Small Business Financing Options That Bypass Traditional Banks
Looking for funding? Find out how to finance your startup without a traditional bank.
- Venture capitalists can provide funding, networking and professional guidance to launch your business rapidly.
- Generally, angel investors don’t ask for any company shares or claim to be stakeholders of your business.
- Businesses focused on science or research may receive grants from the government.
- This article is for small business owners who need information on alternatives to traditional bank loans.
The process of starting your own business may be challenging yet rewarding. While having a strong business strategy is essential for entrepreneurs, one of the most significant components a company needs to flourish is money.
But for people with bad credit, funding a start-up or small business may be a challenging, protracted procedure. Although there is no minimum credit score required to obtain a business loan, conventional lenders typically have a range they deem acceptable.
Consider an alternate loan if your credit is poor and you don’t have any assets to pledge as security. This article examines the advantages of alternative loans, provides advice on how to finance your firm, and dissects 11 small business funding methods.
Why is it difficult for small businesses to get loans from banks?
Small firms find it challenging to obtain capital for a number of reasons. Banks want to lend to small companies; they are not opposed to doing so. However, conventional financial institutions have outmoded, labor-intensive lending procedures and rules that are hostile to neighborhood stores and small enterprises.
Because many small firms requesting for loans are brand-new, it is more difficult to get capital because banks normally want at least a five-year profile of a healthy business (for example, five years of tax data) before making an offer.
What is alternative financing?
Any strategy that allows company owners to raise funds without the help of conventional banks is known as alternative financing. A funding option is typically considered an alternative financing technique if it is totally online-based. This term includes finance alternatives including crowdsourcing, online lenders, and cryptocurrencies.
Why might small businesses seek alternative financing?
There are several reasons why small business owners might turn to business loan alternatives. Here are three of the most common.
Lower credit requirements:
Traditional banks are almost certain to decline loans to borrowers with credit scores below a certain threshold that, though different for each loan provider, is often between 600 and 650.
Not all small business owners meet the additional requirements to apply and be approved for traditional loans. In these cases, business loan alternatives are helpful.
Traditional bank loans can take weeks to be approved, whereas some business loan alternatives give you access to funding in as little as one week.
Business financing options without a traditional bank
If your small business needs money but isn’t eligible for a standard bank loan, you might be able to get the alternative financing you need from one of these lenders. The best funding solutions for new and small enterprises are listed here.
1.Community development finance institutions
According to Jennifer Parazynski, senior vice president for business and workforce development at Coastal Enterprises Inc., there are thousands of nonprofit community development finance institutions (CDFIs) across the nation that all offer capital to small business and microbusiness owners on reasonable terms (CEI).
Every week, a diverse range of loan applications—many of them from aspirational startups—cross Parazynski’s desk. As a mission-driven non-bank lender, we are aware from experience that many viable small companies find it difficult to obtain the funding they require to launch, flourish, and expand.
Banks and lenders like CEI are different in a few respects. First off, a lot of lenders want a specific credit score, which disqualifies many companies. Banks will nearly always reject a company application if they detect “bad credit.” Credit scores are also considered by CDFI lenders, but in a different way.
However, Parazynski added, “We recognize that tragic situations happen to excellent individuals and organizations and search for borrowers who have been financially responsible.” We try to comprehend what happened and determine its significance. [Learn more about selecting the ideal small business loan for you.]
For instance, a borrower’s accounting may be badly impacted by personal or family illness problems and job losses, yet each of them might be justified. Additionally, compared to a regular bank, CDFI lenders do not require nearly as much security. Lack of collateralized assets might be made up for in other ways.
2. Venture capitalists
An external group known as venture capitalists (VCs) acquires a stake in a firm in return for funding. The ownership to capital ratios is variable and often determined by a company’s valuation.
According to Sandra Serkis, CEO of Valore Technologies, “This is an excellent option for companies who don’t have physical collateral to serve as a lien to loan against for a bank.” But it is only a fit if it has a proven high growth potential and a distinct competitive advantage, such as a patent or a captive audience.
A VC offers advantages that go beyond financial gain. A VC partnership may provide your company access to a wealth of information, connections in the industry, and a clear course for the future.
According to Chris Holder, CEO and founder of the $100 Million Run Group and author of Tips to Success, “A lot of entrepreneurs lack the skills needed to grow a business, and even though they can make money through sales, understanding how to grow a company will always be a lost cause in the beginning.” The finest thing is advice from an experienced investor group since mentoring is essential for everyone.
