit card sales, or choose to get access to capital and repay the debt with a fixed-rate daily or weekly debit from your business bank account. With a traditional business loan, you typically make one fixed monthly payment.
However, with a MCA you’ll have to make daily or weekly repayments (plus MCA fees) until the debt has been paid. Let’s talk about fees. The amount of fees charged depend on your ability to repay the merchant cash advance. The MCA provider determines what’s known as a factor rate, which ranges from 1.2 to 1.5. Your factor rate is determined by a risk assessment. The lower risk you are, the lower your factor rate will be.
Merchant Cash Advance Pros and Cons
As you can see by now, a merchant cash advance clearly has more negatives than positives. A full breakdown of the pros and cons of a merchant cash advance are below.
|There is no fixed monthly payment, interest rate or payoff date||Very costly. You’ll pay more for a merchant cash advance than traditional financing. The rate fee could be as high as 30% of the advance|
|You don’t need to put up any collateral||Merchant cash advance lenders are not regulated like traditional lenders|
|Repayment is performed through your credit card transactions, so there’s no chance of late payments and penalties||Can’t switch credit card processors during the loan term|
|Fast funding. Merchant cash advanced are typically funded within 24 to 48 hours||Attempts at encouraging customers to pay in cash instead of a credit card could be considered a “breach of contract” and land you in hot water|
|Cash flow management. If you have a slow month, you’ll pay less to the creditor as repayment is based on a percentage of credit card transactions|
|Very minimal paperwork involved|
|Can get cash quickly if other avenues fall through, such as a bank loan|
How to Apply for a Merchant Cash Advance
At GoLoans, we don’t recommend a merchant cash advance. There are far better options to consider. Use an MCA as a last resort. Business owners strapped for cash have been known to go bankrupt from getting trapped in this never-ending cycle of refinancing the initial advance. However, if you still feel like a merchant cash advance is right for you, we put together a list of reputable MCA’s.
What is invoice factoring? It’s a financial transaction in which a small business owner sells their accounts receivables (invoices) at a discount to a third-party (factor). You’re basically turning unpaid invoices into quick cash, but at a discount. Most invoice factoring lenders charge a 10% fee on the total of your unpaid invoices. If you’re a small business owner strapped for cash, invoice factoring could be a good option. This type of financing works well for business owners that have customers that don’t pay for goods or services right away. For example, your company may have net 30 payment terms. By using invoice factoring, you can get paid much faster (but at a discount of the invoice total).
Invoice Factoring Pros and Cons
Much like any financing solution, invoice factoring has its pros and cons. This section outlines the pros and cons of invoice factoring.
|Get access to immediate cash||It can cost more than a typical line of credit|
|Provide payment terms to clients (i.e, net 30 payments, etc)||Can only be used for cash flow issues due to slow paying customers|
|It’s easy to get||The factoring company contacts your customers and takes over invoice payments on your behalf|
|Great solution for short-term cash flow needs||The factoring company needs to verify the creditworthiness of your customers|
|Uses your invoices as collateral|
|Does not require you to give up equity|
Who Qualifies for Invoice Factoring?
Just about any business can benefit and apply for invoice factoring. Typically, this works best for small business owners that have slow-paying customers. If you have customers that pay for goods and services on payment terms, like net 30, 60, or 90, this could be a good option for your business. Let’s break this down further.
- You must own a business. Unfortunately, factoring and invoice financing companies don’t work with sole proprietors or partnerships. Your business must be a corporation, limited liability company (LLC) or similar corporate structure.
- You must have commercial or government customers. Unfortunately, factoring companies cannot buy your invoices from retail customers. The majority of factoring companies will only work with you if you have commercial or government clients.
- Your customer/client must have good business credit. Factoring doesn’t rely on your business credit, rather the funding is based on your customers business credit. The factoring company only wants high quality invoices that have the best chance of being paid on time. Therefore, they will check your customers business credit.
- You must be free of any liens against your invoices. If you have an existing lien against any of your invoices, you’ll need to clear that up first — or request what’s called subordination with the financing company that has an existing lien on your invoices. Further, if you have a tax lien from the government on your invoices, these liens must be resolved before proceeding with funding. It may be possible to proceed with funding if the IRS accepts a payment plan and agrees to subordination. It’s usually extremely difficult to persuade a 1st lien holder to accept subordination unless you can prove it benefits them somehow.
- You must not have an open bankruptcy. Most invoice factoring and financing companies won’t work with a business owner that has a personal bankruptcy.
