Top 5 Project Management Apps For Mac Users

There are a lot of Mac people out there. We probably all know one of them — heck, you might even be one of them. Someone who likes a little style to go with the substance, someone who values accessibility over adaptability, someone who just really likes those clean, minimalist lines and brushed aluminum unibodies. And who can blame Mac lovers? Apple provides products that fulfill more than just a computing requirement; they have come to embody an ethos, a lifestyle, a holistic paradigm that values simplicity and ease-of-use. So while die-hard PC fans will shake their heads in numb despair at what they consider to be over-priced products that are capable of far less than their own customized, self-built, cost-effective machines, I think they are just missing the point. Macs are cool. And easy to use.

And frankly, there are some parallels here with Project Management. Sure, you can manage your projects using a spreadsheet or some open-source program. Heck, you could probably keep your tasks and projects straight with a big whiteboard and copious piles of sticky notes. But you are a Mac user. If you made the choice to use a slick, modern computer, you shouldn’t be bumming around using some clunky old software.

With that in mind, here are Merchant Maverick’s top 5 project management apps for Mac users, selected for their ease-of-use, general aesthetics, OSX desktop versions, and more.

1) Redbooth

Redbooth (read our review) has always been one of our favorites here at Merchant Maverick, and it remains so to this day. The excellent combination of simple interface, excellent visual design, and generally affordable price make it easy to recommend to just about anyone wanting to manage tasks and projects.

One of my favorite things about Redbooth is how flexible it is. You can use this app for basic task management (adding, working on, and completing tasks), and it works like a charm. But you can also add levels of detail, scan for workload analysis, create subtasks, and schedule your team with minute detail. It really is a joy to use, and I don’t find myself saying that about software very often.

I mentioned above that Redbooth is affordable, and it is, relative to other project management apps. There is a free version of the software that is somewhat limited in scope but still adequately functional. More interesting is the Pro version ($9/user/month) that gives all users access to free HD meetings with Zoom, as well as reporting features and external users. If you are willing to pay for the Business plan ($15/user/month), you can add assignable sub-tasks, business reporting, and priority support to the mix.

Overall, Redbooth definitely fits in well with the Mac user ethos: it is easy to use, beautiful to look at, and has the added bonus of being pretty affordable. Add to that the OSX app that allows you to use it directly on your computer, and you have what I would call a winner!

2) Flow

If you are anything like me, you are sometimes able to get yourself into a hyper-productive state of being where you feel as though you could accomplish an entire week of tasks in about three hours. I think I am not alone in referring to this state as “the flow.” It is that state of ultimate productivity that Flow (read our review) was named for.

While slightly less attractive than Redbooth, Flow is no slouch when it comes to visual design. In terms of usability, it is, if anything, even easier to use than Redbooth. Add to this incredible ease of use an advanced feature set that includes assignable sub-tasks, communication tools, and email integrations, and you have what I would consider a very tempting option.

And I haven’t even mentioned the price! If you pay on an annual basis, Flow is yours for the low, low price of four dollars and eighty cents a month. That is almost a painfully low price for a state-of-the-art project management app. There is also a $7.99/user/month option that comes with resource management and project timelines, and an Enterprise subscription with single sign-on, among other things.

So, in summary, we have a positively cheap project management app that is nearly comically easy to use. On top of that, it has an OSX dedicated desktop app. Sounds to me like any Mac user will find using Flow remarkably easy to get into the… Flow… with.

I’ll show myself out.

3) Clickup

All of the apps I am covering here today are easy to use. But of all of them, the one that most impressed me during my test was Clickup (read our review). Now, I know that in some ways, ease-of-use is subjective, but seriously! Clickup is as easy to use as bacon is to eat. And as an accused Pacific Northwest Hipster, I can confirm that bacon is very, very easy to eat.

Clickup divides work into Spaces, where different teams can find their various projects and tasks. These can be seen in box, list, and board view — whatever suits you best. It must be said, however, that Clickup really amounts to an extremely well-made task management system, so if you are looking for something more powerful, this might not be the app for you. On top of being easy to use, Clickup is gorgeous. It will look incredibly clean and slick on your Mac’s retina displays. Especially if you use the desktop app designed of OSX.

Clickup’s pricing is simple and affordable: you can get it for free, or you can pay $5/person/month in order to get more file storage and onboarding training straight up from the designers.  With pricing like that, I honestly feel like you owe it to yourself to at least try this app for yourself; there is nothing to lose!

When all is said and done, Clickup is a beautiful and simple task management system. If that is what you are looking for for your business, Clickup is probably my number one recommendation. If you need something with more horsepower, keep looking through this list!

4) Basecamp 3

Basecamp (read our review) is a byword for ease of use and simplicity in the project management world. So it seems like Basecamp should fit right in with our Mac-user Ethos, yes?

Yes.

Combine legendary usability with a desktop app designed for Mac OS, and you have a user experience that is bound to impress. Having said that, Basecamp is not the most attractive app I have used. It is a little cartooney, rather than clean. It feels more “living room” than “glass-walled office.” Is that reason not to use it? Not exactly, but honestly, image is part of this. Design is part of why you use a Mac in the first place, right? So your software should be similarly designed.

Fortunately, Basecamp really delivers in terms of features, focusing especially on communication tools that help keep your whole team on the same page, whether you all work in one building, one continent, or just one planet. Like Clickup, though, this app is only slightly more than a task management app. You may need to look farther afield if you need more than that.

Basecamp’s pricing is a little different than the other programs we have looked at today. Instead of charging a small price per user, Basecamp asks for a high upfront price ($99/month) but allows for unlimited users. This style of pricing is most beneficial for businesses planning to use their project management app with more than 20 users.

Basecamp is a solid choice for anyone needing task or basic project management, especially for medium-sized businesses or businesses with employees working remotely. In terms of our Mac-User ethos, it scores slightly less well due to the visual design, but it is still intuitive and simple. My advice? Go give it a try.

5) Teamwork Projects

Teamwork Projects (read our review) attempts to achieve the difficult task of building a full-featured project management app that is also easy to use. By and large, I think they have accomplished that. Including far more features than the likes of Clickup and Basecamp, Teamwork Projects can handle your tasks, projects, portfolios, communication, financials, and more. With an impressive integrations list that helps ensure you can continue using other software alongside this one, Teamwork Projects makes it easy to switch over from another task management product.

At the same time, this is an intuitive app to use. Notice I am not saying it is simple; it’s not. There is a decent amount to learn when you are just getting started with Teamwork Projects, but it might help to think of the app like an overstuffed leather armchair. There is a lot going on underneath, but it is all there to support you.

Teamwork Projects is available in four subscription levels. There is a free version, though with a maximum of five users and just 100 MB storage, I doubt many will stick with this option. You can get most of the good features for $9/user/month, though if you want single sign-on or custom URLs, you will have to go for the more expensive options.

Teamwork Projects is not the most beautiful app on this list. And it is not the easiest to learn or use. However, if you are looking for a robust project management solution for any platform — and especially for your Apple device — Teamwork Projects is a fantastic choice. I recommend trying the free plan to see if this app is for you.

Final Thoughts

There is no one answer to which of these five options you should settle on for your own business. If you need simple, fast, and efficient task management, you might be in the market for the likes of Basecamp, Clickup, or Flow. If you need a few more teeth for project-crushing, Teamwork Projects or Redbooth might be more in line with your needs.

In any case, all you Mac users out there can rest assured that each of the above apps will run beautifully on your beautiful machines.

The post Top 5 Project Management Apps For Mac Users appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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Best Accounting Software For Freelancers

Best Freelance Accounting Software

There are over 55 million freelancers in the US. With perks like being your own boss, setting your own schedule, and the flexibility to work from anywhere, it’s easy to see why freelancing is becoming such a popular choice. Whether you are self-employed full-time or are freelancing on the side to earn some extra income, there are key software tools that can help you run a more effective and profitable business — the most important being accounting software.

As a freelancer, it’s easy to focus on growing your business, finding new clients, creating marketing campaigns — anything but accounting. However, having a strong accounting process and being in control of your business’s finances is the key to running a successful business.

Luckily, there are plenty of easy to use, affordable accounting solutions that will help you manage your freelance finances and taxes quickly so you can get back to doing what you love.

In this post, we’ll share the top accounting software for freelancers. We’ll also share some other great freelance tools that you should know about to help your business succeed, including everything from email marketing software to website builders to mobile payment apps and more. We’ve spent hours researching and testing software so that you can find the perfect software solutions to run your freelance business.

heading QuickBooks Self-Employed AND CO Wave

Best Accounting Software for Freelancers

Best Accounting Software for Freelancers

Best Accounting Software for Freelancers

ReviewCompare

ReviewCompare

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Pricing

$10 – $17/month

$0 – $18/month

$0/month

Size of Business

Self-Employed

Self-Employed

Small

Ease of Use

Very Easy

Very Easy

Very Easy

Customer Service

Fair

Very good

Poor

Number of Users

1

1

1

Number of Integrations

4

10

4

Cloud-Based or Installed

Cloud-Based

Cloud-Based

Cloud-Based

Mobile Apps

iOS & Android

iOS & Android

iOS & Android

Characteristics Of Good Freelance Accounting Software

In terms of accounting software, freelancers have very specific needs. Most traditional small business accounting software simply won’t fit the bill. Freelancers need an easy-to-use financial management solution designed specifically for the self-employed. Here are some of the key characteristics a good freelance accounting software should have:

  • Affordable: For freelancers, every penny counts. With a slim or nonexistent accounting budget, freelancers need a solution that is free or offers affordable, low monthly payments.
  • Easy To Use: Good accounting software should be easy to use as most freelancers don’t have time to spend hours balancing the books. Many also may have little to no previous accounting experience so they need something that is easy to learn and understand.
  • Time-Saving Automations: All accounting software should feature automations, but freelancers are in particular need of any way to save time. Standard automations include automatic receipt uploading, mileage tracking, and live bank feeds.
  • Manage Personal & Business Finances: While freelancers should open a separate business banking account to safeguard against tax audits, this simply isn’t the reality for many self-employed individuals. Because of this, many freelancers need to be able to separate their personal expenses from their business expenses using their accounting software
  • Good Organization: As a freelancer, it’s easy to put finances on the back burner, but knowing your exact income and expenses is key to running a successful business. Accounting software should help you stay organized, run key financial statements, and make more informed business decisions.
  • Tax Support: With estimated quarterly taxes and ever-changing deductions, freelance taxes can be overwhelming. The best freelance accounting software will include tax support to help you manage your self-employed taxes.
  • Support Resources: Good accounting software will also provide you with ample learning materials to help you better your business.

We weighed all of these factors when selecting the best accounting software for freelancers. Each of the top three accounting options displays many, if not all, of the features listed above to help make managing your freelance finances as simple as possible.

1) QuickBooks Self-Employed

Best For…Best Accounting Software for Freelancers

Overall freelance accounting and tax support. Ideal for filing directly with Turbo Tax.

Created in 2014, QuickBooks Self-Employed was designed specifically to help freelancers manage their finances and file their taxes easily. QuickBooks Self-Employed is incredibly easy to use, offers great mobile apps, and has the best tax support of all three programs on this list. The software helps you calculate your estimated quarterly taxes, track your mileage, find other deductions like the home office deduction, and even has a Turbo Tax integration for easy filing. On top of tax support, QBSE also helps freelancers keep track of their income and expenses.

The software is ideal for freelancers looking for tax support, a way to separate personal and business expenses, and basic expense tracking.

Pros Cons

Suited for freelancers

Limited invoice features

Calculates estimated quarterly taxes

No state tax support

Easy to use

Turbo Tax integration

Pricing

QuickBooks Self-Employed offers two pricing plans ranging from $10 – $17/month. The difference between the two is that the larger plan includes a built-in Turbo Tax integration and the ability to pay estimated quarterly taxes online.

