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By Citizens Bank Staff
The time comes for most businesses when outside funding makes sense to meet obligations, support growth, or seize opportunities. In the 2019 Citizens Bank Women-Owned Businesses survey, the fastest-growing women-led businesses were 60% more likely than others to have financing in place. The survey also revealed that 1 in 5 women don't apply for funding due to fear of being turned down.
Financing is a possibility for many businesses, and preparation can increase your chances of getting the funding you need. Use the steps below to guide your process.
Lenders will closely examine your business finances and credit history, so knowing where you stand before seeking financing allows you time to make improvements. Request a copy of your business credit report from the major reporting bureaus: Dun & Bradstreet, Experian®, and Equifax®. If you don’t have a strong score now (generally, 80 and higher is considered good), take steps to improve it. Use this checklist to get started.
A business banker may be your entry point to apply for financing. If it's been some time since you’ve spoken with your banker, set up an appointment. The better your banking partner knows you and your business, the more equipped they'll be to recommend the best financing tool for your needs. Even if you’re not looking for financing now, checking in with your banker periodically about the state of your business and your goals and challenges can help you anticipate a need for funding down the road.
Having well thought out, concise answers to the questions any potential lender will ask can help increase your chance for success. Prepare your answers to these standard questions in advance so that you can make a good impression when the time comes:
Gather the information and forms that you'll need to apply for financing. These documents will vary depending on the specific type of financing you're applying for, so review the application requirements carefully. Commonly requested documents include:
Review your financial documents with your accountant or business banker to anticipate questions lenders may have.
The effort you put into preparing for financing can improve your credit profile. Most of these habits will also strengthen your business overall. For example, stepping up your sales efforts so that you can demonstrate healthy revenue is important to lenders, and it's naturally good for business. Likewise, shoring up your collections practices typically improves cash flow, which will also help you make a more compelling case to lenders. Try to maintain these good habits for continued success.
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