First off you need to find a marketable product that answers some sort of market demand. Then you need to get online with an attractive, easy-to-use website that uses search engine optimization to drive traffic to your website. On your site you’ll need to set up an e-commerce platform and ensure you have the bandwidth, inventory, and manpower to handle demand if and when it starts to pick up.
For an online business you also may need to secure a loan to help fund your expenses. Though you’re unlikely to have the same overhead as a brick and mortar store, you’ll still have costs such as paying for inventory, shipping web hosting, tech support, and advertising. All of these costs can add up and securing a solid small business loan can help you stay above water.
While online businesses can often have more trouble receiving a loan with one of the top business loan companies than more traditional businesses, there are still many options available.
First, you need to decide how much money you need. Short-term working capital is a must for most businesses at some point, in order to help them make ends meet during thin times and also to make sure that bills don’t become delinquent.
How big is your online business? Are you selling a product that needs to be manufactured and shipped? If it’s made in house, do you need to rent a workspace? Will you need pricy licensing and certification?
If you can’t borrow money from your loved ones and crowd-funding isn’t an option, there are a number of different routes you can go for loans, and they are similar to the options typically chosen by small businesses and start-ups.
Small business administration (SBA) loans. The government’s Small Business Administration works with banks to provide a variety of loans for different purposes. Their loan and microloan programs give small, short-term loans to small businesses, and their most common program, the General Small Business Loan provides financial help for businesses with special requirements. One drawback though is that it can often be difficult to qualify for a SBA loan, though if you do you will pay a maximum interest rate of 6.5% on a loan of less than $50,000 over less than 7 years, and a maximum rate of 7% if your loan is over seven years.
Term loan. Term loans are a great option for small businesses, and provide fixed interest rates and a set maturity date. On the other hand, they usually require collateral and a long approval process that favors well-established businesses. If you’re just getting up and running, this may be a long shot.
Microloans. These are small, peer-to-peer loans given out by individuals rather than banks. Often they are collected from a number of small lenders, though they may also be from a single source. These loans are often an answer for people who have had trouble going the more traditional route. This includes online businesses, which don’t have the brick and mortar infrastructure to convince banks that they are a safe borrower. The drawback is that while they’re usually easier to get, they’re also more expensive, and you can expect to pay a higher interest rate.
Personal loans. These loans require no collateral and lenders decide whether or not to give you a loan based on your credit score. They tend to be easier to receive than term loans, but the tradeoff is often in the form of higher interest rates. Simply put, these “unsecured” loans are seen as a bigger risk for lenders, so the interest they pay is higher. Personal loans have a set monthly payment and interest rate, and while they are not able to seize any collateral, if you are not able to make the (often high) payments then your credit rating will take a hit.
Business line of credit. Line of credit loans provide capital for businesses to meet expenses, serving as a sort of cushion to give you a little bit of breathing room or a little extra cash flow when needed. These loans are flexible – you only pay interest on the money that you borrow and then can take out more and repay the funds as you see fit. In a sense it’s like a credit card that you can access for cash. These loans can have higher interest rates and require putting down collateral though.
Luckily, there are more than enough options these days for securing loans online. Take a look here at some of the top online lending companies, and find the one that’s right for you.
Why go for an online loan?
One of the reasons that people seek out online lenders is the greater ease at securing a loan. Banks and other financial institutions view many small businesses as too risky to finance, and if you’re running an online business with no brick and mortar storefront or more traditional revenue stream, you may find yourself out of luck.
Not only are the loans easier to secure, they tend to come through quicker. Applying can often be as simple as a series of online questionnaires that don’t require meeting with a loan representative or anyone who can hold your hand and walk you through it. Once approved, the loans tend to be issued in a matter of days, not weeks or months like with banks.
Also, with online lending you can compare rates and payment plans on a number of different sites at the same time, allowing you to play the field and find the best deal for you. You could shop around with more traditional lending as well, but it wouldn’t be anywhere near as convenient, and if you’re setting up a small online business, time and convenience is key.
Online loans are easier to get, but they are usually more expensive. You’re seen as a bigger risk, and you pay for this assessment. You can expect a significantly higher APR as well as other fees, and often the loans are locked into a specific payment plan that doesn’t allow you to repay early.
Regardless of the higher costs, online lenders provide a reliable, easy way for small businesses to secure loans, including online businesses which may not have the clout of more established storefront businesses. Take a look at some industry leaders below, and you should be able to find one that matches your needs.
Torro offers five main types of business funding for new and existing companies, including startup funds, working capital loans, and merchant cash advances. The application process is simple, approval is fast, and funding is usually received within 48 hours.
Founded as an alternative to traditional bank loans, Fundera has worked hard to build a solid reputation of trust, professionalism, and competitive rates. With a wide range of loan types and flexible repayment options, Fundera gears itself towards small business loans and provides loans of anywhere from as little as $5,000 up to $5 million.
OnDeck offers conventional business loans and lines of credit, allowing flexibility to get the loan you need. Best of all, you can have your money within 24 hours with fast approval and excellent customer service.
|Lending Company||Min.Credit Score||Loan Amount||Time Until Funding|
|Torro||none||$10K-$2M||Within 48 hours|
|Fundera||680||$5K-$1M||2 days to 2 weeks depending on the lender|
|OnDeck||600||$5K-$250K||As fast as 24 hours|
Though online lending may have still seemed strange or risky just a decade or so ago, today it’s an ever-growing option for more and more businesses and private individuals who can’t rely on the traditional banking route to receive the cash flow they need.
Online businesses can run into many of the same issues that keep small businesses boxed out of the traditional lending system – online businesses tend to not have a long history of operations or a brick and mortar storefront, and often are short of the revenue that financial institutions look for.
As you can see, that’s no longer a deal breaker. And while you will stand to pay more in interest, with online lending houses, any small business – including an online business – can get a loan approved. This frees you up to get back to what really matters – finding a way to make your business take off.
To learn more about any of these business loans companies and more, read our in-depth reviews.