Features

Best Freelance Accounting Software

QuickBooks Self-Employed supports a good amount of features, especially where taxes are concerned. Here’s an idea of what QuickBooks Self-Employed has to offer:

  • Track income and expenses
  • Separate personal and business expenses
  • Invoicing
  • Record tax deductions
  • Fixed asset management
  • Calculate estimated quarterly taxes

Ease Of Use

QuickBooks Self-Employed is incredibly easy to use. It has a modern, well-organized UI that takes very little time to learn and offers strong mobile apps that are also easy to navigate.

Customer Support

QuickBooks Self-Employed’s customer support has its pros and cons. There’s no phone support, but there is a live chat feature if you want to get in touch with a representative directly. The good news is that QBSE provides a great selection of learning resources for freelancers including a comprehensive help center and a small business center chock full of business advice.

Takeaway

QuickBooks Self-Employed is one of the best accounting and tax support solutions out there for the self-employed. The software offers the most advanced level of tax support on the market, and while this isn’t a full-fledged accounting app, it allows freelancers to manage their income and expenses.

Read our full QuickBooks Self-Employed review to find out if this software is right for your business.

2) AND CO

Best For…
Best Accounting Software for Freelancers

Freelancers looking for strong accounting, good customer support, and the ability to create and send contracts to clients.

Founded in 2015, AND CO is an up-and-coming freelance accounting software that was recently acquired by Fiverr, one of the leading freelance marketplaces. The software is easy to use, offers great customer support, and provides traditional accounting features like time tracking and project management. While the software does not offer tax support, it does have a one-of-a-kind contract feature that allows you to create legal contracts for projects that are compliant with the Freelancers Union. This allows you to dictate who retains rights to your work and accept signatures directly from clients.

AND CO is ideal for freelancers who don’t need the extra tax support of QuickBooks Self-Employed and would rather have more traditional accounting features, contracts, and better customer support.

Pros Cons

Suited for freelancers

No tax support

Easy to use

Unsuited for product-based businesses

Good customer support

Limited integrations

Strong mobile apps

Pricing

AND CO has a free plan for freelancers with a single client and a paid plan which costs $18/month. The larger plan includes unlimited reports and more advanced proposals and contracts.

Features

Best Accounting Software for Freelancers

While AND CO may be lacking in tax support, the software has a lot of great features going for it. Here are some of the features AND CO has to offer:

  • Invoicing
  • Contact management
  • Expense tracking
  • Time tracking
  • Project management
  • Proposals
  • Contracts
  • Subscriptions

Ease Of Use

AND CO is incredibly easy to use. The software was originally designed solely as an iPhone app so the mobile apps are also easy to navigate.

Customer Support

AND CO offers great customer support. Representatives are generally kind and quick to respond to questions. The company also offers great business tools and support resources for freelancers, as well as all of Fiverr’s extensive freelance resources.

Takeaway

AND CO is a great accounting and finance management tool for freelancers. The main drawback is that there is no tax support. However, you won’t find such developed proposal and contract features anywhere else.

Read our complete AND CO review to see if this freelance tool is right for you.

3) Wave

Best For…Best Freelance Accounting Software

Freelancers looking for a complete accounting solution for free.

Wave is a free accounting software solution that offers an incredible number of features for $0/month. While the software wasn’t designed specifically for freelancers like QuickBooks Self-Employed and AND CO, Wave is one of the best accounting programs to fit the needs of freelancers. It’s affordable, easy to use, and allows business owners to separate personal and business accounting.

The software is ideal for self-employed individuals looking for a full accounting solution or those who need an affordable way to manage their freelance finances.

Pros Cons

Free

Limited integrations

Easy to use

Poor customer support

Good feature set

Limited mobile apps

Positive customer reviews

Pricing

Wave only offers one accounting package and it’s completely free. There are no user limits or feature limits. You get all of the great features of Wave for $0/month. The only extra costs are payment processing, payroll, and professional bookkeeping services.

Features

Best Accounting Software for Freelancers

Of all three options on this list, Wave offers the most features. While you won’t find tax support, Wave does offer strong accounting and is full-fledged accounting software. Because of Wave is actual accounting software, it’s the only program on this list that will allow you to actually balance the books. Here are the features you’ll find with Wave:

  • Invoicing
  • Estimates
  • Contact management
  • Expense tracking
  • Accounts payable
  • Inventory
  • Reports

Ease Of Use

Wave is well-organized and its modern UI is easy to navigate.

Customer Support

Wave offers many great support resources; however, getting in touch with an actual representative is difficult. There is no phone support and response times are slow.

Takeaway

Wave is an affordable accounting program that gives you strong accounting and tons of features without breaking the bank. The software does not offer tax support, but it does offer payroll, making it a scalable solution if you plan on growing your freelancing business. The professional bookkeeping services are also great for freelancers who aren’t comfortable doing their own accounting or simply don’t have the time.

Read our full Wave review to see if this accounting software is right for you.

Other Great Freelance Tools

Your freelancing business is your baby, and as it takes a village to raise a child, it can also take an army of integrations to run a business. There are tons of great freelancing tools that can help you manage and grow specific areas of your business, like email marketing, invoicing, ecommerce, and more. Here are some of the top freelance software tools we recommend.

The Best Invoicing Software For Freelancers

If your freelance business relies heavily on invoicing and isn’t quite ready for all of the other features included with accounting software, invoicing software could be a simpler alternative to meet your business needs.

Zoho Invoice

Best Invoicing Software for Freelancers

Zoho Invoice is an easy to use, cloud-based invoicing program with incredible invoicing features. With over 15 invoice templates to choose from and international invoicing options, Zoho Invoice has a lot to offer. Read our complete Zoho Invoice review to learn everything this software is capable of.

InvoiceraBest Invoicing Software for Freelancers

Invoicera is also a could-based program with a good feature set and attractive invoice templates. A forever free plan and over 35 payment gateway integrations are just a few of the perks of this invoicing option. Read our complete Invoicera review to learn if this software is right for you.

Visit our invoicing software reviews for more options or compare our top favorite invoicing solutions for small businesses.

The Best Receipt Management Software For Freelancers

Business owners are all too familiar with the dreaded receipt shoebox. Receipt management software or expense tracking software can help freelancers get organized and handle reimbursements with ease.

ExpensifyBest Receipt Management Software for Freelancers

Expensify is a cloud-based expense management solution with mobile receipt scanning, expense approval workflows, and next-day expense reimbursements. The software also integrates with key accounting programs for a seamless expense tracking experience.

ShoeboxedBest Receipt Management Software for Freelancers

Shoeboxed is also a cloud-based expense management solution with receipt scanning, mileage tracking, expense reports, basic CRM, and even tax prep. Shoeboxed also integrates with key accounting programs.

The Best Payment Processing Software For Freelancers

Need to accept mobile payments from your customers? Mobile payment apps allow freelancers to accept payments anywhere — whether that be at a home show, a small storefront, or even a client meeting at Starbucks. If your freelance business could benefit from accepting payments on the go, mobile payment processing is a must.

SquareBest Payment Processing for Freelancers

Square is one of the most popular mobile payment apps. It offers affordable flat rate pricing and free tools for selling online, making it easy to accept payments from your customers in multiple ways. Read our complete Square review to learn how Square could benefit your business.

Take a look at our other mobile payment processing reviews or compare our top five payment processing solutions for businesses.

The Best Website Builders For Freelancers

A website is key for many freelancers who sell goods online or who need a professional online portfolio to showcase their work to clients. Luckily, there are plenty of affordable, easy to use website builders that can give your freelance business the edge.

WixBest Website Builder for Freelancers

Wix is an easy to use website builder that is ideal for ecommerce and blogging. Wix offers a compelling free version with unlimited pages and hundreds of customizable templates to choose from. Read our complete Wix review to learn more about this affordable website solution.

SquarespaceBest Website Builder for Freelancers

Squarespace is a website builder that is perfect for ecommerce and blogs While there’s no free plan, the software offers amazing templates with a huge degree of customizability. Read our complete Squarespace review to see if this website builder is right for you.

Read our other website builder reviews and ecommerce reviews to find the perfect solution for your business.

The Best Email Marketing Software For Freelancers

One of the most challenging parts of freelancing is finding clients. Email marketing software can be a great way to market your services and target clients so you can grow your business.

MailChimpBest Email Marketing Software for Freelancers

MailChimp is an easy to use email marketing software with affordable payments. The software offers email campaigns, email automations, and even analytics and reporting. Read our complete MailChimp review to learn how this software could help your business.

BenchmarkBest Email Marketing Software for Freelancers

Benchmark is another great email marketing option that is easy to use and offers good customer support. The software has hundreds of templates to choose from and the unique ability to send video emails and online surveys. Read our complete Benchmark review to see if this software is right for your business.

Read our other email marketing software reviews or compare the best email marketing solutions to find the right option for your business.

Picking The Perfect Freelance Accounting Software

Choosing Accounting Software

Running a freelance business can be difficult, but with the right tools, you can set your business up for success. With accounting solutions like QuickBooks Self-Employed, AND CO, and Wave, you can manage your finances and gain valuable insight into your business’s income and expenses.

QuickBooks Self-Employed is ideal for freelancers in need of tax support; AND CO is ideal for legal, professional contracts; and Wave is ideal for the complete accounting package. Identifying your freelance needs and examining your current financial process can help you decide which program is the perfect fit for your business.

Then ask yourself, what other tools could benefit my business?

Email marketing software could help you grow your clientele. A website builder could help you create a professional brand. A payment processing app could help you increase your sales. Here at Merchant Maverick, our goal is to help you find the best software to help your business succeed. We have hundreds of reviews across multiple software industries so you can find the perfect software combo. Check out our comprehensive reviews and our other freelance resources as well.

Top 10 Tax Deductions For Freelancers

Loans For Freelance Businesses: Your 13 Best Options

heading QuickBooks Self-Employed AND CO Wave

Best Accounting Software for Freelancers

Best Accounting Software for Freelancers

Best Accounting Software for Freelancers

ReviewCompare

ReviewCompare

ReviewCompare

Pricing

$10 – $17/month

$0 – $18/month

$0/month

Size of Business

Self-Employed

Self-Employed

Small

Ease of Use

Very Easy

Very Easy

Very Easy

Customer Service

Fair

Very good

Poor

Number of Users

1

1

1

Number of Integrations

4

10

4

Cloud-Based or Installed

Cloud-Based

Cloud-Based

Cloud-Based

Mobile Apps

iOS & Android

iOS & Android

iOS & Android

The post Best Accounting Software For Freelancers appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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Accounts Receivable Financing: What You Need To Know

Incoming cash flow is critical to your business. After all, if you don’t have money coming in, how are you going to pay for inventory, daily operating expenses, or other costs associated with running your business?

Sometimes, cash flow shortages are due to circumstances beyond your control. A slow season, for example, could leave your bank account a little short. But maybe you’re facing a different challenge. You have plenty of sales, but one big obstacle that’s obstructing your cash flow: unpaid invoices.

Depending on your company’s payment terms, you could be stuck waiting for weeks (or even months!) to receive payment from your customers. When these unpaid invoices stack up and your business is strapped for cash, this can quickly become a big problem.

You probably already know about more traditional methods of financing that can help you out of this bind, like lines of credit, credit cards, and small business loans. Sometimes, though, these options just don’t make sense. Maybe your personal credit score is low, you don’t meet a lender’s requirements, or you need funding fast.

What you may not know is that there’s a unique financing option that gives you control of your unpaid accounts. Accounts receivable financing is a way to use your unpaid invoices to get the funds you need in just days. If you have a stack of unpaid invoices sitting on your desk and a bank account that’s seen better days, read on to learn more about accounts receivable financing and how to put it to work for your business.

