Most small business startups can benefit from outside financing and most often, at least a portion of that funding will come in the form of business loans. As you ready your business plan for review by a lender, your focus is likely on the financial projections in your plan. But don’t sell other areas short. Your management competency, market outlook and assets are just a few of the other components that will be scrutinized.
Here are some of the factors your lender will consider when making the decision whether to provide you with a business loan.
Your potential lender is going to want assurances you have the necessary expertise onboard. Be sure your plan details your education and experience, as well as that of your management team. In addition, include information on your board officers and advisors, if applicable. Your plan should communicate a high level of both competency and commitment.
Your lender is going to want to understand your business, your competitors, your customers and the industry in which your business will operate. Completing a thorough market analysis as part of your business plan before applying for a loan will provide this necessary information to your lender.
Your lender is going to want collateral in the form of personal and business assets that could be sold for cash if your business does not meet its financial goals. Identifying all your business assets within your business plan provides a listing of potential collateral for your lender to consider. Keep in mind, however, that the value of most of your assets will be discounted from market value when viewed as collateral. The lender will also determine your collateral coverage ratio, calculated by dividing the total discounted collateral value by the amount of your loan request. Both collateral and projected cash flow are taken into account when determining your ability to repay a loan.
The more you are able to invest in your business, the easier it will be to obtain financing. New businesses will most often use a combination of equity financing and debt financing. Be sure your business plan describes in detail all anticipated outside funding. Your lender will want to review your plan to determine if your request for debt financing keeps your debt-to-equity ratio within acceptable limits. If your debt-to-equity ratio dictates, seek additional equity investment before requesting a loan.
These components of your business plan are not the only areas a lender will want to review closely, nor will everything your lender consider be addressed by your business plan. For example, you will also want to check your personal credit report before applying for a loan.
Your business will not have a proven financial track record at its launch, but you can boost a lender’s confidence in its credit worthiness by providing a detailed business plan that uses market analysis, management expertise, assets and financial projections to clearly communicate the ability of your business to repay its loan.