Editor’s note: At Lantern, we strive to help you make financial decisions with confidence. To do this, we occasionally feature content that includes information about our partners and their products or services. We do not provide, endorse, or guarantee any third-party product, service, information or recommendations—and our opinions are our own.
Finding the right emergency business loan can mean the difference between making it through a difficult time and having to shut your company’s doors permanently. Fortunately, there are many options available, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Whether you’re coping with the economic effects of COVID-19 or you simply had an unexpected expense, there are ways to get help when you need it. Explore several different types of emergency funding for small businesses so you can be ready for unexpected challenges when they arise.
What an Emergency Loan IsAn emergency small business loan is financing that helps your company make it through a difficult period that your normal working capital or cash reserves can’t cover. Your emergency could be a national or regional problem that affects a lot of people, like a pandemic or an earthquake Or it could be a problem that’s unique to your business, like uninsured fire damage or a flood in your storeroom. Emergency loan products may be available in different types of loan structures, and eligibility requirements may differ among lenders. But you should be able to use the funds to repair damage, to replenish stock, and/or for normal operating costs, like paying your employees.
Types of Emergency Business LoansDifferent types of small business financing come with their own specific pros and cons. The best choice for you depends in part on the type of emergency your business is experiencing. Get to know some of the most common options out there to make the right choice.
SBA Emergency Loans (EIDLs)The SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) to help small businesses face financial challenges that wouldn’t have arisen if not for the disaster. Currently, the SBA EIDL program is offering COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loans. The fixed loan rates are low at 3.75% for businesses, and the loan terms run 30 years. Owners may borrow up to six months of working capital and defer their payments for a year, although interest will still accrue. If you need the money right away, SBA Express Bridge Loans are also available to help business owners quickly obtain up to $25,000. To apply, however, you do need to have a relationship with an Express Lender already. This temporary financing serves as a bridge loan and should be repaid with an EIDL loan.
Term LoanA term loan comes with a fixed interest rate and a set term length during which you replay your balance plus interest, usually in monthly payments. There are many sources for term loans, including traditional banks and online lenders. A short-term loan, in particular, may help you get cash quickly when your business is suffering from an emergency. Both these options have benefits and drawbacks. A traditional bank may take longer to approve your loan, which can be a problem when you’re experiencing an emergency. But you may have a better chance for approval if you already have a relationship with the lender. Online lenders, however, typically have easy applications that can be completed in a few minutes. The decision-making process tends to be quick, and you could get funding in just a day or two. The downside is that the interest rates may be higher. But when you need cash quickly to handle your business’s emergency, a fast online term loan could be ideal.
Lines of CreditA business line of credit is different from a term loan because it can actually help you prepare in advance for a financial emergency. A business line of credit is similar to a credit card in that you draw on funds as you need them instead of getting a lump sum. There’s generally a limit to how much you can draw at a time, but interest doesn’t accrue until you actually borrow funds. And you may be subject to a variable interest rate when you start making payments, depending on the terms of your line of credit. A line of credit works best as emergency funding if you already have it in place before the emergency hits. If your business’s finances tank, it’s hard to get approved for new funding. But if you apply for a line of credit when things are good, you can then not take out any funds until you truly need them. One drawback, however, is that some lenders may charge a maintenance fee.
Personal LoansA personal loan is often easier to qualify for than a business loan. That’s because a personal loan application only asks you to prove your personal ability to keep up with the payments. For a business loan, however, your entire business may be evaluated. Plus, many lenders provide quick decisions and fund disbursement, so you can access the money fast. Of course, there are a few downsides. Personal loans typically have lower limits than business loans, and your offer will be based on your income and other debts. You also put your personal finances and credit at risk when you use the funds for your business. And finally, personal lenders may have restrictions that prohibit you from using their loans for business purposes. Be sure to check for limitations like these as you compare personal loans.
