This is a guest post by Stuart Blake of BlueVine.
Having available cash on hand is crucial for businesses of all sizes, and a business line of credit is often a great way to get that cash. A credit line can help when you have unexpected cash flow gaps or when you want to take advantage of opportunities that arise. That’s why so many business owners have turned to a business line of credit—according to a 2017 study by the Federal Reserve, a business line of credit was one of the top three most popular financing options amongst business owners who applied for financing.
But how easy is it to actually get a business line of credit? Your chances of getting a credit line largely depend on a few things: your qualifications, the lender, and type of credit line you want.
Most line of credit lenders require businesses to have at least a few years of history and healthy revenue numbers to qualify for a line of credit. Larger lines of credit may require additional requirements, such as collateral.
This can all seem intimidating — especially if you’re a new business. To make the process easier, we’ve laid out five straightforward steps to securing a business line of credit.
- Review your credit score and finances. Your credit score and financial history are a big part of your business line of credit application. A higher credit score will give you a better chance of getting approved.
- Compare your options. Compare your lending options (link to Part 2) to get an idea of how well you qualify for a business line of credit.
- Check the requirements. Traditional banks tend to be harder to qualify than other types of lenders.
- Know the cost. Some lenders are more costly than others. Make sure you know your interest rates and fees upfront from your lender.
- Gather documents and apply. When you’re ready, gather and submit your documents and business information, and you’re done!
Why consider a business line of credit?
A business line of credit is a convenient form of financing for businesses that want a flexible way to cover working capital expenses or finance growth opportunities. Whether you need funds to pay rent, cover payroll, purchase equipment or take on a new project, a business line of credit can create a cash cushion when you have cash flow gaps and want to keep your business running smoothly.
Business lines of credit are inexpensive to maintain, especially compared to other forms of financing (think term loans or merchant cash advances). Keeping one open costs virtually nothing—and just like how a personal credit card works, you’re only responsible for paying interest on the amount you draw.
Common business line of credit application mistakes
1. Not having a clear idea why you need the funds
You should always have a game plan when applying for a business line of credit or any form of financing. When we speak to potential clients, we want to make sure that the financing we’re offering fits into a longer term plan for the business.
Sometimes business owners obtain financing without a long-term strategy. Some businesses have applied for financing with us two months after getting a short-term loan with another lender. That limits what we can do for them because now they’re more leveraged. It affects what we could offer them. When there are liens on a business that might limit our offer. From what could have been a $50,000 credit limit, we’re now looking at $20,000.
2. Rushing through the application
If you’re a small business owner, it’s a given that you wear many hats and work very long hours. So when there’s a desperate situation and you need funds quickly, it may be tempting to rush through as many credit line applications as possible. Sadly, this can hurt your chance to obtain financing.
Simple errors can cause you problems, such as a typo in the EIN [employer identification number] or using the incorrect business address.
That’s why you should set aside at least an hour of your day to really focus on the application.
TIP: Make sure you list the best contact number or information. There are times when business owners put down the main business line or email even though they typically don’t answer calls on that line. So lenders end up not being able to get a hold of them, leaving business owners wondering why they haven’t gotten a response.
3. Being dishonest on the application
You may be tempted to over-state your financial standing on your application. Bad idea.
Lenders know that sometimes businesses are in a desperate situation. But don’t try to fudge the numbers, because that typically gets exposed in the end through their underwriting process. And once the lender finds out, it can really hurt your chances of getting a line of credit.
So keep this in mind: never compromise the integrity of your business.
Ready to get a line of credit?
A business line of credit is one of the most convenient forms of financing for businesses. Before applying, it’s important to consider your business’s financial health, know the rates, understand your options, and gather the appropriate documents. Make sure your application stands out by having a web presence, inputting the correct information, and being honest about your business financials.
This post originally appeared on the BlueVine blog at https://www.bluevine.com/how-to-get-a-business-line-of-credit/.