Surviving the Meltdown

•  A solid credit score. There’s no getting around the fact that banks will look at the majority shareholder’s credit history. “It’s important to know your credit score. If it’s lower than 660 or 680, you need to start thinking about ways to improve it, if at all possible, before you walk into the bank,” says Dillon. “Now, if you don’t have a 660 credit score people may still take a look, but it makes it a bit harder. At some banks, your personal credit score for small business is one of the key determinants of whether the bank is willing to lend or not. That’s not necessarily the case with us, but a credit score is an indicator of ability and willingness to repay personal debt.”

•  Collateral. The C-word isn’t something many small business owners want to hear from a banker, but according to Dillon, collateral can come into play right behind cash flow in terms of importance. It is even more critical now as banks continue to try to mitigate risk. “We need to have a secondary source of repayment behind the operating cash flows of the business,” Dillon says. “That can be hard to find these days, so we sometimes use Small Business Administration guaranties to make loans where collateral strength is minimal. We’re utilizing the SBA’s CAPLines line of credit product and actively seeking out clients that need lines of credit. The SBA has made the product more attractive to lenders, and it helps mitigate some of the collateral concern so that we don’t necessarily need a 100% collateralized loan.” 

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