When your business is in its starting phase, you need a loan to grow it. Yes, there are ways for you to start your business with very little capital, but even in the age of the internet you need loans for the growth and expansion of your business. Oftentimes, startup and small business owners are scared of taking loans because they believe returning the same loan with interest on it will hinder their growth. The fact is a loan is not such a big liability if you have done your homework before getting it. Hastily getting a loan without researching the market and knowing your business’ growth potential can be detrimental to the business.
Your Business Plan Matters Big Time
It does not matter how experienced your management team is when your business plan is weak. When you ask for a loan from lenders, they are trying to find reasons to forward you the desired loan. They want to be sure that the loan they forward is returned in time and according to the terms and conditions set at the time of loaning. Lenders will seldom gauge the potential of your business to return the loan based on what you speak. What they want to see is a solid business plan and that’s why you need to have an impressive one. A strong business plan will consist of the following and some more.
- The company description
- Management role and experience
- The product description
- Strategy for marketing
- Financial projections
- An executive summary
- Documented cash flow
Keep in mind that banks often look at the cash flow in the documented form, and their scrutiny is not limited to what your projections are for the future but more importantly how you have managed things in the past. They will look at your company’s cash flow records for past couple of years to see if you should be given the loan you are asking for. So, keep your business plan in mind and make sure you have worked on every aspect of it to present something impressive to the investors.
Your Loan Options Are Many
Sometimes, you have a solid business plan and everything else is in place, but your understanding of loan options is not at its best. Many small business owners live with the impression that the only institution available to them for obtaining a loan is a bank. That’s far from truth because there are dozens of other ways to obtain the loan or investment for your startups that’s much easier to manage than a bank loan. Some of the options available to you include SBA loans from the government, invoice financing, business equipment financing loans, etc. If you are just a startup and none of those options seem viable to you, there is online fundraising.
Online fundraising has become quite a popular method of getting investments for your startup from individuals who trust in your idea and concept of the business. Using funding website you have access to hundreds of thousands of investors located all around the world that are willing to help if you can convince them with your business plan and the team that’s behind your project. So, avoid making the mistake that many small business owners make when they think bank is the only place for them to get any money for their businesses.
Your Timing to Apply for a Loan Is Important
This is a huge mistake that small business owners often make and pay the price in the form of not being able to obtain the loan they want at the terms they want. See, you will always be told to have a strong business plan because that’s the only way investors will trust you as an entrepreneur or businessperson. When you create your business plan, you are not just jotting down random numbers on a piece of paper. Your plan should give you an idea of what your business’ needs will be in the coming times. That’s when it makes sense to apply for loans well in advance and not at the eleventh hour.
When you apply for a loan at the eleventh hour, you are seen as a business in trouble. Most investors will see your business as the sinking ship and they will never want to get on it. Obtaining a loan in these circumstances can become close to impossible. This is the reason why you should apply for a business loan in advance and not at exactly the moment you need it. You also have to keep in mind that loan approval process takes time too. If you need the cash on an urgent basis, every day that passes during the approval process will be causing more damage to your business.
The Right People Can Make the Difference
Delegating responsibilities to the right people is an art and skill that not many business owners have. Oftentimes, small business owners rely too much on their own skills and are scared to trust any other person to do things for them. This can be a grave mistake because you cannot be the jack and master of all the trades at the same time. For example, you might be great at crunching numbers and making accurate projections for the business but not very great at sales and pitching ideas. If you have to pitch your business idea, its marketability and scope to the investors, choose the person who can best present it. Despite your great business plan, you will fail to obtain a loan because of your nervousness and lack of confidence when it comes to acting like a clever salesperson.
You have to bear in mind that investors are not investing only in your business, they are also investing in you. It is very important for them to like your personality to invest in your project. Appearing unprepared or nervous in front of them will send an impression that you are not fit to lead the project, your decision making is faulty and that you cannot create strong teams.
A Well-prepared Presentation Can Win Hearts
It does not matter who is giving the presentation when the content is boring and does not address the points that investors are most curious to know. First, get your numbers straight and bring them into the presentation at the right points. Be the investor in your mind and think of the questions you would ask if someone presented the same product/service to you. Have your accountant, advisor and business lawyer by your side when preparing the presentation. You don’t want to give wrong figures during the presentation and fall for a bad deal at the end of it. The most important thing is to explain your business idea as clearly as possible. Many times the presentations are so all-over-the-place that investors can’t make heads and tails of it. If they don’t understand your business, they will never invest.
So, bear in mind that obtaining a loan is not that big of a challenge. Most of the times, it is just some small mistakes in the areas mentioned above that become the cause of lost opportunities to get the right loans for your business. Create a solid business plan, choose the right people to represent your business and use all the options that are available to you at the right time to grow your business at the pace you want.