If the search for fast funding has you in a panic, here’s some good news: Shopping for a business loan in 2018 means you have a ton of options for securing quick cash from a reputable lender.
Thanks to the rise of speedy online application platforms and the variety of loan products now available to small business owners, you may have your hands on the capital you need in a matter of days rather than weeks. Here are a few ways to make it happen.
1. Find an Alternative Lender
Immediately following the recession of 2008, small business owners found it more difficult than ever to secure loans from traditional lending institutions. Traditional term loans from banks went to larger, more mature businesses with more revenue and longer credit histories. Small businesses, according to this way of thinking, were risky investments—an attitude that persists to this day.
The silver lining, however, was the rise of alternative lenders, also known as online lenders, which sprang up to serve the borrowers banks denied. These online lenders offer financing with less stringent qualification requirements and at faster speeds, making them ideal for a small business owner in need of a fast loan.
Generally, their online application procedures demand less paperwork, employ faster underwriting, and automate certain parts of the process. This means business owners can often get their hands on the capital they need within a day or two.
That’s much faster than the days or weeks an approval process often takes with a traditional lender!
2. Apply for a Short-Term Loan
One of the most common offerings from alternative lenders is a short-term loan. This type of financing gives business owners access to capital faster and with more flexibility than a traditional term loan—the dream for an entrepreneur in need of cash in a hurry.
As with most alternative lender products, you won’t need to gather up as much paperwork or endure as rigorous a vetting process for a short-term loan. Keep in mind, however, that there is a trade-off for all this ease of use: Short-term loans are typically more costly in the long run than longer-term loans. They may come with higher interest rates and more rapid-fire payment schedules. You’ll need to bear these big-picture cost considerations in mind as you shop for financing and make the best choice for the long-term health of your business.
3. Apply for a Line of Credit
If a short-term loan doesn’t quite suit your needs, you may qualify for other types of loan products. These include business lines of credit, one of the most flexible and accessible types of borrowing available to small business owners.
A business line of credit functions much like your personal credit card, except that you receive access to cash rather than swiping during a purchase. You can withdraw whatever amount you need (within your maximum), whenever, for whatever purpose. You only accrue interest on what you withdraw.
As with a credit card, a poor credit score may hike up your rates. If you’ve maintained healthy credit, however, you might be eligible for an even lower rate than your standard business credit card (another great option to secure capital).
4. Apply for Invoice Financing
Invoice financing is another option for businesses that earn their revenue via client invoices and could use a helping hand while those client payments come through. This type of financing gives you an advance on a percentage of your unpaid invoices, which you then repay to your lender once your client settles up.
Invoice financing comes with its own set of cons, as well: You may encounter higher fees with this type of financing, and the longer your client takes to pay those invoices, the more you’ll have to pay.
Invoice financing is designed specifically for borrowers who needed their money yesterday, so they can be a valuable option for those in a hurry to rectify a dip in their cash flow.
5. Hit the Ground Running
If you’re seeking financing through an alternative lender, you won’t encounter as exhaustive an application process as you would when trying to get a traditional term loan. You may not be asked to provide a detailed business plan, for example.
Nonetheless, entering the application process as prepared as possible can only help you get the capital you need faster. Make sure you have answers on-hand for each of these common questions:
- How long have you been in business?
- What is your business’s annual revenue?
- What kind of legal entity is your business?
- What is your credit score? (Typically, alternative lenders will ask for your personal credit score, not a business credit score.)
- To what industry does your business belong?
- How will you use the borrowed funds?
- Have you ever filed for bankruptcy?
This is not an exhaustive list of questions—your lender may ask you many more, or skip over some entirely—but starting your funding search with these answers gets you a step ahead.
Keep in mind: You don’t need to settle for the first lender you find. The beauty of online lenders is the speed and convenience with which you can compare your options. Even as you’re in a hurry, take the time to examine all of your options and consider the healthiest choice for the long-term success of your business.
Meredith Wood is the Editor-in-Chief at Fundera, an online marketplace for small business loans that matches business owners with the best funding providers for their business. Prior to Fundera, Meredith was the CCO at Funding Gates. Meredith is a resident Finance Advisor on American Express OPEN Forum and an avid business writer. Her advice consistently appears on such sites as Yahoo!, Fox Business, Amex OPEN, AllBusiness, and many more.