Tag: Small-Business

How to Qualify for a Small-Business Loan in 5 Steps #business #listing

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How to Qualify for a Small-Business Loan in 5 Steps

You can trust that we maintain strict editorial integrity in our writing and assessments; however, we receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners and get approved. Here’s how we make money .

Qualifying for a small-business loan is easier when you’re prepared. Below is a to-do list that will help you qualify for the cash you need to grow your business.

Whether you end up applying for an SBA loan through a bank or opt for an online small-business loan, you should be familiar with the requirements of each lender. Knowing whether you meet their criteria before you apply will save you time and frustration.

How to quality for a small-business loan

1. Improve personal and business credit scores

Your personal credit score ranges from 300 to 850 (the higher, the better), and evaluates your ability to repay debts. The score is typically weighed more heavily by small-business lenders if your business is new and lacks credit history. It’s based mainly on three factors: your payment history (35% of your score), the amounts owed on credit cards and other debt (30%) and how long you’ve had credit (15%).

Paying your bills on time is, of course, crucial to improving your score. But even if you pay your bills like clockwork, credit report errors could be damaging your score one in four consumers has damaging credit report errors. However, four out of five consumers who filed a dispute got their credit report modified, according to a study by the Federal Trade Commission. You can get a copy of your credit reports for free once a year at AnnualCreditReport.com and dispute any inaccuracies you find through each of the credit bureaus’ websites (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion).

Businesses that are more established and applying for bank loans can check out their business credit scores (which generally range from 0 to 100) at the three business credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax and Dun Bradstreet. Check out these five steps to building business credit, and if you see any mistakes on your reports, contact the bureaus.

More than likely, you’ll need an excellent business credit score as well as good personal credit to qualify for an SBA loan or traditional loan from a bank, although this will depend on the individual lender and factors such as your business revenue and cash flow. In general, online lenders look at personal credit scores but are a bit more lenient when it comes to credit score requirements, as they place more emphasis on your business’s cash flow and track record.

2. Know the lender’s minimum qualifications

There’s no way around it: If you don’t meet a lender’s minimum qualifications, applying is a waste of time.

Borrowers typically need to meet minimum criteria related to credit scores, annual revenue and years in business. And lenders generally frown upon recent bankruptcies and other past delinquencies.

To qualify for SBA loans, borrowers also must be current on all government loans and can’t have any past defaults. So if you’re late on a federal student loan or a government-backed mortgage, you’ll be disqualified. You also can’t be on the SBA’s ineligible businesses list. which includes life insurance companies and financial businesses such as banks.

Qualifying for online lenders can be easier. While these lenders typically underwrite loans based on traditional factors such as credit scores, annual revenue and cash flow, the loans carry less stringent requirements than banks.

3. Gather financial and legal documents

Banks and other traditional lenders typically ask for a wide range of financial and legal documents during the application process. They include:

  • Personal and business income tax returns
  • Balance sheet and income statement
  • Personal and business bank statements
  • A photo of your driver’s license
  • Commercial leases
  • Business licenses
  • Articles of incorporation
  • A resume
  • Financial projections if you have a limited operating history

These requirements can make getting a bank loan time consuming. That may not be an issue if you’re in the market for a long-term business loan to finance a major investment.

However, if you need money faster, online lenders may be a better fit, as they can provide a streamlined online application process with fewer documentation requirements and faster underwriting. But they may come with higher borrowing costs. If you have good credit and business finances, however, some lenders may provide rates comparable to those of bank loans.

4. Develop a strong business plan

Lenders will want to know how you plan to use the money and will want to see that you have a strong ability to repay. They may require a solid business plan that details the purpose of the loan and how you expect it to increase profits.

Your business plan should include current and projected financials, and clearly demonstrate that your business will have enough cash flow to cover ongoing business expenses and the new loan payments. This can give the lender more confidence in your business, increasing your chances at loan approval. Your p lan should include :

  • Company description
  • Product and/or service description
  • Management team
  • Industry analysis
  • Facilities and operations plan
  • Promotional, marketing and sales strategy
  • SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats)

5. Provide collateral

To qualify for a small-business loan, you may have to provide collateral to back the loan. This refers to an asset, such as equipment, real estate or inventory, that can be seized and sold by the lender if you can’t make your payments. It’s basically a way lenders can make back their money if your business fails.

SBA loans require “adequate” collateral for security on all loans, plus a personal guarantee from every owner of 20% or more of the business. A personal guarantee puts your credit score and your personal assets on the hook.

Some online lenders do not require collateral but may want a personal guarantee. Others may also take a blanket lien on your business assets essentially another form of collateral giving the lender the right to take business assets (real estate, inventory, equipment) to recoup an unpaid loan. Each individual lender has its own requirements, so don’t be afraid to ask questions if you are unsure.

If you don’t have collateral to get a loan or don’t want to take on the risk of losing personal or business assets, unsecured business loans may be a better option.

Find and compare small-business loans

If you’re looking for financing, NerdWallet has created a comparison tool list of the best small-business loans to meet your needs and goals. We gauged lender trustworthiness and user experience, among other factors, and arranged them by categories that include your revenue and how long you’ve been in business.

This post was updated. The post was originally published on Dec. 1, 2015.

Image via iStock.

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2016 NerdWallet, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Disclaimer: NerdWallet strives to keep its information accurate and up to date. This information may be different than what you see when you visit a financial institution, service provider or specific product’s site. All financial products, shopping products and services are presented without warranty. When evaluating offers, please review the financial institution’s Terms and Conditions. Pre-qualified offers are not binding. If you find discrepancies with your credit score or information from your credit report, please contact TransUnion® directly.

