While the economy continues to stagger along in many different sectors, small business loans are out there for those who need them. The trick, however, is to know where to look.
Due to the Small Business Jobs Act, which was signed into law by President Obama in September 2010, the Small Business Administration (SBA) was able to sign off on $9.1 billion in small business loans between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31 of 2010. According to a recent Thomson Reuters/PayNet Small Business Lending Index, lending grew by 12% this past spring, compared to one year ago.
With 2011 winding down and the New Year just around the corner, small business owners in need of loans for their business should do their research and shop wisely for a loan that is both doable and works in their best interests.
When searching for a small business loan, keep these factors in mind:
- Be positive -- While many banks have tightened their rules and regulations when it comes to loaning money, there are loans out there to be had. Be sure to shop around so that you get a variety of options with which to work with. Remember, banks are in business to make money, so everyone who comes through their doors seeking a business loan is always a potential customer;
- Be prepared - Put together a good proposal as to why your business needs the loan, how it will be paid back, your track record as a businessperson etc. If you go into the loan process unprepared, your chances for obtaining the needed funds will decrease. Loan officers want to work with individuals who have all the necessary paperwork filled out, have a good credit history, and can answer any and all questions thrown at them. Expect to cover areas like how much money your small business will require, the duration of the loan, and of course how and when you plan to pay it off;
- Be professional -- Just as you would not show up for a job interview dress inappropriately, be sure to dress accordingly for your interview with a loan officer. It is important to treat this process as a professional matter. Also be sure to be positive in the event you do not get the loan, as you may try and do business with this bank down the road;
- Be honest -- It is also important that you are truthful and accurate in your application process and interview. Don't stretch the truth regarding any matters, don't lie about your business doing real well if that is not the case, etc. The last thing you want to do is have a lie or lies come back to haunt you, i.e. you do not get the loan;
- Be close to home -- While not required, consider looking for a loan from your hometown bank, given that local businesses tend to want to support each other. If you go to a large franchise-type bank, they are likely not to know what you are doing as a small business to help your community;
- Be sure to mention any affiliations -- Whether you served in the military or have other affiliations, make sure to bring them up during your interview with a loan officer. There are a number of different loan programs out there that are geared to assist past and current military members (reservists) with starting up or continuing a small business.
At the end of the day, there are no guarantees when it comes to obtaining small business loans other than banks are in business to make money.
If you're a start-up and you have a strong business plan in place or are present business looking to grow, getting a loan is something you will look to want to bank on.
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