We are often asked whether now is a good time to take out a business loan. Our answer is usually, “It depends.” Let’s explain. Two sets of factors figure into the timing of a business loan – macroeconomic and microeconomic. We take a closer look below.
In general, it’s a good idea to borrow when interest rates are low, as they are now. As you know, the Federal Reserve has raised rates several times in the last two years, and more rate hikes are imminent. While rates are still low, you don’t want to wait for them to get any higher, so quick action right now is a smart idea. If interest rates were falling from a high level, you’d want to wait till they fell to an affordable level. Other macroeconomic factors that might influence timing is the occurrence of financial or political shocks, or the general tightening of credit, both of which might discourage you from short-term borrowing.
Loan timing is also a function of why you need the money and how you plan to use it. Some uses are good, some not so much.
These are some reasons why now would be a good time to get a business loan:
- Expansion: You are at a point where you are turning down business because you don’t have the capacity. If expansion is called for, you will need to finance extra space, or new equipment, or new hires, etc. The fact that you will be bringing in more business bodes well for your ability to repay the loan.
- Cushion: If you have a seasonal business, a short-term loan can create a cash cushion to get you through the lean months. By evening out your cash flows, you can avoid emergency layoffs or panicked price cuts. This helps your business’ long-term prospects. You can repay the loan when the busy season returns.
- Sunshine: The adage, “make hay when the sun shines,” has application here. When your business is in a good spot and has a high credit rating, getting a loan will be relatively easy. When you wait until you are in desperate shape, you might not qualify for a loan. If you can get an affordable loan during good times, it can add an extra layer of safety against liquidity problems later on.
- Credit builder: A startup business has no credit history, but a business loan can be the remedy. Taking out a business loan and then repaying it on time will build your credit score and potentially give you access to larger loans in the future.
- Opportunity knocks: Once in a while, a golden opportunity falls into your lap. A loan can enable you to jump on the opportunity, thereby strengthening your company and making repayment easier.
Here are some times when you should avoid taking out a business loan:
- Maxed-out: If you already have large loans and maxed-out lines of credit, taking on additional debt might drive you into default. Even if you can arrange another loan, the lender will probably demand exorbitant interest rates that will only increase your cash flow problems.
- Uncertain purchase: If you are considering the purchase of a new business asset but aren’t sure whether you can afford it, reconsider the purchase. A business plan should lay out exactly how you expect a new asset to affect your business and how much it will cost. If you are unsure about how the loan terms will align with the new asset’s cash flows, go back to the drawing board until you are certain you know what you’re doing.
- Band-aid: If your business mismanaged its financing, taking a loan might just be a band-aid that masks the underlying problem. A better strategy is to bring in a CPA or operations manager to help fix the problem first.
Want to see what alternative lending can do for you? Talk to an IOU Financial Small Business Loan Consultant and learn about the ways IOU Financial can help you get the capital you need.