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How to Qualify for an SBA Loan in 2021

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SBA loans might seem confusing, but the application process is relatively simple.


5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


When you don’t have the personal or investment capital necessary to start a business that requires a good chunk of it, the logical answer is to look into a business loan. And although just about any loan involves receiving a lump sum of cash and paying it back over a period of time, not every loan program is created equal. Out of all the business loan programs out there, many entrepreneurs tend to enjoy the accessibility and simplicity of SBA loans.

But how do you qualify for an SBA loan? The current economy is volatile, and following the financial losses caused by many coronavirus-related closures, more and more businesses are competing for precious capital. Here’s how to get in on what’s available. 

Related: I Went to Prison for SBA Loan Fraud: 7 Things to Know When Taking COVID-19 Relief Money

Ensure your business meets the basic requirements

The SBA doesn’t actually give out loans; instead, it works with individual lenders to distribute loans to small businesses by setting guidelines set by its partnering lenders and community development organizations. As such, it’s crucial that your small business meets these “hard guidelines” in order to even be in the running for an SBA loan. The SBA requires that businesses are for-profit, based in the United States, and “small” (per its size standards) to start. Founders need to have invested time and money into the business, exhausted other lending options, and established the ability to repay the loan over a reasonable period of time. The SBA’s lending partners do not consider businesses that don’t meet these criteria, so if your business is technically an enterprise or you’re legally a nonprofit, you may be out of luck. (Other less common characteristics can disqualify a business as well, such as being faith-based, gambling- or marijuana-focused, or discriminatory, like any business that focuses its resources on clients of a certain gender or race.) 

Iron out your credit

Like with any other loan, the SBA will examine a founder’s credit score and history to determine their likelihood and ability to pay back the loan amount. As such, SBA loans aren’t available to business owners whose credit scores are under 670, or whose credit histories recently show delinquent payments. Try retrieving a copy of your credit report prior to applying for an SBA loan, and if your credit score is on the lower end, take steps to improve the score over time.

Prepare everything on the loan submission checklist

Applying for a loan is a lot more complicated than just asking for it. The SBA requires that any business looking for a loan completes an extensive loan application, a credit memo, a cash projection document and more. Some of these items are dependent on the amount of the desired loan, the age of the business or the number of borrowers on the loan application. Although less common, 504 loans (which are used for major fixed assets that frequently involve construction or long-term machinery) require different application items, so make sure to look out for the appropriate checklist for your desired loan. 

Related: 5 Best and Fast Small-Business Loans (Some of Which You’ve Never Heard of)

Offer collateral

The SBA generally requires that business owners offer up some type of collateral to secure a loan. This is required of anyone who owns 20 percent or more of the business. Collateral can include assets such as real estate or office equipment, and can also cover things like accounts receivable, inventory and an owner’s second mortgage on their home. In the SBA’s own words, this is a founder’s way of proving that they have “skin in the game.”

Similar to any financial decision, taking on an SBA loan also comes with its risks. Offering up collateral can result in personal consequences if you can’t make your payments. SBA loans often have relatively high interest rates as well, which means more money paid back over the long-term (even though those interest rates do have a cap). And just like mortgages, SBA loans often come with origination and appraisal fees that tack onto the down payment before you can receive the actual cash you’ve applied for. All of these factors are important to consider before biting the bullet. 

If you do ever take out an SBA loan, remember that they can be put to use in a variety of different ways, including recovering from the impact of Covid-19, hiring new staff, investing in new technologies and even purchasing another business. As your business continues to grow, it is worth considering how this type of loan might best benefit your business. 

Related: His Criminal Record Disqualified Him From Receiving PPP. So He Pushed Back, and Got the Rules Changed.

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The 11 Sectors Of The Stock Market & Their Biggest ETFs

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7 min read


This story originally appeared on StockMarket

What Are ETFs & Why Should Investors Consider Them?

The stock market is often divided into 11 major sectors representing key areas of the economy. Within each sector, there are a number of different publicly traded stocks that operate in the same broad area. If you’re an investor and want to diversify your portfolio expansively, you’ll then need to own companies across the market. 

