Taking out a SME loan is one of the realities of small business and one of the most difficult decisions any expanding business owner will have to make. Whether you want to expand your business or stay afloat, a SME loan is a crucial weapon in any businessman’s portfolio. Generally, some collateral will be required to secure the loan, which will take the shape of your company’s assets, such as real estate, equipment, etc. There’s a lot at risk.
So, here are five things to consider when applying for a small business loan.
- Define how much funding you require.
Once you’ve determined that you require a SME loan, it’s critical to be realistic about how much you require. Remember to factor in fees. You don’t want to go through this process more than once, so be sure you’re asking for enough money to achieve your goal. At the same time, be wary of taking out a larger loan than you need because the interest will be high and will not assist your income-to-debt ratio.
Also, remember that certain lenders may be unable to supply the financing you require, so do your research first.
- Determine how soon you require the loan.
As with most things in life, the less urgent your need, the better your selections will be. If you have time before you need the loan, you may be able to improve your credit score, find a suitable lender, or reduce the amount you’ll need to borrow. If you believe you might need one in the coming months, start preparing as if you would.
- Know your credit score
Your credit score will be a major consideration when applying for a loan. It is consequently critical to ensure that your score is free of errors. Before you even contemplate asking for a small business loan, get a copy of your credit report (available for free at AnnualCreditReport.com) and double-check its accuracy. If you believe there is an error, contact the credit bureau and the company concerned as soon as possible to fix the issue.
A high credit score above 700 gives you the best chance of obtaining a low-interest loan. A mid-level score, above 600 will result in higher interest rates, while a sub-600 score will result in high-interest rates assuming the loan is even granted in the first place.
- Look for alternatives to a small business loan
There are numerous funding options available these days. Traditional financial institutions, such as banks and credit unions, have long given a much-needed cash infusion to small business owners. Shady knee-capping agencies, on the other hand, have a lengthy history. Today, there are merchant cash advance choices and companies specializing in more flexible payback options, so do your research before you proceed.
- Read the fine print
Make sure you understand your signing before signing on the dotted line. There is a range of options available for SME loans, so examine the terms carefully. Be mindful of the payment structure: Is there a scheduled balloon payment that you might not be able to afford? Is the interest going to be greater than the principal throughout the life of the loan? Is there any origination or early payment penalties? These and other considerations should be thoroughly studied before incurring any debt.