Because you have strong credit but your revenue doesn’t quite meet the requirements of most online lenders, consider Fundbox or a business credit card. Business credit cards are a solid option for ongoing working capital and provide quick access to cash, spending rewards and sign-up bonuses. If your business has unpaid customer invoices, you can take a cash advance against those invoices through Fundbox, although you’ll likely pay a higher APR than you would with a business credit card.
SBA loans come in several types, with different allowable uses. “Most of these loans can be used for working capital, to renovate business facilities, purchase equipment, finance receivables, and in some cases, finance the purchase of company facilities,” Anderson says. “Existing businesses and start-ups can qualify for SBA business loans, but some lenders do not fund start-ups.”
Navigating these requirements and the accompanying paperwork can be difficult and is the main reason people think of SBA loans as slow and hard to get. Some of the best SBA lenders, like SmartBiz, have streamlined this process and drastically cut down paperwork and application times. In fact, SmartBiz routinely closes SBA loans in 2-3 weeks.
Ami Kassar is the founder and chief executive officer of Multifunding LLC, a Philadelphia-based consulting firm that specializes in helping business owners across the United States develop creative, cost-saving alternatives for their business debt needs and structure.
Equipment financing allows you to borrow money to purchase necessary business equipment outright. The borrower will pay back the total amount borrowed, plus interest and fees over a pre-arranged period of time.
Only about 1 in 5 businesses that apply for a loan from a big bank are approved. We help business owners by working with online lenders that simplify the loan application process and approve more small businesses. Many online lenders also offer competitive rates and faster funding than some banks.
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Many new small-business owners access financing through personal loans, often via a growing number of online lenders. But like credit cards, personal loans can have high APRs, especially for bad credit borrowers.
SBA Export Working Capital Loan: Funding up to $5 million in working capital to fund export transactions with long when the small business has a purchase order from a foreign customer. Terms typically under 12 months, but up to 3 years.
SBA Business Physical Disaster Loans (BPDLs): Long-term, low-rate loans designed to help businesses that suffered physical losses and damages due to a declared disaster replace or repair that property not covered by insurance. Do not need to be a for-profit business.
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Factoring is a finance method where a company sells its receivables at a discount to get cash up-front. It’s often used by companies with poor credit or by businesses such as apparel manufacturers, which have to fill orders long before they get paid. However, it’s an expensive way to raise funds. Companies selling receivables generally pay a fee that’s a percentage of the total amount. If you pay a 2 percent fee to get funds 30 days in advance, it’s equivalent to an annual interest rate of about 24 percent. For that reason, the business has gotten a bad reputation over the years. That said, the economic downturn has forced companies to look to alternative financing methods and companies like The Exchange are trying to make factoring more competitive. The exchange allows companies to offer their receivables to dozens of factoring companies at once, along with hedge funds, banks, and other finance companies. These lenders will bid on the invoices, which can be sold in a bundle or one at a time.
• Review your credit report. “A major consideration for a lender to make a loan is the ‘character’ of the borrower,” Anderson says. “Lenders want to loan money to people who have a positive track record for paying their obligations as agreed.” The “Fair Isaac Credit Score” (FICO) is one measure used to evaluate character. Credit scores can range from 300-850, and it is very important that you have a relatively high score to be able to secure a SBA loan. While some SBA loans may be made with FICO scores below 700, potential borrowers with scores in the high 700s or 800s are generally greeted with respect by lenders. You can review your credit reports — for free — from all three credit-reporting companies — Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — once per year to insure that they are accurate. You need to be prepared because the bank will pull the credit reports on you. If you find mistakes on your credit reports, take steps to correct those mistakes and bring the e-mails, letters, and other correspondence with you to the bank when applying for a loan. “When you go to the bank, you can say, ‘It’s a mistake. It’s not me.’ And you have the letter to show them,” says Cruz. “At least it’s not a surprise to you. You don’t want to be surprised.” Professionals also can provide guidance for improving credit scores. Personal income tax reports for three years will be required for all parties that own at least 20 percent of the company’s equity. A weak FICO Score from a 20 percent to 25 percent owner can badly damage the obtaining of a SBA Small Business Loan.
