How to Get a Small Business Loan for Veterans

2015-07-24

Jeffrey Bumbales

If you’re looking for the best small business loan for veterans, there are a few options for you to consider. Each has its own credit criteria, challenges, and benefits. The key to finding the one right for your business is to make certain you fully understand the loan product before you commit. Knowledge is power and a little research can save you money and headaches down the road.

Veterans have the benefit of accessing training, business counseling, lower interest rates, and better terms than the typical civilian borrower may find. The more you learn about your options the better and more solid your ultimate choice in a loan product will be.

According to about.com, the recession that hit in 2008 is still being felt by small business owners, even veterans. Banks have tightened their lending guidelines in a way that excludes many small businesses.

Small Business Lending Options for Veterans

There are specialized programs and several options for you to consider before you decide:

Credit Unions

Some are designed to serve active duty service members and veterans and may offer specialized loan programs that can save you money. Credit Unions are similar to a bank, except that they are nonprofits owned by their customers.

Pros:

  • Because it is owned by its customers, interest rates, in general, may be lower and loan requirements may be slightly less difficult to meet.

Cons:

  • Before applying for your loan, you have to become a member of the credit union. This varies by credit unions, but typically it means having a checking and savings account with them.
  • To become a member you must meet their criteria. In this case, it may simply be proving you are a veteran.
  • Though less stringent than a bank, credit unions require you prove your creditworthiness with a great credit score, solid credit history, a business plan, financial records and tax documents.
  • Approval time also varies, but it can take 30 days or longer.

Small Business Administration

The Small Business Administrations is a government-backed organization that has special loan programs that serve veterans. According to bizfinance.com, the Patriot Express Loan is a guarantee for a loan, made available from the SBA to veterans or soldiers or their spouses who are actively serving in the military or have returned from military service. These are not loans from the Veterans Administration but are offered exclusively through the SBA.

Pros:

  • According to businessnewsdaily.com, SBA loans have terms of 10 years to 20 years, giving your business more time to pay than other loan options.
  • According to sba.gov, this type of loan has a zero upfront fee for all veterans, who are authorized under the SBA Express program, up to $350,000. These initiatives make the loans cheaper for the borrower.
  • One great feature of the program is that it has an accelerated turnaround time for SBA application review. You’ll receive a response to your application within 36 hours.

Cons:

  • Because it is a government-backed loan, the application process is more intense than a bank or other lending institution.
  • You must provide all the application documents you would be required by a bank, plus your resume, your projected financial outlook for the business, and detailed information about suppliers or vendors you will do business with.
  • The SBA and the associated lender evaluates your application based on your character, collateral, management skills and what you can contribute to the business.

Alternative Lenders

Sometimes you must think outside of the box to reach your business goals. Today, the majority of small business owners, including veterans, must look to creative funding solutions that limit their risks and support their business growth now and in the future.

Alternative lenders typically base approval on what actually matters, the overall health of your business and its potential, not your credit score.

Pros:

  • The time you served your country matters and as an entrepreneurial business owner, alternative lenders can help you get flexible funding (loans or lines of credit) and repayment options that fit your business income and limit your risks.
  • According to businessweek.com, lines of credit with an alternative lender are not based on your credit score, but on a percentage of the value of your business (assets, inventory and accounts receivable).
  • Alternative lenders often strip away the intimidation and lengthy small business loan documentation requirements you would find through a bank, the SBA, or a credit union. The application is simple and straightforward.
  • The terms and repayment of the loan can be customized to fit your sales volume and the best desired time frame for your business. This limits your risk.

Cons:

  • The interest rates can be slightly higher, but the trade-off is a great loan product with excellent terms and ease.

The time you served your country can help support your knowledge and efforts to be a successful small business owner.

To learn more about creative business funding options, contact Credibly today! To get started, submit our online request form – it’s free and easy and won’t hurt your credit.