You’ve been bootstrapping your business with your own funds and the help of family, and now those sources are tapped out. You thought the tight lending market would loosen up by now, but it hasn’t. You’ve been unable to get a loan from a bank or credit union because you’re still too new. Or you don’t have enough collateral to secure the loan. Or your credit record is less than perfect.
Where do you turn for financial help?
Several of our ELP sites recently heard from Mickey Adams Grames, the Programs Manager at Utah Microenterprise Loan Fund. She commented that if any of us entrepreneurs were encountering the problems listed above, we ought to come to her agency and see how they can help us. So I took her up on this and attended their orientation session. She gave basically the same presentation there that she had shared in our meetings.
The Solution: Utah Microenterprise Loan Fund
Utah Microenterprise Loan Fund is not restricted like a bank or credit union by rules and markets. She commented that bankers are frustrated with their current rules imposed by the government. In fact, many of them welcome the opportunity, as financial partners, to sit on the review committee when we make a presentation requesting funds. They are a not-for-profit that focuses on helping people increase their income through funding your business and getting you through your cash-flow problem.
Mickey reported that they have helped all kinds of businesses including web based and ecommerce. 95% of the time they are the sole source of funding. Currently they have a 63% approval rate. And that is often a function of inadequate preparation by the entrepreneur. They have helped people start brand new businesses, buy equipment or products to sell, have the funds to pay for employees, with advertising and other business costs, cover the cash gap, refinance credit card debt that was spent on starting and/or running the business, and who have been injured on the job and want to start a small business to get back to work. They make loans based on our experience, talent, and dedication to make the business succeed and whether they think your business will be able to make enough money to pay for your expenses, and your loan payment. They help us plan so that we don’t run out of cash.
What do they require from us?
- We need to put together a business plan that shows we understand our business, our target market, and the requirements of marketing to make the business succeed.
- We need to show that we can produce enough revenue within 60 days to meet the loan payment and cover our business costs.
- We need to show who our customers are and know their demographics.
- We need to show that we know what causes our customers to buy our product.
- We need to be totally familiar with our marketing strategy and be able to show that it will work.
- We need to have a realistic cash flow forecast that reflects seasonality.
- We need to know our competition, both direct and indirect, and how it may impact our business.
- We need to have thoroughly addressed all the sections of their Business Plan Outline including Use of Loan Fund (they cannot be used for wages), the product or service being offered, the scope of Operations, your markets, the marketing strategy, the method of managing and who is involved, and the financial projections.
The Application Process
The application fee totals $75 and I have found that it takes a few weeks to pull all the information together that they require. They typically have a review committee once a month. Mickey goes over your application packet to make sure everything is there, and she’ll interview you to help you be prepared for the loan committee presentation. She pointed out that the loan committee members almost never look at your packet before hearing your presentation. You have the opportunity to tell your story to the committee. They will be looking at your enthusiasm, commitment, and preparation. They will ask you questions and expect you to know your industry and your business very well—so well that you can easily answer questions that you probably have already put down in your business plan. In short, they expect you to be the “expert” in your market niche. That’s not to say you’ll know everything, but you’ll know enough to make the business succeed and can show the committee how you’ll do that.
How Many $ and Who do They Fund?
Mickey shared that they have funded flower shops, car repair shops, plumbers and carpenters, child care providers, restaurants, home businesses, and even some unusual ones. They will work with borrowers who are having problems and need adjustments on their loan payments. You can borrow as little as $1000 up to $25,000 for a five year term. The payments on the $25,000 are $514.68 per month and that starts 45 days after the loan is made on the nearest15th of the month. When you are able to get a bank or credit union loan 2-3 years after getting a Utah Microenterprise loan, they will subordinate and take the second position behind the other loan.
Make Utah Microenterprise Loan Fund Your First Choice for Funding
Over the past fourteen years, the Utah Microenterprise Loan Fund has helped start or grow more than 680 small businesses across the state. They are the best source for startup loans, when that time comes that you run out of those bootstrap funds. Take the opportunity to attend their orientation session which gets you started in the process of qualifying for funds from them. Call Mickey at 801-746-1180 or send her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org