If your goal for 2014 is to become a business owner, you’re most likely being inundated with advice and tips. Maybe so much that sifting through it and evaluating who you can trust is eating up time that would be better spent putting the wheels in motion for your new venture. In the interest of saving you time and aggravation, I’ve broken down the five most important things you should know about getting the funds squared away for your business:
1) Pre-empt your lender’s doubts.
If you’re seeking a loan to purchase a franchise, your bank may be well-versed in franchising—or not. Assume they will need convincing about the franchise and do their homework for them: a risk evaluation using banking terminology and analyzing standard underwriting topics. A FRANdata bank credit report in hand will smooth your path with lenders.
2) Get your financial records in shape.
That means get them together in one place in a condition that makes it clear that you are trustworthy, keep meticulous records and are a serious professional. The bank is going to want to see:
- Personal and business credit history
- Personal and business financial statements for existing and startup businesses and as well as a projected financial statements
- A strong, detailed business plan (including personal information such as bios, education, etc.)
- Cash flow projections for at least a year
3) Realize that your payment history is important.
There’s no question that your credit score is important, but banks will also look at your back payment history. If it concerns them, it could dilute the weight given even a strong credit score.
4) Make sure your resume reflects your business acumen.
Even if you’ve never owned a business before, highlight the experience you do have to show lenders that you have knowledge of the space you’re entering, that you finish what you start, that you have membership in organizations that are relevant to your new business.
5) Keep calm and carry on.
It’s become an internet meme, but it’s relevant here. Be patient and move forward with plans as best you can while awaiting a decision from the lender. If you get a ‘no,’ move on. Successful business owners know that it’s all about the long game.
Of course there are alternative ways to fund a business. If you’ve got a 401(k), there is a rather complex, but completely legal way to use the retirement account to purchase a business—without incurring any debt.
David Nilssen is the CEO & Co-Founder of Guidant Financial. Read more tips about becoming a successful entrepreneur in his book, Making the Jump into Small Business Ownership. He can be found on Twitter at @DavidNilssen.