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Apply for a business loan

Not what you’re looking for?

  • Choosing a loan you need
  • Improve your loan approval chances
  • Risk assessment

When applying for a business loan, it’s essential to prepare a detailed business plan and fully inform the lender about your proposed venture. This information helps the lender to provide you with the right type of finance and advice.

Deciding that your business needs a loan is only the first step. There are a number of things to consider before you approach a lender:

  • how much do you need to borrow?
  • what type of loan will you need?
  • how long will you need it for?
  • can the business afford to repay the loan, interest and any one-off or ongoing fees that come with the loan
  • what security can you offer the lender and how this affects the interest rate offered.

Online repayment calculators are a good tool in researching options but make sure you take the following into account:

Access to funds you borrow

If you need to access the funds on a semi regular basis to help with cash flow to keep the business operating while waiting for your customers to pay for goods, ‘at call’ loans such as an overdraft or line of credit are designed for this purpose. However, if you need the funds to buy a new business or equipment to expand your existing business you will need the funds ‘upfront’. This is also known as a ‘fully drawn advance’ and provides you with the entire loan amount all at once.

Loan terms

Loans provided upfront will need a portion of the loan plus interest paid back at regular intervals. The repayment amount will depend on the term or length of the loan. To determine the loan term suitable for your business you will need to calculate how much you can afford to service the loan. Be aware that the longer the loan term the more total interest you will pay. Loans that are at call have no fixed terms.

Ongoing funding

This is the average amount of an overdraft or line of credit that is used at any one time. For example, you may wish to have an overdraft limit of $20,000 to provide money for the occasional big expense, but usually you won’t use more than $5000 of that credit limit on average. So in this case $5,000 is the level of ongoing funding you need.

When applying for an overdraft limit, things to watch out for are:

  • higher the overdraft amount higher the fees
  • clauses where the lender can demand repayment of the whole loan at any time.

Fixed or variable interest rate

The choice of rate will affect the stability of repayments, overall cost of the loan and the loan features available. With a fixed rate loan the lender bears the risk of interest rate moves, while with a variable rate you will bear this risk. Ultimately, the choice of variable or fixed rates will depend upon how much free cash flow your business generates after you have paid all your expenses, including loan repayments. If your business has a low profit level, a variable rate loan repayment may rise beyond your ability to pay.

Loan security

Loans can be secured or unsecured by various types of assets, including residential, commercial, rural property or business assets. Alternatively, some loans are unsecured by any asset. Generally the less you provide for security the higher the interest rate will be. Be aware the lender has the legal right to seize any property or asset you offer as security if you can’t repay a loan on time.

There can be fees which can make a loan less attractive than it first seems. These include one-off fees such as establishment/application fees, exit/discharge fees and early termination fees or regular fees such as service fees or line/credit advance fees. The Business Loan Finder tool includes the cost of set-up and ongoing fees in the average monthly repayment to give you a better idea of the true cost of the loan.

Seek advice

The information provided here will provide you with a range of possible finance options. It is important to seek advice from your accountant or business advisers before approaching a lender for a loan.

Tip: Use our below Cashflow forecasting template to plan your cash flow and work out how much you need to lend.

Plan the business, plan the finance

Lenders will ask for a lot of in-depth information about the financial history of the business. It’s also important for you to create a convincing and detailed business plan which should include a profit and loss budget and cash flow forecast. The information you use to build your business plan may also be needed by the lender to assess your project. This includes both the past and future plans for your business, the people working in it and the market itself.

The outcome of your application is strongly influenced by how well your proposal is researched and how well it is presented.

Risk assessment

Banks and other lenders will look at your business’s risk profile when considering your loan application. Understanding what lenders look for and what they consider risky will help you present your business in a favourable manner.

As a general rule, lenders look for:

  • the level and nature of your security (what you’re offering to give them if you can’t repay the loan)
  • your ability to make regular loan repayments (cash flow risk)
  • your ability to ultimately repay the debt (business risk), including any other debts you might already have.

You need to be able to assess the level of cash flow or business risk in your specific circumstances. A projection of the cash requirements of the business is most important to a lender, as it is the actual cash left after expenses that will repay the loan, not income. It also shows you are an effective manager.

A lender’s perception of risk

The following factors can influence your lender’s perception of risk. If a number of these areas apply to you and your business you may need to consider another source of finance.

