Getting a business loan can be tricky, especially if you’re new to the process. Having someone to guide you can make a difference. So, can a business loan broker help you get the financing you need? Let’s explore this question further to find the answer and see the pros and cons of working with a broker.
What is a business loan broker?
A reputable broker will connect you to the lenders they have partnerships with. A good business loan broker specializes, and they look after specific types of small business financing.
What does a business loan broker do?
Small business loan brokers match small business owners with third-party investors and lenders. Commercial loan brokers can help you apply and sort through eligibility requirements for this type of business financing.
Should you use a small business loan broker?
Even established businesses can have cash flow and financing problems. Running the day-to-day of any enterprise can leave little time to sort through loan products.
Business loan brokers can help. Here are a few of the pros and cons of this financing option.
- An entrepreneur can get great rates on a variety of business loans. The application process through a broker goes to different lenders directly.
- Most business loan brokers have excellent market knowledge. They understand all the different terms and how things like a personal credit score apply in the application process.
- You get quicker approvals and underwriting on the loan amount. An internet-based broker using an online lender can speed up the business loan application.
- A broker’s services aren’t free. These financing options can cost between 5% to 15% as a percentage of the total loan
- The loan offers that you get might be from a broker’s favored service provider. They might try and sway you and provide funding from a particular lender.
- You need to be careful to avoid bad lenders. Make sure to look for approval ratings from clients. Don’t hesitate to ask how many different business lenders will see an application for your short-term loans. Watch out for brokers that don’t have any contact information online. And ones that don’t have clear privacy policies about what they do with your personal information.
When should you use a business loan broker?
These types of loans are excellent for small businesses looking to expand or get past an unexpected financial shortfall. These are great for startup owners who don’t have experience filling out loan applications. Some entrepreneurs just don’t want to spend time sorting through certain loans.
Types of Business Loan Brokers
Most loan brokers specialize. The idea is to check out your options first and then choose from the potential lenders in that field.
Small Business Deals
Here’s a list to pull the best business loan broker.
Merchant Cash Advance Broker
A shop owner needs to be careful with these. They are one of the more expensive business loan options. A merchant cash advance fronts you the money. You pay the loan amount back over time as a percentage of receipts. This type of loan broker works to find you a lender.
Commercial Loan Broker
These business loan brokers can supply you with different options when you need small business loans. They understand the various products.
Equipment Financing Brokers
These are reputable brokers that understand the ins and outs of equipment loans. They know what kind of collateral this type of financing requires.
Startup Loan Brokers For Business
Many lenders have requirements that make it tough for startups to get financing. These brokers specialize in the part of the application process that deals with time in business requirements.
Invoice Factoring Brokers
This type of small business funding involves selling your invoices to a factoring company. You get the cash and they get a fee for collecting the money. A business loan broker works to help find you the best terms.
Assessing the Need for a Business Loan Broker
Evaluating Your Business’s Financial Situation
To determine if a business loan broker is necessary, first evaluate your business’s financial situation comprehensively. This involves analyzing your current cash flow, debt-to-income ratio, credit score, and future financial projections.
Understanding your financial health is crucial in assessing whether you need the specialized services of a broker. If your business has a complex financial setup or if you’re unsure about the nuances of various loan products, a broker’s expertise might be beneficial.
Clarifying Your Loan Objectives
Clearly define the purpose of seeking a loan. Are you looking to expand operations, purchase equipment, or simply boost working capital?
Your objectives play a significant role in determining the type of loan you need, which, in turn, influences whether a broker’s services will be advantageous. Loan brokers are particularly useful in situations where specialized loan products, like equipment financing or merchant cash advances, are sought.
Gauging Your Familiarity with the Lending Market
Consider your own or your team’s familiarity with the lending market. If you lack experience or knowledge in dealing with financial institutions, negotiating loan terms, or understanding complex financial products, a broker can be a valuable asset.
They can navigate the intricate landscape of commercial lending, ensuring you get a loan product that aligns with your business needs and financial capacity.
How much do small business loan brokers charge?