3. Partner financing
With strategic partner finance, a company from your sector invests in expansion in return for exclusive access to your resources, personnel, distribution rights, final sales, or some combination of those. This choice is typically disregarded, according to Serkis.
Although it occasionally can be royalty-based, where the partner receives a portion of every product sale, strategic finance “acts like venture capital in that it is generally an equity sale – not a loan,” the expert continued.
The firm you partner with is typically going to be a significant corporation and may even be in a comparable sector or an industry with an interest in your business, so partner financing is a viable choice.
If your product or service is a compatible fit with what they already offer, which would surely be the case or there would be no incentive for them to invest in you, then you can immediately tap into the larger company’s relevant customers, salespeople, and marketing programming, according to Serkes.
4. Angel investors
There is one noticeable distinction between angel investors and venture capitalists that many people overlook. An angel investor is a person who is more inclined to invest in a startup or early-stage business that might not have the verifiable growth a VC would expect, as opposed to a venture capital firm, which is often a large and established organization that invests in your business in exchange for shares.
Similar to receiving investment from a VC, but on a more personal level, finding an angel investor may also be beneficial.
According to Wilbert Wynberg, a businessman and speaker based in Singapore, “Not only will they supply the finances, [but] they will typically coach you and support you along the route.” “Keep in mind that borrowing money just to lose it later serves no purpose. These seasoned entrepreneurs will end up saving you a tone of cash.
5. Invoice financing or factoring
When you use invoice finance, sometimes referred to as factoring, a service provider advances you cash on your unpaid accounts receivable, which you pay back once consumers have paid their invoices. By doing this, you can ensure that your company has the cash flow it needs to function while you wait for clients to settle outstanding invoices.
These improvements, according to Edal Shinar, CEO of Fund box, a small business cash flow management startup, enable businesses to reduce the pay gap between invoiced work and payments to suppliers and contractors.
Companies may accept new projects more rapidly if the salary gap is closed, according to Shinar. “By assuring consistent cash flow, we hope to assist business owners in expanding their enterprises and adding additional employees.”
Small enterprises may benefit financially from crowdsourcing on websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Instead of looking for a single funding source, these platforms enable firms to combine modest investments from a number of individuals.
Igor Matic, co-founder of Fortney, said: “As an entrepreneur, you don’t want to spend your investment alternatives and raise the danger of investing in your firm at such a young age. “You may gather the first capital needed to get your firm through the development stage and prepared to pitch investors by using crowdsourcing.”
Government funding may be given to companies with a scientific or research focus. Grants are available through the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programmed of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Grant recipients must have a strong chance of commercialization and satisfy government research and development goals.
8. Peer-to-peer or marketplace lending
Peer-to-peer (P2P) lending is a method of obtaining finance that connects lenders and borrowers via different websites. Two of the most well-known P2P lending platforms in the United States are Lending Club and Prosper.
According to Kevin Heaton, CEO and creator of i3, “in its most basic form, a borrower registers an account on a peer-to-peer website that keeps records, transmits cash, and links borrowers to lenders.” “Match.com for cash,” The evaluation of borrower risk is a significant distinction.
P2P lending, in particular given the post-recession credit market, can be a strong funding choice for small companies, according to the SBA. The fact that P2P financing is only accessible to investors in a few states is one disadvantage of this method.
This type of financing, made feasible by the internet, is a cross between marketplace lending and crowdsourcing. When platform lending initially appeared on the market, it enabled those with limited working capital to lend money to peers. Years later, with their expanded activity, big businesses and banks started to supplant real P2P lenders. The phrase “marketplace lending” is more frequently used in nations with more established financial sectors.
9. Convertible debt
Convertible debt is when a company borrows money from a group of investors with the understanding that the debt will eventually be converted to equity.
According to Brian Cairns, CEO of Prostration Consulting, “Convertible debt may be a terrific method to finance both a startup and a small firm, but you have to be okay with giving some control of the business to an investor.” Until a specific date or an event that triggers an option to convert, these investors are promised a certain rate of return each year.
According to Cairns, another advantage of convertible debt is that it doesn’t restrict cash flow while interest is accruing during the bond’s duration. This sort of funding has the disadvantage that you give up some ownership or control of your company.
