Can a Goat Herder Teach Banks How to Loan to Small Business

Small businesses and entrepreneurs need to be able to get loans from banks to grow and or expand their businesses. Entrepreneurs and small businesses go to banks to get loans to make capital improvements, large purchases, buy a business, and generally expand their business. Basically small business have financing needs that go beyond the immediate cash flow generated by their business.

Imagine driving to the bank in your new Lexus, dressed accordingly, meeting with a bank loan officer and discussing your 5 years old business, your college degree, OK credit score, net worth of $500k and your business generating $50k a year in cash flow and asking to borrow $10,000. Do you think you will get that loan?

Now- For a moment pretend that you are a poor goat herder walking to town to get a loan, you don’t have any money to open a savings account with, you don’t have any normal collateral to secure a loan with, you don’t have a credit record as you have never been formally employed and you’ve never taken out a loan before. Also consider that you might even be unable to complete the necessary paperwork as you are illiterate. You earn about $1/day, and you want a loan of $250 to buy more goats to grow your business. Do you think you will get the loan? – Due to Micro financing the the goat herder may get the loan before the Lexus college graduate.

Many of us Entrepreneurs and Small businessmen/women donate time and or money to various causes or needs. I have been involved with Kiva since 2007. Kiva provides microfinance to Third World Entrepreneurs to help them grow their business. Kiva was founded by 2 former 20 something year olds that were former employees of TIVO and PAYPAL. Microfinance is the supply of loans, savings, and other basic financial services to the poor. As the financial services of microfinance usually involve small amounts of money – small loans, small savings etc. – the term “microfinance” helps to differentiate these services from those which formal banks provide. Why are they small? Someone who doesn’t have a lot of money isn’t likely to want to take out a $5,000 loan, or be able to open a savings account with an opening balance of $1,000. Hence – “micro.”

These are small loans, multiple lenders will “pool” their loans to come up with a lump sum to provide to the Entrepreneur. Again most of the Entrepreneurs I have loaned money to over the last 4 years earn less than $1/day. When an entrepreneur pays off a loan, I reloan those moneys to another. So far I have loaned to 18 different entrepreneurs and repayment of loans have been 100%. Since 2005 Kiva as a group has loaned almost $150,000,000 to almost 400,000 Entrepreneurs and repayment has been 98.27%. Why can this organization have such success in getting loans repaid from those with so little and banks in our “developed nations” loaning to those with abundant resources have problems so significant that these banks need a “bailout” from their government and ultimately taxpayers. Is it the conventional bank that is doing something wrong? Are they loaning to the wrong people on a consistent basis? How much of the blame falls on those that are requesting the loan?.

Currently how many good entrepreneurs and small business are not able to get loans as a result of mistakes made by conventional banks in the past. It seems to me that banks tend to over respond to problems. Obviously if you are a lender and want to have no loans default and you loan no money- you can achieve your goal. As a business broker I see the need for lending to allow buyers to finance the acquisition of buying a business. I also see income statements and balances sheets of reasonable small businesses that are using credit cards to help finance their businesses. It is hard for me to understand how our economy is benefiting by having small business owners take these “whatever is necessary” financing steps when traditional prudent lending to small businesses could truly be our fastest way to our economic recovery. The banks reduce/tighten their lending, the need for small business financing continues, higher interest is being paid through credit card financing, non-conventional means, and when does that higher expense cause employee reductions. Small business could divert money from high interest payments to investments and improvements that actually improve their business and create jobs.

Why can the goat herder get a loan and the Print Shop owner not? Or maybe if I were a banker I could ask why does the goat herder pay off his loans and the Lexus driving College Graduate Default? I understand there is a lot more that goes on between the comparison of a conventional bank and micro finance- but maybe conventional banks could learn something from Micro finance groups such as Kiva.

Small Business Financing – Equipment Leasing Basics

As a business owner you are probably well aware of how tough it is to get a bank to lend money these days. Unless you really don’t need to borrow any, then they are willing to extend all the credit you don’t really need. Here is a possible solution for you to save your existing credit lines and working capital until you absolutely have to use them.

Have you ever thought about leasing your next equipment acquisition?

Equipment leasing can be an excellent tool for a small business to stretch their monthly budget. Leasing offers you 100% financing, even soft costs, such as: installation, training, and even an extended warranty. It improves your cash flow. 8 out of 10 businesses already utilize this type of financing already. And the biggest asset to leasing is that it will preserve your existing lines of credit.

You will be able to conserve your cash. With leasing there is no need for large cash outlays, as is required when purchasing. There will be no depleting of your working capital. Plus there are many tax benefits to leasing equipment you use in your business everyday.