BlueVine Fundbox P2Bi InterNex Capital Riviera Finance American Receivable

Review Visit

ReviewVisit

Review Visit

Review Visit

Review Compare

Review Compare

Credit Facility Size $5K – $5M Up to $100K $500K – $10M Up to $10M $5K – $2M Up to $3M
Average Approval Time 2 – 7 days 1 day 2 weeks 3 – 7 days 4 – 7 days 3 days
Minimum Credit Score 530 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Minimum Annual Revenue $100K $50K $500K $1M N/A N/A
Required Time In Business 3 months N/A 6 months 2 years N/A N/A

What Is Accounts Receivable Financing?

With accounts receivable financing, you receive the capital you need using your outstanding receivables, typically in the form of unpaid invoices. This is why accounts receivable financing is also known as invoice financing.

There are two common definitions used when talking about accounts receivable financing. The general definition is simply financing based around receivables. Invoice discounting and invoice factoring (more on that a little later) both fall under this umbrella.

More specifically, though, this type of financing uses your accounts receivables as collateral for an asset-backed line of credit. A lender provides you with a line of credit based on the quality and quantity of your unpaid invoices.

For small business owners, this type of financing has many benefits. Since accounts receivable is the qualifying factor, other criteria — such as personal credit score, time in business, and the financial details of your business — are often less important to lenders. If you fail to qualify for other types of funding, accounts receivable financing could help you overcome your financial challenges.

You also won’t have to jump through hoops to get the capital you need (unlike with traditional loans and other types of financing). In most cases, all you need to provide to a lender is basic information about yourself and your business and information about your unpaid receivables. You won’t have to worry about pulling old tax returns or other documentation that’s required for traditional loans. If you have qualifying invoices, you can be approved for a line of credit with accounts receivable financing.

A/R Financing VS Invoice Factoring

Earlier, we mentioned invoice factoring. This is a type of financing that is slightly different from accounts receivable financing.

Accounts receivable financing provides you with a flexible line of credit that you can draw from as needed. Your invoices aren’t sold to the lender. Instead, they’re used as collateral to secure the line of credit.

With invoice factoring, you sell your unpaid invoices to a lender for immediate payment. You’ll receive a large portion of the invoice amount upfront — think anywhere from 80% to 95% of the invoice total. Once the customer pays the invoice, you’ll receive the remaining amount, minus any fees charged by the lender.

Another difference between the two is how payment is collected. When you choose accounts receivable financing, you collect payment from your customers as usual. Your customers will not be notified that you are working with a third party.

With invoice factoring, your lender — also known as a factor — will be responsible for collecting payments from your customers. In most cases, your customers will be notified that a third-party is collecting payments.

Invoice financing is usually best for larger companies with many invoices. Invoice factoring is usually the better choice for small companies that don’t have the time or resources to collect payments from customers.

Is invoice factoring best for your business? Learn more about invoice factoring, then compare rates, terms, and requirements of top factors.

Who Qualifies For A/R Financing?

project management software

One of the biggest advantages of accounts receivable financing is relaxed borrower requirements. You don’t have to worry about having a perfect credit score, a long time in business, or high annual revenues — hard and fast requirements for most other lenders.

Some lenders do have credit score requirements, though. In general, you’ll find that the minimum score needed to qualify for accounts receivable financing is much lower than the credit score requirements for loans, unsecured lines of credit, and other financial products.

For most lenders, the number of invoices you have and the creditworthiness of your customers are the most important qualifying factors. During the application process, you’ll provide your invoices to the lender to determine if you’re eligible for funding. Some lenders may also look at your business bank statements to assess cash flow.

Most lenders only work with B2B or B2G companies, although some lenders will approve B2C companies with qualifying invoices.

How Accounts Receivable Financing Works

At this point, you should have a better understanding of accounts receivable financing, but you may still be on the fence as to whether it’s right for your business. Let’s explore exactly how accounts receivable financing works so you can determine whether or not to take this financial leap

1. Apply For Financing

We’ll go into detail a little later about how to choose the right lender for your business. For now, though, let’s assume that you’ve already selected your lender. Begin by filling out the lender’s application. Usually, this is a fairly short process that requires some basic information about yourself and your business, such as your federal Employer Identification Number, your full legal name, and contact information.

2. Submit Your Invoices

Once you’ve filled out your application, some lenders require you to securely connect your accounting software. This allows the lender to determine if the quantity and quality of your invoices are enough to qualify for financing. Other lenders may require you to simply upload your invoices.

3. Get Approved

Once you’ve completed the application and have submitted your invoices, the lender will make an approval decision. The lender will issue a line of credit based on the value of your invoices. Approval decisions may be given the same day, or you may have to wait several days for a decision.

4. Use Your Line Of Credit

Once you’ve been approved, you can now make draws from your line of credit to pay for business expenses. Most lenders transfer funds to your banking account immediately after you initiate the draw. In most cases, you should have the funds in your account within 1 to 2 business days.

5. Collect Payments & Repay Your Lender

You’ll continue to collect payment from your customers as usual. As you collect payments on your invoices, you’ll repay any funds you’ve taken from your line of credit, as well as any fees charged by the lender.

Typical A/R Financing Rates & Fees

Credit card surcharge fees illustration

The rates and fees charged by a financer will vary based on a number of factors. You’ll qualify for lower rates if you’re in a low-risk industry, have multiple invoices with creditworthy customers, and bring in steady cash flow.

On average, expect to pay about 3% to 5% each month on the portion of used funds. Some lenders may offer rates as low as 1%, which is why it’s important to shop around for the best rate. This also highlights why it’s so important to get payments from customers as quickly as possible. The longer you have an outstanding balance with your financer, the more you end up paying.

You may also be required to pay additional fees based on the lender you select. Some of the most common fees that you may encounter include:

  • Servicing Fees
  • Application Fees
  • Setup Fees
  • Withdrawal Fees
  • Processing Fees

How To Choose The Right A/R Financer For Your Business

If you’ve decided to move forward with accounts receivable financing, the next step is to find the right financer for your business. What works for one business may not work for yours, so make sure to do your research and apply the following tips when making your selection.

  • Understand & Meet All Requirements: Know what the lender requires before you even apply. While accounts receivable financing may be easier to obtain than other types of funding, some lenders have stricter requirements. Make sure that you meet all of these requirements. If the lender requires a minimum credit score, check your score for free online to make sure you’re a good fit. Also pay attention to annual revenues, minimum time in business, excluded industries, and other requirements.
  • Review Total Cost Of Borrowing: Sure, one lender’s monthly rate is low, but add in fees and other costs and you may end up paying much more. Make sure to look at the numbers — all of them — to calculate the most affordable financial solution.
  • Consider Borrowing Limits: Assess the borrowing limits of each lender. For example, if a lender only issues lines of credit up to $50,000, but you’d prefer to have a higher line, you can immediately eliminate this lender from your list.

Recommended A/R Financers

With an idea of what to look for in an accounts receivable financer, you’re one step closer to scoring the funding you need for your business. Maybe you’ve even started your search, but thousands of search engine results have your head reeling. To cut through the clutter and get you started, check out our recommended options for accounts receivable financers.

BlueVine Fundbox P2Bi InterNex Capital Riviera Finance American Receivable

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Credit Facility Size $5K – $5M Up to $100K $500K – $10M Up to $10M $5K – $2M Up to $3M
Average Approval Time 2 – 7 days 1 day 2 weeks 3 – 7 days 4 – 7 days 3 days
Minimum Credit Score 530 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Minimum Annual Revenue $100K $50K $500K $1M N/A N/A
Required Time In Business 3 months N/A 6 months 2 years N/A N/A

BlueVine

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Through BlueVine, you can apply for accounts receivable financing lines up to $5 million. Rates begin at just 0.25% per week, and you can be approved as quickly as 24 hours after applying.

The application process is easy. Filling out the application takes less than 10 minutes. Once your application is reviewed, you’ll receive a decision from BlueVine. If approved, you can sync invoices from your supported accounting software, or you can upload invoices right to your dashboard. You’ll receive up to 90% of the invoice amount up front, and you’ll receive the rest (minus fees) after the customer pays. You select the invoices to submit, and there are no long-term contracts.

To qualify, you must operate a B2B company. You must have a minimum FICO score of 530, have $100,000 in annual revenue, and be in business for at least 3 months. If you need additional funding options, BlueVine also offers business lines of credit.

Fundbox

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Through Fundbox, you can receive up to $100,000 with accounts receivable financing. Advance fees start at 4.66% and repayments are weekly. One thing that sets Fundbox apart is that you can get 100% of your invoice value deposited into your bank account.

Registering with Fundbox couldn’t be easier. There’s no credit check and no paperwork requirements. All you have to do is link your accounting software, and you can receive approval in just hours. Once you’ve been approved, funds can be transferred to your checking account as quickly as the next business day.

To qualify, you must use a Fundbox-supported accounting or invoicing software. Your business must be based in the U.S. and have annual revenue of at least $50,000.

P2Bi

P2Binvestor P2Bi logo

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Through P2Binvestor, you can receive an asset-backed line of credit up to $10 million. Through this lender, you can draw up to 80% of the value of your receivables.

There are several fees associated with a P2Bi line of credit. This includes a one-time origination fee equal to 1.5% of your credit line, an annual renewal fee of 1.5% of your credit line, and a daily discount cost. Annual rates average 8% to 20%.

To qualify, you must be in business for at least 6 months and have annual revenue of $500,000. You must also run a B2B business based in the U.S. There are no minimum credit score requirements, although personal credit is evaluated during the underwriting process.

InterNex Capital

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InterNex Capital provides asset-backed lines of credit from $250,000 to $10 million for qualified borrowers. Rates are between 7.99% and 18.99%. All lines of credit come with 12-month terms with the option to renew.

After filling out the application, you’ll receive an approval decision within 3 business days. Once you’ve accepted your revolving line of credit, you can make your first draw immediately.

InterNex Capital is more suited for large businesses. To qualify, you must have annual revenue of at least $1 million. There are no minimum credit scores required to qualify, but you must be in business for at least 2 years. InterNex Capital charges fees including an origination fee, draw fee, unused line fee, and renewal fee.

Riviera Finance

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When you work with Riviera Finance, it’s possible to get up to $2 million for your outstanding receivables. You can receive up to 95% of your invoice value within 24 hours after products have been accepted by your customers. Rates start at 2%. Standard terms are 6 months, but the company works with borrowers if different terms are needed.

Riviera Finance works with businesses in all 50 states. There are no annual revenue, personal credit score, or time in business requirements to qualify.

American Receivable

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With American Receivable, you can receive funding up to $3 million for your unpaid invoices. This company will provide up to 90% of the value of your invoices within 24 hours after submission. Rates start at just 0.8% per month.

To qualify, you must have qualifying invoices to creditworthy customers. There are no time in business, credit score, or revenue requirements.

Final Thoughts

If you deal with a lot of accounts receivable and you don’t qualify for other types of business financing, accounts receivable financing could be a smart next step for your business. Of course, this financial solution isn’t for everyone.

Weigh out the total costs of accounts receivable financing and evaluate the needs of your business. You may find that this type of financing is right for you, or you may choose another source of funding such as a business line of credit or business credit card. Regardless of what path you take, make sure that any financing you accept is financially feasible and will be used to better your business.

BlueVine Fundbox P2Bi InterNex Capital Riviera Finance American Receivable

Review Visit

ReviewVisit

Review Visit

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Review Compare

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Credit Facility Size $5K – $5M Up to $100K $500K – $10M Up to $10M $5K – $2M Up to $3M
Average Approval Time 2 – 7 days 1 day 2 weeks 3 – 7 days 4 – 7 days 3 days
Minimum Credit Score 530 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Minimum Annual Revenue $100K $50K $500K $1M N/A N/A
Required Time In Business 3 months N/A 6 months 2 years N/A N/A

The post Accounts Receivable Financing: What You Need To Know appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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Understanding Rollovers As Business Startups (ROBS)

You’re ready to start your own business, and you just need the financing to bring your ideas to life. However, in your journey to become a business owner, you may encounter challenges. Many new business owners find that securing a business loan is easier said than done. When it comes to requirements surrounding time in business, annual revenues, and personal and business credit history, you may find yourself falling a little short.

