Small businesses do not appear out of thin air – they require innovation, effort and of course money to get off the ground. That last element might be the hardest to come by. Where are entrepreneurs getting the capital to expand their small business enterprises? More often than not, it's from loans, but recent survey data shows that lenders are not as generous as they used to be, which is troubling for Americans looking for a little business banking help to take off.
According to Score.org, 32 percent of businesses get their growth capital from business or personal loans. The second most common source of funds is owners' or families' loans at 18 percent, followed by lines of credit at 16 percent. But what's alarming is that even as the United States begins climbing its way out of an economic recession, the loan market hasn't looked any better. Of those polled by Score, 61 percent say loans are harder to obtain now than four years ago.
Forbes recently highlighted one possible reason for the slowdown in loan availability. While the U.S. Small Business Administration guaranteed over $100 billion in loans over the last four years, much of that money was doled out in small increments, known as "micro-loans." Because those payments aren't cost-efficient for banks to underwrite, many applications are rejected so that banks can save time and money.
There's been widespread clamoring for the government to do more to enable loans for small businesses. Score found that 90 percent of small business owners are hoping it becomes easier for community banks and credit unions to lend to them – 82 percent support tighter credit card regulations to help make this happen, and 77 percent would like to see tax incentives play a role.
It's becoming exceedingly difficult for small businesses to secure loans, and not just in terms of acceptances, either. The process can entail visiting five or six banks, according to Score, often costing five to six months and up to $20,000. All that hassle, and a rejection letter still might be coming around the bend.
Businesses need to be vigilant about pursuing loans when they need them – the money will not come automatically, as hard work and persistence are required to land financial capital.