Best Small Business IDEAS 2014
Photograph by Leigh Reighton/Corbis
Question: What steps should I take before applying for a loan to open a small business? I’d like to maximize my chances of getting a good response.
Answer: Getting a small business bank loan is never easy, and it’s been especially difficult since the financial crash of 2008 and the lingering credit crunch. Even though small business lending is rebounding somewhat, it is still virtually impossible to get a loan to open a new business.
That’s because lenders want to see a financial track record for your business that demonstrates your ability to repay the money they’re lending you. Without that kind of history, the lender has no way to know if your venture will be successful enough to make good on your obligation. Banks are lenders, not investors, and they’re not interested in knowingly making equity investments in businesses, as an industry representative told me in 2011.
So what are your options? Most entrepreneurs start their businesses with savings; they put startup costs on credit cards; or they get loans from friends and family. There are also more creative ways to raise startup capital, such as babysitting or renting out a room in your apartment.
The void in bank lending has spurred the growth of alternative lending, which can be costly but gets money to entrepreneurs quickly and without a lot of hassle. Another new option is crowdfunding through websites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo.
Some niche alternatives that have sprung up are less well-known. For instance, culinary businesses can apply to the Whole Foods Local Producer loan program, which the company says has lent $10 million to businesses making local food products since its inception in 2007. Interest rates range from 5 percent to 9 percent, and it helps if your company is already a Whole Foods supplier, though it’s not mandatory.