Small Business Financing Goes Into Intensive Care

An earlier article noted that business financing is effectively on life support based on recent reports of reduced business loans made by banks throughout the country. There are several reasons why intensive care comparisons might help to explain what is wrong with working capital financing and at the same time provide a healthy prognosis for impacted businesses. Because commercial financing is proving to be a serious challenge for most small business owners, this analysis should be reviewed by any borrower about to obtain or refinance commercial loans.

During the past two years, banks have lost much credibility and good will. Until the federal government provided massive bailouts for many of them, most of these lenders were on life support themselves. While some of the banks have recovered, others are effectively still in the intensive care process. But whether we are reviewing the healthy banks or ones still recovering, working capital financing for most small businesses is predominantly in what appears to be long-term intensive care. Banks are generally reducing or eliminating a large portion of their business financing activities, as indicated from most ongoing public and private reports. For example, with little or no advance notice, most banks appear to be closing commercial line of credit programs for small businesses regardless of profitability or length of the lending relationship. This is apparently not a temporary move to the sidelines but rather a permanent reallocation of resources to more profitable activities based on the manner in which this is being accomplished.

Lending activity has also decreased significantly for other forms of business financing such as commercial mortgage loans. Commercial loans have essentially been downsized or laid off just as many workers have. The realization that banks are rarely announcing publicly that these cutbacks have occurred is what makes this situation different. Perhaps bankers like to think that when they stop making small business loans nobody will notice. When it becomes public knowledge that their small business lending window is effectively closed, the bankers who placed commercial financing into intensive care are astute enough to realize that their public image will suffer even further damage.

Before they realize that the business financing world has changed before their eyes, it is possible that small business owners might need to connect several dots. As this article and other reviews indicate, banks are simply no longer providing the commercial loan services that they once did. Commercial borrowers should primarily rely on extensive candid discussions with other small business customers of the bank to confirm whether their bank is one of the few exceptions to this new reality. Even in the rare instances in which banks are truly lending “normally” to small businesses, the prevailing trend of less working capital financing coming from traditional banks should not be ignored.

While business financing patients (commercial borrowers) might be in serious condition when they find that their bank will not provide needed commercial loans, experienced small business finance specialists can frequently help in restoring financial health that will facilitate a business getting out of an intensive care situation. In some cases, this involves finding a healthy bank that is willing (and able) to provide “normal” commercial loans and working capital financing. For successful commercial funding it will be necessary to explore non-bank solutions in many other instances.

Understanding Small Business Finance

If you are an entrepreneur, then you know that there is always a need for small business finance to keep things going. Being able to get the money that is needed for your business means that you need to make several financial and non-financial considerations.

Firstly, before you search for funding for your business, it is important to know what type of financing required. Would the business need debt financing (a loan for running your business) or equity financing (money that is taken from savings or investors)?

Small business finance through debt financing means taking loans from credit unions, banks and other traditional financial institutions. Among the loans that are available are short-term loans which must be repaid, with interest, within a specific period of time. Such loans may be termed as demand loans as the lender can call in the loan for repayment any time. Small business finance longer debt loans are normally used for financing assets like renovations or investments in equipment.

There are many businesses that make use of lines of credit as a source of small business finance. They make arrangements with lending institutions for a set amount of available credit that they can draw upon when need arises. Lines of credit allows businesses to use the cash when they need it and they only need to pay back the amount that has been used and interest is paid on the outstanding balance of the line of credit. Numerous lending institutions offer credit cards as a means of small business financing. These cards are used by establishments to finance their operating expenses. But, credit cards can be expensive because of the interest rates. The cards are ideal for use if the balance is paid in full monthly.

Small business finance through equity is normally used in a limited manner. Informal source of equity funding includes friends and family; while the formal sources include venture capitalists. Venture capitalists generally have a considerable pool of resources that allow them to finance ventures and participate in some of the more crucial decisions in the business. However, these capitalists conduct studies before making the decision to provide funding.

There is also some equity small business finance that are received from people who are called as “angel investors”. These are normally people who have deep pockets and are willing to provide funding.

Different types of small business finance helps to increase the chance of the business to become successful.

What You Will Need to Get Small Business Finance

Poor credit is no barrier to small business owners wishing to obtain business finance. When a small business owner plans to expand business and finds that he has already used up available sources of funding and getting additional finance through regular sources may be too time-consuming, then finance from “non-conventional” sources may be a better option.

What would be the requirements for a business owner to obtain small business finance?

A running business

Startups are precluded from obtaining this type of finance on soft terms. In order to be eligible, a business must be in operation for at least a year.

A minimum amount of sales per month

Someone who has started the business recently and is generating revenues of less than $ 10000 by way of credit card sales may not be eligible for small business funding unless the case is assessed and considered on other grounds such as a potential for growth that the owner can justify and support.

Documentary proofs

Small businesses are usually proprietary types. A business owner, even one with poor credit, should not hesitate to obtain small business capital even if it means paying a higher interest amount because it can help him get back on track to fast growth. The documentation is minimal. He needs to submit proof of ownership. The other documents he must provide are bank statements for the previous six months, proof of identity and proof of residence.

An applicant may wish to get small business finance within 3 to 5 days for which he should apply online and keep ready scanned copies of the above-mentioned documents. These may be uploaded along with the preliminary application. Should the application be approved he may be required to furnish printed copies.

What is not required for the small business loan?

• An applicant need not have a stellar credit history.
• He may not have to furnish collateral or mortgage property.
• He may not have to furnish a guarantor.

It is fast. It is easy. However, there are a few things to keep in mind. An applicant must consider the factor rate applied. This is a fancy term for rate of interest though it is not specifically so mentioned. Repayment may range from 3 months to even as long as 36 months and it is tied to the credit card sales as a percentage of daily turnover or a fixed monthly amount. Should sales be high repayment is completed in a shorter time. In real terms, an applicant may end up paying processing charges plus interest that can be as high as 50% because the loan is unsecured. The best thing to do is to examine the offer and obtain such funds only from a lender who does not charge anything upfront, no processing charges and applies a moderate interest rate.

It is easy to get this type of finance if one has a running business but repayment is the tough part. Small business owners would do well to keep in mind to plan to use funds to generate more revenues instead of paying off existing debts.