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Best Small-Business Loans for Veterans 2016 #local #business #listing

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Best Small-Business Loans for Veterans 2016

You can trust that we maintain strict editorial integrity in our writing and assessments; however, we receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners and get approved. Here’s how we make money .

Finding a small-business loan is a tough task for any entrepreneur. Bad credit, a lack of collateral and limited business history are all obstacles that small businesses may face. Funding can be an even bigger challenge for U.S. military veterans, whose financial history may have gaps because of their time in active service.

Despite these challenges, many veterans decide to become their own boss after serving their country. About 1 in 7 veterans is self-employed or a small-business owner, according to the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University.

To help overcome the financing hurdle, we’ve rounded up some of the best small-business loan options for veterans based on personal credit score:

Small-business loans for veterans if you have a 500+ personal credit score

For startups and younger small businesses, lenders typically base lending decisions on the owner’s personal credit. This could be an issue for veterans who did not get a chance to build their credit during military service.

If your credit is lacking, Kabbage offers a line of credit that does not require a minimum credit score to qualify. You will need, however, at least $50,000 in annual revenue. If your credit score is 500 or higher and your business generates at least $100,000 in annual revenue, you could get a less expensive loan with OnDeck. The lender offers an APR starting at 9%, up to 98%, compared with Kabbage’s 32% to 108%.

Small-business loans for veterans if you have a 600+ personal credit score

For companies with at least one year in business and low revenue starting at $25,000 StreetShares is a good choice, with APR starting at 9%.

If your business is generating at least $150,000 annually, you will get a greater range of financing products with Dealstruck, which offers term loans, an inventory line of credit and an asset-based line of credit. Also, Dealstruck could be a cheaper financing option, with APRs from 10% to 28%, while StreetShares’ APR maxes out at 40%.

Before you apply for a StreetShares loan, find out whether you meet the lender s minimum qualifications.

  • 600+ personal credit score.
  • 1+ year in business.
  • $25,000+ in annual revenue.*
  • No bankruptcies in the past three years.
  • No current tax liens or collections (unless you have proper documentation).

You only need 6 months in business if you have $100,000+ in revenue.
StreetShares is currently unavailable to borrowers in North Dakota or South Dakota.

Before you apply for a Dealstruck loan, find out whether you meet the lender s minimum qualifications.

  • 600+ personal credit score.
  • 1+ year in business.
  • $150,000+ in annual revenue.
  • Breaking even or profitable.
  • Personal guarantee and a lien on business assets required.

Looking to expand? SmartBiz has the lowest borrowing costs among online lenders. The lender provides SBA loans with 7% to 8% APR for businesses with strong finances. With a repayment term of 10 years, SmartBiz is a good choice for purchasing real estate or equipment, refinancing high-interest debt or acquiring another business. Qualifying can be tough, however, since you have to meet the SBA’s stringent requirements (including about a dozen required documents). Lending Club is a good option for expansion capital if you don’t qualify for SmartBiz. You need at least $75,000 in annual revenue to qualify. The company offers competitive rates (8% to 32% APR) and repayment terms of one to five years.

Before you apply for a SmartBiz loan, find out whether you meet the lender s minimum qualifications.

  • 600+ personal credit score.
  • 2+ years in business.
  • $50,000+ in annual revenue.
  • Personal guarantee required.
  • No outstanding tax liens.
  • No bankruptcies or foreclosures in last three years.
  • No recent charge-offs or settlements.
  • Must be current on government-related loans.

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2016 NerdWallet, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Disclaimer: NerdWallet strives to keep its information accurate and up to date. This information may be different than what you see when you visit a financial institution, service provider or specific product’s site. All financial products, shopping products and services are presented without warranty. When evaluating offers, please review the financial institution’s Terms and Conditions. Pre-qualified offers are not binding. If you find discrepancies with your credit score or information from your credit report, please contact TransUnion® directly.

Additionally, this site may be compensated through third party advertisers. However, the results of our comparison tools, blog content and editorial reviews are based on objective analysis. For more information, please see our Advertiser Disclosure .





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Small-Business Grants for Women: 10 Go-To Spots #www.business.com

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Small-Business Grants for Women: 10 Go-To Spots

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If you’re starting a business and need outside financing, it’s natural to be wary of small-business loans. Why take on debt if you can get a grant that you won’t have to repay?

But small-business grants for women — or men, for that matter — can be hard to come by. “There’s not a pot of free money,” says Michelle Somes-Booher, a business consultant at the Small Business Development Center in Madison, Wisconsin.

If you need business financing, two more likely options are business credit cards and small-business loans for women. The competition is fierce for small-business grants, and it takes a lot of time and effort to find them and complete the applications. However, if you’re up for the challenge, the payoff can be worth it. Here are 10 places women entrepreneurs can look for small-business grants.

Federal small-business grants for women

The federal government offers some grants for small-business owners, but they’re designated for very specific purposes, such as certain research and development projects or for businesses in rural areas. Government grants can’t be used to cover startup costs or day-to-day expenses, and most aren’t earmarked specifically for women.

Grants.gov is a database of all federally sponsored grants. You can search for small-business grants here — just make sure you filter the results on the left side of the page to view grants specifically for small businesses.