Most brokers working in a business loan marketplace will charge around 1% of the loan. There is a wide variance, however. Some lenders can charge as much as 17%.
Types of Fee Structures
Business loan brokers typically operate on a commission-based model, where they receive a percentage of the loan amount as their fee. This commission can vary significantly based on the broker, the complexity of the loan, and the amount borrowed.
It’s common for fees to range from 1% to 12% of the total loan amount. Some brokers might charge a flat fee, while others might have a tiered structure depending on the services provided.
Transparency and Disclosure
A reputable loan broker should be transparent about their fee structure from the outset. They should provide a clear breakdown of their fees, including any additional charges, and how these will be paid.
Will the fees be incorporated into the loan amount, or will they need to be paid upfront? Understanding these elements upfront can prevent surprises down the line and ensure that the broker’s services are within your budget.
Comparing Broker Fees
When considering different brokers, compare their fee structures and services offered. A broker charging a higher fee might provide more comprehensive services, such as assistance with paperwork, negotiation with lenders, and personalized financial advice, which could justify the extra cost.
Conversely, lower fees might indicate a more hands-off approach. Ensure that the fee aligns with the level of service and expertise you expect.
How to Choose a Business Loan Broker
Selecting an adept business loan broker is crucial for getting the most favorable loan terms for your business. By following a structured process, you can ensure you’re making an informed decision. Here’s an expanded guide on how to choose the right broker:
- Industry Experience: A competent broker should have prior experience from a reputable financial institution or have a solid background in the business loan industry. This ensures they understand the intricacies of lending and borrowing.
- Research Multiple Options: Always shop around. By comparing a few brokers, you can gauge the quality and credibility of their services. Beware of brokers who demand upfront fees as this is a red flag.
- Transparency and Credibility: A legitimate broker should maintain a professional website showcasing testimonials from past clients. They should clearly disclose the exact cost of your loan and any associated fees.
- Reputation and Rating: Platforms like the Better Business Bureau can provide insights into a broker’s reputation. A reliable broker will also boast a diverse network of lenders, ranging from traditional banks to private entities.
- Knowledge and Consultation: Your ideal broker should be adept at explaining the advantages and disadvantages of different loan types. They should be familiar with how your business’s credit standing relates to industry norms and potential loan rates. Moreover, they should be willing to review your financial credentials as part of their evaluation.
- Assistance with Documentation: A good broker will guide you through the entire process, helping you compile and submit the necessary loan documentation.
- Professional Affiliations: Affiliations with national financial institutions or local business associations signify a broker’s credibility and standing in the industry. They should be in good standing with national financial and local associations.
- Direct Communication: Don’t hesitate to ask direct questions. For instance, inquire about the number of lenders they’re associated with. Remember, they’re vying for your business, and you deserve clear answers.
Comparison Table: Choosing a Business Loan Broker
To ensure you’re partnering with the best, here’s a comparison table outlining the key criteria and descriptions to consider when choosing a business loan broker.
|Has relevant experience from a financial institution or in the business loan industry.
|No Upfront Fees
|The broker shouldn't charge any upfront fees.
|Transparency & Credibility
|Maintains a professional website, showcases client testimonials, and provides clear loan costs.
|Reputation & Network
|Has positive ratings on platforms like BBB and a wide network of lenders.
|Offers detailed explanations of loan types, understands business credit in relation to industries and rates.
|Helps clients with compiling and submitting loan-related documentation.
|Is affiliated with recognized national financial and local business associations.
|Is open to direct questions and provides clear answers, showcasing their associations and understanding of the industry.
Crafting a Loan Application with a Broker
Gathering Financial Documentation
A crucial step in the loan application process is gathering comprehensive financial documentation. A broker can assist in compiling necessary documents like business financial statements, tax returns, business plans, and cash flow projections.
They can also guide you in presenting these documents in a manner that’s favorable to lenders, enhancing the likelihood of loan approval.
Tailoring the Application to Specific Lenders
Brokers typically have a network of lenders with varying preferences and requirements. They can help tailor your application to meet specific lender criteria, thereby increasing your chances of approval.
