How to Get a Loan for Your Startup
1. Decide Which Loan is Best For Your Startup
Before you take out a loan for your startup, you'll want to make sure you fully understand the different kinds of startup loans. This will help you save time and energy when learning exactly how to get a startup business loan.
Lines of Credit
Lines of credit function similarly to a business credit card in that they give you access to a pool of funds that you can draw from as needed. You don't need to withdraw the entire amount but you are given a set limit that you can borrow from at any time.
This type of loan is best for businesses with seasonal or fluctuating working capital needs like a retailer. That's because these types of businesses will often pay a large upfront fee for their inventory but then be able to pay back the startup loan as the buying season takes off.
SBA stands for Small Business Administration, which is a government organization that provides support to small businesses through a variety of programs and services.
One of the most popular programs is the SBA loan program which offers startup loans for a wide range of business purposes, including working capital, equipment, and real estate. SBA loans are best for businesses that may not be able to get traditional financing due to factors like a lack of collateral or poor credit history.
Similar to lines of credit, term loans offer you a set amount of money, but the major difference is you'll be given the entire amount in one transaction. Lines of credit allow you to take what you need when you need it, and terms are all upfront.
Startup loans like this are best for businesses that need a large amount of money for a specific purpose, like expanding their operations or buying new equipment. There are always time limits within which you need to pay back the money (e.g., one year, five years, 10 years, etc.).
Merchant Cash Advance
When startups are dealing with vendors and merchants, they will often offer what's known as a merchant cash advance. This is when you sell a portion of your future sales in exchange for an upfront lump sum of cash.
Businesses that have a lot of credit card sales will do best with this startup loan because the repayment is based on a percentage of those sales. So, if you had a slow month in sales, your repayment would be lower.
Instead of putting your entire business on the line with a line of credit or term loans, equipment financing allows you to use the equipment itself as collateral.
This type of startup loan is best for businesses that need to finance expensive equipment like vehicles or machinery. The downside is that if you default on the loan, the lender can seize the equipment. However, this type of loan often has lower interest rates than other types of loans.
Business Credit Cards
One of the most simple ways to get a business loan is to apply for a business credit card. This is a good option if you have excellent personal credit and you don't need a lot of money.
If your business needs a small amount of money and can repay it quickly, this startup loan is perfect. The downside is that business credit cards often have high-interest rates, so you will want to make sure you can repay the debt quickly.
Startups who aren't looking to have the large interest payments that are required from other loans can look to their peers for help. Peer-to-peer lending is when you get a loan from another person or group of people instead of a financial institution.
This type of startup loan is great if you have collateral or a personal guarantee to offer investors because you’ll get the money without having to take on debt. The downside is that it can be difficult to find peer-to-peer lenders unless you have a good cause or a unique product.
2. Assess Your Credit Scores
Once you decide which startup loan you will be applying for, your next step will be to look over your personal and business credit. Banks and institutions will use this data to determine whether or not you're eligible for the loan and what interest rate they'll offer. There are multiple sites that aggregate data from major credit reports and pull an average number for you to work from. You can also get copies of your credit reports from credit agencies.
3. Gather Documents
Next, you'll want to gather all the documents that are required by your specific lender. The documents will vary based on the type of loan you're applying for, but they will usually require tax returns, business licenses, and financial statements. Some lenders will also ask for a detailed business plan so they can understand how you plan to use the money and what your goals are for the future.
4. Compare Lenders
Lastly, you'll want to compare multiple offers from different lenders to make sure you're getting the best deal. You can check out TRUiC’s review of the best business loans for startups. Some of the most important data points to look for are annual percentage rates, fees and other costs, and the lender's reputation.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much in loans can a startup business get?
The amount of loans a startup can get will depend on the type of loan they apply for, but the typical amount for a term loan is $500,000. This is assuming the startup has collateral down or has proven proof they are able to pay back the loan.
Can a startup get a loan with no collateral?
Startups can apply for an SBA loan which offers loans without the need for collateral. The SBA loan offers respectful interest rates for small businesses.
What are the disadvantages of loans?
Loans can often be difficult to pay back if the business doesn't do as well as planned. This can lead to high-interest rates and late payment fees which can put the business in a difficult financial position. Loans also tie up assets that could be used elsewhere in the business.
When should a company borrow money?
Startups will usually borrow money when they are first starting out to help with the initial costs of setting up the business. They might also borrow money later on to help fund growth or expansion plans.