Many entrepreneurs opt for buying a franchise over starting a new business for a number of reasons. Some of them are more obvious than others, but the primary reasons are:
- They can start with a ready-made client base
- They already have brand recognition
- They have a parent company to train them on successful best practices
- They have access to marketing resources others may not
If you own or are thinking about purchasing a franchise, these may be some of the reasons for your decision. Did you also know, depending on the franchise, it might be easier to secure the financing you need to get things started? Not only does the SBA (Small Business Administration) offer small business loans targeted at franchises, they offer advice regarding SBA-approved franchises.
Franchises approved by the SBA are business opportunities that have agreements accepted by the SBA. If you purchase a franchise on the approved list, the loan process is quicker and easier. Basically, you’re looking at a franchise that is pre-approved; making the loan review less complex allowing you and the lender to focus on specific aspects of your business plan rather than whether or not the franchise is viable.
This doesn’t necessarily mean a franchise not on the list is a bad risk. There are numerous reasons any particular franchise might not be on the list. Sometime the franchise may have even decided they don’t want to be on the list. If you are thinking of purchasing a franchise that isn’t on the list, you will likely go through a little more complicated review process, but it doesn’t mean an SBA loan is out of the question. In fact, according to the SBA, “Being on or off the list is not an endorsement or indication of quality and profitability, so you should still thoroughly research for your potential franchise opportunity.”
What’s more, even if the franchise you are looking to purchase is on the list, an SBA loan isn’t a slam dunk. You’ll still need to qualify for the loan. The standard SBA Loan Application Checklist, can help you prepare the documentation you’ll need to apply. Some apply to acquiring financing for growth, while others apply to new businesses:
- Purpose of the loan
- History of the business
- Financial statements for three years (existing businesses)
- Schedule of term debts (existing businesses)
- Aging accounts receivable and payable (existing business)
- Projected opening-day balance sheet (new businesses)
- Lease details
- Amount of investment in the business by the owners(s)
- Projections of income, expenses and cash flow
- Signed personal financial statements
- Personal resume(s) for each of the owners and principles
There is a lot of information online about finding and operating a franchise (so we won’t go into that here), however once you’ve decided on the franchise you’d like to purchase, the SBA suggests the following next steps:
- Make sure you understand the SBA review process to minimize the amount of time the process might take. If you know what you need to submit and make sure it all happens in a timely manner, it makes the process a lot easier. In addition to the SBA.gov website, there are a number of franchise lenders on the Lendio platform that can help you through the process. Upon completing a profile, you’ll get matched to lenders who can walk you through the process. Make sure and ask enough questions so you understand the process and next steps.
- Collect the information outlined above to process your loan request.
- Pick a lender. All across the country there are lenders that regularly work with the SBA and are familiar with the process. You’re not required to use a preferred lender, but you might find that anything that streamlines the process could be beneficial.
In addition to the SBA, many banks and other lenders offer financing specifically for purchasing a franchise. Make sure you do you due diligence to ensure you get the best terms and the right loan to fit your situation.
Small business evangelist and veteran of over 30 years in the trenches of Main Street business, Ty makes small business best practices, tips and advice accessible by weaving personal experiences, historical references and other anecdotes into relevant discussions about leading people, managing a business and what it takes to be successful. Ty writes about small business financing among other topics for Lendio.com, in addition to sharing his passion for small business every week on Forbes.com.