3 Reason You Should Use A Credit Union For Your Business Loan Needs

Most of the time, when business owners (new entrepreneurs or experienced proprietors) think about financing their businesses, they think about their local banks – which they should. After all, they drive by these organizations everyday and might even have an account or two with them.

But, there are times when these banks might not be the best options for landing a needed business loan – either because the bank does not offer the loan product your company needs or because (like most of us these days) you just do not qualify under their heighten standards.

However, that does not mean that you still cannot get the financing your business wants – from start up funding to growing an established business – from a local financial institution other than your bank.

Did you know that some local credit unions also offer business loans? And, do you know that if they don’t, they do offer other financing products that you can use to start or grow your business?

Credit Unions For Business Financing

If you can get a loan from your bank – great. You should start there. But, if you can’t, simply drive right over to your local credit union and see what loan programs they offer.

Not only do you stand a good chance of getting the capital you need but you might be able to do it cheaper and with a lot less hassle.

Let me explain: First let’s call these CU for simplicity.

CUs, when it comes to business financing, offer the following benefits:

1) Business Loans – Some CUs do provide true business loans – the same products that your local bank offers. And, there are more of them doing this then you think.

Further, in many cases, if the CU does make business loans they usually don’t have such high credit standards that other lenders do. CUs tend to focus more on how your business and their loan impact the community at large – not just their bottom line. Most CUs have lower credit score requirements, better debt ratio limits, lower overall collateral value levels and usually spend less effort on scrutinizing income and tax return information. Simply put, their business loans (the same products that banks and other business lenders offer) are easier to qualify for.

According to State Employees’ CU in Raleigh, NC, when talking about how they underwrite their loan products:

Our focus is not on profits, but on fair, quality service.

So, not only are there underwriting criteria easier to pass, but since they make their loan decisions locally, they tend to take more of your story into account – which only benefits you and your ability to get approved.

2) Personal Loans – while banks also offer personal loans, again, CUs have easier approval standards. And, they are more flexible in the products they offer – making their loans fit you and not the other way around.

Now, you might think that you don’t want a personal loan for your business. But, I am here to tell you that all loans, business, personal or otherwise, from banks, CU, or private lenders, are in fact all personal loans.

Here’s why. You apply for a business loan – the type of lender does not matter – and you jump through all the hoops required to qualify. They look at your revenue or income, they look at your current debt, they look at and valuate your collateral and in the end, they approve your request.

They tell you what your monthly payment will be, they tell you how they are going to attach a claim to your assets and then – here is the kicker – they make you sign a personal guarantee – even on a business loan.

And, it is this personal guarantee that washes away all that other stuff about business credit facilities. Because, if you or your business do not pay as agreed, that personal guarantee allows that lender – bank, CU, private lender – to come after your personal income and assets to make that loan whole – which is the very definition of a personal loan. The one single item that you are looking to avoid by getting a business loan – avoiding personal risk – is also the one single item you cannot avoid, no matter what type of loan you are requesting.

However, there is nothing that states that you cannot use the proceeds from a personal loan in or for your business.

Bottom line here for you is this: If you can’t get a business loan, look to the personal or consumer products CUs offers. Money is just money after all and CUs make getting your hands on that needed money (personal or business) easier.

3) Cheaper All The Way Around – As CUs are non-profit, they have lower application, origination and processing fees on their loan products. They have lower annual fees if any (say on lines of credit). And, they usually charge lower interest rates.

All items that do nothing but benefit you and your business. Why over pay when you don’t have too?

From MyCreditUnion.gov credit unions offer:

Fees and loan rates at credit unions are generally lower, while interest rates returned (dividends paid on deposits) are generally higher, than banks and other for-profit institutions. Credit unions are democratically operated by members, allowing account holders an equal say in how the credit union is operated, regardless of how much they have invested in the credit union.

Conclusion

As I have hoped to point out here, if you already have a relationship with a local bank, then by all means approach that bank for your business loan needs. But, if you don’t or if they turn you down, there is no reason that you cannot just drive right over to one of your local credit unions and see if they will say yes to your same request.

Credit unions offer a lot of benefits when it comes to business financing, namely being easier to qualify for. So, in the end, does it really matter where or what form your business loan come in? Money is just money after all.

Business Fundamentals for Entrepreneurs

Having a great idea and the motivation to strike-out on your own is a good first step in pursing the feasibility of a business. However, it takes more than motivation and a great idea to get things started. This article will reveal some of the simplest considerations that most would-be business-owners overlook.

