Monday, July 28, 2014

4 tips for securing a small business loan

Brandon Jones made his first dollar selling garage backs on the side of an Alabama street as a child. Today he still has a sweet spot for Main Street-style small businesses.

Jones is the head of marketing at Magic City Capital, a technology company that lends to small business. In the past year, OnDeck has grown more than 150 percent and loaned millions to small businesses.

I spoke with Jones about why he left corporate America to join the startup, and what she’s looking for in a company applying for a loan.

“At large companies, it takes a long time to feel the impact of what you do,” he said. “What difference does one person make at a large company?”

Since he came to Magic City, Jones has seen small businesses benefit from his work. He mentioned one restaurant in Mobile, AL., that is popular among the local hunting and fishing crowd. The owner wanted a loan to upgrade his kitchen before hunting season but was turned down at his local bank.

After that happened, the owner found Magic City and received the loan he needed the same day he applied. He was able to get his kitchen ready for hunting season and saw a 15 percent increase in sales.

Magic City Capital, which is based in Alabama and Kentucky and received an A+ Better Business rating, was launched in 20013 to finance Main Street with technology used to evaluate businesses based on performance instead of personal credit.

The company loans $5,000 to $250,000 with a term of three to 24 months to businesses that have revenues between $100,000 and $5 million.

The goal is to provide capital to as many small businesses across the country as they can.

When I asked what small businesses often do wrong when applying for loans, Jones offered a few noteworthy tips.

1. Presentation matters

Clearly articulate what you need financing for, and have your documents organized, from bank statements to tax returns.

2. Be honest

Disclose your financials up front and don’t try to hide anything. Lenders will find it.

3. Give references a heads up

Call and let them know you’re applying for credit before the lender does or they may not take the call. By letting them know, the reference doesn’t have to draw conclusions, which might be negative.

4. Your bank account is your most important credit reference

Strong cash flow speaks louder than your credit report, so funnel all your revenue into one account and manage it in a tight way.

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