6 Ways to Finance Your Business

Advertiser Disclosure

Student Loan Hero Advertiser Disclosure

Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the financial institution.

business financing

We’ve got your back! Student Loan Hero is a completely free website 100% focused on helping student loan borrowers get the answers they need. Read more

How do we make money? It’s actually pretty simple. If you choose to check out and become a customer of any of the loan providers featured on our site, we get compensated for sending you their way. This helps pay for our amazing staff of writers (many of which are paying back student loans of their own!).

Bottom line: We’re here for you. So please learn all you can, email us with any questions, and feel free to visit or not visit any of the loan providers on our site. Read less

If you dream of giving up the nine-to-five life and starting your own business, you’re not alone. According to the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the number of startups increased dramatically between 2014 and 2016.

However, bringing that dream to fruition can be expensive, and finding business financing can be difficult. It’s important to understand all your options so you can get your idea started.

6 business financing options

When it comes to financing, you need to consider your business’ stage of development, how much you want, your credit score, and if you’ll have ongoing financing needs. Once you have that information in place, you can choose one of the six forms of financing available.

1. Business loans

If you need money to expand your business, hire new staff, or buy new equipment, a business loan is a good place to start if you have an established company.

Business loans are excellent choices because they give you a layer of protection. If your company fails, the lender can only liquidate your business assets. They cannot touch your personal assets, and your credit score will remain intact. That benefit can be financially invaluable if your idea doesn’t work.

Most banks and credit unions offer loans. To apply for a business loan, make sure you complete the following steps:

  1. Create a business plan. Most business loan lenders will require you to submit a company plan that outlines your business structure, market strategy, competitive analysis, development plan, and financial information.
  2. Know how you’ll use the money. Many lenders will ask you to specify how you’ll use the money. Make sure you have a concrete plan for what you’ll buy or how it would help you expand your inventory.
  3. Collect documentation. Besides a business plan, you’ll also need to provide lenders with your personal and business tax returns, bank statements, and annual report or statement of finances.

Although business loans can help you finance your goals, you might have trouble getting one if your venture is in the early stages of development. In fact, you might find only lenders with high interest rates are willing to work with you at first. But these interest rates can be well into the double digits, causing your loan balance to grow over time.

If that’s the case for your situation, it might be worth exploring other options first.

2. Small Business Administration (SBA) loans

If your business is new, you might not be able to qualify for a business loan. Often, lenders require businesses to exist for several years before they’re eligible for loans. Instead, you might have better luck applying for an SBA loan.

The SBA works with banks, credit unions, and development organizations to offer low-rate loans to those starting a new business or running an existing one. The SBA guarantees a portion of the loan, reducing the risk for the lender. Because there’s less risk, banks and other financial institutions can offer lower rates.

Depending on your needs and the status of your business, SBA loans can range from $500 to $5.5 million in value. You can use the loan for fixed assets, such as office furniture or equipment, or working capital.

Each lender that offers SBA loans has their own eligibility requirements in terms of credit score and income. In general, you must meet the following criteria:

  • You run a for-profit business.

  • You do business in the U.S.

  • You’ve invested your own time or money into the company.

  • You cannot get financing from other lenders.

You can use the SBA’s lender match tool to find approved lenders near you.

3. Personal loans

If you don’t qualify for business loans or SBA loans, another option to consider is taking out a personal loan. Depending on your goals, you could borrow as much as $100,000.

Personal loans are often easier to get than other forms of debt. Some personal loan lenders will issue loans to borrowers with credit scores as low as 580. Plus, personal loans don’t usually require collateral, which means none of your assets — such as your home or business — are at risk.

Depending on your credit, you might even be able to get a loan at a low interest rate. Some lenders offer loans with interest rates as low as 4.99%.

However, there are some drawbacks to using a personal loan for a business. With a personal loan, you’re responsible for repaying the debt no matter what happens to your business. If your business enters bankruptcy, you’ll still need to keep up with the payments on your loan. When you fall behind, your personal credit can be damaged, and the lender can send you into collections.