Whether you want to purchase a franchise, acquire a business, refinance your existing business, or start a new business, sometimes you have to get a little creative with your financing. One idea that probably hasn’t crossed your mind is a Rollovers as Business Startups plan. If you have a retirement account, read on to learn how you can leverage this account to start or grow your business.

What Is A ROBS?

Rollovers for Business Startups — or ROBS — is a type of transaction you can use to fund your new or existing business if you can’t take out a loan or work with outside investors. This method of funding your business does not involve borrowing money. Instead, you are rolling over funds from your individual retirement account, 401(k), or another retirement account to use as financing for your business.

Since you aren’t borrowing or cashing out your retirement account, ROBS allows you to invest your retirement funds without being penalized. A ROBS transaction is a financing choice for many entrepreneurs that don’t qualify for startup loans or traditional financing.

How A ROBS Plan Works, Step-By-Step

A ROBS plan is a complicated transaction, which is why most people that choose this funding avenue work with an attorney or a ROBS provider. However, even if you work with an expert, it’s important to understand how the process works.

Step 1: Establish A C-Corp

The first step of the rollover is to establish a new C corporation, an entity with shareholders that are taxed separately from the entity. A C corporation is the only business structure that will work with a ROBS.

Step 2: Set Up A New 401(k)

The next step is to set up a new retirement plan for the business. The business then becomes the sponsor of the 401(k) plan. In most cases, the entrepreneur will be the only employee of the new corporation and will be the only participant in the 401(k) plan, although you may wish to discuss other options with your ROBS provider or attorney.

Step 3: Roll Over Existing Retirement Accounts

Through a series of legal forms, funds from an existing retirement account are transferred to the newly-created 401(k) plan. Because these funds have been rolled over, the transaction is not a taxable distribution and will not incur penalties.

Step 4: Use Funds From 401(k) To Purchase Stock

Funds in the new 401(k) plan are then used to purchase stock in the C corporation. Now, the C corporation has cash from the sale of the stock.

Step 5: Build Your Business

With money in your pocket, you can use funds to acquire a business, fund your startup, or inject money into an existing business — all without tax liabilities or penalties.

Who Qualifies For A ROBS?

project management software

Anyone with an eligible retirement plan qualifies for a ROBS. The most common retirement plans used for this purpose include 401(k) plans, 403(b) plans, and defined contribution plans like Traditional IRAs, Simplified Employee Pension, and Thrift Savings Plans. You may also use a combination of qualifying plans.

The retirement plan you use to fund your business cannot be from your current employer. Most employers will not allow you to roll over your account while you’re still working for them. However, plans from prior employers, your own 401(k), or self-directed IRAs are eligible to roll over.

Earlier, we discussed the steps for setting up your ROBS. Those steps included setting up a new C-corp and becoming an employee. This isn’t just something that you write on the forms and forget. You must be a legitimate employee for the business. While there are no hard rules as to how much time you devote to the business, you should expect to commit at least 1,000 hours per year. If this doesn’t work for you, consider other financing options for your business.

You also must ensure that you meet all the requirements of your chosen ROBS provider. Some providers have requirements related to the minimum amount of money in your retirement fund, how you’re using the funds, and the type of requirement account you plan to roll over. Before selecting your ROBS provider, understand their requirements. We’ll offer up provider recommendations a little later in this article.

Pros & Cons Of Using A ROBS

Cheaper alternatives to Shopify

A ROBS sounds like a great way to finance a business, doesn’t it? Approached correctly, a ROBS can be a financially-savvy move. However, it’s also important to understand that there are drawbacks to using a ROBS. Before you dive in, weigh out the pros and cons to determine if this is the right financial solution for your situation.

Pros

  • No Debt: You aren’t borrowing against your retirement account or taking out a loan. With a ROBS, you’re leveraging your retirement account to receive the money you need for your business, so you won’t be indebted to a lender.
  • No Interest: Because you aren’t taking a loan from a lender, you won’t have to worry about paying interest for borrowed funds. This means that you’ll have more money to invest in your business.
  • Easy To Qualify: If you have a qualifying retirement account, you can get the financing you need with a ROBS. You won’t have to worry about your personal or business credit score, a lack of revenue, or any other factor considered by a lender. Because you are leveraging your own account and aren’t taking out a loan, the requirements of traditional lenders do not apply.
  • No Penalties: When you withdraw your retirement funds to finance your business, you may be subject to early withdrawal penalties and taxes. With a ROBS plan, you won’t have to pay these costs, leaving more money in your pocket.
  • No Personal Guarantees Or Collateral: Remember, a ROBS is not a loan, so you won’t have to sign a personal guarantee or put up collateral to receive your funds. With a business loan, you may be required to do one or both, which means that if your business fails and you can not pay back your loan, you risk losing your personal assets. With a ROBS, the money invested from your retirement account is the only thing at risk.

Cons

  • Risk Of Losing Your Investment: Although you won’t have to worry about losing your personal assets if your business fails, you do risk losing your money for retirement. Of course, there have been many entrepreneurs that have started successful businesses using a ROBS. However, you should know that there is always a risk involved. If your business fails, you lose your retirement money.
  • Fees & Tax Liabilities: Unlike a business loan, you won’t have to pay interest to a lender with a ROBS plan. However, this doesn’t mean that this strategy doesn’t come at a price. Because you are creating a C-corp, your tax liabilities may be higher than other business structures. If your transaction is not set up properly, you may have to pay penalties to the IRS if you’re audited. This is why it’s so important to select a ROBS provider that understands the process and is able to help avoid missteps when setting up and maintaining your ROBS. Setting up and maintaining your ROBS also has associated costs. With most providers, you’ll be required to pay a setup fee, as well as monthly maintenance and reporting fees.

The Best ROBS Providers

While it is possible to roll over your retirement funds to finance your business yourself, handling the paperwork and navigating the legal requirements can be confusing. Instead of tackling this difficult task on your own, leave it to the experts. If a ROBS sounds like the right next step for you, consider working with one of these two lenders: Guidant Financial and Benetrends.

Guidant Financial

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In addition to financing options — including Small Business Administration loans and unsecured loans –, Guidant Financial offers ROBS to eligible applicants.

To qualify, you must have at least $50,000 in a rollable retirement or pension account. Eligible accounts include:

  • 401(k)
  • 403(b)
  • Traditional IRA
  • Thrift Savings Plan (TSP)
  • Simplified Employee Pension (SEP)
  • Keogh

With Guidant Financial, you can roll over up to 100% of your account balance to fund your business. Most applicants receive funding approximately 3 weeks after starting the application process.

To set up your ROBS, Guidant Financial charges a setup fee of $4,995. An additional $139 per month is charged as a Plan Administration fee.

Benetrends

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Benetrends Financial offers a variety of business funding solutions, including Small Business Administration loans, equipment leases, securities-backed lines of credit, and startup loans. One of the company’s most popular funding options is its Rainmaker Plan.

The Rainmaker Plan is a ROBS that was first launched by Benetrends in 1983. With this plan, you can roll over your 401(k) or IRA to receive funding for your business in as little as 10 days. Benetrends offers an in-house team of professionals that will offer guidance throughout the process. When you apply with Benetrends, you’ll work with a Financial Funding Expert to design a custom plan to best fit your business needs.

Benetrends also offers Audit Shield protection, which protects your plan in the event of an IRS or Department of Labor inquiry or audit.

To get started, Benetrends charges an initial setup fee of $4,995, which includes setting up your plan and your C-corp. After paying your initial fee, a monthly service fee of $130 is charged for ongoing retirement plan services. Fees are all-inclusive and include services such as audit protection, legal support, and compliance at no additional cost.

Final Thoughts

A ROBS isn’t the right financial solution for every aspiring entrepreneur. In some cases, you may want to explore other options, including SBA loans, traditional loans, and startup loans. However, if you have a qualifying retirement plan, you’ve reviewed the benefits and drawbacks, and you don’t want to go through the hassle of securing a traditional loan, this may be the right financing option to launch or recapitalize your business.

The post Understanding Rollovers As Business Startups (ROBS) appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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Zoho Books VS Wave

ZohoBooks-vs-Wave

Zoho Books VS Wave

Accounting

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When you think of accounting software, you usually think of big names like Xero or QuickBooks. But what about the programs that are designed specifically with the small business owner in mind? In this post, we’re going to put two of the top small business accounting software programs face to face: Zoho Books and Wave.

Redesigned in 2014, Zoho Books is a scalable, full-featured accounting software that even gives QuickBooks Online a run for its money. The software has only improved over the years. It features beautiful invoicing, strong mobile apps, excellent customer support, and decent integrations. It also gives users the unique ability to send invoices in over 10 different languages.

Wave is free accounting software that has only gotten better as time goes on. The software has grown to support over 3.5 million users and offers a robust feature set with unique additions like lending, scheduling recurring invoices by timezone, and a brand-new light ecommerce tool. The software also offers professional bookkeeping services and supports personal and business accounting.

But which service comes out on top? And more importantly, which is right for your business?

Read on to find out.

At Merchant Maverick, our goal is to help you to find the best software for your small business needs. To make your decision easier, we’ve carefully researched and tested both products. We’ll compare Zoho Books and QuickBooks Online (QBO) based on features, pricing, customer experience, reputation, and more, so you don’t have to.

Don’t have time to read the whole post? Or looking for a different accounting option? Check out our top-rated accounting solutions to see our favorite recommendations.

Accounting

Winner: Wave

Both Zoho Books and Wave offer strong accounting features. Each software uses double-entry accounting and offers both cash-basis and accrual accounting. Both support accounting reports, a customizable chart of accounts, journal entries, bank reconciliation, and fixed asset management.

The two are almost neck and neck in this area, although Wave sets itself apart by having recently added an additional bookkeeping service called Wave+ where users can purchase additional accounting help from professional bookkeepers. Wave also has built-in personal accounting tools.

Features

Winner: Zoho Books

Zoho Books Features Wave

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Zoho Books and Wave have a lot of similar features. Both offer expense tracking, invoicing, contact management, and more. The difference is the depth and functionality of these features.

While Wave has a strong feature set and unique additions like a lightweight ecommerce tool and lending, Zoho Books’ features are far more advanced. Zoho Books offers some of the best invoicing on the market with 15 different templates and international invoicing. The software also offers project management (which Wave lacks entirely), better inventory, better time tracking, and better reporting, making it the clear winner here.

Pricing

Winner: Wave

Zoho Books offers three scalable pricing plans ranging from $9 – $29/month. Wave is completely free. The only additional costs are payroll, payment processing, and Wave+.

When it comes to pricing, you can’t beat free. And unlike most free software, Wave doesn’t put artificial limits on features like invoicing and estimates. You get complete access to fully-functioning features for $0/month. Another point in favor of Wave is that the software actually offers payroll. The service may cost extra, but in contrast, Zoho Books doesn’t have any payroll support or payroll integrations.

Hardware & Software Requirements

Winner: Zoho Books

As cloud-based software, both Zoho Books and Wave work with nearly any device so long as you have an internet connection.

Users & Permissions

Winner: Zoho Books

Depending on your plan, Zoho Books supports between 1 and 10 users, although you can purchase additional users for an extra cost. The software offers very basic user permissions. Wave is designed for the small business owner, meaning there are no additional users. You can technically invite “collaborators” who can have “view-only” or “view & edit” access to your Wave account, but the features they are able to access are limited, making Zoho Books the winner here.

Ease Of Use

Winner: Wave

Both Wave and Zoho Books are easy to use. They each have a modern UI that is well-organized, and setup is quick. However, because of Zoho Books’ sheer number of features, the software is a bit harder to navigate and get used to. Wave, on the other hand, is easy enough for anyone to use, no matter what their accounting background (or lack thereof) looks like.