The very first thing that should not fall under consideration is venturing out on your own without the proper tools beyond the scope of a great idea. According to statistics provided by the Small Business Administration, over 90% of small businesses fail due to a lack of planning. How many times have you heard or witnessed individuals that sat up over a weekend and wrote a stellar business plan then headed out on Monday morning to seek funding or investors? Impatience is the second thing that needs management. So often “I am tired of working for someone else” is the premise for people to start a business. This frame of mind will almost ensure failure because this approach to business involves looking backwards at getting out of a bad situation.

There is a prevailing philosophy that has to evolve, “Not all people are cut-out to become business-owners”. This is a harsh reality to face in a country such as the United States that prides itself on autonomy and ownership. Starting a business requires a commitment that may or may not pay dividends quickly. The key threat to small businesses is the initial funding or start-up cost and therefore many under-capitalized ventures hit the markets and get that rude awakening.

Before spending your first dollar a best practice is to do your “free research” on the Internet and in public libraries. Read recently published academic studies on the industry in which you plan to pursue. It takes more than just knowing a certain aspect of the business being that your competition may be more well-versed about the industry as a whole. You may want to ask questions such as “What are the regulatory requirements to do business within that particular industry?” You may want to research about “systemic exposure” or how the rest of the economy could or would impact that industry during troubled financial times. It is also a good practice to review some of the strategies of other potential competitors during The Great Recession of 2008. How did the industry leaders survive jn respect to operational changes and sacrifices. It is understandable that this may take several days or even weeks to accomplish, but by applying the best practices initially you will have a clear understanding of what to expect during certain economic times.

It is essential to understand who are the industry leaders within your business channel and what makes them unique. There should be an emphasis on this because your branding and marketing could benefit from such a consideration. A distinguishing characteristic may be customer service, quality assurance, product branding, or even presentation. These may sound trivial, but think about if you were a retailer for mens apparel and you specifically wanted to appeal to young urban males under the age of thirty. Labels equals status in many of these communities so a nice logo on the item that is visible may assist in the popularity and purchase of your garments. Even though this may have more to do with marketing and brand positioning, this is a must have against the competition.

However, before we get to marketing and branding there are other things needing consideration such as your mind-set, ego, time-line, available start-up capital, and feasibility. After you have trolled through the data and information from your research, the next step is the feasibility study. It is suggested that you do this prior to writing a business plan. In this way you can quickly determine whether or not you can enter the particular market or not and if so, at what level. A common mistake for new business people is to envision competing with the industry leaders. This is an ideal way to go broke quickly. In stead, set more realistic goals for yourself and get the notion out of your head that the Internet is going to make your business global. Facebook and the other social networks became popular because they were free to the end-user first and while trying to figure out a way to capitalize or convert those users into revenue. This would be a bad business-model to follow. Think about your region and the local competition first to see how much it would cost for you company to operate for the first 3 to 5 years without constant revenue.

Again this will require more local research this time on your specific region and take not of the deviations between your first broader macro research and the more localized micro research. The deviation between those two areas may actually become the niche that needs filling. In this way you can actually have a specialized niche within the region and a hybrid on a larger scale. Now, you may ask yourself “Why?” Simply put, the goal is to avoid what others are already doing in the sense that giving a “Thankyou” to a customer in a better way that the competitor is not enough. Another temptation to avoid is the centric mind-set that the business and industry has to behave according to your own belief or philosophy. This strategy rarely works out in a positive way. You have seen these business owners that rarely listens to their customers and as a result they have a revolving door of both customers and employees and the business stagnates and does not grow.

Growth must have a major role in the definition of your business because that is the incentive to attract customers, employees, and even investors. As a potential business-owner you will have to cleanse your mind of working for a company and view your company as your tangible boss. This may sound counter intuitive, but the cascade is like this, the economy drives the consumer or businesses that drive behavior which drives your company which eventually drives you to make the right decisions to meet the demand.

So far you have done your research, and you know how much it will cost you to compete in your local market. The next thing is to consider your liabilities as it relates to the company. You may use this also to determine what form of business ownership will work for you. It is a good business practice to incorporate whenever possible and in some states there are differences in levels according to projected revenues. Incorporating also gives you more protection than a DBA or partnerships. At this point you will learn another strategy that many successful business-owners do, delegate tasks that require professional expertise to professionals with their fields. A good business attorney, accountant, and business consultant are essential for start-ups. This is a gap that many would-be business people fall through the cracks. Another benefits is that these professionals may also assist in giving information that may be crucial in developing a comprehensive business proposal. They can help with the work you have done to reflect the requirements needed.