2. InnovateHER Challenge

The U.S. Small Business Administration hosts an annual competition for businesses with a marketable product or service that positively affects women s lives. To participate, you must first enter and win a local InnovateHER Challenge to advance to the national semifinal round. The top three national finalists will win $40,000, $20,000 and $10,000, respectively.

3. Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs

The SBA facilitates these two competitive programs, which ultimately provide grants to small businesses that contribute to federal research and development. Eleven federal agencies, including the departments of Agriculture, Defense, and Health and Human Services, post grant opportunities on their websites. You can search all grant opportunities on the SBIR website.

State and local small-business grants

Because federal small-business grants are limited in number and often very competitive, you may have better luck looking for grants at the state and municipal levels. You’ll have to do your own research to pinpoint specific grant programs in your area, but here are some places to look:

4. Women’s Business Centers

The SBA sponsors about 100 Women’s Business Centers nationwide, designed to help women entrepreneurs with business development and access to capital. Some, such as the California Capital Financial Development Corp. lend money directly, while others simply help you find small-business grants and loans that you may qualify for.

5. Economic development agencies

Every state and many cities have economic development agencies focused on promoting a strong local economy. Even if the agency itself doesn’t offer a small-business grant, it will likely be able to point you in the right direction.

6. Small Business Development Centers

There are hundreds of these SBA-sponsored centers around the country, typically housed at colleges and universities. SBDCs offer free, one-on-one business consulting. Set up a meeting with your local SBDC advisor, who will be able to tell you about grants and other business financing opportunities in your area.

Private small-business grants for women

Some private organizations and businesses have created national grant programs for women small-business owners. Here are two to look into:

The Amber Grant Foundation awards $500 to a different women-owned business every month. At the end of each year, one of the 12 grant winners is awarded an additional $2,000. The application is relatively simple: Explain what your business is, describe what you’d do with the grant money and pay a $7 application fee. The foundation’s advisory board chooses the winners, looking for women with passion and a good story.

8. Eileen Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant

Eileen Fisher, a women’s clothing retailer, awards $100,000 to up to 10 women business owners each year. To be eligible, women must make up at least 51% of your business s ownership and leadership, your business must have been in operation for at least three years, it must not exceed $1 million in annual revenue, and it must be focused on environmental or social change.

Two other good possibilities for grants

These options aren’t specifically for women, but they’re good small-business grants to consider:

9. FedEx Small Business Grant

FedEx awards up to $25,000 apiece to 10 small businesses annually. The application requires an explanation of your business, how you’d use the money, photos of your business and — this part is optional — a short video explaining your business. You don’t need a FedEx account to apply.

10. Mission Main Street Grants

Chase Bank gives $150,000 to 20 small businesses each year through its Mission Main Street Grants program. To be eligible, you must have been in business at least two years and have fewer than 100 employees, and the application includes answering five essay questions.

Find and compare small-business loans

NerdWallet has come up with a list of the best small-business loans to meet your needs and goals. We gauged lender trustworthiness, market scope and user experience, among other factors, and arranged them by categories that include your revenue and how long you’ve been in business.

To get more information about funding options and compare them for your small business, visit NerdWallet ssmall-business loanspage. For free, personalized answers to questions about financing your business, visit theSmall Businesssection of NerdWallet’s Ask an Advisor page.

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We want to hear from you and encourage a lively discussion among our users. Please help us keep our site clean and safe by following our posting guidelines. and avoid disclosing personal or sensitive information such as bank account or phone numbers. Any comments posted under NerdWallet’s official account are not reviewed or endorsed by representatives of financial institutions affiliated with the reviewed products, unless explicitly stated otherwise.

2016 NerdWallet, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Disclaimer: NerdWallet strives to keep its information accurate and up to date. This information may be different than what you see when you visit a financial institution, service provider or specific product’s site. All financial products, shopping products and services are presented without warranty. When evaluating offers, please review the financial institution’s Terms and Conditions. Pre-qualified offers are not binding. If you find discrepancies with your credit score or information from your credit report, please contact TransUnion® directly.

Additionally, this site may be compensated through third party advertisers. However, the results of our comparison tools, blog content and editorial reviews are based on objective analysis. For more information, please see our Advertiser Disclosure .





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Are You a Small-Business Owner or an Entrepreneur? #designing #business #cards

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Are You a Small-Business Owner or an Entrepreneur?

December 10, 2015

The Difference Is Important

It’s National Small Business Week. Hooray! Small businesses are the backbone of this country. They create jobs, come up with new ways of doing old things, and help keep money in the local community. Without small businesses, we’d be in a bigger economic mess.

Among those of us with small businesses, there’s confusion between the terms Small-Business Owner and Entrepreneur. Both can have small businesses, but they have different styles of leadership and thoughts on running their business. One is not better than the other, they’re just different. How do you fit in to these 4 scenarios?

Small-business owners have a great idea.
They solve a problem in their community. They know their business and target audience. They know what will make their customers happy. They serve their customers.

Entrepreneurs have big ideas.
They dream big. They think big. They come up with ideas that haven’t been tested, diagnosed, or worked through. A lot of times they don’t even know if their ideas are possible, which gets them even more excited.

Small-business owners hold steady.
They like to know what’s coming next and where it’s coming from. They make calculated decisions where the outcome is clear. The result may not be huge, but it will typically keep them moving forward.

Entrepreneurs love risk.
They step out on a ledge more often than not. They jump in with both feet knowing that if they put in their full effort, the risk will be worth it more often than not.

Small-business owners think about the things they need to finish this week.
They have daily and weekly to do lists. They manage employees, work with customers, network with new customers, and keep everything rocking and rolling.