SmartBiz and StreetShares are good options for entrepreneurs with strong personal credit and established businesses. SmartBiz provides SBA loans with the lowest APR and longest repayment terms among online lenders. But since it’s an SBA loan, the application process will involve a lot of documents. If you want funding faster, StreetShares is an alternative. StreetShares, however, has a maximum borrowing limit of $100,000, a higher APR and shorter repayment terms than SmartBiz.
One of the first steps toward a professionally managed private equity and venture capital industry was the passage of the Small Business Investment Act of 1958. The 1958 Act officially allowed the SBA to license private “Small Business Investment Companies” (SBICs) to help with financing and managing small entrepreneurial businesses in the United States. Passage of the Act addressed concerns raised in a Federal Reserve Board report to Congress that concluded that a major gap existed in the capital markets for long-term funding for growth-oriented small businesses. Additionally, it was thought that fostering entrepreneurial companies would spur technological advances to compete with the Soviet Union. Facilitating the flow of capital through the economy up to the pioneering small concerns in order to stimulate the U.S. economy was and still is today the main goal of the SBIC program. The passage of the Small Business Investment Act of 1958 by the federal government was an important incentive for would-be venture capital organizations. The act provided venture capital firms structured either as SBICs or Minority Enterprise Small Business Investment Companies (MESBICs) access to federal funds which could be leveraged at a ratio of up to 4:1 against privately raised investment funds. In 2005, in response to extensive losses incurred in connection with tech boom investments, the SBA decided to wind down its “Participating Securities” SBIC program, which had provided equity-like SBA backing for equity-oriented SBIC funds. The SBA’s “Debenture” SBIC program, the original SBIC vehicle founded in 1958, continues to license and contribute capital to SBIC funds. The SBIC program had its highest ever year in Fiscal Year 2010.
The SBA’s Community Advantage Loans are designed to help businesses in underserved markets get access to financing. These programs are available to borrowers who meet the SBA eligibility criteria but are not able to qualify for a standard SBA 7(a) loan because of low revenues, low collateral, or other reasons.
You may be eligible for an SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan if your small business has suffered substantial economic injury as a result of a disaster and are unable to meet your normal operational expenses.
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One way to improve your odds of being approved for an SBA microloan is to present a professional application. Have all of your financials together and develop a clear, presentable business plan with financial projections. Business plan software, like LivePlan (which has a 60-day moneyback guarantee) can help ensure you cover all your bases.
Lenders will want to know how you plan to use the money and will want to see that you have a strong ability to repay. They may require a solid business plan that details the purpose of the loan and how you expect it to increase profits.
The SBA does not set limits on the rates, terms, and fees for the traditional lender. That leaves the details of the loan up to negotiation. In general, interest rates will be between 4% – 8% and will have a reset point. Typically the loan will have a 5-10 year term but will be amortized over 20-25 years. This amortization schedule will mean a lower monthly payment but also result in large balloon when the loan matures.
After determining that your business meets the qualifications, you need to apply for a commercial loan from a financial company that processes SBA loans since the SBA doesn’t provide loans directly. The bank’s qualifications can be more stringent.
Bank of America meets all SBA Preferred Lender Program eligibility criteria, including proficiency in processing and servicing SBA-guaranteed loans. Talk to a small business specialist by phone or in person to get a recommendation and start your application.
SBSS scores can be used for term loans and lines of credit for amounts up to $1 million. The FICO SBSS score is used by over 7,500 lenders nationwide to help them make lending decisions. Large banks include: KeyBank, Huntington National Bank, PNC, RBC, USBank, Zions Bank, HSBC, Santander Bank.
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