Business Cash AdvancesRather than being structured as a loan that you pay back, a business cash advance fronts you a lump sum of money based on your business’s credit card sales. The cash advance company then takes a percentage of each card transaction at your business (plus a fee) to repay the loan. There’s no set repayment term.A business cash advance is typically easy to qualify for as long as you’re still making sales during your business emergency. But it comes at a price, mainly in the form of a high factor rate that’s applied to your principal balance and dictates how much above your principal you’ll have to pay.
Invoice FactoringCompanies that take in payments through invoices rather than credit card transactions may consider invoice factoring as a way to raise emergency funding. Here, you sell unpaid invoices to a factoring company and receive a percentage of those invoices’ face value upfront from the factoring company. Invoice factoring also means you have to turn over the invoice collection process to the factoring company. When it collects the full amount owed from a customer, it pays you the balance remaining after the initial percentage it already paid you, minus the factoring company’s fee. Because the invoices serve as collateral, your business may be better positioned to qualify for this type of financing even when you’re experiencing a financial emergency. In addition to high fees, however, you may also not like someone else managing your customer relationships.
What to Consider with Emergency Funding for Small BusinessesNo matter what kind of emergency financing you’re looking at for your small business, be sure to understand the short-term and long-term implications of each offer.
- First, compare the total cost to borrow, including interest rates and fees.
- Next, look at how repayment works. Some lenders require you to enroll in an auto draft program that deducts money from your business banking account on a regular basis. Payments may be due monthly or as frequently as weekly, which could potentially cause a cash crunch. Depending what option you choose, you may also want to prepare to have your cash flow impacted by invoice factoring or merchant cash advances, since both take a bite directly out of your sales.
- Finally, consider the time it will take to apply for and get your funding. Different emergency business loans proceed at different speeds. If getting funds fast is your priority, you may be limited to higher-cost solutions.
Tips for Applying for Small Business Emergency FundingIf you’re wondering how to get a business loan during an emergency situation, try these tips to navigate the process more easily.Calculate how much financing you need. Apply for the right amount so that you don’t have to worry about needing more money later on. Many lenders allow only one loan at a time, so you may be better off requesting the maximum amount you’ll need. That way you don’t have to apply with multiple lenders at different points in time and face multiple payment schedules. Factor in not only one-time costs to get you through a short-term emergency, but also working capital you may need for the longer term. Pick the right loan. Review eligibility requirements for different emergency small business loans to see which you seem likely to qualify for. Then narrow your list based on pros and cons, including the costs involved.Be ready with financial documents. Each type of emergency business financing comes with its own application requirements. Expect to need to submit things like:
- Bank statements for both your business and personal finances
- Tax returns for both your business and yourself
- Business-related legal documents
- Revenue statements
- Accounts payable and accounts receivable
Finding a Business Emergency LenderOnce you understand the options for emergency business funding and the implications for each one, it’s time to take action. Fill out a brief form to determine what type of options you may have available through Lantern Credit. Then you can focus on getting your company back on track.
The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.This Lantern website is owned by SoFi Lending Corp., a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license number 6054612. SoFi Lending's NMLS number is 1121636. NMLS Consumer Access.
SoFi Lending Corp. operates this Lantern website in cooperation with Even Financial Corp. ("Even"). If you submit a loan inquiry, SoFi will deliver your information to Even, and Even will deliver to its network of lenders/partners to review to determine if you are eligible for pre-qualified or pre-approved offers. The lenders/partners receiving your information will also obtain your credit information from a credit reporting agency. If you meet one or more lenders' and/or partners' conditions for eligibility, pre-qualified and pre-approved offers from one or more lenders/partners will be presented to you here on the Lantern website. More information about Even, the process, and its lenders/partners is described on the loan inquiry form you will reach by visiting our Personal Loans page.SOLC20087
Frequently Asked Questions
About the Author
Lauren Ward is a personal finance expert with nearly a decade of experience writing online content. Her work has appeared on websites such as MSN, Time, and Bankrate. Lauren writes on a variety of personal finance topics for SoFi, including credit and banking.