What to Consider Before Applying for Business Financing
Nurturing a small business takes dedication and grit, from upgrading equipment and building your workforce to coming up with an innovative marketing campaign. Of course, business growth also takes a lot of cash. However, money can be hard to come by for small business owners looking to grow. Fortunately, there are financing options out there for you to take advantage of.
1. Create a business plan
Not all lenders need something formal in writing from you, but you should be able to show knowledge of your industry and why you are excited about this opportunity. What is your competitive advantage? How do you stand out from the rest? You’ll discuss your credit history and explain how this influx of cash will boost your bottom line. If you don’t know how much of an investment you need, talk to an advisor before applying for a loan.
2. Gather the proper documents
Your lender will need tax returns, proof of ownership for assets and current bank statements from you.
3. Assess your credit score
Always know what your score is, and do everything you can to boost it. Keep in mind, a high score is one above 700 which will garner you a more attractive interest rate. Ask for a copy of your personal credit report and look it over for any errors. If you find a mistake, contact the credit bureau and have it corrected. If you have a score in the 600s or lower, do what you can to improve it prior to meeting with lenders.
4. Research lenders
You’ll get the most competitive rates from banks and credit unions, but the whole process can take a long time — up to four months. Plus, it can be tough to get a loan for a business under half a million dollars. Another option is a merchant cash advance which is much quicker and great for those with low credit scores, but the terms can be expensive. You may want to try peer-to-peer and marketplace lenders, like Funding Circle. These non-bank platforms help connect businesses who need money to borrow with investors who want to lend their money via a user-friendly online interface. Lenders ask questions about the loan and its purpose, and will offer competitive rates on a quick decision.
5. Compare rates and fees
Because interest rates and fees vary between lenders, you’ll want to do your research and compare those rates and fees. For example, shorter loans (under a year) that feature repayments based on the cash flow of a business can be costly, while longer term loans are generally more affordable. Check out the helpful online calculators at Nav, an online resource for small business financing advice.