Mobile Apps

Winner: Zoho Books

It’s no question that Zoho Books is the winner here. Zoho Books has always been known for strong, fully-featured mobile apps. Their Android and iPhone apps receive high ratings across the board, and the company supports smartwatch, Microsoft, and Kindle apps as well.

Wave’s mobile apps could stand improvement. Right now, there are two separate apps, one for invoices and one for receipts. Existing Wave users complain that they want one, full-featured app.

Customer Service & Support

Winner: Zoho Books

Zoho Books offers the most excellent customer support by far. Zoho Books’ phone support has hardly any wait times, and in my experience, representatives are friendly and helpful. The company also has an expansive help center, email, live chat, videos, and more.

While Wave does offer good resources like a well-developed help center and strong blog, you can only contact Wave support by email (unless you purchase payroll or credit card processing, in which case you get phone and chat support). Wave’s email response times often take over a day.

Negative Reviews & Complaints

Winner: Tie

Both Zoho Books and Wave receive mostly positive customer reviews from satisfied customers. They have a similar ratio of negative to positive reviews, resulting in a tie for this section.

The few complaints Zoho Books users have are about the lack of payroll and limited integrations. Complaints about Wave revolve around poor mobile apps, limited integrations, and limited features.

Positive Reviews & Testimonials

Winner: Tie

Both Zoho Books and Wave have many satisfied customers and high customer ratings. Zoho Books receives 4.5/5 stars on Capterra and 4.6/5 stars on G2Crowd, while Wave receives 4.4/5 stars on G2Crowd and 9/10 stars on TrustRadius.

Zoho Books users appreciate the software’s ease of use, strong mobile apps, affordable price plans, and constant updates. Wave users praise the software for its ease of use, free price, personal accounting, and feature selection.

Integrations

Winner: Tie

Zoho Books offers 33 integrations while Wave only has 3 integrations. However, both Zoho Books users and Wave users complain about a lack of integrations. Each software’s saving grace is that they both connect with Zapier, an integration that connects them to 1000+ other third-party apps.

Security

Winner: Zoho Books

Both Zoho Books and Wave offer strong security. Each uses 256-bit SSL encryption, regular data backups, and 24/7 data monitoring. We gave Zoho Books the victory in this section because Zoho Books is far more forthcoming about their security information so users can be 100% confident that their data is protected.

And The Winner Is…

Zoho Books VS Wave

Wave is powerful software that puts up quite the fight, but it just doesn’t have the features and capabilities of Zoho Books — at least not yet. A more robust feature set, strong mobile apps, more integrations, forthright security, and excellent customer service give Zoho Books the advantage.

Zoho Books is ideal for small to medium businesses in need of strong accounting that want the capabilities of QuickBooks Online without having to pay the price. Zoho Books is an affordable QBO alternative with a robust feature set and some of the best invoicing on the market, which is why we’ve named it the Best Accounting Software for Invoicing. Zoho Books’ invoicing features make it ideal for business in need of international invoicing. The only drawback is the lack of payroll, which could be a deal-breaker for some businesses.

If your business does need payroll or if you’re looking for free accounting software, Wave might be the better choice for your business. Wave is ideal for small business owners looking for easy bookkeeping software to manage their businesses with. There’s a reason we’ve named it the Best Free Accounting Software. Wave has an impressive features set — particularly for a free app — and offers a few key additions that Zoho Books lacks(payroll, lending, and the brand new eCommerce checkouts tool). It also has a strong Etsy integration, making it ideal for Etsy sellers.

Maybe after reading about Zoho Books and Wave, neither option seems like the perfect fit for your business. Don’t worry! Our comprehensive accounting reviews can help you find the best software for your business. If you need extra help deciding, read our Complete Guide To Choose Online Accounting Software.

Check out our full Zoho Books and Wave reviews for more information. Take advantage of Zoho Books’ free trial or start a free account with Wave to get a feel for each software, and feel free to reach out with any questions you may have.

The post Zoho Books VS Wave appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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Long-Term Business Loans: Eligibility And How To Find The Best

You’re a business owner, and you’ve encountered a financial hurdle in the form of a large business expense. This expense could be completely unexpected, such as the sudden breakdown of equipment, or it could be planned, like a business expansion through the improvement of facilities or the purchase of commercial real estate.

No matter what it is, a big expense can be difficult to pay up front. When it’s an unexpected or emergency expense, the situation can be even worse. However, many smart business owners have found a solution for these large expenses: long-term business loans.

If spreading out the cost of a large expense over a longer period of time sounds appealing to you, this financing option may be the right choice for your business. However, you don’t want to rush to fill out an application with a lender just yet. Instead, do your research and boost your knowledge. Read on to learn more about the rates, terms, benefits, and drawbacks of long-term business loans.

How Do Long-Term Business Loans Work?

A long-term business loan is a type of loan that is paid back over a longer period of time. The lender loans the borrower a set amount of money for business expenses, such as purchasing a commercial vehicle or real estate, buying equipment, or hiring new employees.

With the help of a long-term loan, the business does not have to pay a large sum out-of-pocket. Instead, a lender will provide the needed funding, which the business will pay back in fixed amounts over several years, along with interest and fees.

What Term Lengths Can I Get With A Long-Term Loan?

The term lengths of a long-term loan vary based on a number of factors, including the amount of the loan, the policies of the lender, and how the funds will be used. In general, most long-term business loans have terms between three and 10 years. However, some long-term loans, such as those used to purchase commercial real estate, may have repayment terms of 20 years or more.

What Kind of Interest Rates Can I Expect From A Long-Term Loan?

Like other business loans, long-term loans do not come with set interest rates. Interest rates vary by lender, the creditworthiness of the borrower, and the amount of the loan. The most qualified borrowers with the best credit histories can often receive interest rates below 5% from a conventional lender like a bank. Startup businesses or businesses with a poor credit history may receive interest rates of 30% or more from alternative lenders.

Who Qualifies For Long-Term Business Loans?

project management software

Requirements to qualify for a long-term business loan vary by lender. However, there are a few general requirements set by most lenders.

Anyone applying for a long-term business loan must have a legitimate business expense that will be paid using the loan proceeds. The borrower must own at least 20% of the business. All borrowers must have a minimum credit score of 600, although higher scores are required to receive the best terms and interest rates. Most conventional lenders also require a business to be in operations for a minimum of 2 years.

There are also annual revenue requirements that must be met. For most larger loans exceeding $100,000, collateral is typically required. Even when specific collateral is not required, a personal guarantee or blanket lien will usually be part of the loan contract.

Can I Qualify For A Long-Term Business Loan If I Have Bad Credit?

Banks and other conventional lenders often have high credit score requirements, lending only to borrowers with scores in the high 600s or above.

Many lenders will also look at credit history and not just the credit score. Bankruptcies, foreclosures, or defaults on past loans can all disqualify borrowers from receiving long-term loans.

For borrowers with bad credit, alternative lenders may be an option. These lenders will approve borrowers with scores as low as 600. However, interest rates will often be much higher for these borrowers. Borrowers with scores below 600, or who want to lock in the best rates and terms, should pull their free credit report and score, work to pay off current debt, and take additional steps to boost their scores before applying for a long-term business loan.

Looking for a lender that works with bad credit?

Lender Borrowing Amount Min Credit Score Time To Funding Next Steps

$2K – $5M 550 1-2 Days Apply Now

$5K – $500K 550 1-3 Days Apply Now

$5K – $500K 500 2-5 Days Apply Now

$5K – $250K 500 2-5 Days Apply Now

Are Startups Eligible For Long-Term Loans?

Most conventional lenders want to work with businesses that have been in operations for more than two years. For startups and new businesses, getting long-term funding can be a challenge but isn’t impossible.

While new businesses may not qualify for traditional bank loans, there are other options. Small Business Administration programs, for example, provide funding opportunities for startups. Alternative lenders are also less stringent with their time in business requirements.

Applicants should be prepared to show that the business will be able to pay back the loan. Instead of providing traditional documentation (like income tax returns), business plans and future projections may be required by the lender during the application process.

When Would A Business Need A Long-Term Loan?

business line of credit loan

There are many situations where a business might need a long-term loan. In fact, just about any large business expense could be covered via a long-term loan, including:

  • Business expansion
  • Improvement or remodel of existing facilities
  • Purchase of commercial real estate
  • Business acquisition
  • Purchase of commercial vehicle or vehicles
  • Purchase of expensive equipment
  • Purchase of inventory or supplies
  • Hire new employees
  • Refinance existing debt 

The important thing to remember here is that long-term business loans can be used for just about any business purpose. However, the overall cost of the loan (including fees and interest) should always be taken into consideration. The return on investment should always outweigh the cost of the loan, and a long-term loan should only be accepted if the extra funding will help the business grow and be successful.

Pros & Cons of Long-Term Business Loans

When there’s a need for a loan, it’s easy to get blinded by the prospect of money without really thinking about the benefits and drawbacks of borrowing. Smart borrowers look at the long-term pros and cons of taking out the loan to determine if it will truly benefit the business.

Pros

  • Small Monthly Payments: Large expenses can be broken down into affordable monthly payments by taking out a long-term business loan.
  • Low Interest Rates: Borrowers with the highest credit scores can take advantage of interest rates of less than 5%, making this one of the most affordable loan options.
  • Debt Consolidation: Borrowers that use long-term loans to consolidate or pay off high-interest debt can save thousands of dollars over the course of the loan.

Cons

  • Variable Interest Rates: Some long-term loans come with variable interest rates, so be cautious. While a variable rate may help you save money when market rates fall, there is always the possibility that rates could increase, leading to a more expensive loan.
  • Overall Costs: The overall cost of a loan over its lifetime can be quite expensive, especially for any borrower without a stellar credit rating. Even for the most qualified buyers, fees and interest can really tack on extra money to the loan, so it’s important to fully understand the total cost of the loan before signing the contract.
  • Collateral Requirements: For most long-term loans, collateral is required. In some cases, the collateral will be the item being purchased with the loan proceeds, such as equipment, a vehicle, or real estate. In other instances, borrowers will need to put up business assets, personal assets, sign a personal guarantee, or agree to a blanket lien before the loan is disbursed.
  • High Credit Score Requirements: A long-term loan can be one of the most difficult loans to obtain. To get the most affordable funding, a great credit score (with no negative items on the credit history) is required. While some lenders may work with borrowers with lower scores, interest may be much higher and terms not as favorable.
  • Documentation Requirements: Because long-term loans are often for very large amounts of money, lenders want to ensure that all borrowers are able to pay back the loan. This means that there is a lot of paperwork involved in the application process. Borrowers must come prepared to take the time needed to provide the lender with all documentation to qualify for the loan.
  • Long Approval Process: Depending on the lender, getting an approval for a long-term business loan could take months — not ideal for a business that needs funding immediately.

Where To Find Long-Term Business Loans

Once a business decides to take the leap to obtain a long-term loan, the next step is to apply with a lender. Fortunately, it isn’t difficult to find a lender that specializes in long-term business loans. Most business owners turn to three main sources for their long-term financing needs: the Small Business Administration, banks and credit unions, and alternative lenders.

The Small Business Administration (SBA)

The Small Business Administration provides lending programs that are a hit with business owners. The SBA sets guidelines that keep interest rates low for borrowers, while also providing a guarantee to lenders. Because of this guarantee, SBA-approved lenders, or intermediaries, are more willing to loan money to small businesses.

The SBA offers several long-term loan programs. The most popular is the 7(a) program, which offers up to $5 million for almost any purpose with a maximum repayment term of 10 years. Falling under the 7(a) umbrella is the Community Advantage Loan that offers the same competitive rates and terms for businesses in underserved communities, while the Veterans Advantage program offers long-term loan options for military veterans and service members.

The SBA Microloans program is another option for smaller financing needs. These loans provide up to $50,000 that can be repaid over a maximum term of 6 years.

For businesses that want to improve their facilities or purchase real estate, 504 loans provide 40% of funding toward these projects. A maximum of $5 million can be distributed through this program, with repayment terms set at a maximum of 25 years.