  • start up businesses incorporate financial, business and management risk
  • lack of security
  • lack of business history
  • industry sector, factors will include levels of competition, barriers to entry, profitability profile and current economic conditions
  • highly seasonal businesses, for example swimwear and agriculture. You’ll need to demonstrate how you’ll deal with cash flow pressures in the off season
  • lack of planning, market knowledge and finance skills
  • poor credit history.

Watch out! Before entering into a payment arrangement with the Tax Office, businesses should discuss this with their current or future lenders. Many businesses are unaware that entering into a payment arrangement with the Tax Office or other government agencies may adversely affect their current and future financing arrangements. For instance, a lender may not lend to a business if it is currently in a payment arrangement.

For more details visit the Guide to managing your tax debt on the ATO website.



How Do Small-Business Loans Work?

How do business loans work

A small-business loan can help get your business off the ground.

Related Articles

  • 1 [Business Loan] | How to Get a Business Loan From a Bank
  • 2 [Loans Work] | How Do Long-Term Loans Work?
  • 3 [Small Business Grant] | How to Apply for a Small Business Grant or Loan From the Government
  • 4 [Calculate Business Loan Payments] | How to Calculate Business Loan Payments

Small-business owners often need financial help to turn their entrepreneurial dreams into reality or keep an existing company afloat. If you need cash to purchase business equipment, fund your marketing campaign or cover your payroll, it may be necessary to take out a small-business loan. A small-business loan is different from other types of loans, and it’s beneficial to understand how the loans work before you apply for one.

Small-Business Lenders

You can get small-business loans from several sources, including banks, credit unions and online lenders. When researching potential lenders, it’s important to consider the interest rates that are being offered and the repayment terms that are available. If you need help qualifying for a business loan, the Small Business Administration offers numerous resources for business owners. The SBA does not extend loans to small businesses. It does, however, work with business owners to help them secure loan funding. If your business is relatively new or you don’t have substantial collateral, you may find it easier to secure an SBA-guaranteed loan rather than a traditional bank loan.

Application Requirements

The application for a small-business loan is exhaustive, and there are several pieces of information the lender may require. For example, the lender may ask about your previous experience owning or operating a business if you’re seeking a start-up loan. The lender also will expect you to explain in detail what the money will be used for. This is where having a well-written, detailed business plan can work to your advantage. A good business plan specifies the goals and mission of your business, makes projections about cash flow and profits, and outlines your marketing plan. In addition to information about the business, you’ll also need to provide certain personal information, including copies of your credit report and previous tax returns.

Repayment Terms

Your repayment terms generally depend on how much you borrowed and what the interest rate is. If you put up some type of collateral, such as your home, you may get a better interest rate than you would with an unsecured loan. You may be required to repay the loan in monthly installments or in one lump sum. When applying for a small-business loan, be sure to read the fine print to determine if you’ll be assessed any additional charges, such as a loan origination fee.

Considerations

You may be required to submit a personal guarantee to secure a small-business loan. The personal guarantee effectively says that if you can’t repay the loan, the lender has the right to come after your personal assets to collect what’s owed. Whether or not a personal guarantee is required typically depends on how old your business is, whether you have any collateral and your personal credit history. If you default on a small-business loan, whether it’s a bank loan or an SBA-backed loan, the lender could seek a judgment against you in civil court. The only way to erase a judgment is to pay the debt or file bankruptcy.



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Coping with stress at work

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Everyone who has ever held a job has, at some point, felt the pressure of work-related stress. Any job can have stressful elements, even if you love what you do. In the short-term, you may experience pressure to meet a deadline or to fulfill a challenging obligation. But when work stress becomes chronic, it can be overwhelming — and harmful to both physical and emotional health.

Unfortunately such long-term stress is all too common. In 2012, 65 percent of Americans cited work as a top source of stress, according to the American Psychological Association’s (APA) annual Stress in America Survey. Only 37 percent of Americans surveyed said they were doing an excellent or very good job managing stress.

A 2013 survey by APA’s Center for Organizational Excellence also found that job-related stress is a serious issue. More than one-third of working Americans reported experiencing chronic work stress and just 36 percent said their organizations provide sufficient resources to help them manage that stress.

You can’t always avoid the tensions that occur on the job. Yet you can take steps to manage work-related stress.

Common Sources of Work Stress

Certain factors tend to go hand-in-hand with work-related stress. Some common workplace stressors are:

  • Low salaries.
  • Excessive workloads.
  • Few opportunities for growth or advancement.
  • Work that isn’t engaging or challenging.
  • Lack of social support.
  • Not having enough control over job-related decisions.
  • Conflicting demands or unclear performance expectations.