Entrepreneurs are thinking ahead six months.
While their team is thinking about what they’re doing that week, they tend to skip the now and focus on the future of the company. They have people to manage the business, and if they don’t, they soon will.

Small-businesses owners are sentimental with their businesses.
They never plan on selling or handing their business off to someone else unless it s family. They like making the decisions and running the day-to-day.
Entrepreneurs focus on scaling.
They want to grow and grow they will. Although they may not focus on selling the business, they set it up to run without them. They surround themselves with experts while they end up being the rainmaker.

America needs small-business owners to hold the economy and entrepreneurs to propel it forward. One isn’t better than the other. But the question needs to be asked: Are you a small-business owner or an entrepreneur?

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Busting 5 Myths About Small-Business Lending #business #loans

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Busting 5 Myths About Small-Business Lending

Co-founder and CEO, Fundera

Like your mother and your high school history teacher likely told you over and over again, you can t believe everything you read on the Internet.

With the growing accessibility of information freely available online, modern entrepreneurs in search of funding to grow their businesses have a huge leg up on generations past. Yet for every bit of accurate and genuinely helpful advice, there is an increasing prevalence of misinformation and myths surrounding the small business lending space. Unfortunately, much of that misinformation can give business owners bad information about how small business loans work, giving them a false sense of their own eligibility.

Don t miss out on opportunities to secure funding for your business due to false information. Let s separate fact from fiction and bust five of the most common small business lending myths we hear every day.

1. Approval takes forever.

Whether you re itching to move forward with a new business idea or you need cash quickly to cover an unexpected expense, one of the most common questions business owners have when applying for funding is, how fast can I get cash in hand?

You may hear from well-meaning friends and relatives that getting approved for a business loan can take weeks or even months, but that information is outdated. With new online loan applications, an organized business owner can complete her application in less than an hour, and it can be reviewed and approved within 24 hours of submission. Many lenders can even offer cash in hand in as little as two days.

While some borrowers may take additional time to gather financial statements or get their credit reports in better shape, once you hit submit, the approval practice is very efficient. Don t let the fear of a long approval process hold you back from seeking a loan.

2. New businesses never qualify.

The startup funding quandary is a difficult one. You need an established business to secure funding, but you need cash in hand to get your business off the ground. Seeking funding from venture capitalists or angel investors is certainly the most popular route for securing startup funding, but is it the only way?

Many startup entrepreneurs assume that they need to be in business for a few years and have established business credit before they can qualify for a loan. However, more and more lenders are specifically offering startup loans that require little or no business credit history to qualify.

Applying for a startup loan will involve more scrutiny into your personal finances than other types of business loans. Your personal credit score will be the most important part of the application. You may also be faced with less favorable rates than you would receive as an established business. But if you re committed to finding funding and open to the necessary conditions, securing a loan for your brand new business is possible.

3. Online lenders are con artists with unreasonable rates.

We get it. The online alternative lending market is relatively new, and people are skeptical of new things. Unfortunately, many unscrupulous online lenders and brokers have engaged in predatory and dangerous lending practices, giving the entire industry a bad rap.

But in reality, some alternative lenders operating online offer single-digit interest rates. Those offering higher rates often are working with borrowers who are considered risky. Online lenders regularly consider a wide variety of borrower credentials outside of just the traditional credit report and score. Business owners who were turned down by their bank can frequently find the funding they need online.

As with any financial transaction, it s critical that business owners do their due diligence about an online lender before signing the dotted line.

4. Loan officers only care about your credit score.

This myth, carried over from the outdated traditional bank model for loan approvals, can leave business owners with less-than-stellar credit feeling hopeless about their funding prospects. Luckily for these entrepreneurs, growth in the alternative lending sector has led to a larger spectrum of factors being considered in the loan approval process.

Many lenders will now give equal weight to your company s revenue history, cash flow statement and other financial documents in determining your loan eligibility. This information often paints a very different picture of a business and its owner s financial standing than what a credit score alone can convey.

Even so, before applying for a business loan, it is still important that you take steps to make your credit report and score the best possible reflection of your financial history. Always make debt payments on time, and manage your credit usage responsibly. Also frequently check your credit reports for accuracy. If you find errors, contact the reporting agencies to correct the mistakes.

5. Approval is determined by a heartless algorithm.

Once upon a time, entrepreneurs seeking small business funding could walk into their local community bank, build face-to-face relationships with managers and loan officers, and be confident they understood the whole picture behind their loan application, including both cold hard numbers as well as the more intangible elements of their qualifications as borrowers.

These days, technology has all but replaced those in-person banking relationships, creating the impression that loan approval decisions are controlled by nothing more than a few concrete variables and an algorithm saying yes or no.

But while you may have lost the ability to look your loan officer in the eye and strike a deal with a handshake, the modern funding process isn t actually as impersonal as this reputation suggests. In reality, lenders consider a wide variety of both objective, number-based factors as well as more subjective considerations, like your business and marketing plan.

If you re concerned about certain elements of your loan application, like your credit score, take the time to flesh out your business plan, fully explaining how the funds you are borrowing will be used and how this investment will lead to a successful business.

Ultimately, your lender s main consideration is whether or not you will make your loan payments on time, every time. Your loan application should, both through financial documents and through your written statements, paint the best possible picture of your future ability to repay the loan.

If you do your research, stay organized, and can clearly and concisely convey this information to lenders through your loan application, your chances of being quickly matched with the a loan to meet your business needs is tremendously greater.