SBA loans can be obtained from intermediary lenders including SBA-approved banks, credit unions, non-profit agencies, and Commercial Development Companies. Learn more about the rates, terms, and requirements of SBA loan programs.

Loan Program Description More

7(a) Loans

Small business loans that can be used for many many business purchases, such as working capital, business expansion, and equipment, inventory, and real estate purchasing.

Review

Microloans

Small loans, with a maximum of $50,000, which can be used for working capital, inventory, equipment, or other business projects.

Review

CDC/504 Loans

Large loans used to acquire fixed assets such as real estate or equipment. 504 Loans are offered in partnership with Community Development Companies (CDCs) and banks.

Review

Disaster Loans

Loans used to rebuild or maintain business following a disaster. 

Review

Banks & Credit Unions

Banks are a very popular source for obtaining long-term business loans because of low interest rates and favorable terms. However, qualifying for these loans can be difficult. Credit scores must be very high, the application and approval process can be lengthy, and banks often have strict requirements in terms of time in business and annual revenues. Businesses that do qualify, however, will find bank loans are easily one of the most affordable loans on the market.

Credit unions also offer very competitive rates and terms, and many businesses prefer to work with these lenders because of the more personalized service they receive. Credit unions may have a bit of flexibility in terms of their requirements, but all borrowers should come to the table with a high credit score and a stable business history.

Businesses pursuing these types of loans can start with the financial institutions where they have already established accounts. Businesses that would rather shop around for the best rates and terms can check out our top banks for business loans to get started.

Alternative Lenders

Alternative lenders offer some benefits that banks, credit unions, and SBA intermediaries do not, including fast approval and funding and lower credit score requirements. However, there are also several drawbacks to working with alternative lenders. Higher interest rates are one of the biggest drawbacks. Lower maximum loan amounts are another. Learn more about the benefits and drawbacks of alternative loans.

Most alternative lenders set their maximum repayment terms at just 5 years. Depending on the amount borrowed, this could mean higher monthly payments, especially with higher interest rates that can even exceed 30% in some cases.

However, the return on investment may be enough for a business to move forward with one of these loans. These loans are best for businesses that don’t meet the qualifications of other lenders, including but not limited to credit score, time in business, or annual revenue.

Long-Term Business Loan Calculator

It is absolutely critical to understand the full cost of a long-term business loan prior to signing your loan contract. Before borrowing, use our long-term business loan calculator to get an overview of what to expect from your loan. This calculator provides estimates of monthly payments, the total amount of interest that will be paid, and the total cost of the loan. Knowing the numbers before applying for a loan is a key step for any financially-savvy business owner.

Learn more about the loan calculator and how to best use it before you apply for a long-term business loan.

Final Thoughts

A long-term business loan can be a smart and affordable way to fund large expenses. However, to get the most out of this type of financing, it’s important to do your research to find the lowest interest rates and best terms. Evaluate why you need the money and the return on investment, then find the lender that offers a loan that best fits your needs.

Looking for an online lender that provides long-term business loans? We recommend starting with the following:

Lender Borrowing Amount Term Req. Time in Business Min. Credit Score Next Steps

smartbiz logo

$30K – $350K 10 – 25 years 2 years 650 Apply Now

$2K – $5M Varies 6 months 550 Apply Now

$25K – $500K 6 months – 5 years 2 years 620 Compare

lending club logo

$5K – $300K 1 – 5 years 12 months 600 Compare

The post Long-Term Business Loans: Eligibility And How To Find The Best appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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FreshBooks VS Wave

Freshbooks-vs-Wave

FreshBooks VS Wave

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Choosing the right software for your business isn’t easy, especially when you have two great choices to pick from like FreshBooks and Wave.

FreshBooks has been helping small business owners with their invoices and expenses since 2003. The software offers strong mobile apps, excellent customer service, and good customer reviews. A recent redesign has made the software easier to use than ever.

Wave is completely free accounting software that has grown to support over 3 million users. The app offers strong accounting with ample features including project management, invoicing, and a basic ecommerce tool. Wave is also the only accounting software besides QuickBooks Online to offer lending services.

But which software is better? That’s what we’re here to tell you.

At Merchant Maverick, our goal is to help you to find the best software for your small business needs. So to make your decision easier, we’ve carefully researched and tested both products. We’ll put FreshBooks and Wave head to head by comparing features, pricing, customer experience, reputation, and more, so you don’t have to. Read on to see which software is best for your business.

Don’t have time to read the whole post? Or looking for a different accounting option? Check out our top-rated accounting solutions to see our favorite recommendations.

Accounting

Winner: Wave

This one’s easy. Wave wins by default because FreshBooks is not accounting software. While FreshBooks does offer a few basic bookkeeping tools, it does not use double-entry accounting. It also has no bank reconciliation features, no accounts payable, and no customizable chart of accounts.

Wave, on the other hand, uses double-entry accounting and offers both accrual and cash-basis accounting. The software offers bank reconciliation, journal entries, a detailed chart of accounts, and basic reporting,

Features

Winner: Wave 

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The two programs are pretty on par in terms of invoice template choices, time tracking, importing/exporting, and multi-currency support. However, Wave’s features are more developed than those of FreshBooks. Wave offers 5 more reports than FreshBooks, better project management, and better inventory. Wave also offers key features that FreshBooks is missing like bank reconciliation, vendor management, accounts payable, and a brand new ecommerce tool called Checkouts.

Pricing

Winner: Wave

You can’t beat free. Wave costs $0/month — no gimmicks, no tricks, no limitations. The only thing you have to pay for is adding payroll, payment processing, or bookkeeping help from a professional Wave advisor. FreshBooks costs $15/month – $50/month. FreshBooks is more expensive and offers fewer features, so businesses get a lot more bang for their buck with Wave.

Hardware & Software Requirements

Winner: Tie

As cloud-based software, both FreshBooks and Wave are compatible with nearly any device so long as you have an internet connection.

Users & Permissions

Winner: Tie

Neither FreshBooks nor Wave shines in the “additional users” department. With FreshBooks, each pricing plan only comes with one user. You can add additional users for $10/month each, but you can’t set any user permissions. Wave was designed for the small business owner, meaning it’s not possible to have additional users. You can add “collaborators” who can view or view and edit your Wave account, but there are no permissions available here either.

If you’re looking for multiple users and strong users permissions, take a look at Zoho Books, QuickBooks Online, or Xero instead.

Ease Of Use

Winner: FreshBooks

Both Wave and FreshBooks have attractive interfaces that are well-organized and easy to use. However, FreshBooks has better customer support which helps you learn to navigate the software faster.

Mobile Apps

Winner: FreshBooks

FreshBooks is well-known for its strong, full-featured mobile apps. Wave, on the other hand, has separated its apps into Receipts by Wave and Invoices by Wave. Neither app is full-featured and many users complain that they want a single, all-encompassing Wave app instead.

Customer Service & Support

Winner: FreshBooks

When it comes to customer support, FreshBooks can’t be beaten. FreshBooks offers great phone support with hardly any wait times. Representatives are generally friendly, helpful, and well-informed. In addition, FreshBooks offers a detailed help center, email support, and a comprehensive blog. Wave only offers phone support for payroll and payment processing users, leaving regular users a well-developed help center and email support. Most emails are responded to within a day, but it’s harder to get a quick response than with FreshBooks.

Negative Reviews & Complaints

Winner: Tie

Both FreshBooks and Wave are loved by customers. Each software receives mostly positive reviews, with a few negative complaints thrown in. For FreshBooks, users call for more features, better invoice templates, and true accounting. Wave users complain of limited mobile apps, lack of integrations, and occasionally slow servers.

Positive Reviews & Complaints

Winner: Tie

FreshBooks and Wave have a similar ration of positive to negative complaints. Most users seemed thrilled with both programs and each software receives high marks across popular review sites. FreshBooks users love that the software is easy to use, offers professional invoicing, and has great customer service. Wave users love the software’s features, ease of use, and, of course, its price.

Integrations

Winner: FreshBooks

FreshBooks offers 70+ integrations as opposed to Wave’s four, so if add-ons are important to your business, FreshBooks is clearly the way to go.

Security

Winner: Tie

Both FreshBooks and Wave offer strong security. They each use 256-bit SSL encryption, redundancy, and regular backups, and they each host their servers with trusted security providers.

And The Winner Is…

While FreshBooks reputation for ease of use is well-earned, the software doesn’t always live up to these high expectations. First of all, despite its advertising, FreshBooks isn’t true cloud accounting software.

Wave, on the other hand, offers true accounting software and an incredible number of features for $0/month. In addition to the basic tools you’d expect from an accounting software, features like lending and Checkouts set the software apart and allow Wave to give even QuickBooks Online a run for its money. For small businesses looking to save money, you can’t beat Wave. The software is also ideal for Etsy users and ecommerce businesses.

That being said, businesses that don’t need the accounting capabilities or a large number of features may find FreshBooks to be a good choice. The software has better mobile apps and customer service than Wave. However, FreshBooks is far more expensive than Wave and your money only goes a short way with the software.

Perhaps, after reading this, neither option seems like the right choice for you. Our comprehensive accounting reviews can help you explore all of your options so you can choose the perfect software for your business.

Check out our full FreshBooks and Wave reviews for more information.

The post FreshBooks VS Wave appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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Credit Union Small Business Loans: Types Of Loans And How To Qualify

For many business owners, a bank is the first stop when it’s time to take out a business loan. After all, with the ready availability of business bank accounts, credit cards, and loan options, a bank is a one-stop shop for financial services.

However, more business owners are moving away from traditional banks and are turning to credit unions for their business financing needs. In fact, nearly 6,000 credit unions across the United States have over 100 million members. Offering many of the same services as traditional banks, credit unions are becoming the go-to resources for smart business owners.

Why should you consider applying for a business loan with a credit union? Read on to find out more about the benefits and drawbacks, how to apply, and the loans offered by these financial cooperatives.

What Are Credit Unions?

Before taking out a business loan from a credit union, it’s important to understand how credit unions work. Although they appear to work in similar ways as banks, there are big differences between the two. Unlike banks, which operate for profit, credit unions are non-profit cooperatives.

Because the account holders at a credit union are also technically the owners, they are members, not customers. Any profit that is made by a credit union is reinvested or given as a dividend to its members. As non-profit organizations, credit unions do not have to pay taxes, so they are able to offer extremely competitive interest rates to members.

Credit unions offer many of the same financial services as banks, including business and personal checking and savings accounts, vehicle loans, personal and business credit cards, mortgages, and business loans.

How Do I Qualify For A Loan From A Credit Union?

project management software

Another way credit unions differ from banks is in how to join. With a bank, most people can simply supply personal information, deposit money into the account, and become a customer. Remember, though, account holders at credit unions are members, not customers. In order to become a member, certain membership requirements must be met.

This sounds difficult, but it’s usually surprisingly easy to join a credit union. Consumers and business owners can be eligible to join a credit union through:

  • Employers or industries
  • Military affiliation
  • Alumni associations
  • Religious institutions
  • Geographic location
  • Family members
  • Other group memberships, including labor unions and homeowners associations

When a suitable credit union has been found, an application must be filled out to open a checking and/or savings account. This application process is very similar to the process for opening a bank account. Once the application has been submitted and approved, a deposit is usually required in order to open the accounts.

After the applicant becomes a member of the credit union, they are then eligible to apply for additional financial services, including personal and business loans.

Types Of Business Loans Offered By Credit Unions

Like banks and other lenders, credit unions offer a variety of different loan options targeted at businesses. Since each loan comes with its own set of requirements, terms, and limitations, having an understanding of the available financing options out there will be beneficial for business owners seeking a loan that fits their own unique needs.

Installment Loans

An installment loan is one of the most common types of loans, and one that most business owners have probably had experience with in the past. With an installment loan, sometimes called a term loan, the credit union loans a specific lump sum of money. Regular payments, or installments, are made by the borrower on a scheduled basis, which is typically every month on the same day. This payment will be applied to the principal amount (or the amount that was borrowed), as well as to interest charged by the credit union. Mortgages and car loans are just two examples of installment loans.