Almost anything that your business needs in its day to day operations can be obtained through leasing. You will have the option of deferring payments for different lengths of time. You can defer in the beginning for up to 90 days, or maybe your business is seasonal and when your equipment does not provide any income during a certain time of year, then you can exclude payments for that period of time until your equipment begins to create income again.

This is also perfect for machines that take some time to start to provide income, such as: medical lasers. The laser treatments you provide using this piece of equipment can take some time after billing insurance to get paid. This delay in payment can be offset by using a 90 day deferred payment option. After you have had the laser for the 3 months income will finally start to come in, and this in turn will pay for itself with very little out of pocket expenditure.

To begin the process of leasing you can find a reputable leasing company to handle the process and build a solid relationship with. Because once you see how easy and economical equipment leasing can be, you will be hooked. The ability to write off most of the cost of your leases will save you greatly on your annual income tax bill.

You can also inquire about leasing as an option with the vendor of the equipment you are looking to purchase. Most vendors already have a leasing company or two that they can recommend if they do not provide the service themselves.

This is the most important thing to remember about how to decide whether or not leasing is right for the equipment acquisition you currently have in mind.

The value of your equipment and technology comes from using it, not owning it. When acquiring assets the best rule to remember is to own assets that appreciate and to lease assets that depreciate. Also remember that you can buy your leased asset at the end of the lease for as little as $1.00. Couple that with your tax benefits and your very low initial out of pocket outlays and the total benefits will help pay for itself many times over.

Commercial Lender Changes Hurt Small Business Financing Options

Most small business owners are likely to be severely impacted by recent commercial lender changes. In almost all cases, the business lending changes are permanent and cannot be avoided if a commercial borrower wants to continue their present banking relationship. One noteworthy exception is illustrated by a few new and more flexible commercial lending sources.

One of the biggest commercial lending changes involves new guidelines for working capital financing. Most banks appear to be quietly eliminating business lines of credit or severely reducing the amount they are willing to finance to a level which is not helpful to an average business. Very few businesses can survive without a reliable source of working capital, so this change promises to receive the highest priority from most small businesses. To replace the disappearing commercial lines of credit, the most practical options for business borrowers include working capital loans and merchant financing from one of the alternative commercial finance sources still active in small business financing programs.

Another business lender change is illustrated by the difficulty of locating investment property financing. An increasing number of banks will make commercial mortgage loans only when the commercial property is considered to be owner-occupied (which means that the commercial borrower occupies a substantial portion of the building). Commercial properties like apartment buildings and shopping centers are often owned by investors that do not occupy the property. For many banks, it appears that they are currently restricting their commercial lending activities to those which qualify for SBA loans (Small Business Administration) which generally exclude investor-owned situations.

A third significant business lending change is demonstrated by revised guidelines for refinancing commercial real estate loans. In almost all cases, commercial lenders have dramatically reduced the loan-to-value percentages that they will lend. In some areas and for specific types of businesses, many banks will no longer lend over half of the appraised value. The difficulty for a commercial borrower refinancing an existing commercial loan reach a crisis level very quickly when this happens. In many cases the original business loan was based on a much higher percentage of business value than the bank is currently willing to provide. When a current appraisal reports a decrease in value since the original loan was made, the lending problem is further compounded. This outcome is especially common in the midst of a distressed economy which leads to decreased business income that in turn often produces a lower commercial property value.

For a fourth commercial lending change example, many small business owners have already discovered an inflated fee structure from most banks for virtually all small business finance programs. Perhaps the bank perspective for some of the commercial financing fee increases is that they need to find a revenue source to replace the diminishing income from small business loans which has resulted from bank decisions to decrease commercial loan activity. Except for unusual and unavoidable circumstances, business borrowers should seek different commercial funding sources when they encounter suddenly increased business financing fees levied by their current bank.

Banks changing their overall guidelines for small business financing produce a final and widespread example of commercial lender changes. Many banks have effectively stopped making any new commercial loans to small businesses regardless of business income or creditworthiness. Unfortunately these banks are not announcing publicly that they have discontinued small business finance activities. This means that while they might accept business loan applications, they do not intend to actually finalize commercial financing in most cases. Whenever it becomes obvious that the bank has no real intentions of making a requested working capital loan or commercial mortgage, this approach has clearly frustrated and enraged business borrowers.

The five commercial lending changes described above are unfortunately the proverbial tip of the iceberg. As they approach business lenders to obtain commercial real estate financing, working capital loans and small business financing, business owners will need to be especially skeptical and diligent.