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How to Qualify for a Small-Business Loan in 5 Steps #business #loan #calculator

#sba loan requirements

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How to Qualify for a Small-Business Loan in 5 Steps

You can trust that we maintain strict editorial integrity in our writing and assessments; however, we receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners and get approved. Here’s how we make money .

Qualifying for a small-business loan is easier when you’re prepared. Below is a to-do list that will help you qualify for the cash you need to grow your business.

Whether you end up applying for an SBA loan through a bank or opt for an online small-business loan, you should be familiar with the requirements of each lender. Knowing whether you meet their criteria before you apply will save you time and frustration.

How to quality for a small-business loan

1. Improve personal and business credit scores

Your personal credit score ranges from 300 to 850 (the higher, the better), and evaluates your ability to repay debts. The score is typically weighed more heavily by small-business lenders if your business is new and lacks credit history. It’s based mainly on three factors: your payment history (35% of your score), the amounts owed on credit cards and other debt (30%) and how long you’ve had credit (15%).

Paying your bills on time is, of course, crucial to improving your score. But even if you pay your bills like clockwork, credit report errors could be damaging your score one in four consumers has damaging credit report errors. However, four out of five consumers who filed a dispute got their credit report modified, according to a study by the Federal Trade Commission. You can get a copy of your credit reports for free once a year at AnnualCreditReport.com and dispute any inaccuracies you find through each of the credit bureaus’ websites (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion).

Businesses that are more established and applying for bank loans can check out their business credit scores (which generally range from 0 to 100) at the three business credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax and Dun Bradstreet. Check out these five steps to building business credit, and if you see any mistakes on your reports, contact the bureaus.

More than likely, you’ll need an excellent business credit score as well as good personal credit to qualify for an SBA loan or traditional loan from a bank, although this will depend on the individual lender and factors such as your business revenue and cash flow. In general, online lenders look at personal credit scores but are a bit more lenient when it comes to credit score requirements, as they place more emphasis on your business’s cash flow and track record.

2. Know the lender’s minimum qualifications

There’s no way around it: If you don’t meet a lender’s minimum qualifications, applying is a waste of time.

Borrowers typically need to meet minimum criteria related to credit scores, annual revenue and years in business. And lenders generally frown upon recent bankruptcies and other past delinquencies.

To qualify for SBA loans, borrowers also must be current on all government loans and can’t have any past defaults. So if you’re late on a federal student loan or a government-backed mortgage, you’ll be disqualified. You also can’t be on the SBA’s ineligible businesses list. which includes life insurance companies and financial businesses such as banks.

Qualifying for online lenders can be easier. While these lenders typically underwrite loans based on traditional factors such as credit scores, annual revenue and cash flow, the loans carry less stringent requirements than banks.

3. Gather financial and legal documents

Banks and other traditional lenders typically ask for a wide range of financial and legal documents during the application process. They include:

  • Personal and business income tax returns
  • Balance sheet and income statement
  • Personal and business bank statements
  • A photo of your driver’s license
  • Commercial leases
  • Business licenses
  • Articles of incorporation
  • A resume
  • Financial projections if you have a limited operating history

These requirements can make getting a bank loan time consuming. That may not be an issue if you’re in the market for a long-term business loan to finance a major investment.

However, if you need money faster, online lenders may be a better fit, as they can provide a streamlined online application process with fewer documentation requirements and faster underwriting. But they may come with higher borrowing costs. If you have good credit and business finances, however, some lenders may provide rates comparable to those of bank loans.

4. Develop a strong business plan

Lenders will want to know how you plan to use the money and will want to see that you have a strong ability to repay. They may require a solid business plan that details the purpose of the loan and how you expect it to increase profits.

Your business plan should include current and projected financials, and clearly demonstrate that your business will have enough cash flow to cover ongoing business expenses and the new loan payments. This can give the lender more confidence in your business, increasing your chances at loan approval. Your p lan should include :

  • Company description
  • Product and/or service description
  • Management team
  • Industry analysis
  • Facilities and operations plan
  • Promotional, marketing and sales strategy
  • SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats)

5. Provide collateral

To qualify for a small-business loan, you may have to provide collateral to back the loan. This refers to an asset, such as equipment, real estate or inventory, that can be seized and sold by the lender if you can’t make your payments. It’s basically a way lenders can make back their money if your business fails.

SBA loans require “adequate” collateral for security on all loans, plus a personal guarantee from every owner of 20% or more of the business. A personal guarantee puts your credit score and your personal assets on the hook.

Some online lenders do not require collateral but may want a personal guarantee. Others may also take a blanket lien on your business assets essentially another form of collateral giving the lender the right to take business assets (real estate, inventory, equipment) to recoup an unpaid loan. Each individual lender has its own requirements, so don’t be afraid to ask questions if you are unsure.

If you don’t have collateral to get a loan or don’t want to take on the risk of losing personal or business assets, unsecured business loans may be a better option.

Find and compare small-business loans

If you’re looking for financing, NerdWallet has created a comparison tool list of the best small-business loans to meet your needs and goals. We gauged lender trustworthiness and user experience, among other factors, and arranged them by categories that include your revenue and how long you’ve been in business.

This post was updated. The post was originally published on Dec. 1, 2015.

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2016 NerdWallet, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Disclaimer: NerdWallet strives to keep its information accurate and up to date. This information may be different than what you see when you visit a financial institution, service provider or specific product’s site. All financial products, shopping products and services are presented without warranty. When evaluating offers, please review the financial institution’s Terms and Conditions. Pre-qualified offers are not binding. If you find discrepancies with your credit score or information from your credit report, please contact TransUnion® directly.

