Dan Polner is a small business adviser at Stony Brook Small Business Development Center. He is currently a business finance specialist assisting small businesses with finance related questions, bank and alternative financing referrals, business plan development, business management and organization and general business advice. Polner has 20 plus years of financial experience having helped small and large companies gain access to business loans for refinancing and growth.
Polner is part of a 10 member group that provides state-funded assistance to small businesses and entrepreneurs seeking advice on how to grow their business, implement a business plan or just get a new business idea off the ground.
Polner shares five tips for financial success for small business owners.
(Photo courtesy of Dan Polner)
Five important factors to successful financing
- Personal credit. Your personal credit score is the first thing lenders look at to determine your financeability. A credit score under 640 is usually a red flag for bank lenders. A small business owner should know his/her personal credit score before contacting any lenders. Free credit scores are available online.
- Organization. When starting a credit application, a lender will require a number of financial documents — tax returns, a certificate of incorporation, bank statements, financial statements, etc. A small business owner will be asked to provide a number of financial documents and records as part of the loan process. You should be able to easily provide these records when requested. Keeping an organized set of books and records will speed up the loan process and instill confidence that you are on top of your business’s financial performance.
- A business plan. A complete business plan is an essential tool in keeping your business on track. It doesn’t have to be fancy or excessively detailed, but every small business should have a plan for future success. A business plan is a living document and will change over time, but it provides a good reference point when reviewing where you are in terms of performance compared to your original expectations.
- Customer testimonials. Demonstrating that you have satisfied customers adds additional credibility to your business and its ability to stay competitive. Providing letters of support from key customers to your loan package can make a huge difference during the loan underwriting process.
- Contingency planning. Nothing ever goes exactly as planned, whether it’s a man-made or natural disaster, a health related issue or some other unforeseen event. Small business owners should give some thought to what they would do if disaster strikes. Tapping into a line of credit or personal assets can mean the difference between surviving a severe downturn or going out of business. Small business owners should keep a copy of business records off-sight, look into succession planning, insurance coverage, a temporary loss of customers and other issues that could arise without warning, and the contingencies to mitigate those risks.
This article was written by Michelle Guilbeau of Examiner.com for CBS Small Business Pulse.