Applying for a small business loan can be exciting and yet stressful at the same time. For the best results and to heighten your level of confidence, be prepared when you visit the lender you've chosen for your business loan interview. After you have your business plan prepared, start preparing for the loan by writing a loan proposal to present to the lender.
The loan proposal should state some crucial information, and many details, about both yourself and your business or business idea. It should state who you are, how much money you need and where the money will be spent, how you intend to repay the loan, and what you plan on doing in the even that you cannot repay the loan.
The following are key elements to include in your loan proposal.
This should be listed first in your proposal, but will be written last. It should contain clear, concise, accurate, inviting information about your business or your business ideas. It should summarize how the proposed loan will be used, how it will be repaid, and how it will benefit your business. Remember your competition in the summary of your loan proposal, and point out features of your business that are different from your competitors.
2. Management Profiles.
The management profile section of the loan proposal should explain, most importantly, who you are. Be prepared to reveal everything about yourself and your experience. Have a current resum included as part of the loan proposal, as well as a summary of your skills, qualifications, and other credentials for yourself, as well as for all other owners and key members of your management team.
3. Business Description.
It's not necessary to state the same information mentioned in your business plan as in your loan proposal. However, you do need to present a solid description of the business. Include a brief history of the business in your loan proposal, and detail the current activities. If it's a new business, explain the details of the business that will be developed. Your goal will to be to clearly demonstrate that you fully understand your markets, your competitors, and the industry, including current trends or risks and how you plan to overcome those potential dilemmas. If the loan is for an existing business, include literature that details your products or services, such as current sales sheets, brochures, or catalogs. Include attachments to your loan proposal for this section, such as letters from suppliers, customers, or other business references. Demonstrate through these letters that you provide excellent customer service, and that you pay back your creditors.
4. Business Projections.
Create at least two years' worth of projected income statements and cash flow statements. Your projections should be clearly stated and, most importantly, realistic in nature. Generally, you probably won't need to present the "worst case" or "best case" scenario unless the lender asks for you to write the projections that way. You should, however, be prepared to answer questions pertaining to what you'll do if some of your projections don't work out as planned. For example, if you anticipate obtaining a large, new contract or customer based on improvements made with the business loan, and that contract never goes through, it could change your loan proposal projections drastically.
5. Financial Statements.
Your loan proposal should include both business and personal financial statements. Be aware that the lender will fully analyze the history of your financial statements, calculating all ratios. Be prepared to point out any significant trends you've shown in an introductory paragraph.
6. Loan Purpose.
One of the most important parts of your loan proposal is a detailed description of how you will use the loan proceeds. Have a good understanding of the type of loan that you need, and remember to include the proceeds of the loan in your cash flow projections, as well as the interest in your projected income statement.
7. Repayment Plans.
Repayment plans should also be stated in your financial projections section of the loan proposal, but details of repayment plans should be detailed separately. Propose the terms you want, and prepare for negotiations with the financial institution. The lender will consider a number of factors as they review the overall risk of lending you the money. Understandably, this will impact the repayment terms that they are willing to offer for your business.
Especially if your credit is good, and even if your credit is not so good, remember that in your loan proposal, you are offering the bank a deal that will make them money. Don't go in asking the lender for an "allowance." Instead, enter the interview with your loan proposal objective in mind; namely, focusing on how much money you'll need, and remove the idea of going into the meeting wondering how much they're willing to lend. Never go into a meeting asking for a loan, wondering whether or not they'll lend to you. If this first lender won't approve your loan proposal, have confidence that a different will.
About the author
Rebecca Game is the founder of Digital Women ®, an online community for women in business. A 30 year entrepreneur and dedicated to helping other women find business loans. Visit her site: Loans for Women