The Six Rules of Business Borrowing West Point MS
Penland Financial Group
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West Point, MS
The Six Rules of Business Borrowing
Business Borrowers Should Consider BOTH Traditional and Alternative Lenders
By Kenneth P. Easton, Jr.
“Rules” to business borrowing! An interesting concept. True — the “rules” presented below may be considered as act-on “options”. But the consequences of not being aware of these options, achieving a successful business loan program, can be costly to your business, your fortune and your peace of mind.
“Rules” are actions businesses should adopt ensuring they obtain the best arrangements with their current lender; in good times or in worst case scenarios. These rules also apply to a new or replacement lender (whether the move is voluntary or forced by circumstances).
Observation: There is a great diversity of lenders out there — which one (or two) will be best for you? Only a few can address your specific needs or situation. However, your search process may well determine not only the success and costs of your quest, but the duration —from 30 days to possibly a year or more. No one needs that kind of a hold up.
Know Your Money Sources
The “Traditional Lenders” are commercial banks and thrift institutions (savings banks) that continue to be the most utilized sources. Many stop there simply hopeful for the best deal — unaware of the many, and probably more appropriate, alternatives. Frequently, physical convenience dictates choice — not relevant in this “connected” age. You want the best deal, not the shortest walk. These “mainstream” or “prime” lenders offer: standard loan products; rather inflexible loan structures; unattractive pricing options; and “boilerplate” loan covenants. Neither too receptive nor creative. There are, of course, unique exceptions; especially within “community banks”. Tough credit situations or specialized loan needs are best left to alternative lenders.
“Alternative Lenders” offer wide spectrums of business loans; meeting unique needs and quick turnaround requirements. Many larger credit unions offer business loans. Business membership (a requirement) usually happens at the loan closing. As with most alternative lenders, they are staffed with seasoned business lenders from banks and other alternative lenders. Most offer quick turnaround, access to decision makers with many dedicated to assisting the more difficult credit requirements. Other “Alternatives” include independent and specialized finance companies, divisions or captives of industrial or insurance companies, or even subsidiaries of some banks. Do not forget state and municipal loan programs.
Alternative loan sources may offer a variety of specialization, to include traditional loan programs:
• receivable and inventory financing
• equipment loans and leasing programs
• seasonal inventory loan advances
• purchase order financing (including government contracts)
• invoice financing (factoring)
• letters of credit
• loans to hospitality / health care businesses
• real estate / investment property mortgages
• mezzanine (quasi-c...