Rates and terms vary on installment loans. Smaller installment loans may be paid off within a few months, while larger loans may be paid over a lengthier term, such as 20 years or longer. Interest rates on these loans vary and are primarily determined by creditworthiness. Installment loans are available in various amounts, with some limits at credit unions reaching $50,000 or higher, depending on the institution’s lending policies. Installment loans are best used for larger purchases, such as long-term equipment, that will allow a business to purchase the asset without paying the full sum up front.

For larger installment loans, collateral from the borrower is typically required. This could include business assets such as equipment or personal assets like real estate. Collateral policies vary by lender.

Lines Of Credit

A business line of credit from a credit union is very similar to a credit card. With a line of credit, a borrower is given a credit limit. Multiple draws can be made on the account by the borrower up to and including this amount. This differs slightly from installment loans and other types of loans, which are distributed as one lump sum payment.

Lines of credit for businesses can be used in multiple ways, from covering emergency expenses to resolving cash flow issues during slow seasons. A line of credit can also be used to purchase supplies, inventory, or pay for other business expenses.

Interest rates for lines of credit are typically higher than for other financial products such as installment loans, since they are considered a bigger risk. Interest will only be applied to the portion of the credit line that has been used by the borrower. Learn more about how lines of credit can give a financial boost to businesses.

The application process for a line of credit is usually much easier than the process for a term loan, and credit requirements may not be as strict. For many businesses, collateral for a line of credit is not required. However, borrowers with lower credit scores or that are otherwise seen as “high risk” by lenders may be required to pay a security deposit or put up assets or property as collateral to use the line of credit.

SBA Loans

Small business owners with a strong credit history and an established business can turn to credit unions for Small Business Administration loans. These loans have become popular throughout the small business world for their low rates and extremely favorable terms. The SBA does not lend directly to business owners. Instead, intermediary lenders — like credit unions — provide the loans. A large percentage of each loan (up to 85%) is guaranteed by the government, making it less risky for credit unions and other lenders to loan money to small businesses.

The application process for obtaining an SBA loan is notoriously long and difficult, but it’s not impossible. Small businesses that are lucky enough to get these loans will enjoy some of the most competitive interest rates on the market through a number of programs designed to help small businesses succeed. Since SBA loans are so competitive, businesses with strong business and personal credit histories have the best odds of approval.

There are several programs to choose from when applying for an SBA loan. This includes the standard 7(a) program, which provides up to $5 million for almost any business expense, as well as the 504 program that provides up to 40% of funding for commercial real estate improvements or purchases. Types of loans and requirements vary by credit union. Learn more about the rates, terms, requirements, and how to apply for SBA loans.

Startup Loans

Business loans are difficult for any business to obtain, but new businesses and startups face a greater challenge. Most businesses are already viewed as risky by lenders, but a business without a history of solid financial documentation presents an even higher risk.

Whether you’ve been operating for a just few months or haven’t actually opened your doors yet, there are options available. Startup loans are available through credit unions. Some institutions have their own programs, while others offer SBA loans to qualified startups. You may also consider getting a personal loan through your credit union and use the money to fund startup projects and business expenses.

Because new businesses won’t have much of the documentation typically required by credit unions to receive a loan, other documentation will be required, which we’ll discuss a little later in this article.

Business Credit Cards

Many credit unions offer business credit cards to qualified business owners. A business credit card works just like a personal credit card, but can be used by business owners and other named cardholders for business expenses.

Business credit cards come with a maximum credit limit. Borrowers can spend up to this limit at any location where major credit cards are accepted. Interest rates are applied against the balance of current charges, not against the entire line of credit. Monthly payments are used to pay off the balance, plus the interest. As the balance is paid down, the funds again become available for use by the borrower.

Credit card interest rates through credit unions are competitive with those of other lenders. However, rates may be higher for credit cards than you’ll see with other financing options (like installment loans or traditional lines of credit).

Commercial Mortgages

Businesses that need a loan to purchase land or commercial real estate, add on to their existing building(s), or even refinance an existing commercial mortgage can often do so through a credit union. Many credit unions offer commercial mortgages that can be used to purchase real estate or fund improvements to expand a business.

These loans have competitive down payment requirements and interest rates. In addition to offering their own programs, credit unions may also offer 504 or 7(a) SBA loans that can be used toward commercial real estate. Rates, terms, and requirements vary by lender.

Pros & Cons Of Getting A Business Loan From A Credit Union

Cheaper alternatives to Shopify

The choice to take out a business loan should always be carefully weighed-out by a business owner. You should consider the return on investment, or ROI, of the loan. In other words, will borrowing money help your business prosper in the long run, or will it drag the company into a cycle of debt?

In addition to deciding how much to borrow, how the funds will be used, and what type of loan to pursue, smart business owners also need to decide what lender to work with. Credit unions are often at the top of the list, but before diving into the application process, businesses should have a full understanding of the pros and cons of getting a business loan from a credit union.

Pros

One of the biggest benefits of getting a loan from a credit union is the very low interest rates for qualified borrowers. Because credit unions are non-profit organizations, they do not have to pay state and federal taxes. This allows these financial institutions to offer extremely competitive interest rates to their members, often beating out the rates offered by banks.

Another benefit is that credit union account holders are seen as members and not just as customers. Because of this, there’s usually better customer service, and the institution may be more flexible and willing to accommodate its members when it comes to lending policies. Working with a credit union to receive a loan can be easier and more effective for new businesses or for members who have made mistakes on prior credit reports.

Cons

One of the biggest drawbacks of getting a loan from a credit union is actually finding one that offers the lending services that are needed. Credit unions are often very small and do not have multiple branches all throughout the country. Not only does a business owner have to qualify for membership, they also need to make sure that the credit union offers the lending service they seek, such as a commercial mortgage or SBA loan. Not all credit unions are the same and each have their own lending programs and policies in place.

Another potential drawback is the requirements set by some credit unions before a member can apply for a loan. This could include building up a savings account or being a member for a set period of time. A credit union may also offer loans that don’t quite fit the needs of the borrower. For example, a business owner seeking hundreds of thousands of dollars in financing will be out of luck if the credit union offers maximum loans of $50,000. This is why it’s important to shop around for a credit union that offers many lending services for businesses, in addition to competitive interest rates and great terms.

Working with a credit union may be easier than getting a loan from a bank, but some loans still have limitations. Borrowers with very low or limited credit or low revenues may encounter challenges when applying for credit union loans. If this occurs, you can consider other options through the credit union, or explore additional small business loan options from alternative lenders.

What Interest Rates Can I Expect From A Credit Union?

Like banks and other lenders, credit unions offer different interest rates to their members based on a number of factors, including, not limited to, the type of loan, the loan amount, and the borrower’s creditworthiness.

In general, credit union members should expect to pay interest rates that are competitive with banks, and in many cases, even lower. For the most qualified, low-risk borrowers, interest rates below 5% are available for installment loans. For SBA loans, credit unions base their interest rates on the standards set by the SBA, which are extremely competitive.

Interest rates also vary by the type of loan selected. For instance, installment loans will almost always have lower rates than other types of financing like lines of credit or credit cards.

How To Apply For A Business Loan From A Credit Union

The application process varies from lender to lender, but there is some documentation that is required by all lenders when applying for a business loan.

The business owner will need to prove that they own the business and can do that with documents including business licenses and articles of incorporation. The business will also need to state how much money they are seeking and how the funds will be used.

The credit reports of the business and any owner of at least 20% of the company will be required to determine loan eligibility and interest rates. Documentation will also need to be provided to prove that revenue is high enough to pay back the loan plus interest, taking into account the company’s current debt obligations. Common documentation needed for a loan application include profit and loss statements, personal and business financial statements, balance sheets, and income tax returns.

Depending on the loan selected and the borrower’s credit history, collateral may be required. If the business is seeking a loan to purchase real estate or improve existing facilities, items including vendor and contractor quotes and purchase agreements may also need to be provided.

For most loans, a personal guarantee by all owners with at least a 20% stake in the company is required. This simply means that if the loan goes into default, the owners of the business will be held personally liable for the debt.

For new businesses and startups, some business documentation may not be available. For these businesses, a solid business plan will need to be submitted with the application. The borrower should also be prepared to prove that he or she has sufficient industry experience. Financial projections for at least one year may also be required.

After submitting all documentation and an application, the credit union will make an approval decision. If approved, the underwriting process will begin and the loan will be funded. The length of the entire process depends on the type of loan selected. For example, a line of credit or credit card may be approved and used within days, while an installment loan, commercial mortgage, or SBA loan may take several weeks or months from start to finish.

Final Thoughts

In addition to offering checking and savings accounts for business owners, credit unions can provide many affordable loan options for business expenses. With more personalized customer service and a wide range of financial services available, credit unions should always be a consideration for any business owner seeking a competitive loan.

The post Credit Union Small Business Loans: Types Of Loans And How To Qualify appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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Zoho Invoice VS Zoho Books

Zoho Invoice VS Zoho Books

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Zoho offers a suite of over 40 products including Zoho Invoice and Zoho Books. But when two sibling products from the same family tree go head to head, which comes out on top? That’s what we’re here to find out.

Zoho Invoice and Zoho Books both offer incredible invoicing and international business features for small businesses, as well as strong mobile apps, excellent customer service, and positive customer reviews.

Zoho Invoice was created in 2008 and today has grown to offer over 16 invoice templates, multi-lingual invoicing, and tons of invoicing automations. Top that with a beautiful client portal, project management, expense tracking, and ten different payment gateway options and it’s easy to see why Zoho Invoice is our top 5-star invoicing software.

The Zoho Books software we know today was redesigned and launched in 2014. The software offers the same great invoicing features as Zoho Invoice but adds accounting features like journal entries, bank reconciliation, and accounts payable. The software also offers inventory, tracking categories, and a few more third-party integrations, which has earned it the Merchant Maverick title of Best Accounting Software For Invoicing.

But which bookkeeping software app is better, and which is more suited for your small business? Let’s find out.

At Merchant Maverick, our goal is to help you to find the best software for your small business needs. So to make your decision easier, we’ve carefully researched and tested both products. We’ll put Zoho Invoice and Zoho Books head to head by comparing features, pricing, customer experience, reputation, and more, so you don’t have to. Read on to see which software is right for your business.

Don’t have time to read the whole post? Or looking for a different accounting option? Check out our top-rated accounting solutions to see our favorite recommendations.

Accounting

Winner: Zoho Books

Zoho Books is the clear winner here because Zoho Invoice isn’t accounting software — it’s simply straightforward invoicing software.

Zoho Invoice does provide a few basic bookkeeping tools like expense tracking and mileage deductions which might be enough for some smaller businesses. However, if you want true accounting, Zoho Books is the way to go.

Zoho Books provides the full accounting package, so much so that it gives QuickBooks Online a run for its money. Zoho Books features bank reconciliation, journal entries, ample reports, fixed asset management, and a customizable chart of accounts.

Features

Winner: Zoho Books

Zoho Invoice VS Zoho Books

✓

Invoicing

✓

✓

Estimates

✓

✓

Expense Tracking

✓

✘

Bank Reconciliation

✓

✘

Chart of Accounts

✓

✘

Fixed Asset Management

✓

✓

Contact Management

✓

✘

Accounts Payable

✓

✓

Time Tracking

✓

✓

Project Management

✓

✘

Inventory

✓

✓

Reports

✓

✘

Tracking Categories

✓

✘

Print Checks

✓

✓

Mileage Deductions

✓

✓

Sales Tax

✓

✘

Tax Support

✓

✓

Importing & Exporting

✓

The chart makes it easy to see which app takes the cake in this category.

