The Inside Track: Many financial resources available for woman-owned businesses

Mark Trupp

U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)

The SBA operates Women’s Business Centers across the country. This network of educational centers assists women in starting and growing small businesses. When a business owner is ready for a loan, she may want to consider an SBA loan, which is offered through banks and other lending institutions. SBA loan products can be good options for some business owners who might not able to obtain conventional financing.

National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO)

With more than 5,000 members and 60 chapters, NAWBO is a valuable resource helping to propel women business owners into greater economic, social and political spheres of power worldwide.

Once you’re ready to apply for a loan, there are numerous questions lenders will ask:

1.How much do you need? This the most fundamental question. Having a precise answer is the first step in proving that you’re prepared. If you aren’t sure how much to ask for, revisit your business plan and business financials first. Look at what you have available, and what you project you’ll need to reach your goals. Then do the math.

2.Why do you need it? Lenders are interested in knowing whether you’re seeking financing to solve a problem, or to seize an opportunity.

3.How will you repay your loan? This response requires the most detailed documentation. Start with your current financials to show how much cash your business generates now. Then prepare cash flow projections: your best estimates of how much you anticipate generating after you receive the loan. Include principal and interest payments in the forecasts, and keep the loan terms within bank policy guidelines. If the loan is secured by collateral, be prepared to explain exactly what assets you can offer as a guarantee, such as equipment, house or car.

4.How much cash will you personally put into the business? When outlining your debts and assets, consider including your personal financial information. This will help the lender get a sense of your personal financial stability.

Once you’ve prepared your proposal and collected the necessary support information and documents, you’re ready to talk to lenders. Be sure you can explain clearly what you intend to do with the loan and why you expect the venture to succeed.

Finally, be prepared to discuss your own business qualifications. Because the success of a business largely depends on leadership, your skills and knowledge are an important part of your company’s profile.

When you’ve done your research, have all your documents in order, and can credibly answer your lender’s questions, you’ve greatly improved your chances of securing capital.

Based in Vancouver, Mark Trupp is Wells Fargo’s district manager for Southwest Washington. He can be reached at 503.739.6179 or mark.l.trupp@wellsfargo.com.

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