If you have poor credit, you could still qualify for a loan. However, you could end up paying much higher interest rates.

For example, pretend you needed $50,000 for your business and you had an excellent credit score. You could qualify for a five-year loan at 4.99%. Over the repayment term, you’d pay back just $6,600 in interest.

However, you might only be able to get a loan at 35.00% interest if you have less-than-stellar credit. If you took out $50,000 at that interest rate and repaid it over five years, you’d pay back $56,471 in interest charges alone. The cost of your loan would more than double due to the higher interest rate.

You can use our personal loan calculator to find out how much you’d pay in interest.

4. Business credit cards

Using a credit card to fund your business can be a smart decision. If you need access to revolving credit, a credit card can be a better choice than a business or personal loan.

Using a business credit card rather than a personal one can also make your life easier at tax time. You can simply review your card statement for purchases and payments, without worrying about checking for personal expenses. In addition, a business credit card can help you establish your business’ credit history, making it easier to get a loan later on.

Some business credit cards offer rewards, such as cash back for your purchases, which can stretch your budget further. They might even have a zero-interest promotional period.

However, getting a credit card is only wise if you have good credit. Otherwise, you could get hit with expensive interest rates that can cause your balance to grow.

Another thing to keep in mind is that your card usage can affect your personal credit. Some card companies report your activity to credit reporting agencies, which can impact your credit score if you fall behind on your payments.

Worse, some companies will require you to sign a personal guarantee for the credit card. That means that you’ll be responsible for paying off the card balance even if your business fails. Unlike business loans or SBA loans, your credit card balance might not be dissolved when your company enters bankruptcy.

5. Angel investors

An angel investor is a wealthy individual who invests their money in businesses and startups. An angel investor can also supply more than just capital. They can offer business advice, connect you with suppliers or other investors, and even expand your client base. In return for a loan, the angel investor gets equity in the business, earns money from returns, or gets royalties from your products.

When seeking out an angel investor, it’s important to remember accepting a loan will often mean giving up at least some control of your business. In some cases, that can be worth it to get an experienced business advisor, but it can shift your company’s dynamic.

To find an angel investor, you can post your project on the Angel Investment Network.

6. Crowdfunding

If you need business financing but can’t get a loan or a credit card, don’t give up on your idea. You could get your business off the ground by crowdfunding.

It can be a powerful option. According to crowdfunding site Kickstarter, 15 million people have pledged over $3.7 billion to fund more than 143,000 projects since the site launched in 2009.

With crowdfunding, you use a site such as Kickstarter to post your idea and funding needs. You can share that post on social media to bring attention to your goals. Individuals contribute money — sometimes a few dollars, sometimes thousands of dollars — to support your project.

The money these people contribute isn’t a loan. Instead, they’re repaid for recognition. For example, you might thank those people on your website or send them a prototype of your product.

However, you shouldn’t depend solely on crowdfunding to get financing. There’s no guarantee that your post will attract attention or the funds you need. Plus, you only get the money backers pledged if you meet your funding goal. If you raise less than that amount, you cannot access the funds.

Starting a business

Becoming an entrepreneur can be exciting, but finding business financing can be challenging. By doing some research and choosing the best option for you, you can launch your business without risking your own money.

For more information, learn how to start a side business.

Interested in a personal loan?

