Sherri McMillan owns Northwest Personal Training in Vancouver. When her loan, previously held by Bank of Clark County, was sold to an out-of-state bank, she considered trying to refinance it to bring her dollars back to Southwest Washington.
Many people told her that reaching her goal was unlikely because she was in a high-risk industry (several local training gyms have gone bankrupt in the last two years). She approached a couple banks and got turned down each time. But her accountant encouraged her to try yet another bank – Pacific Continental.
"I'm thankful I didn't give up," McMillan said. "It was easier than I assumed it would be."
Her advice to small business owners: Don't take "no" as a final answer and to try all their options.
Line of Credit
Cassy Crawford is a real estate attorney and owner of Vancouver Land Law, a firm she founded in May 2010. According to Crawford, the credit unions and regional banks she approached seemed receptive to new business loans.
"I thought I'd have an uphill battle, considering the economy and that I'm in real estate," Crawford said. "But it was a wonderful experience … it took only seven to 10 days to get my line of credit."
Her advice to small business owners: have a financial history bankers feel they can rely on and prove you have a needed service or niche.
In June 2006, Ike Anunciado launched 360 Physical Therapy in Salmon Creek, using a personal loan from his mentor and personal credit cards. At the time, he didn't have industry experience and he said lenders were unsure about his business plan.
But Anunciado successfully grew his business over the next three years, expanding from working with two patients to having four therapists, several office staff members and a six-week client waiting list.
In February, he successfully secured a loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration to consolidate the capital he had used to start up his business and to lower his interest payments.
His advice to small business owners: "If you don't have a clear vision, it's a recipe for failure," he said.