Business Loans

Alternative Business Loans for Your Small Business

Jun 22, 2015 • 10+ min read
Small Business Loans for Felons
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      Why can it be so difficult for small business owners to get a traditional loan? Let me tell you a short story about Annie, a restaurant owner in Henderson, Nevada. Her small business-Annie’s Gourmet Italian was growing rapidly and she needed to expand fast. Her first stop was a trip to her current bank, which is a national lending institution. She was applying for a small business loan and was unfortunately turned down. You may look at the bank and consider them the bad guy here but technically, this isn’t the traditional lende

      The availability of dependable cash flow can have a big impact on the success of a small business. Yet a 2021 report from the Federal Reserve shows that, when businesses applied for financing, nearly 60% of applicants were either outright denied or able to borrow only a portion of the money they needed. 

      For small business owners who are seeking traditional business loans, the road to financing can be difficult. Consider the following story about Annie, a restaurant owner in Henderson, Nevada, as an example. 

      Annie’s business (Annie’s Gourmet Italian) was growing at a rapid pace and she needed to expand fast to keep that momentum from faltering. Her first stop was a trip to her current bank—a national lending institution. She applied for a small business loan, but the bank was unwilling to approve her request. The best the bank could do was offer her a business line of credit, and that wasn’t enough to cover her financing needs. 

      It’s tempting to look at the bank as the bad guy in this scenario. Yet it’s important to understand that smaller commercial loans aren’t always a good fit for large traditional lenders. From a processing and profit standpoint, issuing smaller commercial loans might not be practical for some lending institutions. 

      So, what options do small business owners like Annie have in this situation? For many small business owners who are stunned to learn how hard it is to get a business loan, the answer is to consider alternative financing.rs fault. The processing and profitability for this size and type of loan is simply not practical for their type of institution. The best they can do is provide her with a business line of credit.

      So what is Annie to do? She has reached a roadblock while trying to operate her restaurant and in order to overcome this setback she needs to solver her current cash-flow situation.

      What Is Alternative Financing?

      Alternative financing is a term that doesn’t necessarily inspire a lot of confidence at first glance. In fact, industry leaders are pushing to change the title of those who offer these types of financing solutions to “Innovative Lenders.” 

      Despite its name, alternative financing is a valuable service for small business owners who may struggle to qualify for traditional business financing. Alternative business loans provide many business owners with the amount of funding they need at a quick turnaround that helps maintain business operations.

      Who Are Alternative Lenders?

      Since 2012, more than 100 participants have entered the alternative lending industry.  These companies offer a variety of alternative financing options, from term loans to cash advances. The flexibility that alternative business loans offer can make these funding solutions an excellent resource for small business owners.

      Benefits of Alternative Lending

      Below are some of the benefits that alternative business loans have to offer.

      Online Applications

      Most alternative lenders have embraced technology and provide applicants with simple loan applications that take just a few minutes to fill out. By comparison, some business loan applications can take hours or more to complete, given their sometimes heavy documentation requirements. With a simplified loan application process, alternative lenders free small business owners up to focus on what really matters—running their businesses.

      Less Stringent Requirements

      Traditional lenders will consider a variety of factors when you apply for a business loan. A business lender may review your personal credit score, business credit score, time in business, annual revenue, collateral, and more to determine whether or not to approve your application for financing and what terms to offer you if you qualify.

      Alternative lenders tend to be more lenient where business loan requirements are concerned. You might be able to get an alternative business loan with less-than-perfect credit, lower annual revenue numbers, etc. There are even first-time small business loans from alternative lenders for eligible startups. 

      Faster Funding Speed

      Another potential perk of using alternative business loans has to do with funding speed. When you work with a traditional lender, you might have to wait days or even weeks after qualification to receive your business loan proceeds. The SBA loan process, for example, is reported to sometimes take several months to complete. 

      With alternative financing, on the other hand, some lenders offer same-day or next-day funding. This can give small business owners faster access to the capital they need in a hurry to manage cash flow, cover expenses, order inventory, invest in growth opportunities, and more. 

      Credit Building Potential

      The potential to establish credit for your business is a valuable benefit. Many alternative business lenders also offer their customers the opportunity to build business credit, just like traditional lenders. If you want to establish business credit, you should look for an alternative lender that reports to one or more of the business credit reporting agencies. 

      Of course, how you manage your alternative business loan matters most where your business credit is concerned. If you have an alternative business loan that appears on one or more of your business credit reports, it’s essential to pay on time every month. (Tip: Some business credit scoring models may reward you more if you pay early.) If you make late payments on your business credit obligations, however, those negative notations have the potential to damage your business credit scores. 

      Flexible Usage of Funding

      Some alternative business loans offer business owners more flexibility when it comes to how they use the money they borrow. If you need to secure financing that your business may need to cover a variety of different expenses or investments, having less restrictive rules around how you use the funds you borrow can be useful. 

