Entrepreneurs from Madison to Milwaukee rely on business resources like financing to ensure their companies thrive. If you have a business in the “Forward” state, you might not know where to start in finding a small business loan. Not to worry. We’ve got you covered.
How a Small Business Loan Can Help Your Wisconsin Business
Business owners always have a long list of expenses. Buy inventory. Pay the staff. Refill the toilet paper.
And then they have a wish list. The things they’d love to do if only they had the working capital. Expand to a second location. Hire more employees. Invest in marketing. Acquire another business.
In both cases, having a small business loan can provide the capital a business like yours needs to check these things off the list. A loan can, ultimately, help you make more money.
What Are the Pros to Starting a Business in Wisconsin
Wisconsin has a thriving small business community that helps foster entrepreneurship. It’s centrally located. It has a skilled workforce. There’s also a strong focus on research and development.
In addition, there are a number of organizations that provide support to small businesses, ranging from economic development organizations to university-based ones. New and existing businesses can access these services for free from organizations listed later in this article.
Types of Small Business Loans to Choose From
You have many options when it comes to business financing in Wisconsin. Before applying for a small business loan, decide what your specific needs are.
- How much do you need to borrow?
- What will you use the money for?
- Do you need all the money at once?
- How big a monthly payment can you afford?
- What kind of credit scores do you have?
Answering these questions will help guide you to the best financing option.
Small Business Loan Options for Wisconsin
There are a variety of small business loans available in Wisconsin, as well as many lenders that cater to small businesses.
Banks and credit unions offer long-term loans at low interest rates, though they may have strict requirements. Generally, you will need good to excellent credit to qualify. Here are some options for lenders in Wisconsin.
The U.S. Small Business Administration has several loan programs for you to consider, especially if you have good credit. Consider the 7(a), SBA 504, and Microloan programs from SBA lenders like these.
Lines of Credit
If you’d prefer to have access to cash when you need it rather than getting it all at once like with a business loan, consider a line of credit. Here are some of our partners who can help.
Commercial Real Estate Loans
Looking to buy office space, retail space, or rental property? A commercial real estate loan can help.
Business Credit Cards
Another option for short-term financing is small business credit cards. These can provide flexible financing and for most cards you don’t need to have a certain time in business or minimum business revenues to qualify. You just need good personal credit scores and sufficient income from all sources (including personal income).
How to Qualify for a Small Business Loan In Wisconsin
There are certain eligibility requirements lenders look for in small business , so carefully read what the lender you’re applying with looks for in an application.
Some lenders require specific minimum credit scores. Some check personal credit scores, some check business credit scores, and a few check both. Banks and SBA lenders want you to have good to excellent credit, while online lenders may be less stringent.
Lenders want to make sure your business has sufficient cash flow to repay the loan and that means they may require certain minimum revenues; either annual revenues or average monthly revenues for recent months. You may have to provide business bank account statements and/or tax returns to verify your revenue.
The loan application process may be short and sweet, in the case of applying for an online loan, or long, if you’re going through a bank or SBA lender. If you’re applying for a large amount of money (like $300,000 or more), you may need to provide a business plan and financial statements.
Small Business Grant Options for Wisconsin
In addition to small business loans, you may also be able to apply for certain grants as an entrepreneur.
Federal and local governments, as well as corporations and nonprofits, offer grant programs to small business owners that do not have to be repaid.
Launch La Crosse Small Business Resiliency Fund
If your business is located in La Crosse, you may be eligible to receive a grant of up to $5,000 with the Small Business Resiliency Fund. Applicants must have a small business with no more than 30 employees in La Crosse county.
Nav’s Small Business Grant
Nav also has a grant for small businesses (nationwide). Each quarter, we give away $10,000 to one lucky business and $5,000 to the runner-up. Apply here.
If you’re a woman who runs a business, apply for the Amber Grant. Each month, one business receives $10,000, and there’s an annual $25,000 award.
Additional Resources for Wisconsin Small Businesses
Beyond financial assistance, you can also find free business resources in Wisconsin.
Small Business Development Center
The Wisconsin Small Business Development Center (SBDC) can help you launch or grow a business through consulting, education, and events.
Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation
The WEDC provides grants, training programs, and loans to Wisconsin businesses. It also holds networking and education events, and provides funding and support to minority businesses.
Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation
If you’re a female business owner, the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation (WWBIC) is a great resource. Not only does it provide access to capital but also offers free business and financial education for established businesses and start-ups.
Entrepreneurs often feel alone on their journey to growing a business, but if that’s the case, you don’t have to. With so many resources, both to find financing and to gain the knowledge you need to be a savvy entrepreneur, Wisconsin is a great place to do business!
This article was originally written on January 28, 2022 and updated on February 13, 2023.