10. Merchant cash advances
In terms of cost and structure, a merchant cash advance is the antithesis of a small company loan. Cash advances are a rapid method to get money, but due of their hefty costs, they should only be used as a last option. Check with your provider to determine whether this could be a source of funding to consider as many of the finest credit card processing businesses give this option.
According to Priyanka Prakash, a Fundora loan and credit specialist, “a merchant cash advance is when a financial institution gives a lump-sum amount of finance and then purchases the rights to a percentage
of your credit and debit card transactions.” “The supplier takes a tiny percentage of each credit or debit card sale the merchant performs until the advance is repaid.”
While it can seem easy, cash advances can be highly expensive and problematic for your company’s financial flow, according to Prakash. Only then should you think about this choice if you don’t meet the requirements for a small company loan or any of the alternatives mentioned.
Small loans known as microloans (or microfinancing) are granted to business owners who have little or no collateral. Microloans primarily cover operating expenditures and working capital for equipment, furnishings, and supplies, while they may contain limits on how you can use the money. Kabbage is an illustration of a small company microlender; it provides microloans ranging from $2,000 to $250,000. SBA microloans managed by nonprofit organizations are another illustration.
The benefits of alternative lending
According to Serkis, there are a few significant advantages for startups when obtaining capital from an unconventional source. She thinks that when a business owner uses alternative financing, they have a strong, committed partner who can connect them to new customers, analysts, media, and other relationships.
These are some additional advantages of using a nontraditional lender.
Startups can enjoy a few key benefits in securing funding from a nontraditional source, according to Serkis. She believes that with alternative loans, a business owner gets a strong, invested partner who can introduce them to new clients, analysts, media and other contacts.
These are some other benefits of working with a nontraditional lender.
Working with a reputable investor gives the business the opportunity to “borrow” some of the reputation that the strategic partner has developed.
The bigger partner probably has departments for marketing, IT, finance, and HR, all of which a startup may “borrow” or use at a discount.
Overall business guidance:
As part of the investment, it’s possible that the strategic partner will join your board. Keep in mind that they have a plethora of business expertise, making their counsel and perspective priceless.
Relatively hands-off partnership:
unlikely to be heavily involved in the startup’s day-to-day operations because they still have their own businesses to operate. They often only need periodic check-ins on your firm, such monthly or quarterly updates.
To succeed, every firm needs working money. Startup businesses are prone to failure without the proper business funding choices. It may seem hard to avoid using a typical bank loan, but entrepreneurs have access to a wide range of small company funding solutions. The likelihood that your firm will endure over the long term is increased by collecting the appropriate market data and putting into practice the best financing solution for your organization.
How can small businesses prepare to apply for alternative lending options?
Applying for financing entails much more than just filling out an application. To increase your chances of getting financing, small business owners should do their homework and have a strategy.
Here are five tips to help you prepare your business for financing success:
Know how much you need to borrow upfront. When you apply for business loan alternatives, you’ll likely find that many different loan amounts are available. Don’t commit to borrowing more than you need; there may be penalties for early repayment or for not using your whole loan.
Write a business plan with financial projections. While not all alternative financing providers will demand to see your business plan, many funding sources have this stipulation, so you should prepare your plan now.
Do market research and know the conditions of your industry. In expanding sectors, lenders could be more willing to accept loans. As a result, if you can demonstrate why your industry or target market is ideal for your company’s growth and success, be sure to address this in your application. Additionally, it exhibits your expertise as a company thinker and entrepreneur.
Know your credit score. Even if your business is well-positioned for quick development and you’re making progress on loan repayment, a credit score below a particular threshold frequently results in an automatic disqualification for loan applications. Before requesting funding, find out your credit score and take steps to raise it if it is too low.
Meet with a small business expert and attend training provided through the SBA.
You shouldn’t make this decision alone, as you should with any crucial small company choice. Get advice from professionals and training on how to submit winning financing applications to grow your business.
Since lenders will also be looking at this data, you should have a strong internet presence for your small business and pay attention to how it appears online. Online review platforms like Yelp, Angie’s List, and TripAdvisor provide an overview of your operations and act as a gauge for the health of your company as a whole. Social media ties with customers and social connections can influence a lender’s choice to extend credit.