In light of that, it’s helpful to know the market categorization for each sector. For instance, if you want to have exposure in specific areas of the economy, an exchange-traded fund (ETF) may be a good place to start. But first, what exactly is an ETF? An ETF is a basket of securities, shares of which are sold on the stock exchange. It has become incredibly popular for both active and passive investors alike. 

With this in mind, let’s take a look at the 11 sector classifications in the order from largest to smallest. In brief, we will see what each sector is about and a few of the largest ETFs that can be used to gain exposure to that particular industry. 

1. Technology

The technology sector consists of businesses revolving around the manufacturing of electronics, software developers, or products and services that are related to information technology. In general, these businesses are driven by upgrade cycles and the general health of the economy, although growth has been robust over the years. To point out, the technology sector is often considered one of the most attractive places to find growth in the stock market.

2. Health Care

An investment in health care is exciting. When you invest in the health care sector, you’re actually investing in a broad range of industries. That’s because the sector consists of biotechnology companies, hospital management firms, medical device manufacturers, and many others. In general, the sector is considered to be both a growth opportunity and defensive play since people will require medical aid in both good and bad times. Since it’s the second-largest industry, it’s nearly impossible to have a diversified portfolio without any health care stocks or ETFs in it.

[Read More] Hot Stocks To Buy Now? 5 Cyclical Stocks To Watch

3. Financials

The financial sector is made up of firms and institutions that provide financial services to both corporate and individual customers. This sector consists of banks, investment funds, and insurance companies, among others. By and large, the majority of the revenue generated by the sector comes from mortgages and loans. Thus, such revenue increases as interest rates rise. The overall health of the economy depends on the strength of its financial sector. In view of the economy rebounding, it may not be a bad idea to have some exposure to some of the financial ETFs below.

4. Real Estate

The real estate sector consists of companies invested in residential, industrial, and retail real estate. Accordingly, the main source of revenue for these companies comes from rent income and real estate capital appreciation. As the economy continues to rebound, there would undoubtedly be opportunities in the real estate sector. Investors love the sector because of its ability to generate healthy dividends along with capital appreciation.

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5. Energy

The energy sector is a category of companies in the business related to the production and supply of energy. The energy sector consists of oil and gas exploration and production companies, as well as integrated power firms, refineries, and other operations. In general, these companies generate revenue that’s tied to the price of crude oil, natural gas, and other commodities. But with the U.S. making combating climate change one of its top priorities, clean energy ETFs have also gained the attention of investors. 

6. Materials 

The materials sector consists of mining, refining, chemical, forestry, and related companies that are focused on discovering and developing raw materials. Since these companies are at the beginning of the supply chain, it’s natural that their activities tend to move along with the economic cycles. Hence, if you think that the economic recovery is well underway, it doesn’t hurt to have some exposure to this cyclical area of the economy.

[Read More] 5 Tech Stocks To Watch In June 2021

7. Consumer Discretionary 

Consumer discretionary is a term to describe goods and services that are deemed non-essential by consumers. To list, this sector consists of retailers, apparel companies, media companies, consumer durables, and consumer service providers. These companies usually benefit from consumers that have extra disposable income to spend, and they may therefore receive a boost with an improving economy.

8. Industrials

The industrials sector consists of construction, machinery, fabrication, manufacturing, defense, and aerospace companies. This industry’s growth is driven by demand for building construction and manufactured products such as agricultural equipment. As a result, the performance of these companies in the industrial sector often moves along with the economic cycles. 

[Read More] Best Cheap Stocks To Buy Now? 4 Consumer Discretionary Stocks In Focus

9. Utilities

The utility sector consists of electric, gas, and water companies as well as integrated providers. In general, many investors treat utilities as long-term holdings and invest in the sector to generate a steady income for their portfolios. It is arguably the most defensive play you can find in the stock market when there is an economic downturn.

10. Consumer Staples

The consumer staples sector consists of food and beverage companies as well as companies that create products consumers deemed essential for everyday use. In general, these companies are defensive plays and are able to maintain stable growth regardless of the broader state of the economy.

