Bank lending has really been tight over the last few years. Most business owners now think that the only word their banker can say is “no. ”
The reason: This last financial crisis has changed the lending game. Banks and other lenders will not just provide you a business loan because you have a great smile or a novel idea. You have to get in there, roll up your sleeves and really entice them to lend to your business – make them approve you!
Know that when lenders do begin to approve more loans again, the flow of new business loan applications will really flood in. Thus, to ensure that your loan application gets funded, you have to find ways to get your business noticed – making it not only stand out but stand above all the rest.
Here are a few tips to get your business loan application moved to the top of the pile:
Pick the right bank or lender: Not all lenders will emerge from this financial mess in the same position they went into it. Some will have changed their entire lending philosophy. Some will no longer loan to small or mid-sized businesses – focusing only top tier/low risk companies. Some will only provide loans based on companies in certain industries or that have specific collateral. And, some may be out of the business lending arena altogether. So, start with your current bank or past lender and see if or what they have changed in regards to their business loan policies.
Further, all banks and lenders have changed their loan approval criteria. This was not done to hinder businesses from seeking loans but more from the threat of new governmental regulations. Thus, if your business was able to get a business loan or working capital line of credit prior to the financial meltdown – that does not mean that it will qualify for one today or even tomorrow with the same bank or lender.
Collateral and Guarantees: Banks are now more focused on repayment and not just one form of repayment but several. Banks and other lenders always look to current positive cash flow as the first source of repayment. But, that is no longer enough. What happens if you have a slow month or if the economy tanks again? Lenders will start looking for additional (complementary) forms of repayment from sources like personal guarantees or large amounts of and/or highly valued collateral.
Collateral will be key in this new lending market. If you are serious about your business’s future prospects, then you should have no problem putting up collateral against a business loan request. Not only does collateral provide your lender with an additional source of repayment but could really show your banker or loan officer that your business is serious – essentially helping you close the deal.
Keep in mind that different collateral has different value. Banks and other lenders don’t look at how much you paid for a piece of equipment or a piece of property. They look at its value as how fast they can sell it at fire sale prices to recoup their losses.
The best collateral – where your business would get the best value against a loan – is collateral that has high liquidity – like accounts receivables, investments, purchase orders or even personal liquid assets of the business owner or of the management team.
Make sure your business loan application clearly states what collateral and/or guarantees you or your business is willing to provide as well as its current, conservative market value. Providing this information up front will demonstrate to your lender that you are here not to fight with them over this hotly contested issue but are willing to play within their rules. Plus, banks like easy deals and deals with tons of collateral are usually the easiest to get approved.
Remember, if you don’t show and won’t demonstrate that you are serious about your business and that you have not taken the time to understand your lender’s collateral or guarantee policy, then your banker or lenders will treat you the same way and move your application to a bottom drawer or the round file in the corner.
A Clear Story: Make sure that your loan application tells your story. Not just what your company does but also why it does what it does, who (your customer segment) it targets and satisfies, how its current management can build value in the future (based on what it has done in the past) and what the funds will be used for – specifically. Putting in your business loan application that you will use those funds for general business purposes just will not fly any more. Banks and other lenders want to be repaid and must be satisfied that you and your business will deploy this new asserts (the loan funds) in such a way to generate enough new revenue to pay back the loan and interest as well as grow your company.