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All types of businesses require funding at different stages of growth. Funding may be used for product development and marketing, to fund the opening of a new branch location or for any number of other purposes. There are different ways that small business owners can get funding their business needs. For example, some will use their own financial resources, and others will find a partner with deep pockets or will seek outside investors. Applying for a small business loan is another option available to you, and learning more about this loan process can help you to determine if this is the right funding option for your business.
Learn About the Lending Requirements
Small business loans are designed for both new and established small businesses, but there are specific requirements that must be met. These are government-backed loans, and there is a need to prove that you and your business partners, if any, have the ability to repay the loan. Therefore, you must prove your creditworthiness as individuals, and the business generally should have a good credit history as well. The funds must be intended for a sound business purpose. This is not a loan that should be used for speculative business practices, to re-lend to others or for any type of investment purposes. Another requirement that is reviewed is the amount of personal equity that the business partners have in the business. Generally, the lender wants to see that the business owners and partners have invested in their own business before seeking external funds.
Determine How Much Money You Need
The loan amounts available for small business loans vary from $5,000 micro-loans to $5 million. The non-SBA small business loans generally have a lower loan amount available. The average non-SBA small business loan will have a maximum loan amount closer to $250,000. Understanding these variations in SBA versus non-SBA lending parameters will help you to determine which type of loan you want to apply for, but you will need to determine the loan amount that you want to request up-front. One of the required documents that most lenders will ask for is a business plan. Drafting a business plan before you apply for your loan can help you to pinpoint the amount of funding that you need at this time.
Gather the Required Documentation
Whether you request an SBA or non-SBA small business loan, you will need to provide the lender with a list of required documents before loan approval is granted. These documents may vary from lender to lender and depending on which type of business loan program you are applying for. However, generally, you can expect to provide the lender with personal and business bank statements for approximately two to three years, a business plan, a full loan application, personal and business bank statements, operating statements for your business and other related documents. While you will not have a full list of documents that are required before you select a lender and apply for a loan, gathering together known or common items now can help you to walk through the loan process with less stress and hassle.
Shop for Lenders
The lending requirements, qualifications and parameters for these loans can vary from lender to lender and from program to program. Applying for the right loan program for your needs and for your unique financial situation is important. This will help you to more successfully get the funding you need with the least amount of stress or time required. Some loan programs, for example, are not suitable for start-up businesses. Others are suitable only for small businesses with light funding requirements. You can shop around to compare loan programs, and do not hesitate contacting the bank and speaking with a representative. Generally, start-up businesses are the most difficult to find a lender for, but if you have enough of your own personal cash invested in the business and you have a sound business, approval is a possibility. Be candid about your loan scenario up-front, and you will more easily be able to find a lender who has a loan program suitable for your situation.
All types of businesses will require funding for different purposes, and being able to secure the funding your business needs in a timely manner is imperative for its growth and overall success. Funding may come from your own bank accounts, from family and friends who want to invest in the business, from third party investors or from others. It is common for small business owners to seek funding through credit cards, and applying for a loan is another great way to obtain funding. Whether you need a small amount of capital or a much larger sum of money to fund your business activities, you can consider researching loan programs available for small businesses like yours.
By Andre Bradley