Author: Christy Lester
What I always hear from Brokers or Borrowers when the initial phone call comes in is “I’ve been trying to get my SBA loan closed for months with my Lender” or “I’ve heard that it is a really long and difficult process to get a SBA loan approved and closed”. My response always is “You have been working with the wrong Lender!”
The SBA loan process should not be any more difficult than getting a conventional loan approved and closed. The key is working with a Lender who has years of experience and is focused on SBA lending.
A specialized SBA Business Development Officer can walk a Borrower or Broker thru the complete process and be able to determine all the “road blocks” ahead of time and navigate around them. The most important part of the process is at the beginning, in the “loan packing stage”. This is where the borrower and Lender spend the time talking about what the borrower is trying to accomplish and what their end goals are. These two ideas are key to driving the eligibility of the loan, the structure of the loan, how long the process to closing is going to take and that the borrower will be happy with the end result.
Find a Business Development Officer that has experience in all phases of the SBA lending process not just sales. Having the past experience of being a loan processor or underwriter gives a Business Development Officer the skills to ask questions at the beginning of the process that will help avoid those potential closing issues down the road.
Be prepared for the initial discussion:
- Have your goals in mind; know your vision for your company 5 years, 10 years, 25 years down the road.
- Have your financial house in order. You will need to provide 3 years of business and personal tax returns along with YTD Interim business financial statements, along with a Personal Financial Statement.
- Have your paperwork ready, if you’re purchasing Real Estate/Business or Equipment, have the purchase contract or purchase order available for review. If your looking for debt restructuring, have the notes of the debts or leases ready for review.
Come away from the call with a clear vision of what needs to happen next:
- What additional items are needed from you
- What your deadline for what is required by you to meet the timelines for the bank’s loan approval process and closing process. The better understanding the Business Development Officer has of your needs, the better they can guide you thru the timeline of events of what and when items are needed.
- What the road to loan closing looks like
If you come away from your initial call with the Lender without having covered the above in hand and having a clear vision of the road you’re on, then you are working with the wrong Lender.
I have 18 years of SBA lending experience ranging from loan processing to managing a SBA closing department to being a successful Business Development Officer, the KEY to a successful and efficient loan closing is choosing the RIGHT Lender and Business Development Officer.
In corporate America, the impression you leave during meetings has the power to make or break your career. Whether you are interviewing for a job, meeting to discuss partnership possibilities, making a sales call, or meeting with the boss, a few simple tips can help you stand out and put your career into high speed.
- Speak Up and Ask Questions. The best way to get noticed is to speak up! Ask challenging questions to grab everyone’s attention and get them thinking.
- Keep It Simple but Interesting. Clearly convey your thoughts and ideas while showing that you are passionate about your work. People will appreciate you more when they see you actually care about what you do. If you represent your company with passion, you will earn the respect of others and be easily remembered.
- Use Graphics and Animation. Leave a positive impression by being graphic and animated about your ideas. Painting a picture for your clients or coworkers will help them see and understand your vision better.
The impressions you make during meetings can steer your career in many directions. Remember to walk into every meeting with confidence, and the conviction that your ideas and passion will leave a positive impression!
The Small Business Administration (SBA) recently received a new head, Maria Contreras-Sweet. Contreras-Sweet was once a small business owner herself, having owned a lending institution in Los Angeles, and she is well aware that what small business owners often need isn’t necessarily financing. Though the recent upturn in small business lending has helped many small businesses, funding isn’t always the right solution. In fact, Contreras-Sweet recommends that small business owners take advantage of all of the resources the SBA has to offer beyond loan guarantees. The SBA has a slew of resources available to help small business owners with marketing, taxes, growth, partnerships, and most importantly, counseling opportunities.
Before looking into any financing options, Contreras-Sweet recommends that small business owners review all aspects of their business to understand why they need financing in the first place. She relates to when she was working at the bank in Los Angeles and business owners would come in asking for a loan. In many cases, she could quickly see that a loan was not what they needed, that their business would grow and thrive without financing if they just learned how to manage their cash-flow more effectively.
As the head of the Small Business Administration, Contreras-Sweet recommends that all lending institutions offer resources and counseling opportunities to teach small business owners how to manage their capital more effectively. In the long run, this type of relationship would be beneficial to both lending institutions and small business owners since fewer loans would go into default if small business owners knew how to manage their cash flow more effectively. Contreras-Sweet believes that counseling programs are essential to small business success, and by teaching small business owners how to manage their lines of credit more effectively, it would dramatically improve the success of small businesses and improve the overall economy.
Marketing is important, and good marketing tactics contribute to the overall success of your business, but there is no substitution for being a good salesperson. Everyone is in sales; whether selling a product, an idea, or even themselves. Below are simple tips to help you increase sales with minimal marketing expense.
Focus Your Lead Search
Focus your time and attention on a few leads, rather than hundreds. Refining your lead searches can also help you identify prospects that are more likely to buy whatever it is you are selling.
Build relationships with customers by staying in frequent contact with them. Seek their feedback to make sure they are happy with your products or solutions. Building relationships like this with your customers will make them feel valued. Once you have established a relationship with your customers, ask them for referrals. If they value your business, they will be happy to refer friends, family, and colleagues to you.
Gain influence and credibility by reaching out to bloggers and social media influencers in your industry. If you can show them the value of the service or product you offer, they will be more inclined to share that information with their followers!
Does your small business have a content marketing strategy? Content marketing is an inexpensive and simple way to engage with your customers and gain their trust while also branding your business. Content marketing involves blogging and search engine optimization to grow your businesses online presence organically. The best content is enriching and informing for your target demographic while also being creative and eye-catching. Your content should drive connection, action and most importantly to you, conversion and revenue. To create content that achieves your goals you must combine creativity with data so that your content actually matters. One of the most important things to remember about content is that it is KING! Unique content that only your business provides will instantly crank up your website traffic.
Below are a few tips for effectively creating content for your website and blog:
- Combine Creative and Analytical
The best content informs readers and keeps them captivated. Put a creative spin on a newsworthy story, or turn a story about your business into a data point for small businesses everywhere.
- Communicate Clearly
Whatever story you decide to tell, make sure you know the whole story and you communicate it in an effective and clear manner. Link to all of your sources for credibility, and always give multiple points of view for your story to gain your readers trust.
Before posting anything to your website, proofread it multiple times. Nothing is more embarrassing than a misprint or spelling error that you have to go back and fix because someone has pointed it out in the comments section! Ideally, have multiple people read, and re-read your posts beforehand.
- Spice It Up with Images
Clear, effective writing is key, but you are likely to get readers to stay on your page longer if you add images and space your writing out to make it easier to read and understand. People are attracted to eye-grabbing images; videos engage readers and draw them in. Infographics are a great supplement to any data driven article as well.
- Write To Your Audience
Keep in mind who your target audience is and write to them. If you are targeting a younger crowd, keep pop culture references in mind. If you are targeting an older crowd, provide more empirical evidence.