Obtaining financing helps build your business, but it's not always easy to do. Securing a business loan takes time and patience, whether you need $5,000 or $5 million, since banks are not in the position to grant every business a loan. Because small businesses are considered risky ventures by lenders, starting your application early and effectively navigating the process is critical..
A business loan is based on your business needs, and your own qualifications to start and run your company. But that’s just the start. The bank also looks closely at your personal finances, since you’ll be liable for repaying the loan if your business goes under or you’re otherwise unable to make the payments. Banks usually require small business owners to use personal assets, such as your home or car, to secure the loan. Lenders often work with the Small Business Administration, a government agency that backs many of the commercial loans underwritten by banks.
Banks may give loans through their internal lending programs, or they may choose to guarantee the loan through the SBA. SBA-backed loans include the 7(a) primary loan program that covers a variety of small business financing, and the CDC/504 Program that helps businesses obtain new facility or modernize their facilities. The CDC program is ideal if you have an established business with a proven track record.
The bank will require you to provide a business plan that includes financial statements and projections about future revenue. The plan must indicate what you intend to do with the money, such as increasing your marketing efforts or paying for supplies to meet demand. To improve your chances of getting a loan, the SBA provides counseling through a volunteer program, known as SCORE, to help you create a business plan that meets the lender’s requirements.
Before you begin the tedious process of obtaining a loan, note the disadvantages. A small business loan is based on your personal ability to pay, so you’re liable for making the payments until the loan is paid off no matter what happens to your business. You may go through all the work to satisfy the bank’s requirements only to find out you still don’t qualify, or the bank may only give you a small portion of the money you need. This would require you to act quickly to secure additional financing.
Nancy Wagner is a marketing strategist and speaker who started writing in 1998. She writes business plans for startups and established companies and teaches marketing and promotional tactics at local workshops. Wagner's business and marketing articles have appeared in "Home Business Journal," "Nation’s Business," "Emerging Business" and "The Mortgage Press," among others. She holds a B.S. from Eastern Illinois University.