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50 Must-Have Features for Small-Business Websites (Infographic) #ideas #for #business

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50 Must-Have Features for Small-Business Websites (Infographic)

Websites are a necessity for businesses of all sizes today — though, surprisingly almost half of small businesses don t have websites. Still, there are so many design options to choose from and so many websites that it can be tough to know how to stand out.

Beyond layout and color scheme, there are a lot of features that are paramount to successful small-business websites. Some are obvious — such as an easy-to-remember domain name, a logo and contact information — and others are more subtle, like an online chat button or specific pattern for the content on the site s inner pages. Thankfully, website design and marketing firm 99MediaLab offers pointers for an effective page from top to bottom, inside and out.

Check out the infographic below to learn the best features to have, as well as SEO tips and the technical aspects to consider. See if your site measures up.

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How to Qualify for a Small-Business Loan in 5 Steps #unique #business #ideas

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How to Qualify for a Small-Business Loan in 5 Steps

You can trust that we maintain strict editorial integrity in our writing and assessments; however, we receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners and get approved. Here’s how we make money .

Qualifying for a small-business loan is easier when you’re prepared. Below is a to-do list that will help you qualify for the cash you need to grow your business.

Whether you end up applying for an SBA loan through a bank or opt for an online small-business loan, you should be familiar with the requirements of each lender. Knowing whether you meet their criteria before you apply will save you time and frustration.

How to quality for a small-business loan

1. Improve personal and business credit scores

Your personal credit score ranges from 300 to 850 (the higher, the better), and evaluates your ability to repay debts. The score is typically weighed more heavily by small-business lenders if your business is new and lacks credit history. It’s based mainly on three factors: your payment history (35% of your score), the amounts owed on credit cards and other debt (30%) and how long you’ve had credit (15%).

Paying your bills on time is, of course, crucial to improving your score. But even if you pay your bills like clockwork, credit report errors could be damaging your score one in four consumers has damaging credit report errors. However, four out of five consumers who filed a dispute got their credit report modified, according to a study by the Federal Trade Commission. You can get a copy of your credit reports for free once a year at AnnualCreditReport.com and dispute any inaccuracies you find through each of the credit bureaus’ websites (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion).

Businesses that are more established and applying for bank loans can check out their business credit scores (which generally range from 0 to 100) at the three business credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax and Dun Bradstreet. Check out these five steps to building business credit, and if you see any mistakes on your reports, contact the bureaus.

More than likely, you’ll need an excellent business credit score as well as good personal credit to qualify for an SBA loan or traditional loan from a bank, although this will depend on the individual lender and factors such as your business revenue and cash flow. In general, online lenders look at personal credit scores but are a bit more lenient when it comes to credit score requirements, as they place more emphasis on your business’s cash flow and track record.

2. Know the lender’s minimum qualifications

There’s no way around it: If you don’t meet a lender’s minimum qualifications, applying is a waste of time.

Borrowers typically need to meet minimum criteria related to credit scores, annual revenue and years in business. And lenders generally frown upon recent bankruptcies and other past delinquencies.

To qualify for SBA loans, borrowers also must be current on all government loans and can’t have any past defaults. So if you’re late on a federal student loan or a government-backed mortgage, you’ll be disqualified. You also can’t be on the SBA’s ineligible businesses list. which includes life insurance companies and financial businesses such as banks.

Qualifying for online lenders can be easier. While these lenders typically underwrite loans based on traditional factors such as credit scores, annual revenue and cash flow, the loans carry less stringent requirements than banks.

3. Gather financial and legal documents

Banks and other traditional lenders typically ask for a wide range of financial and legal documents during the application process. They include:

  • Personal and business income tax returns
  • Balance sheet and income statement
  • Personal and business bank statements
  • A photo of your driver’s license
  • Commercial leases
  • Business licenses
  • Articles of incorporation
  • A resume
  • Financial projections if you have a limited operating history

These requirements can make getting a bank loan time consuming. That may not be an issue if you’re in the market for a long-term business loan to finance a major investment.

However, if you need money faster, online lenders may be a better fit, as they can provide a streamlined online application process with fewer documentation requirements and faster underwriting. But they may come with higher borrowing costs. If you have good credit and business finances, however, some lenders may provide rates comparable to those of bank loans.

4. Develop a strong business plan

Lenders will want to know how you plan to use the money and will want to see that you have a strong ability to repay. They may require a solid business plan that details the purpose of the loan and how you expect it to increase profits.

Your business plan should include current and projected financials, and clearly demonstrate that your business will have enough cash flow to cover ongoing business expenses and the new loan payments. This can give the lender more confidence in your business, increasing your chances at loan approval. Your p lan should include :

  • Company description
  • Product and/or service description
  • Management team
  • Industry analysis
  • Facilities and operations plan
  • Promotional, marketing and sales strategy
  • SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats)

5. Provide collateral

To qualify for a small-business loan, you may have to provide collateral to back the loan. This refers to an asset, such as equipment, real estate or inventory, that can be seized and sold by the lender if you can’t make your payments. It’s basically a way lenders can make back their money if your business fails.

SBA loans require “adequate” collateral for security on all loans, plus a personal guarantee from every owner of 20% or more of the business. A personal guarantee puts your credit score and your personal assets on the hook.

