Business Loan Fundamentals: What Small Business Owners Need to Know

Accessing capital for your business can be a daunting task. If you are a start-up business owner, this is even more so. Small business owners who are considering accessing capital are sometimes not sure what to do or where to go. This is understandable.

The news media showcases small businesses’ inability in securing the financing they need to grow their business or just to survive. In some instances, entrepreneurs are getting funded but not at the level or the amount they really wanted. These business owners have to make adjustments to their plans in order to fit what they can qualify for.

One thing to note is being prepared prior to seeking outside capital, otherwise called OPM (Other People’s Money). This is even more important now than ever before. Knowing what the lender’s requirements are is very important. Banking institutions must follow strict Federal guidelines. Private investors or alternative financing sources have their own guidelines and requirements. Being aware of these requirements is important to the smooth processing of your loan or financing request.

When applying for any type of financing, you must present the applicable documents the lender requires. If you are buying a house or car, you would have to submit all applicable documents the lender required. This is the same process when accessing capital for your business. Without the lender’s required list of documents being received and reviewed, you will not be able to successfully access the loan or financing option you so badly need.

If you do not have a specific document or documents, you need to submit a written explanation with a legitimate reason for not having the necessary paperwork. There are some documents you must have, no matter what the circumstances. Without the mandatory required documentation, the lender is at risk of losing their money if they were to take a chance on you. If the lender is a lending institute governed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), they will not be able to work around any mandatory documents not being submitted.

When all is said and done, it’s not about how great you think your idea or business is. It is about the lender and their risk tolerance. What it boils down to is the business being viable for the lender to make the decision to lend you their money. They must feel you have the capabilities to repay the loan.

So, if you want their money, it is simple, provide the required information and documents to expedite your financing request. Show them that you are responsible and that you take them seriously. And most of all, do not waste their time if you know you do not have the information they need.

Here is a checklist of items that might be applicable to your loan request:

  • Loan/Lender Application
  • Business License/Certifications
  • Business Overview
  • Business Plan
  • Resumes
  • Personal Financial Statement
  • Personal Credit Report
  • Personal Income Tax Returns
  • Business Credit Report
  • Business Income Tax Returns
  • Business Lease
  • Business Insurance
  • Financial Statements including Cash Flow Statement, Balance Sheet, Profit and Loss
  • Bank Statements
  • Merchant Statements
  • Current Accounts Receivable Aging Report
  • Current Accounts Payable Aging Report
  • Payroll Tax Form 941
  • Property Ownership Documentation
  • Partnership Agreements
  • Identification
  • Any loans such as commercial property mortgage documentation
  • All applicable authorizations including release of information, landlord, references

Remember, the above list of documents does not apply to all financing options, so be aware of what is specifically required by the lender you selected. The lender has the right to ask for any documents they believe will assist them in making a decision one way or other. Be sure you understand what the lender is looking for. If you do not know, have them explain exactly what it is they need. It makes for a smooth process. Let’s not waste your time or the lender’s time; be prepared.