Effects of Uncontrolled Stress

Unfortunately, work-related stress doesn’t just disappear when you head home for the day. When stress persists, it can take a toll on your health and well-being.

In the short term, a stressful work environment can contribute to problems such as headache, stomachache, sleep disturbances, short temper and difficulty concentrating. Chronic stress can result in anxiety, insomnia, high blood pressure and a weakened immune system. It can also contribute to health conditions such as depression, obesity and heart disease. Compounding the problem, people who experience excessive stress often deal with it in unhealthy ways such as overeating, eating unhealthy foods, smoking cigarettes or abusing drugs and alcohol.



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7 Inspiring Home Business Ideas for Stay-at-Home Moms (or Dads)

Work from home business ideasAre you a stay-at-home mom (or dad)? Hoping to kick start an entrepreneurial dream or simply looking to bring in some extra income?

Starting a home-based business is a great way to do this. In fact, 52 percent of U.S. companies operate as home businesses (source) and many of today’s biggest brand names were established by stay-at-home moms – (Dorothy) Gerber, Mrs. (Debbi) Fields, and Julie Aigner-Clark (Baby Einstein), to name but a few. But what types of businesses can grow and thrive in the home environment?

Here are some business ideas and considerations for stay-at-home moms!

Perhaps the easiest form of business to delve into and operate is freelancing. Whatever your skill – writing, web design, marketing, tax advisor, or photography – freelancing affords an enormous amount of flexibility and freedom, and can be started with little cost or paperwork. Many freelancers get their start by approaching a former employer or customer who could benefit from their services, then branch out as their body of work and reputation grows.

Freelancing does have its challenges and requires discipline – you are running a business after all. Common mistakes freelancers make include not setting the business up properly and legally (getting the right permits, or licenses), forgetting to put money aside to pay estimated taxes, and not planning for peaks and valleys in cash flow.

Check out these blogs for tips and guidance to help you through the process of starting and operating your freelance business:

Become a Virtual Assistant

Virtual assistants (VAs) provide a wide variety of “virtual” services to other businesses including administrative, marketing and technical support from a home office. My local window cleaner, for example, uses a VA to answer his calls and manage his calendar while he’s busy on-site. VAs are growing in popularity, too, as firms look to cut costs and outsource administrative functions. If you are organized and have an administrative background, this might be for you. Start with your own connections or take advantage of the services of a VA organization or association who can help you get started and connect you with clients.

Make Money from Blogging

Yes, you can make money by blogging. I follow several stay-at-home moms who happen to be fashion and style bloggers – and it’s their business. If you can write and have a passion for a specific topic or hobby that you know will garner some attention, then this might be for you. Income generation opportunities can come in the form of affiliate marketing and advertising on your website or from companies who ask you to review and blog about their products. Look for ways to get traffic to your website through social media, search engine optimization and by getting involved in the wider blogosphere (networking with and commenting on the blogs of others in your niche).

Start a Creative Business

Whether it’s making gift baskets or offering interior design consultation services, if you have a creative streak and the room to store and create, then why not consider making money out of your talents? Get to know the market and do some planning to identify an untapped niche. SBA has several tools that can help including the Build your Business Plan tool and SizeUp a market and business analysis tool that lets you benchmark your business against competitors, map your customers, competitors and suppliers, and locate the best places to advertise.

Start a Home-Based Bakery or Food Business

Food production from a home is heavily regulated but it’s not impossible. Take Martha Stewart, for example—she famously entered the food service business with a basement-based catering company in 1976. Before you start a home-based food business you will need to understand the rules and regulations that govern the production of food for public consumption in an at-home environment. For example do you need a separate kitchen? What about product labeling? And so on.

Home childcare businesses offer a potentially lucrative and long-lasting business opportunity. A home environment is often appealing to parents and once their kids are settled (and assuming you are doing a great job), then it’s likely you’ll have that business until they are old enough not to need care.

Of course, this is another regulated business and you’ll need to ensure you comply with state and local regulations that govern issues such as the provision of meals, minimum space requirements per child, and the number of licensed care workers per child.

Start an Online Marketplace Store

If you have clutter that you want to get rid of and like the idea of selling products to an established worldwide network of consumers, consider starting a business on eBay, Etsy or Amazon. You can source products to sell from junk/yard sales or charity shops. If you want to get a bit more sophisticated, then consider buying wholesale or adopting a drop-shipping model. The goal is to find products that are in high-demand and not readily available from other sources. Read more about getting started here: More Than Just a Seller – How to Start a Business on an Online Marketplace.