Some online lenders do not require collateral but may want a personal guarantee. Others may also take a blanket lien on your business assets essentially another form of collateral giving the lender the right to take business assets (real estate, inventory, equipment) to recoup an unpaid loan. Each individual lender has its own requirements, so don’t be afraid to ask questions if you are unsure.

If you don’t have collateral to get a loan or don’t want to take on the risk of losing personal or business assets, unsecured business loans may be a better option.

Find and compare small-business loans

If you’re looking for financing, NerdWallet has created a comparison tool list of the best small-business loans to meet your needs and goals. We gauged lender trustworthiness and user experience, among other factors, and arranged them by categories that include your revenue and how long you’ve been in business.

This post was updated. The post was originally published on Dec. 1, 2015.

Image via iStock.

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We want to hear from you and encourage a lively discussion among our users. Please help us keep our site clean and safe by following our posting guidelines. and avoid disclosing personal or sensitive information such as bank account or phone numbers. Any comments posted under NerdWallet’s official account are not reviewed or endorsed by representatives of financial institutions affiliated with the reviewed products, unless explicitly stated otherwise.

2016 NerdWallet, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Disclaimer: NerdWallet strives to keep its information accurate and up to date. This information may be different than what you see when you visit a financial institution, service provider or specific product’s site. All financial products, shopping products and services are presented without warranty. When evaluating offers, please review the financial institution’s Terms and Conditions. Pre-qualified offers are not binding. If you find discrepancies with your credit score or information from your credit report, please contact TransUnion® directly.

Additionally, this site may be compensated through third party advertisers. However, the results of our comparison tools, blog content and editorial reviews are based on objective analysis. For more information, please see our Advertiser Disclosure .





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Small-Business Grants for Minorities: 9 Opportunities #fast #business #loans

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Small-Business Grants for Minorities: 9 Opportunities

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Minority business owners face challenges when starting or expanding a small business, including access to affordable small-business loans. Grants and financial assistance can help bridge the funding gap.

Here are some of the best small-business grants and other useful financing resources for minority-owned businesses. NerdWallet also has compiled a list of the best small-business loans for minorities .

  • Grants.Gov . This website allows grant seekers to find and apply for federal funding opportunities. It contains information on more than 1,000 grant programs across all 26 federal grant-making agencies, including the Department of Commerce and the U.S. Small Business Administration.
  • The USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant Program . This is a grant for the development or expansion of small businesses in rural areas — minority or not. To qualify, you’ll need to have fewer than 50 employees, less than $1 million in revenue and be located in an eligible rural area. Grants range from $10,000 to $500,000.
  • National Association for the Self-Employed . This is a nonprofit association that’s a good resource for all small-business owners. It provides educational resources and grants, and in 2015, it will have awarded more than $48,000 in grants to small businesses. To apply for a grant of up to $4,000, you’ll need to become an active member of the association, provide a detailed explanation of how you’ll use the funds, show how the grant will support your business growth, and provide some supporting documentation.
  • FedEx Small Business Grant Contest . This annual grant contest by FedEx awards 10 small businesses with grants of up to $25,000. Any for-profit small business that has been in operation for at least six months is eligible to enter.
  • Small-Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer Programs . These two programs provide contracts and grants for startups that are looking to commercialize innovative biomedical technologies.
  • Minority Business Development Agency . This agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce promotes the growth of minority-run small businesses by connecting owners to financing resources, federal contracts and market opportunities. The White House announced in August that the MBDA would partner with two organizations to launch the Minority Business Enterprise Technology Initiative, which aims to help aspiring technology entrepreneurs bring new products and services to market.
  • National Minority Supplier Development Council . The council is a corporate member organization focused on increasing business opportunities for certified minority businesses. The council also operates the Business Consortium Fund. which offers a variety of financing programs and business advisory services for certified minority-owned businesses.
  • SBA 8(a) Business Development Program . Socially or economically disadvantaged small-business owners are eligible to receive help through this Small Business Association program, which provides business development assistance, training workshops and management and technical guidance. To qualify, a small business must be at least 51% owned and controlled by a citizen who has been subjected to cultural bias or prejudice and placed at an economic disadvantage because of race or ethnicity.
  • Operation HOPE Small-Business Empowerment Program . This program is designed for aspiring entrepreneurs in low-wealth neighborhoods, which often include minority communities. It provides access to small-business financing options, as well as help with setting up a business plan and financial statements, credit counseling and educational resources.

Find and compare small-business loans

If you’re looking for financing, NerdWallet has come up with a list of the best small-business loans to meet your needs and goals. We gauged lender trustworthiness, market scope and user experience, among other factors, and arranged them by categories that include your revenue and how long you’ve been in business.

For free, personalized answers to questions about financing your business, visit theSmall Businesssection of NerdWallet’s Ask an Advisor page.

This post was updated. It was originally published Dec. 3, 2015.

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We want to hear from you and encourage a lively discussion among our users. Please help us keep our site clean and safe by following our posting guidelines. and avoid disclosing personal or sensitive information such as bank account or phone numbers. Any comments posted under NerdWallet’s official account are not reviewed or endorsed by representatives of financial institutions affiliated with the reviewed products, unless explicitly stated otherwise.

2016 NerdWallet, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Disclaimer: NerdWallet strives to keep its information accurate and up to date. This information may be different than what you see when you visit a financial institution, service provider or specific product’s site. All financial products, shopping products and services are presented without warranty. When evaluating offers, please review the financial institution’s Terms and Conditions. Pre-qualified offers are not binding. If you find discrepancies with your credit score or information from your credit report, please contact TransUnion® directly.

