Top Financing Options to Consider for Your Business

So many small businesses have had to change the way they handle finances due to the strain of the pandemic, from adjusting operations and expense-cutting to new products and services. What will financing options look like for small businesses moving forward?

Here’s a sampling of insight from financial companies, trade publications and research on what you might be looking at down the line.

Alternative Options. As small businesses move forward, they’ll be considering alternative financing options outside of commercial loans, whether that means grants, credits, matches, donations, low-interest loans or other financial products outside of traditional banks.

Brett Farmiloe, CEO and founder of Markitors, a digital marketing agency based in Scottsdale, Ariz., says the crisis has been an intensive training period for small businesses when it comes to finding alternative money options.

“I think you’ll see more small businesses think about researching local programs and resources offered in their community as a way to bootstrap a business,” he said in a blog for SCORE. “By leaning on local financing, small businesses may be able to extend the runway to get a new business started.”

Financing Services. Research by Accenture indicates that 42 percent of small and medium-sized businesses surveyed believe that alternative providers can offer better service than traditional banks.

“What many of them may really want in the year ahead is advice on how to navigate the remainder of the COVID-19 period, and how to participate in the recovery beyond that,” says Steve Cocheo, executive editor at The Financial Brand, a digital publication focused on marketing and strategy issues affecting retail banks and credit unions.

And these “niche players in the wings” are adding product breadth in response to small business needs, he says.

Banks need to figure this out because, even as they seek ways to make small business banking more profitable, relative newcomers push further into this segment,” Cocheo writes in his article about the small business banking and lending market in 2021.

Stricter Credit Standards. Some are predicting small businesses will face tighter lending standards moving forward.

“You will have to have solid collateral to back up your business loan or line of credit along with a very good financial history to be approved,” says Stephen Halasnik, co-founder of the direct lending company Financing Solutions.

More small businesses are looking at lines of credit to keep going forward, to reinvest in their businesses, he says in the SCORE blog.

“Small business owners are not using financing to sustain an unprofitable business in the hopes that it will turn around,” Halasnik says. “The owners are cutting all expenses first. If the business is doing well on an accrual basis but not on a cash basis, usually due to a delay in getting paid, then owners are setting up a business line of credit.”

Rather than needing credit though, many small firms told a survey by Doblin, a Deloitte business, that they needed support in reducing expenses – 41 percent of the sample indicated as such. And, 40 percent of those surveyed said they needed support generating more revenue.

“Beyond that, many say that the special situations that keep arising under COVID-19 have distracted them from core business efforts, such as operations, sales, marketing and business development,” writes Cocheo for The Financial Brand.  “Time and schedule have become greater challenges than ever.”

Higher interest rates. Although many remain optimistic about low interest rates, there is the possibility of interest rates rising post-pandemic, and that could set up financial trouble for small businesses.

“People should be immensely cautious about taking out loans that they will not be able to handle in the next year or so with rising interest rates,” says Andrew Taylor, founder and chief executive of Net Lawman, which provides legal document templates and law-related services.

“There will be waves of devastation following a recession such as this one,” he tells Farmiloe in the SCORE blog. “If you are not careful, you will be taken out in subsequent ones, if not the initial.”