Other business ideas including a dog walking/pet care business, a travel agent, start a home-based franchise business, event planning, architectural design, or tutoring students!

Whatever your idea make sure you start, structure and operate your business according to legal and regulatory requirements. Check out SBA’s 10 Steps to Starting your Business for the facts.

About the Author:

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You have already probably replied to one or two of the more common work from home advertisements: selling water filters, answering telephones, stuffing envelopes etc.

Here are a few suggestions that will get your brain cells pulsating, but you need to act on the idea to make it happen. Who knows. you could get rich (and happy!).

Work from home business ideas

5. Have a hobby? Convert that hobby into a money-making venture! It doesn’t even have to be internet-based.

  • Are you into animals? Set up a dog-walking business, or do they call that pet-minding? Pet-grooming then?
  • Make plates and pots – or charge to teach other people your craft
  • Knit a lot? Charge to knit for others. Do alterations
  • Like baking? Buy a £9 book about themed birthday cake ideas and put your pinny on! This is truly viral. Once mums see your incredible creations at a birthday party, they’ll all be asking where the cake came from. Word gets around fast.
  • Handy with a video camera? Buy a video editing package (iMovie is free if you have a Mac) and set up a video editing service. How many people do you know with hundreds of hours of unedited family footage? Charge them £x per hour for viewing and £y for editing time. You can even charge for burning the DVDs.
  • Love kids? Do some child care or child tutoring.
  • Love reading? Plenty of proofreading work out there.
  • Speak a foreign language? Translation pays well.
  • Are you a computer ‘tecky’? Then you’ll know how easy it is now to remotely administer other PCs. Providing remote PC support is a rapidly growing business, and one that can be done entirely from your own home office.

6. Put people together. My Dad is a very clever bloke. He made a small fortune putting local foreign language tutors in touch with students. They either used the student’s or tutor’s own home, so he didn’t even need to provide premises. Tutors supplied their own teaching materials. He charged students X, paid tutors Y and made profit Z on every single hour of tuition.



Small Business Loans: How They Work and What You Should Know

How do business loans work

Small Businesses are increasing their payrolls, but hours worked and wages earned are down slightly. Photo: Reuters

For small business startups, knowing how loans work and getting them are absolutely crucial.

Many entrepreneurs, however, wait until the last minute to think about loans and prefer to dwell on grandiose plans, never mind that they often need loans to fund those plans.

Asking for loans is “unpleasant; it’s like asking your dad for the car keys,” said Charles H. Green, Executive Director at the Small Business Finance Institute and author of The SBA Loan Book.

Small businesses should start this “unpleasant” process early, however, partly because it could prove to be long and difficult.

One entrepreneur Green encountered secured his loan at the 60th bank he approached.

While this might be an extreme example, small business owners often need to try at more than one bank to get a small business loan.

During the process of dealing with a bank, moreover, they may be asked to provide additional documents they previously did not anticipate needing.

Green stressed that small business owners need to be patient in this entire process.

Banks Want Their Money Back

In making any small business loans, the goal of the bank is to get its money back. Even if the loan is made through the Small Business Administration (SBA), it is still a bank that ultimately risks its capital.

Banks usually get their money back from the borrower’s revenues. If that is not possible, banks can also get their money back from selling assets pledged as collateral or from the small business owners personally.

Therefore, besides documents relating to the business projections, banks may often request documents relating to the personal finances of the small business owner and whatever assets that can be pledged as collateral.

Backing up Projection Numbers

Regarding business projection numbers – that is, assessing the probability of repayment from borrower revenues – it is all about justifying those numbers, preferably with facts, said Green. For existing businesses, that may mean financial statements.

Some of the hard questions a lender may ask include:

*How many customers do you need?

*How do you find them?

*Who are satisfying these customers already?

*Why would they feel compelled to buy from you?

*What is your capacity to deliver those products?

*What is the cost to deliver those products?

Sometimes, the best efforts of small businesses to secure a loan are not good enough.

When rejections happen, Green recommended turning them into learning lessons. Often times, if the small business owner manages to remain calm and polite, he can get candid responses as to why he was rejected.

These explanations often turn into keys to successfully securing a loan from another bank in the future.

Choosing the Right Banks

Other times, though, a rejection from a bank has nothing to do with the borrower at all. That is, a lender may not have any money to lend.

Therefore, Green recommended that small businesses avoid banks under consent agreement with or issued a cease and desist order by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).

Generally speaking, smaller banks have more flexibility in their lending standards while bigger banks usually offer cheaper rates, added Green.