Starting a new business can be daunting. In addition to the time and effort it takes to get a new business off the ground, you’ll also need ample financial resources.
A startup business loan can help fund or grow your entrepreneurial dreams. These loans are designed to help cover the costs associated with a new business. But getting approved can be more challenging if your business doesn’t have an extensive credit history or substantial track record of generating revenue.
Getting a business loan is possible, but you’ll need to follow some steps to help your chances of approval. Here’s what you need to know about applying for a startup business loan.
Check your credit score
Your credit score is one of the primary factors lenders use to decide whether you’re eligible for funding.
Lenders may look at both personal and business credit. Your personal credit is linked to your social security number. Youcan check your credit report by visiting one of the three major personal credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian or TransUnion, but you may have to pay. To get free credit reports, visit annualcreditreport.com.
These reports likely won’t show you your credit score, but many credit cards and financial institutions provide free credit scores to their customers.
Your business credit is linked to your Employer Identification Number (EIN). The three main business credit bureaus are Dun & Bradstreet, Experian and Equifax. But unlike personal credit bureaus, you’ll likely have to pay to see your full report and score.
In general, there is no industry-wide standard or minimum credit score requirement for all business loans. But the better your score, the more likely you will qualify for a competitive interest rate and terms. That’s because a higher score makes lenders feel confident that you don’t pose a risk.
There’s hope if you are a business owner with bad credit. Many lenders are willing to work with you to find financing. Online lenders, including fintech companies, tend to have relaxed eligibility requirements compared to traditional lenders. It’s possible to find loans for startup businesses with poor credit, but it will likely be more expensive to borrow money, and you may need to take extra steps to qualify for funding, such as providing assets for collateral.
Some businesses are required to have an EIN, including corporations and limited liability companies (LLCs). But independent contractors, freelancers, or sole proprietorships are typically not required to have one.
Grow your annual revenue
Increasing your business revenue is another way to expand your borrowing options as a start-up business. Revenue is the amount of income your business generates, and a steady stream of annual revenue gives lenders confidence when extending a loan.
For the best rates and terms from lenders, $250,000 or higher revenue is usually required. You’ll have no trouble finding lenders with smaller requirements, but these loans generally have higher rates and additional fees or charges.
Taking time to grow your business’s annual revenue can help lenders feel better about providing a loan.
Increase your time in business
It’s not unusual for traditional lenders to require at least two years in business to qualify for a loan. If you’re a startup needing cash, this requirement can be frustrating. In such cases, you can seek funding from alternative lenders.
Many online lenders work with business owners who have been in business for one year or less. And depending on the lender, some types of startup business loans are eligible for startups. This may include equipment loans and other types of secured financing.
Choose the right type of loan
Understanding the types of startup loans available and their credit or revenue requirements is also important when searching for the best option for a new business. Various forms of lending are more accessible for start-ups, including:
- SBA loans
- Online business loans
- Business lines of credit
- Equipment financing
- Invoice financing
Each of these startup loans has advantages and disadvantages. Some have set loan amounts and longer funding times or require more work beyond just applying and waiting for approval. Make sure you know which type is best for you before applying.
Find the right lender
While traditional banks may be the first option that springs to mind, they may not be the best choice for a startup business loan. Traditional banks typically require at least two years in business to provide a loan.
Banks may also have steeper credit score and revenue requirements. Shop around and track down some of the other lending options available. Online lenders, for instance, may offer more flexible qualification requirements.
David Canet, Managing Director of the SBA Division at ConnectOne Bank, suggests finding lenders with programs designed to accommodate small businesses. “Whether it be SBA, or other financial solutions that fit startups, those are the lenders you need to research.”
Offering collateral is another way to help a lender feel more comfortable about providing a loan. In fact, some lenders require collateral if your company has a limited credit profile or a poor credit score.
“In the event that the small business becomes unable to pay,” says Canet, “the lender has a second means of having it repaid. So collateral is absolutely going to strengthen a small business startup loan request.”
Even in those cases where a lender doesn’t require collateral as a condition to obtain the loan, it can be a good idea to provide it. Doing so can help you obtain a better interest rate or loan terms.
Collateral can be any asset you will turn over if you fail to keep up with loan payments. Examples of collateral include real estate, business equipment, inventory and even your business’s invoices.
Find a cosigner
Having a cosigner is another way to improve the odds of getting approved for a startup business loan. A cosigner is someone willing to guarantee that the loan will be repaid if the borrower is unable to do so or falls behind on payments. The key is finding a cosigner with good credit or higher and solid income.
In addition to increasing your odds of getting approved, having a cosigner may also help you obtain a better interest rate. But before proceeding, be sure the cosigner understands the risks they are signing on for. When someone agrees to be a cosigner, they’re legally responsible for repaying the debt should you fail to do so. In addition, if you fall behind on the loan, the cosigner’s credit score will be negatively impacted.
While getting approved for a startup business loan can be challenging, it is possible. Taking the time to improve your credit score, increase your business’s revenue, and the amount of time you’ve been in business can all go a long way toward improving approval odds.
If you need a loan right away, there are still options. Bad credit business loans are open to startups, depending on the lender. Enlisting the assistance of a cosigner and providing collateral to back the loan can also improve the chances of getting a loan and may even help ease the costs. And don’t forget to spend time investigating all of the startup loan options available to find the best choice for your needs.
Yes, it is possible to get a business loan as a start-up. While traditional lenders require two years in business to provide a loan, some forms of borrowing can be easier to qualify for, including microloans, equipment financing, crowdfunding, and invoice financing.
Startup loan amounts tend to be smaller than loans offered to established businesses. The amount of funding available for a startup business loan varies based on the lender, your credit score, industry and business revenue. The type of loan you’re applying for also determines how much money you can get.
Yes, business loans can be difficult to obtain if your business has been around for less than two years or its credit score is less than ideal. Some lenders may offer loans to startups or businesses that have been around for six months or less. But these loans may carry heavy interest rates and fees. Taking the time to improve your business’s credit score and establish a few years of operating history can help improve your business’s revenue stream.