This might involve highlighting certain aspects of your business that align with a lender’s focus, such as strong cash flow, solid business growth, or collateral availability.
Expert Advice and Support
A broker can provide expert advice on how to structure your loan application to make it more appealing. They can offer insights into how different loan structures (like fixed-rate versus variable-rate loans) might impact your business and advise on the most suitable options based on your financial situation and objectives.
Additionally, they can support you in negotiating terms and conditions, ensuring you secure a loan that aligns with your business’s financial strategy and growth plans.
Small Business Loan Broker Red Flags
Small business loan brokers are good and bad. It’s pretty much the same as in any other industry. Here are some red flags you need to look for when you’re sorting through these lenders.
There’s No Fine Print Online
A legitimate broker should include all the information and legal disclosures like privacy policies, conditions and terms. That kind of info should be on their website. Or it should be documented somewhere where you can read it.
The Broker Won’t Supply All The Details
If the broker you’re looking at won’t supply all information on the amortization schedule and the terms of the loan, they aren’t credible. That includes the fees.
Not Checking Your Credit Score
Something is usually off if a loan broker does not want to take a look at your credit score. They should want to have all the information to make a sensible decision. That should include a soft credit pull and even a look at your annual revenue. Not checking your credit should be an initial red flag.
Offering Unrealistic Rates
Watch out if you’re offered something like a super low-interest rate for a specific period of time. Checking the annual percentage rate can be a way to spot any unrealistic numbers.
If you’re not convinced a small business loan broker is right for you, there are some other options. Take the time to make an informed decision that includes considering the following choices.
Alternatives to Business Loan Brokers
If you have your own business, you might want to look for alternatives to business loan brokers. Remember, if you can qualify, credit unions and banks offer good rates. But a bad credit score might narrow your choices. Here are some choices you have beyond business loan brokers.
- Business grants offer free financing. A business insider knows these are available from local, state, and federal governments. The eligibility criteria are fairly strict. You can start your search here.
- Online lenders are another option if you don’t mind the fact borrowing costs are usually high. They usually offer a streamlined application process. And some can have the money in your business bank account in as little as 24 hours.
- An equity crowdfunding platform is another online option. You’ll need to put together an equity crowdfunding campaign with this route.
Remember when you’re using any of these alternative lenders, you’ll need to watch out for red flags. These can compromise the financial protection you’ll get otherwise.
The ones you need to watch out for don’t have a paper trail. Like a social media presence and authentic customer reviews.
Watch out for ones that want you to borrow a larger amount than what you need. One of the biggest red flags is a lender that wants you to sign an agreement before you’re comfortable with the payment schedule and contract terms.
Here’s a word from Credit Suite about what to look for when you are searching for the right business loan broker:
Should you use a broker for an SBA loan?
The small business administration offers SBA loans. They specialize in setting the guidelines for these loans while reducing the lender risk at the same time. Some loan brokers like SBG, specialize in these. Brokers like this can walk you through the process and they have fast application times.
Is it worth it to use a business loan broker?
For many small business owners, navigating the realm of financing options can feel like a daunting maze. This is where a business loan broker can step in, acting as a bridge between your enterprise and potential lenders. Here are some points to consider:
- Ease of Navigation: A business loan broker can simplify the complex world of business financing, helping you identify the most suitable options for your unique needs.
- Middleman Role: Instead of dealing with multiple lenders and sorting through various loan offers, the broker can streamline the process, connecting you with lenders that match your requirements.
- Fees Involved: While it’s important to note that some brokers might charge fees, many reputable ones earn their commission from the lenders once the loan is secured, meaning no upfront costs for you.
- Time-saving: For business owners who are already stretched thin managing their operations, a loan broker can be a valuable resource, handling the time-consuming task of finding and negotiating financing.
- Expertise: Reputable brokers often have extensive networks and knowledge about the industry. They can guide you away from unfavorable loan terms and towards lenders known for reliability and fair practices.
In essence, if you’re strapped for time or feel uncertain navigating the financing landscape, a business loan broker might be the support you need. However, always do your research to ensure you’re working with a trustworthy professional.
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