While personal loans keep many of us from growing wealth, the case is inverted when it comes to business loans. However, if you’ve built a weak credit history or your business is in an unknown field, it’s hard to build up credit. That’s where alternative lending solutions come in, to open up the door to innovation and new ideas.
Here are four of the most exciting types of business loans available to help you fund your business outside of the mainstream.
1. Try Term Loans
Term loans are some of the most standard loans you can get. Most people understand the basic structure of term loans because of how they’re structured. In fact, a majority of small businesses rely on term loans to get up and running or to stay afloat.
Small business financing’s basic structure is founded on how long it’ll take for you to pay back your loan, or the term of your loan. Term loans have a set end day for repayment, usually with several small payments calculated in advance and broken up evenly. Within the set number of payments, interest is typically calculated in advance, so that the total repayment of interest doesn’t come as a lump sum.
Your interest is included in each one of your payments, ensuring you don’t end up behind because of interest alone.
Term loans come in three sizes, short-term, medium-term, and long-term loans. Long-term loans are repaid over the course of more than three years, short-term loans are structured over a few months, and medium-term loans cover the middle.
2. Try a Business Line of Credit
If you don’t want to get involved with a bank or a traditional lending institute, lines of credit are available to businesses with a proven track record of success. Business lines of credit are a flexible way to get money when you need it, pay it back, and leave the line open until you need it again.
Lines of credit go way back to the beginning of trade in the world. Producers would drop off bags of supplies to manufacturers who then would pay them at the end of a month or the end of a season. These lines of credit are built on trust and good relationships with the investors who lend to you.
A business line of credit is there to help increase working capital, to buy inventory that you need or to cover gaps in your cash flow. If you find yourself short on the money you need to make a big leap or move on to the next venture, business lines of credit can bridge small gaps.
This isn’t the type of financing you can start a business with but it’s a perfect tool for maintaining a strong business. If you’ve got people on your side who want to see your business succeed, a business line of credit comes in handy.
3. Invoice Financing
While you might think that it’s a strange thing to ask for money based on invoices, but you invoice financing allows you to get money that you’ll be owed now. If you’re doing regular business with customers who pay you at the end of the month, invoice financing ensures you can get through the month. Waiting for your clients to pay you can leave you holding onto the bill for longer than is comfortable.
Invoice financing gives you the funding that you need without your customers knowing that you’re stressing about payment. You’ll maintain relationships with your customers while staying above water.
If you deal with a lot of late-paying customers, this kind of financing keeps you from being frustrated with them. You’ll be able to get a lot more stability for a low fee to a lender. Instead of bothering customers to pay up, you can keep the train rolling while those customers get their act together.
Gaps in cash flow won’t be a problem because your lender is going to see that you’ll be getting paid soon enough. Maintain a good relationship with the lender and pay back based on the terms you agreed on. This, like a line of credit, is good to have in your back pocket for a rainy day.
4. Small Business Startup Loans
Within a broad category of alternative lending, there’s a big chunk of lenders offering startup loans to small businesses. Some of these lenders focus on specific industries like tech, finance, or manufacturing. Others are more agnostic and loan to any small business founded by smart people with a good plan.
Businesses without any history struggle to get the money they need to get off the ground. Small business startup loans ensure that businesses start off healthy, without worrying about keeping the lights on in those early days of a company.
Some startup business loans are complicated while others are more straightforward. Some lenders want to get a piece of the action, with equity built into the frame of the loan. Others are simple, backed up by the SBA in order to offer microloans to startups who need just a little bit of capital.
Startup loans are for just that: starting up a business. Trying to take out a startup loan because you’re looking to franchise or extend your business won’t fly. Even if you try to branch off and start an LLC based on your current business, you’ll probably fall outside of the appropriate range.
Alternative Lending Offers You Options
With the help of alternative lending, you ensure that your business stays healthy and functioning no matter the weather. Companies need help getting from one phase to the next and alternative lenders know when a company is going to succeed. They’ll look at your plan and offer you something that fits within your means.
For more ways to finance your business, check out our guide to seller financing.