To get approval for your small business loan application, you must be able to meet the lending criteria set down. Some organizations are more risk averse than others, and will therefore have more stringent criteria.
To vastly increase your chances of a successful funding application, you will need to present the following information:
1. The reason for the loan. The lender will be looking for something that fits within the normal range and expertise of your business. The amount may cover a number of items, so you will need to cover each.
2. The amount required, and the repayment term of the small business loan you want. (e.g. $10,000 term 5 years, payable quarterly).
3. Details of how you will repay the amount borrowed. For example, “From the increase in profits of reduced running costs of the Whizz-bang Go4It”
4. Details of security you will be able to offer to the lender. This will act as reassurance for the lender. If you’re not prepared to put up some aspect of security, then why should they?
5. You will need to include your business plan which will serve to answer essential questions relating to management capabilities, information about the market you operate in. What kind of business you are in etc.
6. 3 Years financial statements. You will need to present quality financial information from your accounting software, preferably signed off by your accountant or tax advisor.
7. Latest Set of Management accounts. Again produced from your accounting software.
8. Accounts receivables (debtors) and payables (creditors) ageing reports.
9. Principals financial statements. – Particularly required if some form of security is necessary.
While most companies seeking venture capital initially think about angel investors and venture capitalists, a large alternative source of financing is federal grants and loans. The two largest federal grant programs are run by the Small Business Administration (SBA), and by Small Business Investment Companies (SBICs).
An SBA loan, regardless of whether it is a direct loan from the SBA, or, as is more common, a bank loan guaranteed by the SBA, is essentially a bank loan. The benefit of it versus a traditional bank loan is the rate. SBA rates are typically much less than traditional business loan rates.
In most cases, in a guaranteed SBA bank loan, the SBA guarantees 90 percent of the loan will be repaid to the bank. As such, banks are at much less risk than in most other loans, and are a bit more flexible with regards to who they offer these loans. However, the SBA usually requires the founders of the company to personally guarantee the loans, which makes them risky should the venture collapse.
Alternatively, Small Business Investment Companies (SBICs) are privately organized corporations that are licensed and regulated by the SBA. Small or emerging businesses which qualify for assistance from the SBIC program can receive equity capital and/or long-term loans from these companies. Essentially, these companies provide their own capital, which is supplemented by federal funds, to the companies they fund.
Interestingly, U.S. taxpayer’s benefits from the SBIC program as tax revenues generated from successful SBIC investments have more than covered the cost of the program. Likewise the program has created hundreds of thousands of jobs.
In summary, SBA and SBIC financing are viable alternatives to financing from angel investors and venture capitalists and should be considered in the capital raising process. Similarly to angel and VC financing, companies seeking SBA and SBIC financing need a strong management team and value proposition, and a highly professional and compelling business plan in order to raise the capital they need.
If you are a new company, the emphasis is going to be on your business plan, and the security (also called collateral) you or your business can provide against the loan.
You must take the time to practice presenting your case to the bank or lender to iron out any glitches. Practice on your colleagues and family (you never know, they might be so impressed, they'll invest or lend!). It may help to role play the lender and come up with as many pointy questions as possible. The more time you take the better your chances will be. (But remember; don’t fall into the analysis paralysis trap!)