Business loans can help eligible entrepreneurs grow or run their businesses. A business loan is typically a long-term installment loan that provides qualified borrowers with a large lump sum of money. A business owner can indeed use a Personal loan for business expenses. However, business loans are beneficial because they help entrepreneurs separate personal and business finances.
Business loan borrowers can use their money for various business expenses, such as:
- Employee salaries.
- Accounts receivable.
If you’re a business owner in need of a small business loan, you may ask, “Do you need Collateral for a business loan?” Or, “How much collateral do you need?” Many business loan lenders require collateral from borrowers, although unsecured business loans exist. Learn what business assets you may have to pledge to a lender and how to secure an unsecured business loan.
Types of Business Loans Available
Two distinct types of business loans are available: traditional and SBA. Learning more about each option before applying for business financing is a good idea. There is no single ideal business loan option for everyone. Still, you can choose the best business loan for your company by knowing these details:
- How much money do you need for expenses?
- How long do you want to wait for approval?
- What business assets (if any) do you want to use as collateral?
Traditional Business Loans
A traditional bank loan can provide eligible borrowers with a substantial loan amount. Banks, credit unions, and online lenders offer conventional business loans. Traditional business loans usually provide higher loan amounts. However, they tend to have stricter qualification requirements than SBA loans because the lending risk can be higher.
The qualification requirements vary by lender, but your credit score plays an essential role during the approval process for a business loan. Unfortunately, opening a small business with less than perfect credit can be challenging. Low scores may indicate that a borrower has trouble responsibly managing their finances. And in case of default, the financial institution must cover 100% of the risk. Many business owners facing difficulty getting approval for a business loan choose to apply for SBA loans.
The U.S. Small Business Administration provides small SBA loans to eligible business owners. The federal government guarantees SBA loans, which may help small business owners with low credit qualify for funding. The SBA guarantees up to 85% of the loan value, which significantly lowers the lending risk in the event a borrower defaults on the business loan.
Many lenders are willing to approve applicants if the SBA backs the loan. But while you may get loan approval with bad credit, you will have to wait a lot longer to get business funding. The approval process for an SBA loan is more time-consuming than for a traditional business loan. If you need money as soon as possible, an SBA loan may not be an ideal business financing option.
There are three distinct types of SBA loan programs to choose from:
- 7(a) Loans: This is the most common loan program that provides short and long-term financial help. The interest rates depend on your credit score. 7(a) loans have interest rate caps and limited fees. The maximum loan amount is five million dollars.
- 504 Loans: Provides long-term, fixed-rate financing to specific businesses for expansion or modernization. Borrowers must use the loan to purchase or repair real estate property, equipment financing, or new machinery. The repayment terms last 10, 20, or 25 years.
- A Microloan: Microloans provide small loan amounts for small startups or borrowers with limited business or personal assets. However, borrowers cannot use microloans to buy commercial real estate or repay existing debts. The loan amounts range from $10,000 to $50,000.
What Is a Personal Guarantee?
Many financial institutions that offer business loans require some form of collateral to secure the loan. You may come across the term “personal guarantee” when comparing your financing options. A personal guarantee is a binding contract that makes the borrower personally responsible for the debt in case of default. Large business loans may sometimes require more than one guarantor to secure funding.
A personal guarantee benefits the lender, but it also benefits the borrower. Personal guarantees lower the lending risk, which may help you get higher loan amounts and better terms. However, a personal guarantee also means a lender can seize the borrower’s personal assets. You risk losing vehicles, real estate properties, and bank account savings.
There are two types of personal guarantees with small business loans:
Unlimited Personal Guarantees
An unlimited personal guarantee requires the guarantor to accept full financial responsibility. The guarantor must repay the remaining loan amount if the business defaults. Suppose you are self-employed and get a business loan worth $30,000. If your business fails, you must repay the total loan amount using your personal assets.
Limited Personal Guarantees
A limited personal guarantee restricts the responsibility of every guarantor up to a specific dollar amount or percentage of the total loan debt. If a company defaults on its business loan, a limited personal guarantee prevents a guarantor from losing everything.
Certain business loan agreements have a joint and several liability. This type of liability stipulates that the financial institution can obtain repayment from one, some, or all of the loan guarantors. When a business takes out a $100,000 business loan with a joint and several liability, each guarantor could be financially responsible for either a portion or the entirety of the total loan amount.
Can I Get a Business Loan Without Collateral?