Here are the top personal loan lenders of 2019!
LenderAPR RangeLoan Amount 
1 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Fixed rates from 5.990% APR to 16.990% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 5.74% APR to 14.70% APR (with AutoPay). SoFi rate ranges are current as of March 18, 2019 and are subject to change without notice. Not all rates and amounts available in all states. See Personal Loan eligibility details. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, to qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including evaluation of your credit worthiness, years of professional experience, income and other factors. See APR examples and terms. Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at 14.95%. Lowest variable rate of 5.72% APR assumes current 1-month LIBOR rate of 2.49% plus 4.28% margin minus 0.25% AutoPay discount. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.
  2. To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull.
    See Consumer Licenses.
  3. Minimum Credit Score: Not all applicants who meet SoFi’s minimum credit score requirements are approved for a personal loan. In addition to meeting SoFi’s minimum eligibility criteria, applicants must also meet other credit and underwriting requirements to qualify.
  4. SoFi Personal Loans are not available to residents of MS. Maximum interest rate on loans for residents of AK and WY is 9.99% APR, for residents of IL with loans over $40,000 is 8.99% APR, for residents of TX is 9.99% APR on terms greater than 5 years, for residents of CO, CT, HI, VA, SC is 11.99% APR, and for residents of ME is 12.24% APR. Personal loans not available to residents of MI who already have a student loan with SoFi. Personal Loans minimum loan amount is $5,000. Residents of AZ, MA, and NH have a minimum loan amount of $10,001. Residents of KY have a minimum loan amount of $15,001. Residents of PA have a minimum loan amount of $25,001. Variable rates not available to residents of AK, TX, VA, WY, or for residents of IL for loans greater than $40,000.
  5. Terms and Conditions Apply: SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)

2 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for Payoff.

Payoff Disclosures

  1. All loans are subject to credit review and approval. Your actual rate depends upon credit score, loan amount, loan term, credit usage and history. Currently loans are not offered in: MA, MS, NE, NV, OH, and WV.

3 Important Disclosures for FreedomPlus.

FreedomPlus Disclosures

  1. All loans available through FreedomPlus.com are made by Cross River Bank, a New Jersey State Chartered Commercial Bank, Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender. All loan and rate terms are subject to eligibility restrictions, application review, credit score, loan amount, loan term, lender approval, and credit usage and history. Eligibility for a loan is not guaranteed. Loans are not available to residents of all states – please call a FreedomPlus representative for further details. The following limitations, in addition to others, shall apply: FreedomPlus does not arrange loans in: (i) Arizona under $10,500; (ii) Massachusetts under $6,500, (iii) Ohio under $5,500, and (iv) Georgia under $3,500. Repayment periods range from 24 to 60 months. The range of APRs on loans made available through FreedomPlus is 5.99% to a maximum of 29.99%. APR. The APR calculation includes all applicable fees, including the loan origination fee. For Example, a four year $20,000 loan with an interest rate of 15.49% and corresponding APR of 18.34% would have an estimated monthly payment of $561.60 and a total cost payable of $7,948.13. To qualify for a 5.99% APR loan, a borrower will need excellent credit on a loan for an amount less than $12,000.00, and with a term equal to 24 months. Adding a co-borrower with sufficient income; using at least eighty-five percent (85%) of the loan proceeds to directly pay off qualifying existing debt; or showing proof of sufficient retirement savings, could help you also qualify for the lowest rate available.

4 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Personal Loan Rate DisclosureFixed interest rates from 6.79% – 20.89% (6.79% – 20.89% APR) based on applicable terms. Lowest rates range from 5.99%-18.99% (5.99%-18.99% APR), are for eligible applicants, require a 3-year repayment term, and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment Discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.
  2. Loyalty Discount: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower has submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, student loans or other personal loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI and VT. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) disclosed in the Truth-In-Lending Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan, and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  3. Automatic Payment Discount: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their Citizens Bank Personal Loan during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account two or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.

5 Important Disclosures for LendingPoint.

LendingPoint Disclosures

  • Loan approval is not guaranteed. Actual loan offers and loan amounts, terms and annual percentage rates (“APR”) may vary based upon LendingPoint’s proprietary scoring and underwriting system’s review of your credit, financial condition, other factors, and supporting documents or information you provide. Origination or other fees from 0% to 6% may apply depending upon your state of residence. Upon LendingPoint’s final underwriting approval to fund a loan, said funds are often sent via ACH the next non-holiday business day. LendingPoint makes loan offers from $2,000 to $25,000, at rates ranging from a low of 9.99% APR to a high of 35.99% APR, with terms from 24 to 48 months. The loan offer(s) shown reflect a 28 day payment cycle which is being offered as a courtesy as many of our customers are paid on a biweekly schedule and thus this may better align the loan payment dates with your actual income receipt schedule.