Industries that can benefit from invoice factoring:
- Automotive Supply
- Banks & Credit Unions
- Beer, Wine & Spirits
- Cable Sales & Installers
- Chemicals & Plastics
- Construction Supply
- Consulting Distributors
- Floral/Cut Flowers
- Freight & Trucking
- Government Contracts
- Importers & Exporters
- International Factoring
- Janitorial Services
- Machine Shops
- MBE/DBE Funding
- Medical Transcription
- Nurse Staffing
- Oil & Gas
- Pallet Dealers
- Security Guard
- Service Providers
- Staffing Agencies
- Textiles & Apparel
When Should You Apply for Invoice Factoring?
If you have slow-paying customers and need upfront cash quick, you should apply for invoice factoring. But not until you compare invoice factoring terms from several lenders first. Some lenders charge less fees than others, so be sure to shop around for the best payment terms. You should be careful when comparing lenders. The cost of invoice factoring can be expensive. Some lenders charge “hidden” fees, so keep your eyes open!
How to Apply for Invoice Factoring?
Applying for invoice factoring can be a pain in the rump. There are lots of documents, customer invoices, etc that you need to prepare for the factoring company. It can be a bit overwhelming. However, if you need your funds faster than, say net 30, it may be worth the headache.
BEST INVOICE FACTORING COMPANIES
- Triumph Business Capital
- Paragon Financial Group
- TCI Business Capital
- Harper Partners
What is invoice financing?
It’s very similar to invoice factoring, with one exception. With invoice factoring, the lender handles your invoices directly with your customers. Invoice financing, on the other hand, gives you more control. Instead of selling your unpaid invoices to a factoring company (invoice factoring), you simply use those invoices as collateral for a cash advance while maintaining control over your invoices. If you want to maintain control over your invoicing and cringe at the thought of a 3rd party communicating with your customers, invoice financing is mostly likely a better option for you.
Invoice Financing Pros and Cons
|You have more control vs invoice factoring. Instead of selling the invoices to the factoring company, you are responsible for collecting the invoices from your customers and paying the fees.||Invoice financing can be expensive|
|Get access to immediate cash flow||The factoring company needs to verify the credit worthiness of your customers|
|Get paid upfront for net 30, 60 and 90 customers|
|Allows you to use your unpaid invoices as collateral|
|You don’t give up any equity to outside investors|
Who Qualifies for Invoice Financing?
To qualify for invoice financing, you’ll need to have an established business, verifiable revenue, and customers that pay on payment terms, such as net 30, net 60 or net 90.
How to Apply for Invoice Financing?
There are many invoice financing companies out there to choose from. A simple Google search for “best invoice financing company” is a good start. Further, we’ve also put together our own list of companies below, along with their publicly known rates. As with any financing offer, make sure you do your homework. Read the proposal and contract carefully before signing anything. Look out for hidden fees, etc.
BEST INVOICE FINANCING COMPANIES
- Paragon Financial Group
- Harper Partners
SBA Business Loans
The Small Business Administration (SBA) is a government entity that was created to help improve the U.S economy. The SBA is known for helping small business owners and entrepreneurs secure financing. In addition, they offer counsel, opportunities, and business connections to help support you every step of the way. While the SBA doesn’t actually give out loans, they do provide a guarantee to banks and lenders on money loaned to you. This removes a lot of the risk on the lender side of things.
There are two ways small business owners can benefit from an SBA business loan:
- Use the funds for working capital. If your company has seasonal revenue dips and you need to cover things like: inventory, payroll, daily operating expenses, etc. Can also be used as a business line of credit.
- Use the funds for fixed assets. Let’s say you want to buy commercial real estate to use as your office space. An SBA small business loan can help you do that. You can also use it to buy things like: furniture, equipment, machinery, and construction/remodeling.
SBA Business Loan Pros and Cons
|It’s a great option for startup companies with little to no business history||The approval and funding process can take much longer than traditional or alternative financing|
|The loan down payment is typically lower when secured through the SBA||Interest rates can sometimes be much higher than traditional business loans|
|Often times, no collateral is needed|
Who Qualifies for SBA Business Loans?
While anyone with a business can apply, you must meet certain requirements in order to be approved for an SBA small business loan. The approval time can be quite lengthy compared to other business financing, but for many business owners the benefits of an SBA loan outweigh the long approval process. Note: If you urgently need access to capital to keep your business afloat (working capital), you may want to look into other financing options. SBA loan approvals can take much longer than alternative business financing methods.
Further eligibility requirements:
- You must be a for-profit business
- You must have an established business in the U.S.
- You must have invested your own money and sweat equity into your business
- You’ve exhausted all other financing options
When Should You Apply for an SBA Business Loan?
The earlier, the better. SBA loan approval and funding can take quite some time, but the benefits definitely outweigh the time it takes to secure the loan. If your business is a start-up — and you can afford to wait out the approval and funding process — an SBA small business loan is what you’re after. In addition to capital and funding, most loans come with a business counselor that can help your business grow and scale. Further, if you’re considered a minority, your chances for approval become much higher.