In order to start a business, you’ve got to prime the pump and get cash flowing. For most small business owners, this comes in the form of a business loan. And this is where it can get dicey. Savvy entrepreneurs who have spent months, or even years, honing their business plan have been known to rush through the loan application process without the care and finesse they applied to the other aspects of their business.
The result? Some of the loans are straight-up denied. Other loans are approved, but with unfavorable interest rates. In either case, you may be sinking your business before it ever has a chance to grow.
So if you want to improve the likelihood of getting a green light on a loan, you’ve got to approach the application like a fly fisherman approaches his favorite fishing hole. Monitor the conditions beforehand so you know the best time to go. When you reach the river, don’t make any sudden movements that might decrease your chances of success. Study the water thoughtfully before casting, so that you don’t unnecessarily spook any fish. Drop your line exactly where you know the fish will be, with a fly that you know they’ll strike.
Of course, fishing analogies will only get you so far. Here’s a handful of reasons your application could be denied:
You’re choosing the wrong loan product
Before you get within a mile of signing on a dotted line, you need to identify which loan will best meet your needs. First off, how do you plan to use the money? If you’ll need all the money at once, there’s a loan for that. If you’d prefer ongoing access to capital for multiple uses, there’s a loan for that. Basically, there are loan options for just about anything you might need. So make sure you identify your ideal match.
You don’t have adequate credit
If you have any kind of plans to apply for a business loan in the future, you’d best be monitoring your credit, because it’s one of the most critical factors in the approval process. Go to all three of the heavyweights: TransUnion, Experian and Equifax. If you know your score, you’ll know if you’re in position to apply. And if you see errors on your credit report, you can take action to remedy them.
You don’t have adequate financial records
While you may be the most personable person on the planet, financial institutions are going to be primarily interested in your finances. After all, it’s stability and sustainability that repays loans, not your smile. Take ample time to assemble all the documentation that might be required, including your last few tax returns, at least six months of bank statements, your balance sheet, and profit and loss statements.
You missed your window of opportunity
If you know you’ll need money for a specific purpose, you should take action well in advance to make sure you can get the application rolling in time. Loans from the U.S. Small Business Association or a traditional bank can have very favorable interest rates. The catch is that the application review process takes longer. So if you’re in a hurry for the loan, you may be forced to go with a faster lender that will charge a substantially higher interest rate.