Secured business loans require collateral for funding, but in return, the borrower may get lower interest rates and lenient credit score requirements. However, secured loans are risky because the borrower can lose personal or business assets, such as:
- Treasury or corporate bonds.
- Certificates of deposit (CD).
- Real estate.
If you do not want to risk using collateral to get a small business loan, don’t worry! There are unsecured business loans you can apply for. No collateral business loans do not require collateral, so you do not have to risk losing assets if the business fails to make timely payments. However, some unsecured business lenders may still require a personal guarantee even if collateral is not required.
Unsecured loans are financially risky for lenders because there is no security in case of default. For this reason, the qualification requirements are stricter than they are with secured business loans. In order to be eligible for unsecured loans, a borrower’s credit score should be relatively high. The minimum credit score requirement varies by lender, but many require a good credit score.
One of lenders’ most commonly used credit scoring models is the FICO score. As shown below, FICO scores fall into four categories based on a specific score range.
- Poor — 300 to 579
- Fair — 580 to 669
- Good — 670 to 739
- Very Good — 740 to 799
- Excellent — 800 to 850
A good credit rating is any credit score higher than 670 points. Obtaining an unsecured business loan with a credit score lower than 670 is possible. However, it would help if you inquired with multiple lenders to find the best loan offer. But remember that in order to mitigate financial risk, many lenders charge high-interest rates.
A high-interest rate increases the monthly payment amount and the total cost of the loan. Unsecured business loans generally have higher interest rates than secured loans. Want to apply for unsecured business loans? Consider if you are willing to pay a high monthly payment and if the total cost of the loan with interest is worth borrowing the money.
What Are the Qualification Requirements for Business Loans?
The qualification requirements for a business loan vary by lender. However, many financial institutions require the same information to verify a business’s legitimacy and an applicant’s credit history. If you need money for business expenses, knowing what you need to prove ahead of time can potentially help speed up the approval process.
Generally, most business lenders consider the following during the approval process:
Your Credit Score
Lenders will analyze personal and business credit scores for business loans. A business credit score measures the creditworthiness of a business. High business credit scores can help business owners get maximum loan amounts and low rates. In contrast, low or unestablished scores can complicate the qualification process.
Business owners can build credit in the following ways:
- Opening a business credit file with Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.
- Obtaining a business checking account.
- Opening at least one business credit card.
- Establishing a line of credit with vendors or suppliers.
- Paying bills on time to build a consistent payment history.
Financial institutions that offer business loans may have minimum monthly or annual revenue requirements. Suppose your business earnings were not sufficient this past year. In that case, you may not qualify with lenders that have specific revenue requirements. Inquire with different lenders to compare the revenue requirements. In addition, some financial institutions will ask to see your profit and loss statements to verify your ability to make timely payments.
Time in Business
The amount of time your business has been operational will affect the approval process. Businesses with a long-term history of on-time payments and responsible money management could qualify for the best business loans. On the other hand, startup companies may not be eligible for a substantial loan amount. Some lenders have minimum time requirements, so ensure you inquire with multiple lenders.
Some lenders will require applicants to share a business plan. The business plan should include your intended purchases, financial projections, industry outlook, and competitive analysis. In addition, have a five-year plan for your business cash flow, expenses, and income.
Your lender may review your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio to make an approval decision. Lenders may determine that they cannot pay the loan on time if a business owner has too much debt and a high DTI ratio. But low DTI ratios signify that the borrower can manage their finances and handle one more monthly loan payment.
Debt-Service Coverage Ratio
A debt-service coverage ratio (DSCR) measures a business’ annual net operating income compared to its total annual debt. Annual net means the earnings before interest, taxes, deductions, and amortization (EBITDA). The DSCR requirements vary but know that the U.S. Small Business Administration requires a minimum DSCR of 1.15 for SBA loans. You can calculate DSCR by dividing the business EBITDA by the total annual debt.
Can I Use a Personal Loan for Business Expenses?
Many entrepreneurs use personal loans instead of business loans to operate, grow, and expand their businesses. Personal loans offer quite a few advantages over business loans. Still, the best financing option depends on your loan term preferences.
Personal loans usually have a shorter approval process than business loans. Approved applicants may get money from a personal loan in as little as one business day. On the other hand, you may have to wait longer than a month to get a business loan! Business loans can require more information than personal loans because the maximum loan amount is typically much higher. But a personal loan may be an ideal alternative option if you do not need a lot of money.
The interest rates for personal loans are generally competitive. Still, your credit score will play a part in determining the final rate. If you want to apply for a personal loan, inquire with multiple lenders to find the best loan offer for your current financial situation.