If you run one of the 1.1 million small businesses in Atlanta, you know how important small businesses are to the state. From Atlanta to Valdosta to Savannah, now more than ever, Georgia small business owners need resources to keep them running.
One of those resources just might be financing for your company. With the right financial product, you can take your business sky-high.
How a Loan Can Help Your Georgia Small Business
Whether you’ve got a new business in Georgia or one that’s been handed down from generation to generation, a small business loan can help.
You can use it to get through slow periods or invest it to grow your business. Ready to hire more employees? Expand to a second location? Buy larger orders of inventory? Small business financing can help with all of that.
Georgia Small Business Loan Options
There are a variety of financing options to consider. Find the one that’s right for your business.
Coronavirus Pandemic Loans
In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, many businesses in Georgia and beyond have struggled to get back on their feet. To that end, the government has offered a few loan programs, including the Paycheck Protection Program, as well as Economic Injury Disaster Loans, to help existing businesses do just that.
Keep in mind that these loans are available until funds are exhausted. The PPP has already had two rounds of funding, and has stopped taking new applications for now.
Working Capital Loans
Your credit profile will be considered for most of the loans on this list. If your credit is good, you may qualify for a loan through a bank or credit union, which tend to offer competitive rates.
The U.S. Small Business Administration offers low-interest loan programs with long repayment periods. Many of these loans are aimed at bolstering economic development, and some are geared toward veteran or minority business owners. Whether you are interested in a 7(a) loan or one of the SBA’s micro loans, you’ll get favorable repayment terms.
Line of Credit
Maybe you need some cash now, but you want the option to access more cash later without taking out another loan. A business line of credit could be what you’re seeking. You’ll have access to a certain amount of funds that you can borrow from, repay, and borrow again.
If your Georgia business requires expensive equipment like heavy machinery or company vehicles, there are specific loans, called equipment loans, for that purpose. Because the equipment you’re buying serves as your collateral, you can typically get low interest rates.
While not exactly a loan, business credit cards can be helpful for purchasing supplies for your business. Many credit cards have high interest, though, so be sure to pay your balance in full to avoid those fees.
If your credit isn’t great, you may not qualify for an SBA or bank loan, but you still have options.
There are online lenders who will provide you with short-term financing based on other criteria, such as your annual revenues.
Merchant Cash Advance
If you accept debit and credit cards as payment for purchases, you might consider a merchant cash advance, which is an advance on future credit card sales. Daily or weekly repayments, including a fee, are automatically deducted from your transactions. This is a great option for a start-up that might not qualify for other financing options.
How to Qualify for a Small Business Loan in Georgia
Each of the above financing solutions may have slightly different criteria to qualify. But there are a few places to start. I’ve already mentioned your credit, which will be a major factor for most of these loans. The higher your credit scores, the better the repayment terms you’ll qualify for.
If you don’t have business credit, lenders will look at your personal credit. It’s a good idea to learn how to establish business credit so you don’t have to rely so heavily on your personal credit scores.
Depending on where you apply for financing, you may be asked for your business plan. Don’t have one? There are several small business resources in Georgia that can help you put one together. The Small Business Development Center, which has locations nationwide, can provide technical assistance, help you develop your business plan, and could possibly help you apply for financing.
How to Apply for a Small Business Loan in Georgia
Applying for small business loans will require a little legwork on your part, so be prepared in advance to make the process go smoothly.
Gather information about your business, including contact details, how long it’s been in business, its Employer Identification Number, if you have one, and annual revenues.
You’ll also need to provide personal information, such as your Social Security number.
Banks may require you to come into a branch to apply, and you may have to wait a few days to get your decision. Online lenders, on the other hand, offer applications that take just minutes to complete, and you can often get an instant decision.
Once you’ve been approved, you will be given a loan agreement to review. This will have your approved loan amount, as well as interest rate and repayment terms. Sign the agreement and your funds will be deposited into your bank account.
What Qualifies as a Small Business in Georgia?
If you’re not sure whether your business is considered a small business from a business lending perspective, here’s some clarification. A small business in Georgia has fewer than 300 employees and under $30 million in annual gross receipts.
What Grants are Available in Georgia?
Loans aren’t the only source of financing to consider in Georgia. There are also a variety of business grants available that do not require you to pay them back. Georgia business grants include those for businesses in specific counties, businesses in certain industries, and those that can provide economic development in distressed regions.
How to Get a Loan to Start a Business in Georgia
The great state of Georgia is a wonderful place to start or grow your business. It’s important to know what you want to use your loan for before applying so that you put the funds to good use. Find out your credit scores so you can explore your different options based on what you qualify for.
If your credit could use some work, spend some time improving it and apply for financing later when you qualify for better rates.
This article was originally written on June 7, 2021.