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Three Cs - What Startups Need to Get a Business Loan, Part 1

You want to get a good, solid overview of what it takes to acquire that business loan you need, especially if you are a startup. The essential element of what the lenders out there require of you can be wrapped up in the acronym, C. C. C. These are...

Cash - Decide how much money you want to borrow, what it will be used for specifically, and how much you personally will put down on the loan. The more cash you can come up with the better, period.

Credit - Your personal credit score really should be 700 or better. Unless you've got tons of cash and collateral, don't even attempt a loan request until it is. Personal credit reports can often be obtained free and securely over the internet.

Collateral - The more collateral the better. The lender will establish a loan-to-value on all of it. Having a house to pledge is a huge plus. Keep in mind, though, that little or no cash and lousy credit will not be made up for by an excess of collateral.

You must decide how much money you need and how much you can raise for a down payment. You must get working to make that credit score of yours better. You know how many assets you have, and should find out what their liquidation value is. You need to discover how to get your hands on additional cash and collateral should the need arise...

Still with me? Good. If you are serious about starting or enhancing your business through a loan, you need to understand that lenders will want to know how much skin you have in the game. After looking into a loan possibility, many aspiring and existing entrepreneurs conclude that the money lending industry is too demanding and complex, and the sheer volume of information required by them is overwhelming. Then, discouragement sets in and drains all the excitement and enthusiasm out of them.

But perhaps it's prudent to think from the lender's perspective for a moment. Imagine a stranger approaches you, nicely dressed and polite, and proceeds to enlighten you on his idea to build a lovely espresso stand just down the street from your house. His vision of the success of this venture is optomistic, he apparently has a little experience at running coffee joints, and is now inquiring if you would like to fund the construction and initial operation of this hopeful enterprise.

So, naturally you begin to be a little inquisitive...

You: "How much cash will you have on the line for this project?"

Him: "Cash?"

You: "Yeah, you know..., money? And, since I'm asking, how's your credit? Have you been making all of the payments to your creditors on time?"

He begins to squirm.

Him: "Well..., about the money thing, I wouldn't be coming to you if I had any of my own. And, as far as my credit is concerned, it's happens to be pretty good...I think."

You: "Do you have any assets that can be pledged against this loan in case of a default?"

Him: "Default?! Good grief, man. Can't you tell by looking at me that I'm a man of my word?!"

You: No.

At this point, he leaves your presence discouraged, fuming, or both. No one in his right mind would fund such a proposal at face value. On the other hand, if that same man came to you (and you were in the business of lending money), laid out a sensible business idea, put up 20% of the loan amount in cash, had good credit, had experience either at running a business or in the industry he was proposing, and had a sufficient amount of collateral to cover losses due to unforeseen circumstances, you might consider him a "good risk", wouldn't you?

All lenders have the difficult task of making future decisions based on historical information. Commercial or private lenders such as commercial finance companies, leasing companies and mortgage banks, though not directly regulated by the government, still must adhere to certain credit granting criteria. Institutional lenders such as banks, credit unions, savings and loans, etc., lend money obtained by borrowing from their depositors. Thus, they are both regulated by the government and more critical in their policies regarding lending. Regardless of whether you approach one or the other, neither one of them are in the business to lose money. Give them reasons to lend to you. Did you know that lenders want to provide money to you? Let them!

By preparing your personal three C's properly for the scrutiny they will endure, you'll give the funder a good opportunity to fulfill your request for business startup capital. There are many other details involved in the process, such as the sizeable amount of paperwork you need to prepare and gather. But, if you're serious and confident about your venture, pony up and be willing to hurdle the necessary fences to satisfy the lender's requirements. At that point, an independent loan broker will be one of your most valuable allies. Contact a professional who can walk with you through the process and explain the details of the transaction. Your chances for approval will become greater and your lender will thank you.

In part 2 of this article, we will examine the types of paperwork necessary to package a startup loan request to the lender.

Mark Uptain is the owner of Regent Business Capital, a loan and lease brokerage that works with lenders nationwide to help small and medium-sized businesses get financing. His website http://www.EquipmentLeasingSource.com, offers free equipment leasing information and competitive quotes to businesses throughout the United States.

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