A small business loan can help your Florida-based small business take advantage of opportunities and overcome cash flow challenges. If you’re starting or trying to grow your small business in Florida, you’ll want to understand the loan options available to help your business survive and thrive.
How a Loan Can Help Your Small Business in Florida
Florida has a thriving small business ecosystem. Popular for the good weather, a large working population, and low taxes, the state of Florida continues to earn acclaim as one of the best places to start a business in the United States. Forbes ranks Florida as the second best state in the United States to start a business.
Additionally, successful and growing cities such as Jacksonville, Tampa, Orlando, and the Miami-Dade area continue to attract startups in a variety of industries. As a result, many lenders wish to finance businesses in the Sunshine State.
Best Small Business Loan Options For Florida Businesses
Ultimately, the best small business loan is the one that gets your business the money it needs when it needs it. It must be affordable and help the business continue to grow. And of course, that should be the one you qualify for. Here are some of the best commercial loans for businesses in Florida:
Small Business Administration Loans (SBA)
Most SBA loans (except SBA disaster loans) are made by lenders approved by the SBA to provide them. There are several loan programs to choose from, but some of the most popular include 7 (a) loans with a maximum loan amount of $ 5 million, and SBA 504 CDC loans which are used to fund expansion and / or equipment, including real estate that will be primarily occupied by the borrower. SBA microloans are small loans (up to $ 50,000) that can be given to disadvantaged businesses. These loans come with technical assistance to help the business succeed so that it can repay the loan.
Does your business invoice other businesses? If so, you may be able to use invoice financing or invoice factoring to get the money your business needs. In both cases, these invoices will constitute the main source of qualification. Some lenders can check the owner’s personal credit, but this type of financing does not usually require good credit scores.
If you need to acquire or upgrade equipment in your business, equipment financing or equipment leasing can help. And if you own equipment outright, you may be able to get financing with the equipment serving as collateral. This type of financing can help preserve cash flow while providing you with the equipment you need to grow.
Merchant cash advances
If your business does large credit or debit card transactions, you may be able to get a cash advance from the merchant. With this type of financing, you get an advance on future sales based on previous sales history. It is not an inexpensive form of financing, but it can be quick and easy to qualify.
Can’t benefit from traditional financing? You may be able to get funding through crowdfunding. Reward-based crowdfunding allows you to obtain funders in exchange for rewards (such as an early release of your new product) or through investors in your business. Crowdfunding does not require a specific time in business, income or credit scores, making it an attractive source for start-up costs as well as for business expansion. But crowdfunding will require a great marketing campaign.
Covid relief loans
Many businesses in Florida have been able to access government relief loans due to the coronavirus pandemic. Loans repayable through the Paycheque Protection Program (PPP) are ending, but there are still loans available under the Economic Disaster Loan Program (EIDL). EIDL loans carry an interest rate of 3.75% (2.75% for nonprofits) with a repayment term of 30 years. You can apply for EIDL directly from the US Small Business Administration at SBA.gov.
Pro tip: get free help and mentoring for your small business in Florida from the Florida SBDC network. Small Business Development Centers and other SBA resource partners such as SCORE or Women’s Business Centers can alert you to state or local assistance programs such as the Bridge Loan Program designed to help. Florida businesses affected by the Covid-19 crisis, or other economic development loans. Find local support in Florida here.
How to get a small business loan in Florida
There are several ways to find and get a small business loan in Florida. Small business owners can apply through:
- A bank or a credit union. Loans from these financial institutions come with attractive terms, but they tend to require good credit, at least two years of business, and documented income (you can check with local lenders to determine their needs.
- A loan broker. A broker will work to match you with lenders. Brokers can vary in terms of experience and the size of their lender network. It is also important to understand how they are paid, as some sell high commission, high commission loan products.
- An online lender. Some lenders offer a full or partial online application process. Online lenders typically process loan applications quickly and can often pre-approve an application within minutes. Qualified applicants can be funded within hours or days.
- A credit market. An online small business loan marketplace combines the services of a broker – several loan options – with an online lender in terms of convenience. You provide information about your business and your qualifications, and then you are matched with various loan options that match your qualifications.
How to Choose the Right Loan Option for Your Small Business in Florida
Choosing the right loan option for your small business in Florida involves understanding how you plan to use the funds, your qualifications, and how much you can afford to pay off the loan while still making money.
If you need to borrow funds for the short term (3-18 months), consider options such as:
- Short term line of credit,
- Business credit card,
- Invoice financing or factoring,
- Cash advance from merchant or company
If you need to borrow money for the longer term, you may want to consider:
- Term loan,
- Equipment rental or financing,
- Bank loan or SBA
What is the minimum credit score for a business loan?
Not all small business lenders and finance companies check an owner’s personal credit check, but for those who do, a personal credit score of at least 680 will often be required. If your credit scores are low, that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck. Some types of financing are based on income rather than credit scores. And crowdfunding doesn’t require good credit.
How To Qualify For A Small Business Loan In Florida
Most lenders will base a small business loan decision on one or more of these factors:
- Income. You need to be able to demonstrate that your business can afford to repay the financing and that a strong income makes the lender more comfortable with your ability to pay.
- Credit. Your personal and / or business credit shows lenders whether you are ready to repay the financing they provide. If you’ve paid on time in the past, you’re more likely to pay on time in the future as well.
- Time in business. Many lenders, but not all, want your business to have survived at least two years – or perhaps longer in the post-pandemic economy.
If any of these factors are weak, others must be strong. For example, if your personal credit is not good, but your business has a solid income and is well established, you will still find financing options available.
What’s the easiest type of business loan to get?
Some online lenders can approve loans in as little as a few hours, depending on the credentials of the borrower. Businesses with high incomes may not need high personal credit scores to obtain certain types of financing, such as cash advances from merchants or invoice factoring. Online lenders can usually make a decision almost immediately after the borrower submits their information. And loan markets can help you find loans from multiple lenders depending on your qualifications.
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