Monthly Archives: June 2017

Start your own business or take your current one

You have a vision, a plan, and the motivation to start your own business or take your current one to the next level. Everything is ready to go, all you need is money. For many entrepreneurs, small business loans are the key to fulfilling short and long term goals. So how do you get a small business loan? Is it difficult? Do you need to meet certain requirements? If you’ve asked these same questions, then you’re in luck; that’s exactly what we are going to discuss.

 

Have a Plan

When it comes to securing a small business loan, half of the battle should be fought with strategy. One of the best ways to get all your financial ducks in a row is to devise a solid, well-thought-out business plan. This will show any potential lenders that you’ve done the research and completed your homework.

Here are a few general things you should keep in mind:

  • What kind of business are you starting and what are your long and short term goals?Before requesting a loan, you’ll need to be able to concisely define your business to a potential small business loan lender. What is your product and who does it serve? What is your projected revenue? What tactics and strategies do you plan to employ in order to reach that revenue mark? You should be able to confidently answer those questions before you step foot in a lender’s office.
  • For what do you need a loan?When it comes to requesting a small business loan, you’ll need to have a detailed list outlining what exactly you need the money for. Working capital costs, equipment and operation costs, or long term development costs all constitute good reasons for requesting a small business loan.
  • However, if you’re seeking a loan to pay down surmounting debt, recoup for poor performance, or fulfill payroll obligations, then you may want to consider alternative means of support.
  • How much money do you really need?Next, you’ll need to determine how much you need. Though this number may not be exact, you should be honest and realistic with your estimates. If you overestimate, lenders may shy away; however, if you underestimate, you may find yourself in tight spot far too early.

Research Your Credit History and Know Your Score

While it may seem redundant and overstated, it’s absolutely essential to know your credit scores. Obviously, lenders put a significant amount of weight on your credit history. Knowing where you stand can help you evaluate potential lending opportunities.

Beyond that, knowing your credit history can help you identify and address weaknesses before you even go to a potential lender.

Happier Than Income or Paying Down Debt

The growing appreciation of behavioral psychology in investing is basically us admitting that we aren’t perfectly rational. When you make people automatically opt-in to 401(k) plans and make their contributions increase automatically, they save more. We value stocks more simply because we own them (“endowment effect”). We hate losing money more than we enjoy winning (“loss aversion”).

A recent research paper tells us (in my own words) that having liquid cash has a stronger correlation effect to happiness than having a bigger retirement portfolio, a higher income, or paying down your debt. This is coming from the NYT article Yes, Numbers Matter in Money Decisions, but So Do Emotions linking to the Kitces post Buying Happiness And Life Satisfaction With Greater Cash-On-Hand Reserves linking to academic paper How Your Bank Balance Buys Happiness: The Importance of “Cash on Hand” to Life Satisfaction. Here’s the abstract:

Our results suggest that having a buffer of money available in checking and savings accounts confers a sense of financial security, which in turn is associated with greater life satisfaction. The strength of this association was comparable to the effect of investments—which may themselves be liquid assets (e.g., money market accounts)—and slightly greater than the effect of debt status. By contrast, higher income and spending—the amounts going into or out of a person’s bank account—were not associated with increased financial well-being after liquid wealth was included in the model. This finding suggests that people with low liquid account balances may feel more economically distressed—and thus less satisfied with their lives—than their peers with higher balances, even if their incomes and spending, considered separately from their account balances, would predict high financial security.

A Secured Business Credit Card

For many businesses, credit cards are an essential part of your business activities. They can help you build your credit and obtain the assets you need to properly run your business. Unfortunately bad or non-existent credit may make it difficult to be approved for a credit card. For those denied approval for a credit card, if you are looking to establish or rebuild your credit, a secured credit card can represent a viable option.

So, what exactly is a secured business credit card? Quite simply, a secured credit card is one that requires a deposit or collateral up front. In most cases, this deposit must be made in cash, although there are some lenders that will accept collateral in the form of homes, cars, etc.

Though a deposit may not sound ideal, a secured business credit card or secured business credit card can be a valuable tool to build and repair your credit. The security deposit will ensure lenders that, despite your bad credit, you will be able to pay them back. Much like a regular credit card, you can use a secured credit card to make purchases or pay bills when cash is not an option. Your payment history will be reported to the major credit reporting agencies and an account that remains in good standing (no late payments) over a period of time can help you boost your credit score.

