Seeking A Business Loan – Bank Loan Vs Non-Bank Loan

As the months slowly pass by, there are many things in the business world that continue to change or evolve. But, one constant over the last two years is that loans to small businesses from traditional lenders like banks and similar financing companies are still extremely hard to come by.

Banks and other financial institutions remain tremendously skeptical about what tomorrow will bring. Some banks cite over regulation by the government while others tout that they are just not seeing qualified borrowers.

Regardless of the reasons, small firms continue to struggle in finding business loans from traditional sources to help them grow and succeed.

This has created an enormous funding gap for small or Main Street businesses in this country.

Small businesses are one of the (if not the) strongest economic driver in our nation. Small and Main Street businesses provide jobs, wealth and opportunities in the communities in which they operate – communities which ebb and flow with the strengths and prospects of their local businesses.

However, from the bank side – they also create the greatest risks – risks that banks continue to NOT want to take.

The old saying – the bigger the risk, the greater the reward. And, to achieve that reward, we have to find ways to make the risk work in this new economy. And, some new non-bank lenders are indeed finding ways!

Leave it to the ingenuity of entrepreneurs in this country to come with new stop gap business loan products and services – all designed with the small business or Main Street businesses in mind.

Many new non-bank lenders are stepping up to fill the small business funding gap left wide open by banks. These business loan products are usually easier to qualify for and can be funded much faster than traditional loans as these new financing companies understand the real needs of small businesses and the opportunities they represent.

Some of these new lenders have been changing or modifying traditional business loan products to meet this new small business financing demand. Example:

There has been significant changes and growth in non-profit lenders like Micro Lenders where a new business can qualify for a loan up to $35,000 but now also where an existing business can receive a business loan upwards of $50,000 – all designed and marketed to and specifically for small businesses.

There has also been a sharp increase in peer-to-peer lending or social network lending. While these are still designated as personal loans (most business loans to new businesses are personal loans – guaranteed by the business owner) they offer (and are now being marketed too) small businesses as a quick and usually low cost means of securing a small loan to help them overcome a slow month, meet payroll obligations or to take advantage of new opportunities to grow the business.

There have also been new breeds of business lenders entering the market. Some have taken traditional loan vehicles like accounts receivable factoring or business cash advances and tweaked them to better meet the needs of smaller firms (firms with potential but not yet profitable) while others have created a completely new way to view a business’s financial strength with a focus more on cash flow than profitability or time in business.

To reduce the risk of default; most lenders – bank and non-bank – like to fund on the basis of the conversion of assets. This allows these lenders to focus less on the overall financial condition of the borrower and more on the strength and make up of the asset used as collateral. Thus, when the assets actually convert into cash (like a customer paying its invoice) those funds are used to pay-off or pay down the outstanding loan balance. This has, in the past, allowed businesses and their owners a means to financing that they may not have gotten otherwise due to time in business or years of profitability limitations.

However, these new breed of lenders are taking this view of business financing, adding their own individual twist, and finding success in funding pre-profit, growing small businesses.

For example, there are new non-bank lenders that focus less of profitability and credit but more on the business’s ability to generate cash flow each day. If your business is able to close deals and has a constant supply of cash inflows (regardless if the business is profitable or not) then these new lenders are willing to take a chance on your firm’s ability to grow – with their financial help. This also means that these lenders will match their payments with your business’s daily cash inflows.

The benefit to the lenders is less risk from not having to wait 30 or more days only to find out a business is not able to make a payment. The benefits to the business is being able to use intangible assets (like its ability to find and service customers) to obtain necessary funding to propel the business to that next level.

Further, there are new business financiers that are side-stepping business loans completely and innovating new business financing mechanisms.

For example, playing off the peer-to-peer loan industry, there are companies that are implementing peer-to-peer angel or private investment. Thus, should your business not meet the very stringent and specific criteria of an angel capital or private equity deals, your firm might still be able to obtain the same type and amount of investment dollars from others like you or from those in your community or in your network.

The bottom line here is that the longer the banks hold their vaults shuts against small businesses and continue to ignore the rising demands for small business financing, the opportunities created for new, innovative lenders to step up and fill these gaps are astounding.

Will these new lending vehicles and methodologies work for your business? It really depends on your business and your ability to look outside the box. Will all of these new lenders survive? Probably not. But, whenever there is unfilled demand, pioneering entrepreneurs will emerge hoping to change the world while fulfilling their personal dreams.

What this means to the small businesses struggling today and those that will surface tomorrow is that while banks continue to dig in and avoid internal innovation to meet current small business loan demand; other non-bank lenders are stepping up and trying to succeed with new products and new markets.

Thus, while finding and obtaining a bank loan is probably still the goal of the majority of small businesses (as most don’t know about or understand these new options), new funding vehicles are opening each and every day from non-bank lenders who actually understand the needs of growing businesses and are designing ways to meet their business loan / capital needs.

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