      More Financing Options

      When you apply for business financing from a traditional lender, you might not have a lot of different funding choices available. Alternative lenders, by comparison, offer a variety of financing options, such as those outlined below. 

      What are my Alternative Financing Options?

      Here are some examples of alternative financing options available to small businesses. 

      Business Term Loans

      Business term loans are what many people think of when they think of business financing. Term loans often feature fixed interest rates, fixed monthly payments, and a fixed number of monthly payments (aka repayment period). Depending on the lender, you may be able to use the funds you borrow for a variety of purposes, from equipment needs to cash flow support to expansion. 

      Short Term Loans

      Short term loans earn their title because they typically feature a shorter repayment period. With this type of alternative business loan, you might have to repay your loan within a year or less, though terms can vary. These loans sometimes come with weekly or even daily payments as well. 

      This loan option could be helpful if your business needs to access funds in a hurry (provided you’re working with a reputable alternative lender). However, you should make sure the loan offer makes sense for your business and that you can manage an expedited repayment schedule. A business owner might consider this type of loan to address a financial slump, manage a seasonal downturn, finance short-term projects, and more. 

      Equipment Financing

      Equipment financing is a type of loan that can help you finance essential tools and equipment for your business to operate. The equipment itself typically serves as collateral for the loan. As a result, you may be able to lock in a better rate for this type of financing, compared to other borrowing options. Depending on the lender, however, you may also need to provide a down payment. 

      SBA Loan

      Although you can apply for SBA loans with traditional banks, some online lenders offer them as well. Loans backed by the U.S. Small Business Administration can be a great fit for small businesses, since they often feature affordable rates, high loan amounts, and lengthy repayment terms. 

      On the other hand, the approval criteria for SBA loans tends to be on the stricter side. For example, with SBA 7(a) loans, you’ll need a minimum FICO® SBSS Score of 155 to qualify. SBA loans also tend to feature slower funding periods with loan processes that often take weeks or even months to complete. 

      Business Credit Card

      Business credit cards are a flexible financing option that may be available to established businesses and startups alike. However, you may need good personal credit to qualify. The interest rates on business credit cards (and credit cards in general) are often high. So, it’s best to use this form of financing for short-term cash flow support—never borrowing more than you can afford to pay off in a given billing cycle. When you revolve a balance from one month to the next, interest charges generally apply. 

      Many business credit cards come with the potential to help you build good business credit for your company as well. And if you open a business rewards credit card, you might earn valuable points, miles, or cash back on purchases that your business already needed to make.

      Business Line of Credit

      A business line of credit is another flexible way to borrow money for your business. When you open a line of credit you receive a credit limit—the maximum amount your business can borrow on the account. As you use the line of credit, your available credit shrinks. But when you repay some (or all) of the money you borrowed, you should be free to borrow again against the same credit line. 

      Business lines of credit often feature revolving interest rates (like credit cards). These revolving interest rates can range from affordable to high, depending on the lender you choose, your creditworthiness, and other factors. Yet you pay interest only on the money you borrow, not the overall credit line. So, you have a bit more control over the process than you would with a traditional business loan. 

      Business Cash Advance

      A business cash advance (also called a merchant cash advance) lets your company borrow against money it will make in the future. In general, the cash advance provider will base the amount your business is eligible to borrow on its credit card sales volume. 

      As you collect future credit card payments, the cash advance company may take a portion of your daily sales to repay the borrowed funds, plus a “factor rate.” Factor rates can be high, making merchant cash advances a potentially expensive financing option. So, it’s important to review your company’s finances and make sure it can handle the expense and repayment schedule before you move forward. 

      Accounts Receivable Financing

      Accounts receivable financing—also called invoice financing—offers small business owners another way to borrow against future earnings. If your business invoices its customers and has to wait to receive payment, you might be eligible for this funding solution. 

      In general, you don’t need good personal or business credit to qualify for accounts receivable financing. Rather, financing companies will consider the creditworthiness and payment capability of your customers (aka debtors) instead.    

      Lendio’s mission is to empower your business by making small business loans simple through options, speed, and trust. Whether you are looking for an alternative business loan or term business loan, Lendio offers hundreds of options from a variety of lenders. 

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      The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Lendio. Any content provided by our bloggers or authors are of their opinion and are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual or anyone or anything. The information provided in this post is not intended to constitute business, legal, tax, or accounting advice and is provided for general informational purposes only. Readers should contact their attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor to obtain advice on any particular matter.
      About the author
      Michelle Lambright Black

      Michelle Lambright Black is a nationally recognized credit expert with two decades of experience. Founder of CreditWriter.com—an online community that helps busy moms take control of their credit and finances—Michelle's work has been published thousands of times by FICO, Experian, Forbes, Bankrate, MarketWatch, Parents, U.S. News & World Report, and many more.

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