Starting and running a small business requires dedication, passion — and money. You might not yet have enough cash flow to launch or expand your business, and you might be worried about how you can fund your business plans. The good news is that there are a variety of options for entrepreneurs; even if you have bad credit, small business loans and other forms of lending could still be available to you.
Here’s the lowdown on how to get bad credit business loans or financing.
Preparing to Apply for a Business Loan With Poor Credit
It’s possible to get a business loan, even if your credit is less than stellar. Improve your chances of getting approved for a loan by following these steps.
1. Check Your Personal Credit
Get prepared before seeking small business financing by checking your personal credit with the three credit bureaus: Experian, Transunion and Equifax. Review your credit report to make sure everything’s correct, and dispute any errors you find.
2. Check Your Business Credit
Next, check your business credit report through one of the credit bureaus or a company like Dun & Bradstreet — which collects and provides data regarding the credit activities of companies worldwide — and review the reports to ensure the information on them is correct. If anything is inaccurate, follow up to make sure it gets removed or corrected.
3. Gather Documents
Gather all documents that prospective lenders will likely request. Although the requirements can vary from lender to lender, plan on including your business and personal bank statements, business information — such as how long you’ve been operating and your net income — and information on your clients and customers. You’ll also need to provide legal documentation showing the ownership and structure of the business.
4. Prepare to Make Your Request
Practice clearly explaining what you plan to do with this loan — your lender will ask. Be specific about your business plans and goals and be prepared to answer any questions about them.
Small Business Funding Options for Borrowers With Bad Credit
Entrepreneurs and business owners can choose from several loan types for people with poor credit. In addition to personal loans or home equity lines of credit, here are four small business funding options to consider.
When you get a business loan, you receive a lump sum of money. You then pay back the amount borrowed plus interest in a series of regular payments. Small business owners might use business loans to expand a business, hire new employees or purchase new equipment.
Getting a small business loan when you have a bad credit score can be challenging, but it isn’t impossible. You might be able to get a business loan through a credit union or community bank. But prepare to pay as much as 8 to 12 percent more for a bank loan than borrowers with good credit, according to the Small Business Administration website.
You can try for an SBA loan even if you don’t qualify for a traditional bank loan. These government-insured loans reduce the risk to lenders by guaranteeing to cover the repayment of a portion of the loan. The SBA offers both fixed and variable small business loan rates.
Application details depend on the type of SBA loan, but in general, you’ll need to provide information on the following:
- Personal information, such as your name and address
- Business plan
- Personal credit report
- Business credit report
- Income tax returns
- Financial statements
- Bank statements
- Legal documents
Business Credit Card
A business credit card works like a credit line for small business owners but might be easier to qualify for than bank loans, according to a Yahoo Finance report. The report showed that 80 percent of businesses credit card applications get approved and that the average annual percentage rate of online business credit card offers as of June 2016 was close to 13 percent.
A business credit card can be a convenient way to establish business credit. Credit cards for businesses with bad credit come with higher rates, though — as much as 9 to 18 percent more, according to the SBA.
A microloan is a small business loan, usually of $50,000 or less. Funds come from non-profit, community-based organizations like Kiva, which offers very small loans at 0 percent interest, or even through the SBA’s microloan program, which typically offers an APR between 8 and 13 percent.
A microloan suits start-up businesses, people facing credit issues, or businesses that fall into specific groups, such as those in rural or disadvantaged parts of the country.
If you don’t have collateral or a good business credit score but can prove you’ve had 12 to 24 months of solid cash flow, consider a revenue-based loan. The payments depend on your monthly revenue and bank deposits, with a portion of each bank deposit going toward the loan repayment. It’s hard to pinpoint a typical APR, but you could pay 1.5 to 2.5 times your principal revenue-based loan amount.
How to Improve Your Credit Before Applying for a Business Loan
If your business financing application is rejected, research other options, like a home equity line of credit or consider an online loan option through an alternative lender.
Next, try to set up credit relationships with vendors — like suppliers, wholesalers, leasing companies and other financial institutions — who will report your payments to the business credit reporting agencies. Make all of your payments in full and on time to improve your business credit score.
Although getting business loans or business financing might be tough when you have bad credit, you have options. Don’t give up if the first answer is no — work on improving your credit, then try again.