Getting money for your company does not have to be a complicated procedure. If you have all of the basics in place, including a business plan, tax and business identification numbers, business bank account and other basic fundamentals, then you are ready to pick the type of financing you want to seek.
For most small businesses just getting started it can seem like an uphill battle. Unless you use your personal credit to back a loan many lenders baulks at helping to finance a business just starting out. There are ways to increase your chances even at the beginning. First have a killer business plan set up, then look for ways to improve your cash flow without loans. Business credit cards and vendor accounts are a great way to do that.
You can also look for private financing from vendor capitalists. If your business idea is something that might boom and take off fast many will be anxious to back you in exchange for a percentage of ownership rather than traditional loan payments. The great part about vendor capital is that you don’t have any monthly payments and you don’t incur interest. If the business doesn’t do as well as hoped or even if it fails, you don’t owe anyone anything. That’s part of the risk of venture capital and why those types of lenders look for unique and inventive ideas that will likely burst out onto the scene.
The downside to venture capital is that you will then have a business partner. In some cases they are silent partners that won’t interfere with your business. In others you may want them to help out, especially if they have contacts and experience in your field. You also have to pay them their percentage of the businesses profits until the day you close the business or they sell their percentage back to you. If you decide to go with venture capital don’t ask for a small loan. You will be paying for it for the life of your business, so make it worth the money you will be spending in the long run.
Another creative way to finance a business is to look for grants that apply to you as an owner or the business itself. Grants are money to help out with specific needs and there are a lot of steps to a grant application, but the single biggest benefit to a grant is you do not have to pay the money back–ever. You do not make loan payments, there is no interest. You don’t give away a portion of your profits to a venture capitalist. And if the business fails you are not obligated to repay the money either. If you find a grant that you are eligible for it is worth the time to complete the steps to get the financing with no strings attached.
Once you have exhausted all of the possibilities for free financing such as venture capital and grants, a bank is your next choice. When going for a traditional loan it is a good idea to check out all of the information the Small Business Association has to offer. You can apply for a loan through the Small Business Association, but you should know that the SBA does not actually give out loans.
When you apply for one of their loan programs you are asking them to back you. Then you will get a loan from a lender that works with the SBA to give small businesses money, because they know the SBA will return their money if you default. The process for getting approval for an SBA loan is tedious, but when you walk into a bank with their backing you are guaranteed the loan since there is no risk for the lender.
The Small Business Association has representatives that will guide you through the procedure and their website offers many helpful tips and articles to help you get through the process easier. Your SBA representative can also help you determine if you are eligible to get help. That can save you a lot of unnecessary work if you aren’t ready. You can find out what is needed on the website.
Banks and Private Lenders
If you choose to go to your local bank or another lender without going through the SBA, make sure you have to all of your information ready. At a minimum you will need your tax and DUNS numbers as well as several credit cards and vendor accounts in your business’ name in order to establish credit.
Before you approach a lender, know exactly what you need the money for and how much you need. That seems like a simple idea, but many new business owners overlook this step. There are several different types of business financing. You can apply for property loans, start-up capital, equipment loans or lines of credit.