12 Ways to Fuel Business Growth in 2012

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Whether you want to expand operations, hire more employees or grow your business, it usually requires an influx of capital. But a majority of American business owners say they can’t get the credit they need. And almost half of small business owners cannot obtain financing. Yet, the funds are out there. In many ways, there is more funding available than ever. Business owners just need to know where to find it. Here is a comparison of 12 different forms of capital that business owners can seek to help take their business to the next level:

1. Friends, Family, Fools

What better way to get money than a loan from someone you know and trust, right? Sometimes, it might work out, but borrowing money from friends and family can be tricky if it’s not done right. Make sure to set everything up clearly from the beginning—that means having agreements in writing to protect all parties. While this may seem too formal, in the long run, you’ll be glad you did. Also, be careful of any guarantees when it comes to making a return on the investment.

2. Large SBA Loans – Up to $5 million

In 2011, the Small Business Administration (SBA) approved a record number and record amount of lending to small businesses. Small SBA loans are generally unsecured or lightly secured loans that provide the lender with government guarantees of up to 90%. Generally speaking, a borrower must have good credit, an accurate business plan, 2+ years in business, up-to-date financial projections, revenue, collateral, and not fall under restricted business industries.

3. Peer-to-Peer Loans

A peer-2-peer loan is an alternative to traditional lending, in which the borrower receives a loan from another individual rather than a lending institution. Lenders compete with each other to make loans in an almost eBay-style bidding manner. It often results in lower interest rates for borrowers than are available on unsecured loans from financing institutions.

4. Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is a term used to describe individuals coming together to support—and directly fund—projects by other individuals and organizations. There are two kinds of crowdfunding: equity-based and reward-based. Equity-based is trading funds for ownership in your company. Rewards-based is trading funds for various types of rewards. Crowdfunding is only looking to get more popular in the future. Congress passed The Entrepreneur Access to Capital Act in November 2011, which will allow equity capital raises of up to $1 million annually for an unlimited number of nonaccredited investors.

5. Business-to-Business Lending – Up to $150,000

For some lenders, credit doesn’t matter. Hard to believe, right? On Deck Capital is one such lender—called a business-to-business lender—that looks at risk differently than a bank. Credit isn’t an issue. Cash flow is. On Deck will still pull your credit report, but will give a loan for $100,000 to someone with a 550 credit score, which a bank wouldn’t touch. On Deck gauges risk based on things like the past six months of deposits into the checking account and credit card swipes.

6. Startup Funding – Up to $0–$25,000

In recent years, startups have had the most difficult time getting financing—especially for loans of $25,000 or less. Superior is one company that has been leading the way for those looking smaller amounts of financing. It offers SBA-backed loans and in 2012 will offer a new product that takes data from 25 questions and offers immediate approval. In 2010, they were the leading SBA lender in the nation in terms of total number of loans funded.

7. Equipment Financing – No Limit

Equipment Financing is used exclusively to acquire business-use equipment, but can also be used to obtain cash on paid-off equipment. Approvals are typically based on credit score, collateral, financial history and value of the equipment.

8. AR and PO Financing – Minimum of $50,000

Account Receivable Factoring and/or Purchase Order Financing can be an ideal option to receive capital. These two categories serve as collateral for short-term working capital loans that you can obtain quickly and cost-effectively. Credit rating is key in determining eligibility for this loan category. Lenders will often look at your margins more than personal credit when determining approval.

9. Business Credit – $0–$20,000

Business credit usually comes in the form of business credit cards or bank account overdrafts, ranging from a few thousand dollars up to $100,000. Approvals are typically driven by credit score, debt ratios and credit inquiries. Small lines of credit generally refer to overdraft credit lines or business credit cards. Rates vary depending on the type of financing and a client’s profile.

10. Debt Consolidation

While it’s not exactly a way to get financing, debt consolidation is a way for businesses to save more money and, in some ways, could be better than getting a loan. One company, Corporate Turnaround, helps businesses get out of debt, mainly through debt consolidation and restructuring. They take what you can afford monthly and use that to negotiate with your creditors.

11. Acquisition Loan – Up to $5 million

If you need funds to buy another business, an acquisition loan may be a good option. Acquisition loans can be used to acquire, refinance, or purchase a business or franchise. There are several eligibility factors, which can include the value of the business, experience of the owner, and the past performance of the business.

12. Merchant Cash Advance – $0–$100,000

This type of financing allows a business to borrow against future earnings. Requirements for this type of financing are extremely lenient due to the nature and terms of the loan. Cash advances purely borrow against credit card swipes from your business. While this type of financing is innovative, unique and easy to qualify for, it must be used in the right situations.

How do you decide which type of financing is best for you?

Many business owners think of only two ways to get business financing today: get an angel investor or go to the local bank and apply for a loan. That thinking is partly why so many small businesses are not getting the capital they need. Today, there are many ways to pursue financing. But to secure the right financing, each individual and each individual business needs to pursue the types of financing that will best fit their own unique situation.

Adapted from the white paper: “12 Best Ways to Get Business Financing in 2012” by Lendio, which you can download for free here. Lendio works directly with lending partners to connect business owners to the best lender for them. For more information and to use their free online service, click here.