When it comes to securing a business loan, your options are seemingly endless. Not only are there a wide variety of products out there, there are also a huge range of lenders offering these loans, from well-known high street banks, through to specialised independent lenders. However, the good news is that regardless of the size of your business, chances are there is a loan out there which meets your needs.
Your first step is to decide exactly what it is you are looking for. What may be suitable for a well-established company needing a large amount of money to fund an ambitious growth project, will be completely different to that required by a start-up looking for finance to purchase stock.
With that in mind, you should know how much money you will be looking to borrow, how much you can afford to repay on a monthly basis, and how long you will need the loan to run for. Once you are clear on these factors, you can start narrowing down the field.
Short-term loans – It may be the case that you need to borrow money only for the short-term. it could be that you know you will be coming into an amount of money in the near future with which you will be able to pay off the loan, or you perhaps you only need to obtain a relatively small amount of funding which you will easily be able to clear in a couple of years. If this is the case there are specialised loans out there designed exactly for this purpose. A short-term loan is usually defined as borrowing with a term of less than two years.
When lending money, banks and other financial establishments like to know that their money will be repaid as per the agreement.
This is why lenders prefer secured loans, which give them a tangible asset that they can take control of and sell in the event of non-payment.
However, not every company has a property or assets that they can put up as collateral. In these instances a lender may ask you to sign what is known as a personal guarantee. In its simplest form, a PG is an agreement which states that should your business fail or be unable to repay the money it has borrowed, you as an individual will then be responsible for paying back this money from your own personal finances.
In the event of a limited company entering into insolvency proceedings, any debt owned by the company will be written off as part of the liquidation. However, if a personal guarantee has been signed for any of the debt, this limited liability does not apply and the loan still needs to be repaid.
Giving a Personal Guarantee is a huge step to take and you should consider the personal implications of this thoroughly. Always seek legal/expert advice before committing to a Personal Guarantee.
It may be the case that you are so focused on securing a loan that you don’t give much thought to the lender itself. After all, the money is the same no matter who lends it to you, right? While this may be true, taking the time to ensure you are approaching the right lender could save you considerable time and effort in the long-run.
Your first choice may be one of the high street banks. A loan from a mainstream bank is typically the cheapest option due to the relatively low rates of interest they charge, however, depending on your business and its current financial situation you may find it difficult to be accepted. The application process is rigorous, and you should expect to be able to demonstrate solid financials backed up with a strong business plan for the future plus a lengthy and successful trading history. Obviously this is not going to be possible for every business, particularly those which are newly established. Luckily there are alternative providers out there.
Challenger banks typically ‘look at the bigger picture’ with their lending criteria, although the application process is still tough and the interest rates on offer may be higher than the high street lenders. Another option is to consider a specialist lender who may be able to accommodate your needs better. Depending on the industry you operate in, you may be able to find a lender who specialises in your sector. These providers will understand the challenges businesses in your industry face and will be able to analyse your financials with this in mind. The application process can be swifter, with many specialist lenders now in the position to approve your loan and transfer the money within a matter of days once affordability and the credit process has been passed.
With the array of loans on the market it is prudent to obtain expert advice before going ahead. Real Business Finance has a huge amount of experience when it comes to commercial borrowing, and we can help you understand your options and ensure you are making the right decision for you and your business. Call our team of finance professionals today to start the process.