Here’s a familiar scenario: you’ve spent hours working on your business plan. It’s a piece of art. You take it to your local banker thinking that securing the $25K loan you need for your start-up is a slam dunk…
…And you end walking away 20 minutes later with nothing. What went wrong?
There are a few universal truths about bankers that every entrepreneur should know if they’re going to seek a loan for their start-up. The most important rule is that bankers are risk averse. It may sound like common sense, but given the current state of the economy and the credit crunch (which bankers are partially responsible for), bankers are less likely than ever to fund something they perceive is risky. Planning on opening up a burger joint next to a McDonald’s? A banker doesn’t want to fund that. No matter how sweet your triple Kahuna burger is, the chances are too high that you’ll go out of business and default on your loan. That thought alone is enough to give most bankers the hives. They’re looking for solid business with great cash flow and good contracts.
But what if your business doesn’t fit the bill? What if you are the guy opening up a burger shack next to McDonald’s? What then?
Pique a banker’s interest in your business by finding ways to reduce the risk of a loan. One way to do this is to note that you’ve got some percentage of the start-up capital you need in equity. Also mention that you’re interested in a loan through the Small Business Administration.
This hits the sweet spot for a risk averse banker in two ways. You brought up equity—and banks like equity. In fact, most require it. And two, you mentioned the Small Business Administration (SBA). Now, while most banks don’t particularly like handing out SBA loans because it means dealing with cash-strapped entrepreneurs and non-collateralized risk, they do it as a nod to the idea that small business is good for the economy. And most banks have a SBA department that can help secure government underwriting to back loans made to riskier applicants. Mentioning that you have equity and that you’re interested in a SBA loan also shows your banker that you get it—something that’s critical to them. If you’ve accomplished that, you have a far better shot at getting the loan you need.