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Starting a business as an entrepreneur is an exciting time, but it can also be a stressful one. Not only are you running the nuts and bolts of your new venture, you also need to figure out how to finance your operations. Even with bad credit, it may be possible to secure startup business loans with no collateral that could help you with your launch without putting your personal assets on the line. However, this type of financing typically does come with high rates that compensate for the lender’s risk. Lenders may use different credit scoring models to evaluate your creditworthiness. As a start up, you may not have an established business credit score. In this case, lenders generally evaluate your personal credit history. For personal credit scores, FICO® Scores below 669 are generally considered either fair or bad. VantageScore, another scoring model used by lenders, considers scores between 500 and 600 poor, and scores between 300 and 499 very poor. Learn more about your different financing options as a small business startup, as well as the pros and cons associated with each one.
Getting Start Up Business Loans with Bad Credit and No CollateralBefore you start to apply for unsecured startup business loans, it can help to do some prep work to strengthen your pitch. Even with bad credit, you can present an in-depth business plan that outlines your strategies for success and how you plan to use the funding. A business forecast can also be helpful in giving the lender an idea of your expected cash flow in the coming months or year. As a startup, you may need to provide personal information as well, such as your tax returns.
Options for No Collateral Business LoansWith some basic financials in hand, it’s time to explore some of your options for unsecured small business startup loans, as well as some other options that may be worth considering. It is possible to find funding at this early stage (and with bad credit). But carefully review the terms of any financing agreement to understand the true cost, since these products may come with higher rates to compensate for the risk.
Online Business LoansOnline business lenders may offer alternative bad credit business loans with less stringent requirements compared to traditional banks. You can also explore small business loans for specific groups, such as women with bad credit. While approval and funding times can be fast, you still need to provide proof showing that you’ll be able to repay the loan.Remember to consider the drawbacks associated with these subprime online business loans. They usually come with a very high APR and a shorter repayment term. There also may be a requirement for a personal guarantee, which means your personal credit score can be impacted for any late payments or delinquency—and your personal assets may also be at risk to pay back the loan if your business isn’t able to.
Credit Cards for Small BusinessA small business credit card may be an alternative to help cover early startup costs. You could be more likely to qualify with a strong personal credit score, even if your business credit score is on the lower side of the spectrum or simply not established yet. Most of these cards do come with a required personal guarantee. Many also come with an annual fee and while there may be perks or rewards, it’s wise to compare these costs before applying. As always, your card’s APR is also an important factor, especially if you expect to carry a balance from the beginning as you get your startup off the ground.
Merchant Cash AdvanceIf your business accepts credit card transactions, you may be able to qualify for a merchant cash advance. This gives you a lump sum to use as working capital. Then you pay a percentage of your daily credit card transactions (known as the holdback amount) until your balance is repaid. Rather than being charged an interest rate, merchant cash advance companies use a factor rate. This charge is a multiple of your borrowed amount, such as 1.5. So, a $25,000 cash advance multiplied by a 1.5 factor rate would bring the total balance to $37,500. In other words, the financing would cost $12,500. Merchant cash advances may have even higher factor rates and other fees which can make them a very expensive form of funding for businesses. Additionally, because merchant cash advances aren’t considered a loan, generally their regulation is less stringent and regulatory oversight is less rigorous than more traditional loans.
Invoice FactoringFor a startup that already has some accounts receivable, you may qualify for invoice factoring to help your cash flow while you wait for customers to pay you. The factoring company charges a percentage of the invoice amount as their fee (typically around 85%), then fronts you a percentage of the funds before payment is received. They generally manage the payment process with your customers. Once the invoice is repaid, you’ll receive the remaining balance.
Equipment FinancingEquipment financing is a type of business loan that is used to purchase equipment used for businesses purposes. The equipment you are purchasing acts as the collateral for the loan. Needs will vary based on the nature of the business, but some types of equipment that may be purchased with this type of loan include agricultural equipment, office equipment, printers, vehicles, restaurant ovens, and more. Typically, when the loan is repaid, you are the owner of the equipment. In some cases, the lender may require additional assurances, such as a personal guarantee.
Crowdfunding PlatformsCrowdfunding is a unique form of financing, but it can help launch your startup without having to worry about credit scores as much. You can create a campaign to garner interest in your business and get financial backing in one of four forms: equity, donation, rewards, or loans. While crowdfunding allows you to raise money and test the market at the same time, it can be a much more intensive marketing process. Plus, there’s no guarantee you’ll reach your funding goals.
SBA LoansMany lenders offer US Small Business Administration (SBA) loans to startups because they come with a guarantee as long as certain underwriting guidelines are met. In some cases, even startups with bad credit may be able to qualify for an SBA loan. One option for new businesses is the SBA Microloan program, which lets you borrow up to $50,000. Some lenders require a minimum personal credit score of just 545, although you may find some requiring at least 620 to 640. Just like most other business loan applications, you may need to provide a business plan. SBA microloans also generally require collateral and a personal guarantee.
Peer-to-Peer LendingPeer-to-peer lending services are another alternative to more traditional lending options like bank loans. With this type of lending, online platforms match potential borrowers with potential investors. Eligibility requirements will generally vary from platform to platform. Some services have minimum credit score requirements, which can potentially make it more challenging for businesses or individuals with lower credit scores to qualify. The process to funding is generally quick, but borrowers with less-than-stellar credit may find that interest rates are higher than a traditional loan.
Building Business CreditWhen you’re first starting your business, you can help set yourself up for success by properly establishing your business credit. Here are a few basic steps you can take to get started:
It can be difficult to find no credit check financing options, so it’s generally worth building your business credit score as early as possible. When working on building your credit score, it may also be helpful to establish relationships with vendors that report to the business credit bureaus and pay your bills on time. Taking these steps may contribute to a stronger credit profile that could help open the door to more favorable financing opportunities in the future.
- Officially incorporating your company
- Getting a federal employer identification number (EIN) from the IRS
- Opening a business bank account.
Comparing Your OptionsWhen you first start a business, you’ll frequently need the ability to weigh the pros and cons of risk. Finding the right type of financing takes the same skill set. Exploring multiple options can help you make the best choices for your startup. You may not be as limited as you think, even if you have bad credit and no collateral. But there will surely be some drawbacks, so carefully review each loan offer to make sure you fully understand the costs and repayment terms. From there, you can use the funds to bolster your working capital and grow your fledgling business.Ready to find a startup business loan? Get started with Lantern Credit now.
Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s website on credit (https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/topics/credit-and-loans)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.
The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.SOLC20032
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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.