Getting a loan when you’re self-employed can be challenging. Many banks won’t even think about giving entrepreneurs loans until they’ve been in business for a couple of years.
However, you can apply and qualify for several small business (SB) loans provided you have proof of income, a high credit score, and offer up some collateral if you’re a relatively new startup.
The 5 Best Tips for Applying for a Loan if You’re Self-Employed
If you report self-employment income as an independent contractor or gig worker, you can be considered a small business owner. These tips will help the SB loan process go smoothly.
1. Prove Your Income by Providing Pay Stubs
Employees from a typical business can expect regular paychecks. These pay stubs make it easier to apply and qualify for mortgages and credit cards because you have proof of income.
However, when you’re self-employed, you don’t receive this documentation, but you can learn more here about how to create and use a pay stub to prove your business status.
Lenders may also ask you for a copy of your bank statements to back up your pay stubs or tax statements of the previous year to confirm that you’ve been receiving a consistent income from clients.
2. Give Evidence of Business Growth or Revenue
Although your proof of income can prove that your business is growing, it doesn’t provide enough evidence that your company is growing or earning enough consistent revenue. To get premium loan rates, you need to verify that you’ve had consistent growth over many years.
The amount of years you’ll need to get the best rates depends on the lender. For example, if you went from earning 40K one year, 80K the next year, and you’re now pulling in 120K, your lender will consider that a “consistent growth.”
However, if you flip flop often (40K to 30K to 60K to 120K to 70K), you’re less likely to get a great rate because you’re considered a bigger risk.
3. Improve Your Credit Score
Lenders will often check the business owner’s personal credit, but they will always check your business’s credit score if you use a company credit card. A lender will often do a soft credit check, which doesn’t affect your credit, but a hard credit check is a possibility.
Always ask the lender what type of check they’re performing so you can inform your credit reporting agencies.
Lenders will consider a credit score of 650 or higher to be good, but 700 or higher will offer the best interest rates.
To improve your credit score, pay your bills on time, use your credit cards (pay them off before they incur interest), and aim for 30% credit utilization or less.
4. Try to Hold Out for 2-3 Years
Many high-quality lenders will only provide financing options to businesses that are two to three years old. 50% of companies fail in the first five years, so many lenders will be skeptical of your new startup.
Although lenders do make exceptions, options for new businesses are more limited. To prove how long you’ve been in business, use your date of incorporation or your EIN.
5. Get a Line of Credit or Term Loan
A line of credit allows you to borrow money from an approved amount and functions similarly to a credit card but typically has lower interest rates.
A term loan provides you with the exact amount of money you’ll need for a project, which can be helpful for businesses that have fluctuating revenues but operate all year or for companies that close down during a season.
These loans have a straightforward application process that doesn’t require a significant amount of proof or money cushion.
However, being self-employed won’t make it impossible for you to get invoice financing or a business cash advance; it just won’t be as easy to obtain.
If you don’t have one already, consider getting a business credit card. Not only are they convenient, but they offer a line of credit that can be useful to you if cash flow is tight.
Many low-interest business cards are available for new businesses, but they will use your personal credit score to determine eligibility. If you’re using a personal credit card in the meantime, transfer your business payments to that new card once you’re approved.