Couple who just secured a small business loan

Types of Small-Business Loans

When you're looking into developing an existing business or starting a new one, it's important to put "raising capital" at the top of your to-do list. There are a variety of funding options you can pursue to get your venture off the ground.

Small Business Administration Loan

The Small Business Administration (SBA) is a U.S. government agency that specializes in both short- and long-term loan programs. The majority of borrowers use what is known as the 7(a) program. There are a few 7(a) loan requirements to be aware of:

  • The business must be operating for profit and demonstrate the need based on invested equity.
  • A sound business plan should be in place and show reasonable effort to seek out alternative forms of financial capital.
  • The borrower should not be in delinquency or default on any government debt, such as student loans or government-backed mortgages.

The SBA microloan program has similar requirements and includes a vested interest from additional individual lending and credit requirements. The loans are available in amounts up to $50,000 and may require some collateral.

SBA loans can offer a large amount of borrowing power leverage and offer longer payment terms if needed. The cons to these loans include fees that can be somewhat high and the fact that the underwriting process may require personal assets, such as real estate or a car, as backup in case the loan defaults. Fixed and variable interest rate loans are available.

Equity Loans and Lines of Credit

These loans can function as a mix of secured and unsecured debt financing. They are usually used as a reserve of capital to tap into. The borrower is not given a check from a lender. Instead, the business owner is allowed to write against a specific line of credit from real estate or a line of credit based on credit history. Caution should be taken to protect assets and reduce the effects of compounded interest rates.

Peer-to-Peer Lending

Peer-to-peer, or P2P, lending is a very popular solution for a small business trying to start up. You may find yourself with a solid business plan, but bad credit, and in need of a business loan. A shaky financial past or a lack of resources may make it difficult to receive traditional loans. This is where peer-to-peer lending comes into play. These personal loans link up the business plan with individual investors at various interest rates. Most lending networks require a successful plan and a credit background.

These lending networks are usually more lenient on credit scores, which can work to your advantage if you have bad credit, and allow for predictable fixed interest rates. The downside to these loans is the extra work required to create and deliver an exceptional business plan.

Working Capital Loans

Working capital loans are similar to a revolving line of credit in that most forms require some collateral. These loans are a quick exchange of business assets into the form of a loan. If you are just starting out, these can be opportunities to develop working capital very quickly. Be sure to keep all your assets in check to avoid losing them in a default.