Tired of Striking Out with Banks, Small Businesses Find Alternative Lenders’ Pitch More to Their Liking

Small Business Alternative Lenders

In baseball, a player who bats below .200 is said to be hitting below the Mendoza Line, so named for a light-hitting shortstop for the 1970s Pittsburgh Pirates. That means the batter makes an out more than eight out of every 10 at bats. Sounds pretty futile, doesn’t it?

Small businesses often face a Mendoza Line of their own each time they apply for a loan. Nationally, banks reject small business loan applications 80 percent of the time, on average. So, each time an entrepreneur walks into a bank seeking capital to start or expand his or her business, they might as well be poor Mendoza batting against fireballing Nolan Ryan. The results are going to be about the same – another frustrating effort often ending in failure.

Mendoza was just plain out of luck and out of baseball after a few lackluster seasons. There’s just not much of a market for players that can barely hit their weight. Small business owners, however, have found other options for their lending woes. Thanks in part to the power of the Internet, these entrepreneurs have discovered new funding sources ready to go to bat for them instead of tossing curveball after curveball their way.

Online lending has proven to be a home run for capital-hungry small businesses. In fact, it’s been such a hit that 2018 was the biggest year yet for online lenders. Unlike standard brick-and-mortar banks, online lenders have proven much more willing to lend needed money to startups or young businesses looking to grow. While banks may okay only 20 percent of small business loans, online lenders are approving three times that amount, earning many appreciative fans in the small business community. Another advantage in their favor over traditional banks is a more simplified application process and a faster review/approval.

Peer-to-peer lending offers entrepreneurs another funding alternative. Investopedia defines peer-to-peer lending as “a method of debt financing that enables individuals to borrow and lend money without the use of an official financial institution as an intermediary.” You may have heard peer-to-peer lending also called social lending or crowdfunding.

This method of funding works a little like on online dating service. Only in this case, it’s a business and investor that hook up, rather than two lonely hearts. A small business looking for money puts a profile of itself on a peer-to-peer online platform. Interested investors can view these profiles and assess whether they want to lend money. The investor can lend all or only part of what a business needs. If the small company only gets a portion of what it’s seeking, it can keep its profile active online for other potential investors. The small business and the investor(s) must agree on repayment plans and interest rates. And, of course, the online platform that brought the two (or more) parties together also gets a slice for providing the service. As you can imagine, however, it’s certainly much easier and quicker to obtain funding this way.

Since Mendoza seldom got on base, he wasn’t much of a base-stealing or scoring risk to opposing teams. But online lending and peer-to-peer lending do have risks which you should be aware of before trying them.

With online loans, fees and interest rates generally tend to be much higher than for traditional loans from a bank. Plus, there are often more fees attached to the online loan than loans from other sources.

Many online loans have set repayment provisions, and these provisions could wind up making the loan more of a hindrance down the road than a help. If you are expecting a traditional once-a-month payment plan, for example, you may be surprised to learn the online lender you’ve taken a loan from actually requires payment every week, or in the worst cases, even daily.

Finally, there is the security issue. News reports come out almost daily about online scams of all kinds. Just because someone has put up a website advertising online loans does not automatically mean it’s a legitimate firm. There’s the possibility it’s a fly-by-night outfit looking to steal your information and good name for their own nefarious uses or a lead gatherer who will then sell it to online lenders.

As for peer-to-peer lending, interest rates may prove problematic. These rates can often reach more than 30 percent, especially for companies the investors view as risky. After all, a peer-to-peer loan is an unsecured loan for the investor, which means no collateral for repayment should the borrower default. Investors want some assurance they won’t lose everything in case of default, and that’s accomplished partially through high interest rates.

When looking for capital via online or alternative funding sources such as peer-to-peer lending, it’s best not to immediately swing for the fences. Do plenty of research beforehand. A good hitter studies that night’s starting pitcher looking for clues as to each pitch’s speed, movement and location before stepping up to the plate. Make sure you have a solid grasp of your true needs and of the risks and benefits of these non-traditional funding sources before pursuing a loan. You may find these choices a great resource for your business… or you may discover you’re better off taking your chances with a traditional bank. The one thing you don’t want to do is desperately flail away and make a costly out or error that will end your season and perhaps even your business.

A better play might be to consider another form of raising needed money for expanding a business, adding employees, buying new equipment and improving cash flow. This option is called invoice factoring. Invoice factoring allows you to “sell” your accounts receivable invoices to a factoring company. The factoring company pays you upfront for outstanding invoices, giving you the cash you need today to run your business, and eliminating the worry and hassle of slow pay collections. That’s now the invoice factoring company’s concern, leaving you free to run your business.

Invoice factoring is a convenient alternative to a traditional bank loan or fee-laden online loans and risky crowdfunding. Each of these sources require a long-term contract. Factoring, however, gives you the money you need when you need it with no long-term obligations. You can also get cash quicker through invoice factoring – usually within a day or two. If you would like to learn more about how invoice factoring works and how it can step up to the plate for your business, simply call toll-free 1-877-960-1818 or email clientsupport@charcap.com. You may find it a great addition to your lineup.

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