Finding proper business financing is not easy at the best of times for most small and medium sized business owners and managers.
There are a number of reasons that collectively explain why the business financing market can be so difficult to understand and navigate.
But probably the single biggest reason is the lack of useful information about how the business financing market actually works.
Business financing information and education sources predominantly come in two forms: 1) Text books; 2) Major bank advertising.
If you've ever read through a educational finance text book or taken a business financing course, you already know how difficult it can be to apply the theories, principles, and strategies to a small or medium sized business.
Our formal education system provides limited information as to how the market place works, how to plan for financing requirements, how to manage periods of growth, decline, transition, start up, etc.
Sure academic books and courses can go through all these areas in great detail, but is the information practical, real world, something you can relate to and apply yourself as a manager or owner of a small or medium sized business?
In most cases, the answer is a resounding NO.
Most finance text books speak to big business financing dynamics that are not easily transferable to small and medium sized business scenarios.
Outside of the formal education system, the next great source of business financing information is the information provided by the major banks, which they tend to make available to you by the boat load through their broad based marketing campaigns.
Unfortunately, the information by itself seldom helps you determine if a particular institution would be able to provide you with financing, or what would be required to qualify for a loan.
The good news is that business financing sources continue to grow in numbers as more and more lenders carve out a particular piece of the market to service.
In order to take advantage of these alternatives, you need to have a solid approach in place when seeking business financing.
Here's a short list of things to consider
>>> Develop a solid, ongoing, understanding of both your personal and business assets, income, and cash flow.
Regardless of the business financing model, these elements will always come into play to some degree.
Being able to demonstrate a solid understanding of your business financials is also an indication of your ability to manage the underlying business.
>>> Monitor and manage your personal and business credit.
Small and medium sized business financing is focused on both personal and business credit histories.
Regular reviews of both personal and business credit reports from the major credit reporting agencies are important to avoid errors and credit practices that can severely damage your borrowing power.
>>> Develop your marketing position.
Yes, seeking business financing is a marketing exercise.
When applying for business financing, you're marketing your business to lending sources and they in turn are marketing their business financing programs to you.
Think of the lender as a customer to better understand what they're looking for. Then, develop a business proposal that addresses all their potential needs and concerns.
>>> Research Lending Sources
There are lots of business financing sources. But there is also lots of variation in the types of business applications each one is prepared to consider.
Broad based lenders rely on credit history and net worth. As you get more specific in terms of financing application and industry, lender programs become more narrow and can be harder to locate.
You need to consider things like industry, sector, and geography when looking for business financing sources.
Financing consultants and business loan brokers can be an excellent source of information to aid you in this process.
>>> Qualify The Lender
Before you make a formal application, find out if the lender has the programs and lending track record to meet your specific needs.
Too often, the lender is doing all the qualifying.
>>> Compare your options
Depending on the scenario, there can be several financing strategies that could work for your business.
Make sure you take the time to compare before making a decision. The extra time spent could save you considerable time and money in the long run.
>>> Start Today
Regardless of what your business financing needs are right now, you should regularly invest time staying on top of your business financials, monitoring your credit, and researching financing sources that fit your industry and potential future requirements.
When the time comes to acquire capital, your proactive efforts can make all the difference in getting the capital you need with terms and timing that are acceptable to your business.