Making an appointment with a loan officer for a business loan is a big step in the life of any new business owner. While you’re naturally excited, it’s also important to understand that the business banker expects you to arrive fully prepared and to provide any information that he or she requests.
A Banker’s Business Plan Looks Different from Your Own
Even though you spent a lot of time creating your business plan, the banker you meet with will likely ask you to complete a detailed loan application. You should do this as requested even if it feels like you’re providing duplicate information. The bank needs to have this information on file even when you list it in your business plan.
You will also need to provide the business banker with copies of your tax returns for at least the past two years. This could be your personal returns, business returns, or a combination of both. Obviously, you will only have personal returns available if you have never filed taxes for your business. If any differences exist between the financial statements you previously provided and your tax returns, make sure that you have a good explanation for it.
What to Include in Your Business Plan
Whether you’re applying for a loan with the Small Business Administration (SBA) or a private banker, you must have a business plan prepared in advance. However, don’t feel discouraged if the person you meet with doesn’t read or comment on it. This is unfortunate but common. Most bankers simply file the business plan in with your other loan documents and may pull it out to review if they have a question later.
In our experience, small business owners who include the following information at a minimum have the most success with loan approval:
Your biography and experience: It’s important for potential lenders to know whether you have any experience in the industry, your other working experience, and your educational credentials. You should include this information for anyone else on your initial management team as well.
Realistic financial projections: Bankers want to see that you can create accurate predictions for your business income, balance, and cash flow every month for the first year and annually after that. The banker will compare your predictions to industry averages to gauge how successful you expect to be against actual industry profits.
Borrow only what you need: You wouldn’t schedule an appointment with a banker if you didn’t need money for your business, but that doesn’t mean you should ask for an excessive amount. The banker will want to see that you have accurately projected what you will need to successfully launch your business. You also need to explain your specific intentions with the borrowed money.
Complete plan, including executive summary: Make sure that you spend adequate time in each section to show that you have done your homework. An executive summary that includes descriptions of your product or service, research of the market, and the history of your company with specific dates is especially important.
If you’d like help preparing your business plan, we’re here for you. Lowcountry Business Advisors in Greater Charleston, SC strives to use our experience and passion to help those who are starting a business achieve their goals. Let’s meet for coffee and see how we can work together.