Q: I’ve gone to my local bank for a loan to fund my small business. They flatly turned me down. I know my idea has teeth, but is it worth applying at another bank?
A: I can relate to this. In the early years of my career I had an idea for a startup. After building what I thought was a solid business plan, I pitched the idea and was turned down flat.
Not once, but by five different banks.
Not ready to hit the brakes, I sought advice. A CPA friend offered a valuable tip. Now I’m giving it to you.
Banks are not created equal.
Each has a different lending focus. He gave me a new list of banks that specialized in the U.S. government’s Small Business Administration (SBA) loans. These loans are made by SBA lending partners and then the SBA guarantees a portion of the loan that they will repay to the lender if you default.
The top 10 SBA lenders in 2013, according to the National Association of Government Guaranteed Lenders, are:
CURRENT TOP 10 SBA LENDERS
|The Huntington National Bank||17 S High St||Columbus||OH|
|Wells Fargo Bank||101 N Philips Ave||Sioux Falls||SD|
|JP Morgan Chase Bank||1111 Polaris Pkwy||Columbus||OH|
|U.S. Bank National Association||425 Walnut St||Cincinnati||OH|
|Compass Bank||15 S 20th St||Birmingham||AL|
|Manufacturers and Traders Trust||One M & T Plaza, 15th Fl||Buffalo||NY|
|Eastern Bank||265 Franklin St||Boston||MA|
|Zions First National Bank||1 S Main St||Salt Lake City||UT|
|Banco Popular de Puerto Rico||209 Munoz Rivera Ave||San Juan||PR|
|First Bank Financial Centre||155 W Wisconsin Ave||Oconomowoc||WI|
Keep in mind that, while you aren’t limited to SBA lenders in your state, many banks do prefer to lend startup capital in their own business region. It’s also to your advantage to find a local bank to fund your small business because it’s easier to create and maintain relationships with bankers you can meet face to face. Call your local bank to see if they can point you to your best local SBA option.
If you’re not finding a local bank that wants to move forward with an SBA loan, I have two suggestions.
First, some banks do have a national lending scope. Have a look at Manufacturers and Traders Trust, and Banco Popular de Puerto Rico.
Second, do some homework at www.sba.gov to find the bank that does want your loan.
A few years ago I saw a business opportunity to further the growth of bike racing. Most people I shared my idea with didn’t get it, and many advised against going for it.
But that’s the thing about entrepreneurs. We get a great idea and it doesn’t matter if others don’t have the vision. We do. That’s how big things get done.
Three years later the USA Pro Challenge is an internationally recognized brand. Watch an analysis on the business of endurance sports at Bloomberg TV www.bloomberg.com/video/messick-schaden-wittenberg-on-endurance-sports-XiI3z5O_S56vUTKjHxHLZQ.html.
If it doesn’t look like an SBA loan is for you, check back with me soon. I’ll give you answers on where to look for venture capital and angel investors.
What’s your entrepreneur question? Email me at RESblog@consumercp.com.