How you can take steps to increase your chances of securing a loan Featured

7:05pm EDT December 31, 2012
How you can take steps to increase your chances of securing a loan

Small business owners are increasingly concerned about obtaining long-term or short-term business loans, according to a survey by the National Federation of Independent Business. However, by showing enthusiasm and understanding for your business, you can get started in a good way with your banking relationship, thereby increasing your changes of securing a loan.

“Build a support group, have good financial understanding and really keep your books in the best possible order that you can,” says Hank Holmes, president, Texas Region, of Cadence Bank.

Smart Business spoke with Holmes about how business owners can use good financial practices and a trusted relationship with their bank as a foundation for future lending needs.

What does a bank look for in a good borrower? 

It’s important for borrowers to be prepared and understand their business as much as possible, including the risks. Often you can talk about the upside — what you can do to generate new revenue — but you also need to understand what could cause you to miss your revenue goals, such as increased expenses from health care or a change in the industry’s environment.

Additionally, many times credit decisions are a function of a small or mid-sized business owner’s personal financial performance and credit history. So, as you’re developing your business, it’s important to maintain your personal financial affairs.

How do you find the right bank?

Start developing a relationship with your current bank. The earlier you can develop that trust and understanding with your banker, the better.

You want a bank that meets your needs and understands it’s a relationship-driven business. That way the banker can alert you when your business could be impacted by trends in other industries. If you have a banker that you’ve dealt with — that you’ve developed a relationship with — typically he or she will know that kind of thing is happening at the same time as you do. They can see when there’s an improvement versus a potential bump in the road.

As a business owner, you also can use your contacts in trade organizations or the industry to reach out and find a bank that understands your industry.

What steps can you take to best prepare for meeting with your prospective banker?

You should:

• Have your financial statements in order. Understand the revenue/expense side of your business — have a good grasp of the things that are going to positively and negatively impact your company. There are a number of good options, such as QuickBooks, that can be used to maintain your finances at the highest level you possibly can.

• Be able to explain what your business is and what would influence your financial statements. Is it the price of oil and gas? Is it the cost of electricity? Are you going to be able to get the inventory you need in order to meet the revenue needs of your clients?

• Be aware of your personal capacity and credit worthiness. It’s important to not only be able to run and understand your business, but also maintain your personal credit worthiness as positively as you can. In general, if you’re a company that has revenue of a million dollars or less, banks look at the individual who is driving that business, who is there on a day-to-day basis. And, it’s important for that person to show his or her capacity and support for that credit.

When you build and maintain a relationship with your banker, especially one who understands your business, you can take it one step further. If for some reason you get turned down for a loan, then find out why in order to determine what you can do on the next effort.

Hank Holmes is president, Texas Region, at Cadence Bank. Reach him at (713) 871-3913 or hank.holmes@cadencebank.com.

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