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Small-Business Grants for Women: 10 Go-To Spots #online #business #classes

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Small-Business Grants for Women: 10 Go-To Spots

You can trust that we maintain strict editorial integrity in our writing and assessments; however, we receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners and get approved. Here’s how we make money .

If you’re starting a business and need outside financing, it’s natural to be wary of small-business loans. Why take on debt if you can get a grant that you won’t have to repay?

But small-business grants for women — or men, for that matter — can be hard to come by. “There’s not a pot of free money,” says Michelle Somes-Booher, a business consultant at the Small Business Development Center in Madison, Wisconsin.

If you need business financing, two more likely options are business credit cards and small-business loans for women. The competition is fierce for small-business grants, and it takes a lot of time and effort to find them and complete the applications. However, if you’re up for the challenge, the payoff can be worth it. Here are 10 places women entrepreneurs can look for small-business grants.

Federal small-business grants for women

The federal government offers some grants for small-business owners, but they’re designated for very specific purposes, such as certain research and development projects or for businesses in rural areas. Government grants can’t be used to cover startup costs or day-to-day expenses, and most aren’t earmarked specifically for women.

Grants.gov is a database of all federally sponsored grants. You can search for small-business grants here — just make sure you filter the results on the left side of the page to view grants specifically for small businesses.

2. InnovateHER Challenge

The U.S. Small Business Administration hosts an annual competition for businesses with a marketable product or service that positively affects women s lives. To participate, you must first enter and win a local InnovateHER Challenge to advance to the national semifinal round. The top three national finalists will win $40,000, $20,000 and $10,000, respectively.

3. Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs

The SBA facilitates these two competitive programs, which ultimately provide grants to small businesses that contribute to federal research and development. Eleven federal agencies, including the departments of Agriculture, Defense, and Health and Human Services, post grant opportunities on their websites. You can search all grant opportunities on the SBIR website.

State and local small-business grants

Because federal small-business grants are limited in number and often very competitive, you may have better luck looking for grants at the state and municipal levels. You’ll have to do your own research to pinpoint specific grant programs in your area, but here are some places to look:

4. Women’s Business Centers

The SBA sponsors about 100 Women’s Business Centers nationwide, designed to help women entrepreneurs with business development and access to capital. Some, such as the California Capital Financial Development Corp. lend money directly, while others simply help you find small-business grants and loans that you may qualify for.

5. Economic development agencies

Every state and many cities have economic development agencies focused on promoting a strong local economy. Even if the agency itself doesn’t offer a small-business grant, it will likely be able to point you in the right direction.

6. Small Business Development Centers

There are hundreds of these SBA-sponsored centers around the country, typically housed at colleges and universities. SBDCs offer free, one-on-one business consulting. Set up a meeting with your local SBDC advisor, who will be able to tell you about grants and other business financing opportunities in your area.

Private small-business grants for women

Some private organizations and businesses have created national grant programs for women small-business owners. Here are two to look into:

The Amber Grant Foundation awards $500 to a different women-owned business every month. At the end of each year, one of the 12 grant winners is awarded an additional $2,000. The application is relatively simple: Explain what your business is, describe what you’d do with the grant money and pay a $7 application fee. The foundation’s advisory board chooses the winners, looking for women with passion and a good story.

8. Eileen Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant

Eileen Fisher, a women’s clothing retailer, awards $100,000 to up to 10 women business owners each year. To be eligible, women must make up at least 51% of your business s ownership and leadership, your business must have been in operation for at least three years, it must not exceed $1 million in annual revenue, and it must be focused on environmental or social change.

Two other good possibilities for grants

These options aren’t specifically for women, but they’re good small-business grants to consider:

9. FedEx Small Business Grant

FedEx awards up to $25,000 apiece to 10 small businesses annually. The application requires an explanation of your business, how you’d use the money, photos of your business and — this part is optional — a short video explaining your business. You don’t need a FedEx account to apply.

10. Mission Main Street Grants

Chase Bank gives $150,000 to 20 small businesses each year through its Mission Main Street Grants program. To be eligible, you must have been in business at least two years and have fewer than 100 employees, and the application includes answering five essay questions.

Find and compare small-business loans

NerdWallet has come up with a list of the best small-business loans to meet your needs and goals. We gauged lender trustworthiness, market scope and user experience, among other factors, and arranged them by categories that include your revenue and how long you’ve been in business.

To get more information about funding options and compare them for your small business, visit NerdWallet ssmall-business loanspage. For free, personalized answers to questions about financing your business, visit theSmall Businesssection of NerdWallet’s Ask an Advisor page.

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We want to hear from you and encourage a lively discussion among our users. Please help us keep our site clean and safe by following our posting guidelines. and avoid disclosing personal or sensitive information such as bank account or phone numbers. Any comments posted under NerdWallet’s official account are not reviewed or endorsed by representatives of financial institutions affiliated with the reviewed products, unless explicitly stated otherwise.

2016 NerdWallet, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Disclaimer: NerdWallet strives to keep its information accurate and up to date. This information may be different than what you see when you visit a financial institution, service provider or specific product’s site. All financial products, shopping products and services are presented without warranty. When evaluating offers, please review the financial institution’s Terms and Conditions. Pre-qualified offers are not binding. If you find discrepancies with your credit score or information from your credit report, please contact TransUnion® directly.

Additionally, this site may be compensated through third party advertisers. However, the results of our comparison tools, blog content and editorial reviews are based on objective analysis. For more information, please see our Advertiser Disclosure .





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