6 Important Disclosures for LendingClub.

LendingClub Disclosures

All loans made by WebBank, Member FDIC. Your actual rate depends upon credit score, loan amount, loan term, and credit usage & history. The APR ranges from 6.95% to 35.89%*. The origination fee ranges from 1% to 6% of the original principal balance and is deducted from your loan proceeds. For example, you could receive a loan of $6,000 with an interest rate of 7.99% and a 5.00% origination fee of $300 for an APR of 11.51%. In this example, you will receive $5,700 and will make 36 monthly payments of $187.99. The total amount repayable will be $6,767.64. Your APR will be determined based on your credit at the time of application. The average origination fee is 5.49% as of Q1 2017. In Georgia, the minimum loan amount is $3,025. In Massachusetts, the minimum loan amount is $6,025 if your APR is greater than 12%. There is no down payment and there is never a prepayment penalty. Closing of your loan is contingent upon your agreement of all the required agreements and disclosures on the www.lendingclub.com website. All loans via LendingClub have a minimum repayment term of 36 months. Borrower must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or be in the United States on a valid long term visa and at least 18 years old. Valid bank account and Social Security number are required. Equal Housing Lender. All loans are subject to credit approval. LendingClub’s physical address is: LendingClub, 71 Stevenson Street, Suite 1000, San Francisco, CA 94105.

†Per reviews collected and authenticated by Bazaarvoice in compliance with the Bazaarvoice Authentication Requirements, supported by anti-fraud technology and human analysis. All reviews can be reviewed at reviews.lendingclub.com

**Based on approximately 60% of borrowers who received offers through LendingClub’s marketing partners between January 1, 2018 to July 20,2018. The time it will take to fund your loan may vary.

7 Important Disclosures for Earnest.

Earnest Disclosures

  1. Earnest does not lend in Alabama, Delaware, Kentucky, Nevada, or Rhode Island.

8 Important Disclosures for Avant.

Avant Disclosures

* The actual rate and loan amount that a customer qualifies for may vary based on credit determination and other factors. Funds are generally deposited via ACH for delivery next business day if approved by 4:30pm CT Monday-Friday. Avant branded credit products are issued by WebBank, member FDIC.

** Example: A $5,700 loan with an administration fee of 4.75% and an amount financed of $5,429.25, repayable in 36 monthly installments, would have an APR of 29.95% and monthly payments of $230.33

* Important Disclosures for Upgrade Bank.

Upgrade Bank Disclosures

* Your loan terms are not guaranteed and are subject to our verification and review process. You may be asked to provide additional documents to enable us to verify your income and your identity. This rate includes an Autopay APR reduction of 0.5%. By enrolling in Autopay your payments will be automatically deducted from you bank account. Selecting Autopay is optional. Annual Percentage Rate is inclusive of a loan origination fee, which is deducted from the loan proceeds. Late payments or subsequent charges and fees may increase the cost of your fixed rate loan. All loans made by WebBank, member FDIC. Please refer to Upgrade’s Terms of Use and Borrower Agreement for all terms, conditions and requirements.

** Accept your loan offer and your funds will be sent to your bank via ACH within one (1) business day of clearing necessary verifications. Availability of the funds is dependent on how quickly your bank processes this transaction. From the time of approval, funds should be available within four (4) business days.

5.74% – 16.99%1$5,000 - $100,000

Visit SoFi

7.54% – 35.99%$1,000 - $50,000

Visit Upstart

7.99% – 35.89%*$1,000 - $50,000

Visit Upgrade

5.99% – 24.99%2$5,000 - $35,000

Visit Payoff

5.99% – 29.99%3$7,500 - $40,000

Visit FreedomPlus

6.79% – 20.89%4$5,000 - $50,000

Visit Citizens

9.99% – 35.99%5$2,000 - $25,000

Visit LendingPoint

6.95% – 35.89%6$1,000 - $40,000

Visit LendingClub

6.99% – 18.24%7$5,000 - $75,000

Visit Earnest

9.95% – 35.99%8$2,000 - $35,000

Visit Avant

Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.