Popular Types of Business Loans for Small Businesses

Every business encounters major challenges in the cash flow at some point, which may necessitate borrowing of funds in order to sustain business operations. For startups, financial difficulties may come knocking at the door early on.

Fortunately, small businesses that find it difficult to finance all their projects have a number of avenues to turn to for support. Finding a lender is not as tedious as it used to be, and the choices are more numerous today. There are bank loans and merchant service providers. Some loan packages are offered by government agencies, which attract many borrowers since they come with guarantees other lenders cannot provide. Loans come in all forms and sizes, and some are tailor-fit to meet the specific needs of the lender. The availability of more than one option is an indicator that business owners must evaluate their needs first in order to ascertain that a specific type of loan is indeed the best recourse given their current situation.

Short-term Vs. Long-term

Two basic types of loans available to small business owners are long-term loans and short-term loans. Long-established commercial lenders usually offer long-term loans that have low interest rates. The amount of money is large enough to cover huge expense, such as additional capital needed in business acquisition and related activities. Small businesses looking for working capital can approach these lenders, and they usually get approval if they have a formidable business plan.

Meanwhile, short-term loans are usually issued by credit unions and banking institutions. Whereas a long-term loan must be paid on a monthly basis, short-term loans are paid at the end of the term of the agreement. The interest rate is usually higher compared to short-term loans. Retailer looking for additional funding for a short project that is expected to provide huge profits in a brief time period can benefit much from this type of loan.

Alternative options

Aside from conventional sources of funding, borrowers may opt to avail of alternative lending offers, such as those offered by online merchants. Applying for a business loan is now quite convenient since every step of the process can be conducted online. These offers are also quicker to process. It is possible to access capital without the difficulty posed by traditional procedures requiring mounds of paperwork. Alternative financing options work best for use in meeting the needs of an expansion, or sustaining operations when there are cash shortfalls.

Small businesses that are in the early stages of operation often find it difficult to meet stringent requirements. Alternative lending methods are relatively more flexible, including cash advances, crowd funding, and peer-to-peer loans, among others. For small businesses, it is often easier and faster to secure financing using alternative means. Many business owners opt for alternative financing methods especially when they have urgent need for the money. There are situations where the time frame is critical because availability of funds determine whether the company’s daily operations can continue or not.

It is not that difficult even for startups to get approval for a loan if they have a good credit score and a positive cash flow as well.

Defference Between a Small Business Loan and A Merchant Cash Advance

Business Loans

A business loan goes through an underwriting process that can take a few weeks before you are notified if you are approved or denied. Depending on the loan size, the funding bank will need certain documentation such as personal tax returns, business returns and financial statements. The underwriting process will determine if the business or business owner has a good credit history and the ability to pay back the loan which will involve a personal guarantee from the business owner. Usually there will be a stipulation that the business can’t open up any new debt during the term of the loan.

Repayment Terms

A business loan will usually have a maturity or payoff deadline of 3 to 10 years and the interest rates are usually fixed. The payments however can be amortized over a longer period of time making the payments more affordable. In this case, the loan will have a balloon payment due at maturity so the business owner will want to make sure they have a plan to payoff this balance at maturity or they may have to request a renewal or extension.

Collateral

Depending on the loan size, the bank may require collateral which can be in the form of property or assets. This can include real estate if they own the property, business assets and in some cases accounts receivables.

There are express type loans with loan amounts up to $50,000. These are usually based on the owners credit and personal guarantee and do not require collateral. Since it is unsecured, rates are usually higher and can come in the form of a revolving line of credit or a fixed term loan. The processing of these types of loans can be done usually within three to five days.

Merchant Cash Advances

A merchant cash advance can be processed much quicker and may be more convenient depending on the need for the funds. Since these types of loans are based on credit card volume, the business owner must have a merchant account for credit card transactions. Usually an approval can be done within 24 hours and since the documentation is limited, can fund within 72 hours. In some cases a business owner will use a merchant cash advance as a bridge loan while they are in the process of a business loan application.

Repayment Terms

A merchant cash advance is a short term solution for funds needed for business purposes such as inventory, expansion, upgrades or temporary cash flow. The repayment terms are based on a factor rate depending on the term of the loan. This loan will also have a balloon payment so the business owner will want to have a plan to payoff the note or will have to renew the loan.

Collateral

These types of loans base their approval on the monthly volume the business owner does in monthly credit card transaction. The collateral is basically the business owner agreeing to use future credit card sales for the repayment of the loan. Documentation is limited so this type of financing can fund quicker than a traditional business loan. Typically there is no personal guarantee and will not effect the business owners personal credit.