The security deposit required will vary from lender to lender, but all lenders will review your credit history, income or available capital, and perceived ability to pay on time. For those who have bad credit, that may sound scary, but keep in mind that this particular type of card is specifically for individuals or businesses with bad credit.

Typically, your credit limit will be equal to or a percent more than the required deposit; this means that the credit card company is lowering their overall risk by securing funds ahead of time. For example, if you’re approved for a $500 credit limit, you will be required to pay a security deposit of, or close to, that amount.

It’s important to note that this is not a prepaid credit card in which your deposit will be used against the balance you accrue. Instead, your deposit will be held separately, and you will be required to pay your bill in full without relying on the money you paid up front.

 

What Happens to My Deposit?

As mentioned above, your deposit is held separately, and much like a deposit for say, rental equipment, you will get it back as long as you live up to your end of the bargain. In this case, it’s making regular payments on your account and eventually reaching a zero balance.

When exactly you get your deposit back can also vary from lender to lender, but in all circumstances, your account will need to be in good standing. With that in mind, these are the most common scenarios in which a secured credit card lender will return your deposit.

In one scenario, the deposit can be returned to the cardholder upon their decision to close the account. Of course, it’s not as simple as just saying “I’m done, let’s close this down.” Your account must be in good standing and carry a zero balance at the time of closing.

The other, perhaps most desired, scenario is one in which the account holder has successfully reduced their perceived risk by maintaining a history of on time payments and manageable balances. In this case, the lender may determine to convert your account from a secured credit card account to an unsecured one and to return your deposit without requiring you to close the account.

 

What Risks Are Associated with Secured Business Credit Cards

Though the application and approval process may be slightly different, when it comes to fees, APRs, and credit reporting, a secured credit card operates much like a regular credit card.

Secured credit cards often have yearly fees associated with them, and though rates vary drastically from lender to lender, the APR can be quite high. Missing a payment or not paying in full can quickly land you in a dangerous and expensive place.

A new small business must face

One of the biggest challenges a new small business must face is obtaining the finances necessary to support their initial growth. In order to proudly turn on your physical or metaphorical “open for business” sign, you’ll need to have access to a significant amount of capital in the form of a small business startup loan.

As one might assume from the title, a business start up loan is a loan meant to help with the financial needs of a new business. Small business start up loan proceeds can go towards things like working capital; the purchase of equipment, machinery, supplies, inventory, and furniture; and the purchase or construction of real estate.

Where Do I Get a Small Business Startup Loan?

If you’ve already started your hunt for a loan, you’re well aware that there is a seemingly infinite amount of lenders and financing options out there. Each one will come with their own set of pros and cons, and perhaps you’ve discovered that most of the low-cost options are not available to business owners without a couple years of business under their belts. To help you get started, here is a list of 5 viable options to secure a business startup loan.

Conventional Business Lending

  1. Banks are traditionally known for their lending opportunities, and if you have a good relationship with yours, this may be a perfect place to go. When it comes to bank financing for business startup loans and lending, but banks will not typically offer conventional loans to new businesses. Through your bank you may qualify for:
    • Equipment Financing: Specifically designed to pay for the purchase of equipment and machinery, this loan is similar in structure to a conventional loan. However, the proceeds must only be used to purchase equipment or machinery.
    • Line of Credit: Similar in concept to a cash advance on a credit card, this option provides borrowers with a maximum amount of money from which they can withdraw funds. The borrower can take out as much or as little as needed as until they reach the maximum allotment. Typically, lines of credit carry a variable rate.
    • SBA MicroloansIn addition to the SBA 7(a) and 504 loan programs, the SBA also offers microloans which are typically made through development corporations and non-profit organizations. Approved for up to $50,000, a microloan through the SBA can be used for working capital or the purchase of inventory or supplies, machinery or equipment, or fixtures and furniture.
  2. Microlenders

    The SBA is not the only microlending option. Microlenders are non-profit organizations that offer small businesses the opportunity to secure financing in small increments (less than $35,000).
    When it comes to microlenders, be sure to check out these two options:

    • Accion: Available for up to $10,000, this is a great small business startup loan if you’ve been in business for less than six month and have an incubator-based or home-based business. Since the required credit score is 575 or higher, this is also a good option for borrows who may not have stellar credit.
    • KivaZip: Kiva operates on a largely community-based, trust-driven platform. Businesses can crowdfund business loans from philanthropic-minded individuals up to $5,000. These loans carry a 0% APR and are provided to struggling entrepreneurs who have proven their character, invited their own network of lenders, were unable to access other financial means, and have a business that has a perceived positive social impact.