How to find business financing options
Finding funding for your business may quickly become a full-time job. Financing is essential to the success of any firm, but it can take a lot of effort, including networking with investors and other founders.
However, you may take significant steps toward funding your business by engaging with the appropriate investors and spending the time to craft a focused proposal. It will be challenging, but if you are thorough in your search, you may set yourself up for success.
According to Mike Kirsch, founder and CEO of sleep technology startup Bedor, “What I find is that when folks receive lots and lots of rejection and no progress, usually they’re just talking to the wrong investors.” “They’d see their success rate go up rather considerably if they had a better notion of who the proper investor was,” said the analyst. You may take significant steps toward financing your business by using ores and taking the time to craft a focused pitch. It will be challenging, but if you are thorough in your search, you may set yourself up for success.
Casey Berman, managing director of VC firm Camber Creek, asserts that the “warm introduction” is the secret to getting finance as a business. Entrepreneurs might try to uncover possibilities by looking inside their own network, according to Berman. While there are some obvious options here, such as friends and family or other startup founders, it’s also critical to take into account the professional services your business uses. He explained that if you, for instance, engage with a legal advisor or public relations firm, they could be able to assist you in finding money.
The secret, according to Berman, is to collaborate with a business that offers value to your enterprise, whether it’s an investment firm or a payroll processing provider.
The warm introduction goes a lot further than really any other potential avenue,” he said. “Any professionals that are surrounding the company should absolutely be the first stop and the first location a company goes to try to have access to venture capital and a warm introduction.”
This is how you can differentiate your startup from its peers. Building a network of individuals that help pull your company up is the best way to give your business the support it needs.
How to target a venture capitalist for business financing
Because venture capitalists have extremely precise investment plans, want to invest for three to five years, and may want to be engaged in your company’s operations and choices, they may be the hardest to attract. Additionally, VCs often like to invest sums greater than a few million dollars.
The majority of firms receive early seed money from close friends and relations, angel investors, or accelerators. When searching for longer-term finance after moving passed this stage, it’s critical to approach VC firms properly. Finding the appropriate investor for the stage your organization is in, according to Kirsch, is essential. There are a lot of venture capital businesses, so carefully consider your company and the best investors.
The greatest approach to have a successful connection, in Kirsch’s opinion, is to find the appropriate investor who is at the proper stage for where your company is but [that] also has some exposure to the environment that you’re going to be in.
It’s time to establish a formal procedure once you’ve created a shortlist of venture capitalists (VCs) that invest in your industry and can offer the amount of coaching and additional value you’re looking for.
Berman advises spending one to two weeks attempting to make that initial contact with the firm after you have your list in hand. After making contact, keep the business informed of any business advancements and other details that could be important to that investor. You may cultivate relationships with investors by having this constant discussion. You’ll have to pitch the VC companies you’ve been in frequent contact with when it comes time to raise funds.
In order to locate the ideal partner, Berman advised, “the CEO really needs to commit to raising money and executing what’s called a roadshow to go in front of a big number of venture funds.”
Plan ahead, said Berman, since the entire process—from the first conversations to the final deal—could take anywhere between 60 and 90 days, if not more. Additionally, he advised searching for money far in advance of your company’s requirement.
How to stay motivated
The motivational factor plays a significant role throughout this procedure. Rejection is a necessary part of the path for a company. Although it might be challenging, maintaining motivation during challenging times will be essential to the success of your company.
Kirsch has worked with many businesses and has participated in five rounds of investment. He mentioned that he sought to have modest expectations throughout the screening process so that rejection wouldn’t overwhelm him as one thing that had been beneficial for him. Kirsch views rejection as a necessary step in the process rather than a sign of failure.
If someone declines, he explained, he just thinks, “That’s okay, I guess I’m just one step closer to a yes.”
How you adjust and react is the other lesson you should learn from rejection. According to Kirsch, a steady stream of constructive criticism enables you to improve your offering and sharpen your throwing abilities.
He advised thinking of it this way: You’re not being rejected because your concept or product is poor; rather, it can be somewhat enhanced, or you lack the expertise to present it in the most persuasive manner. This prevents pressure from building up while keeping the responsibility in your hands. Everything is a labour in progress, and even the most prosperous businesses today formerly had difficulties.
It’s quite challenging to raise money from individuals, he remarked. You just have to sort of roll with it and realize that many businesses that were first dismissed went on to define entire generations.