The Center For Debt Management
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The Credit Process: A Guide
For Small Business Owners

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What the Lender Will Review

Credit Analysis

Regardless of where you seek funding—from a bank, a local development corporation, or a relative—a prospective lender will review your creditworthiness. A complete and thoroughly documented loan request (including a business plan) will help the lender understand you and your business. The basic components of credit analysis, the "Five C's," are described below to help you understand what the lender will look for.

The "Five C's" of Credit Analysis

  • *Capacity to repay is the most critical of the five factors. The prospective lender will want to know exactly how you intend to repay the loan. The lender will consider the cash flow from the business, the timing of the repayment, and the probability of successful repayment of the loan. Payment history on existing credit relationships—personal or commercial—is considered an indicator of future payment performance. Prospective lenders also will want to know about your contingent sources of repayment.

  • *Capital is the money you personally have invested in the business and is an indication of how much you have at risk should the business fail. Prospective lenders and investors will expect you to have contributed from your own assets and to have undertaken personal financial risk to establish the business before asking them to commit any funding.

  • Collateral or guarantees are additional forms of security you can provide the lender. Giving a lender collateral means that you pledge an asset you own, such as your home, to the lender with the agreement that it will be the repayment source in case you can't repay the loan. A guarantee, on the other hand, is just that—someone else signs a guarantee document promising to repay the loan if you can't. Some lenders may require such a guarantee in addition to collateral as security for a loan.

  • Conditions focus on the intended purpose of the loan. Will the money be used for working capital, additional equipment, or inventory? The lender also will consider the local economic climate and conditions both within your industry and in other industries that could affect your business.

  • Character is the general impression you make on the potential lender or investor. The lender will form a subjective opinion as to whether or not you are sufficiently trustworthy to repay the loan or generate a return on funds invested in your company. Your educational background and experience in business and in your industry will be reviewed. The quality of your references and the background and experience levels of your employees also will be taken into consideration.

Financial Analysis

In addition to the "Five C's," a prospective lender will use four primary financial statements to make a credit decision.

A Personal Financial Statement

Indicates your net worth. Each partner or stockholder owning a substantial percentage (for example, 20 percent or more) of the business should submit one. A personal financial statement is important to the lender, particularly if you have never received financing for your business before, because it gives the lender evidence of personal assets you could pledge to secure a loan.

A Balance Sheet

Provides you with a snapshot of your business at a specific time, such as the end of the year. It keeps track of your company's assets, or what the company owns (including its cash), and the company's debts, or liabilities (generally loans from others). It also shows the capital, or equity, put into the business.

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