11. Telecommunication  

The telecommunication services sector features cable companies, internet service providers, wireless providers, satellite companies, and many more. Consumers are generally providing recurring revenue for these companies, but some subsets of the industry face rapid change. Investing in individual telecom stocks may present higher volatility, but the telecom sector overall has exhibited reasonable long-term growth.

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Michael Jordan Donates $1 Million to Morehouse College Journalism and Sports Program

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NBA legend Michael Jordan announced a $1 million donation to enhance journalism and sports-related studies at Morehouse College.

In the past, the billionaire was criticized for his lack of activism in the Black community. But now he’s stepping up to the plate and changing the narrative for Black students. Jordan’s contributions will support scholarship, technology, and educational programming initiatives for students attending the Atlanta-based HBCU.

“Education is crucial for understanding the Black experience today,” said Michael Jordan in a Morehouse news release. “We want to help people understand the truth of our past, and help tell the stories that will shape our future.”

Jordan Supports the Mission of Morehouse College

In 2014, Jordan became the first billionaire NBA player in history. He’s putting his fortune to work through initiatives that support the Black Community Commitment. In 2020, Michael Jordan and the Jordan Brand committed to providing more social, economic, and educational justice in the Black Community. The donation to Morehouse College is one way that Jordan hopes to expand opportunities for Black men.

“Morehouse is grateful to Michael Jordan and Jordan Brand for an investment in the education of talented men of color who will ensure there is equity, balance, and truth in the way sports stories are framed and the way the Black experience is contextualized within American history,” said Monique Dozier, vice president for institutional advancement at Morehouse.

Founded in 1867, Morehouse is the only private historically Black college or university dedicated to the enrichment of Black men. The school has been at the forefront of addressing a lack of Black leadership in athletics and sports journalism. Spike Lee, a 1979 Morehouse graduated, launched the Journalism and Sports Program. His goal was to open doors for more Black men in media. Now, the program has graduated over 600 students who are transforming the narrative.

“There’s going to be a rich legacy of storytellers who will be supported by these programs,” Spike Lee shared in a news release. “Many people are influenced to think a certain way about Black folks based on what they see on television and in Hollywood. We’ve got to tell our story.”


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3 Ways to Harness your Nervous Energy to Perform Better

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Struggles with stress and anxiety can be frustrating, but have you ever considered anxiety to be a positive thing? 

In her book, Nervous Energy: Harness the Power of Your Anxiety, clinical psychologist Dr. Chloe Carmichael argues that anxiety is actually a positive that can be used to your advantage. Through simple techniques that make you more aware of your emotions, you can become in control of your anxiety and begin to optimize your mental health for more success. I wanted to share with you three ways you can begin to harness your nervous energy to have a happier and more successful career and life. 

As high-achieving individuals, anxiety might seem like something to be ashamed about or to hide, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The first step to using that anxiety for more success is to acknowledge and embrace it. As Dr. Chloe says, anxiety is actually a healthy function of our brains! Your mind is stimulating preparatory behaviors for what we know will be a stressful event. Once you are able to harness these preparatory impulses effectively, you will find that your anxiety is a plus that will encourage and aid you in your success.


  1. Meditation and Mindfulness

Once you’ve begun to recognize and acknowledge your anxiety, meditation and mindfulness can help you begin to understand it more deeply. Understanding it equips you to soothe your emotions, tackle the stressor, or do whatever needs to be done in order to address the anxiety. By practicing mindfulness and meditation, we are able to listen deeply to our anxiety and what actions it’s calling us to do. Dr. Chloe teaches mindfulness and a few different simple breathing techniques in her book that will help you stay grounded.

Naming your emotions sounds simple, but it might be more difficult than you think. One technique Dr. Chloe suggests is to list out your to-do list for the day, and label each task with the emotion you feel. Knowing what your emotional state will be during each activity can help you prepare effectively for the event, and is a great way to channel those anxious feelings into tangible actions. 

As busy entrepreneurs with fast paced lives, we may be prone to only see how our anxiety and stress holds us back– and overlook the secret of how it can actually propel us forward. I challenge you to see anxiety as a potential superpower that, when harnessed correctly, can drive you to do bigger and better things than ever before. 

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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