Both Zoho Invoice and Zoho Books have some of the best invoicing features and automations on the market. The features that the programs do share are nigh identical; the main difference is that Zoho Books takes the UI and feature set of Zoho Invoice and ups the ante with more features.

While Zoho Invoice is incredibly full-featured for an invoicing software, Zoho Books add accounts payable, inventory, tracking categories, and tax support in addition to the accounting features mentioned earlier.

Pricing

Winner: Zoho Books

Zoho Invoice and Zoho Books have very similar pricing structures. Zoho Invoice offers a forever free plan as well as three paid plans ranging from $9 – $29/month. Zoho Books’ three pricing plans also range from $9-$29/month.

While Zoho Invoice seems like it has the edge by offering a free plan, the plan itself is severely limited and impractical for most businesses. We give this category to Zoho Books because you get much more bang for your buck in terms of features for the same exact price as Zoho Invoice.

Hardware & Software Requirements

Winner: Tie

As cloud-based software programs, both Zoho Invoice and Zoho Books are compatible with nearly any device so long as you have an internet connection. Both also offer an incredible number of mobile apps for Apple products, Androids, Microsoft phones, Smartwatches, and even Kindles.

Users & Permissions

Winner: Tie

Zoho Invoice’s largest plan allows 10 users. Similarly, Zoho Books’ largest plan allows nine users and one accountant. Additional users can be added to each software. Both programs also offer decent user permissions and the ability to approve transactions for added control, putting them on the same footing as far as user permissions go.

Ease Of Use

Winner: Zoho Invoice

Both Zoho Invoice and Zoho Books are generally easy to use. Each software can be difficult to navigate at times, but luckily there are ample support options to help you find what you’re looking for. The UI and user experience are almost identical with each program, but we gave Zoho Invoice the win here based on the sheer fact that there are fewer features to have to learn and navigate.

Mobile Apps

Winner: Tie

Both Zoho Invoice and Zoho Books offer strong, full-featured mobile apps that receive much praise from customers.

Customer Service & Support

Winner: Tie

Both Zoho Invoice and Zoho Books have excellent customer support (are you catching the theme yet?). Since Zoho is in charge of both products, it’s not surprising that their customer support options are similar. In my experience, phone wait times are short, email responses are generally quick, and representatives are usually friendly and helpful for both products. The best part is that Zoho Invoice’s and Zoho Books’ knowledgebases can be accessed directly from within the respective programs to make your life a bit easier.

Negative Reviews & Complaints

Winner: Tie

Both Zoho Invoice and Zoho Books receive predominately positive customer reviews. The products have such a similar number of negative reviews that we had to give them a tie.

The complaints that do exist regarding Zoho Invoice mostly revolve around lack of integrations, a few poor customer support experiences, and occasional navigational difficulties. Complaints about Zoho Books center around a similar lack of integrations, the lack of payroll, and the desire for more features (mostly more reporting and user permissions).

Positive Reviews & Testimonials

Winner: Tie

Again, Zoho Invoice and Zoho Books tie in the number of positive customer reviews they receive. Both receive high ratings across the board from sites like G2Crowd and GetApp, as well as iTunes and the Google Play Store.

Zoho Invoice customers love how easy the software is to use, how professional the invoices look, and the ability to run their business on the go. Zoho Books users also love how easy the software is to use and appreciate how affordable it is, especially considering the robust feature set.

Integrations

Winner: Zoho Books

Zoho Invoice has 25 integrations as opposed to Zoho Books’ 33, which gives Zoho Books the edge here.

Security

Winner: Tie

Zoho uses the same security measures to protect both Zoho Invoice and Zoho Books, including SSL encryption, two-factor authentication, and regular virus detection and prevention to protect customer data. The company also performs regular data backups onto multiple servers in undisclosed locations, which are guarded by a number of physical security measures. Visit Zoho’s website to learn more.

And The Winner Is…

Zoho Invoice VS Zoho Books

While both products are similar and are tied in a number of categories, Zoho Books is undeniably a step up from Zoho Invoice. I almost always recommend using full accounting software over solely invoicing software. When it comes to running your small business, you need a way to balance the books and keep strong accounting records for tax season.

This is why Zoho Books was the clear winner from the start. Not only do you get more bang for your buck with Zoho Books in terms of features, you also can rest assured that your books are balanced correctly. Key features like bank reconciliation, accounts payable, inventory, and tax support make Zoho Books a more practical small business solution. Plus, you get the same great mobile apps and customer service but with more integrations.

However, this doesn’t mean that Zoho Books is necessarily the right choice for everyone. If you are looking for invoicing software and don’t want the extra accounting features, Zoho Invoice is one of best — if not the best — invoicing software out there. It offers great invoice templates and customizations, expense tracking, a client portal, and project management — all at a relatively affordable price.

Zoho Invoice and Zoho Books each boast strong mobile apps, excellent customer support, almost identical pricing structures, and tons of positive customer reviews, so you really can’t go wrong with either choice (unless your small business needs payroll, in which case you’ll need a more advanced accounting software). The decision ultimately comes down to what features your business needs.

If you want to explore all of your options, check out our other accounting software reviews and/or view our full invoicing software reviews.

The post Zoho Invoice VS Zoho Books appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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Government Business Loans: What Small Businesses Need To Know

Not all small businesses are the same, but they all have one thing in common: the need for capital to grow, expand, and be successful. Unfortunately, small businesses don’t have unlimited funds available, so they often need a helping hand in the form of a business loan. Getting funding from a bank, credit union, or another traditional route isn’t always possible. Small businesses – especially those that have not been in business for long – are intrinsically risky prospects, and many lenders don’t want to take that gamble.

However, there is an alternative to traditional loans: government-backed business loans. These loans offer benefits to borrowers and lenders alike, creating a win-win situation for everyone involved. How does the process work? Is a government loan right for your business?

Read on to learn everything you need to know about government business loans.

What Are Government Business Loans?

Government business loan programs offer opportunities for small businesses to obtain funding. Small businesses and startups are often unable to obtain traditional bank loans since they’re viewed as riskier ventures by lenders. That’s precisely why the Small Business Administration has stepped up to provide funding options that benefit both the lender and the borrower.

The Small Business Administration, or SBA, was established in 1953 to provide resources for small businesses. In addition to offering training programs and other tools to help small business owners succeed, the SBA has also established several funding programs designed specifically to aid small businesses.

The SBA itself does not provide loans to small business owners. Instead, partner lenders known as intermediaries are used to provide funding. The SBA has established guidelines under each program, keeping interest rates low and offering longer terms to make loans more affordable for the small business owner. The SBA guarantees a percentage of the loan — usually anywhere from 50-85% of the funding. In other words, the Small Business Administration agrees to repay the guaranteed portion of the loan if the borrower defaults. This mitigates much of the risk for the lenders, giving them more incentive to lend to small business owners.

Who Are Government Business Loans For?

project management software

Government business loans are available to every for-profit small business in the United States, providing the business meets the qualification guidelines. To obtain an SBA loan, each business must officially qualify as a small business based on its number of employees, net worth, and annual revenue.

The SBA offers multiple programs to fit the needs of just about any small business. Established businesses can use SBA-backed loans to expand with new or updated facilities, purchase equipment, or obtain working capital. Startups can also qualify to receive funding for their next big project. The purchase of businesses and franchises can be funded through SBA loan programs as well.

The SBA offers funding opportunities for military veterans and service members through the Veterans Advantage program. Businesses run by women, minorities, and veterans, or those in underserved communities — including low-income areas — can request funding through the Community Advantage program.

SBA Loans For Immigrants

Although SBA loans are for businesses based in the United States, loan opportunities are available for immigrant small business owners. Permanent residents, naturalized citizens, and refugees or asylees with lawful permanent resident status can apply for government-backed loans. Lawful non-permanent citizens can also qualify provided they have up-to-date work visas. There are no special requirements for immigrants when applying for this funding. However, all immigration paperwork and documentation – in addition to the standard loan paperwork – will be required.

SBA Loans For Felons

Small business owners with felony records may still be able to obtain SBA-backed loans. The SBA’s rules state that funding will not be available for anyone with a record containing crimes of moral turpitude. This includes violent crimes such as homicide or aggravated kidnapping, as well as crimes of dishonesty such as theft, embezzlement, or fraud.

Felonies that do not involve moral turpitude may also disqualify an applicant from receiving funding based on the policies of the intermediary. Some lenders may opt to not loan to anyone with a felony record; therefore, any applicant convicted of a felony may have to shop around to find a lender willing to work with their criminal background.

Types Of Small Business Loans Offered By The Government

The SBA has multiple loan programs in place to meet the needs of small business owners. Potential borrowers should understand the interest rates, terms, repayment plans, and how each loan’s proceeds can be used before applying for a government loan.

General SBA 7(a) Business Loans

When most people think of government business loans, the SBA 7(a) program is typically what comes to mind. This program is the most popular because of its high maximum loan amounts, long repayment terms, and flexibility regarding how funds can be used.

SBA 7(a) loans can be used for just about anything. Funding is available to acquire a business or franchise. Existing businesses can purchase equipment, real estate, or use the money as working capital. Existing debt can also be refinanced using 7(a) loan proceeds. The possibilities are virtually endless with the SBA 7(a) loan, which is why it’s such a popular choice among small business owners.

Loans of up to $5 million can be taken out through the SBA 7(a) program. Interest rates are extremely competitive and are capped at a maximum of 4.75% over the base rate.

Loan Amount Less Than Seven Years More Than 7 Years

Up to $25,000

Base rate + 4.25%

Base rate + 4.75%

$25,000 – $50,000

Base rate + 3.25%

Base rate + 3.75%

$50,000 or More

Base rate + 2.25%

Base rate + 2.75%

Repayment terms are set at 10 years for most purposes and 25 years for real estate. Ready to get started? Learn everything you need to know about SBA 7(a) loans.

SBA Express Loans

The SBA Express program is very similar to the 7(a) program in terms of how money can be employed. These funds can be used for just about any business-related expense. However, there are a few key differences between the Express program and the 7(a) program.

One of the biggest differences is that applicants for an Express loan will receive an approval response within 36 hours, compared to weeks through the 7(a) program. A major drawback with this program, however, is that the maximum loan amount is capped at $350,000.

Maximum repayment terms are the same as for 7(a) loans: up to 10 years for working capital and 25 years for commercial real estate. Interest rates are slightly higher for Express loans at 4.5% to 6.5% over the base rate.

SBA 7(a) Loans SBA Express Loans

Time to Approval

2 – 4 weeks

36 hours

Max. Loan Amount

$5 million

$350,000

Interest Rates

Base rate + 2.25% – 4.75%

Base rate + 4.5% – 6.5%

Max. Repayment Terms

  • 10 years for working capital
  • 25 years for commercial real estate
  • 10 years for working capital
  • 25 years for commercial real estate

SBA Lines of Credit (CAPLines)

The SBA offers lines of credit known as CAPLines. There are four different CAPLines programs that designate how funds can be used.

CAPLine Type Loan Use

Working Capital CAPLines

Lines of credit that can be used for short-term needs such as working capital or operating expenses. 

Seasonal CAPLines

Lines of credit used by seasonal businesses to cover the costs of seasonal increases in accounts receivable or inventory. Seasonal CAPLines can not be used to cover costs during the off-season. 

Contract CAPLine

Lines of credit available for contractors to cover the costs of specific contracts. Credit lines can be used for overhead and general / administrative expenses. 

Builder’s CAPLine

Lines of credit used for expenses related to the construction and renovation of a residential or commercial buildings for resale. This line can be used for costs such as labor, supplies, materials, landscaping, or other substantial costs during the construction and renovation process. 

  • Contract CAPLines are used for financing costs related to specific contracts. These proceeds can be used toward overhead costs, administrative expenses, and general expenses. These loans cannot be used for purchasing assets, refinancing debt, or paying back taxes.
  • Seasonal CAPLines provide funding for inventory and accounts receivable during a busy seasonal period. In some instances, it can be used to fund increased labor costs.
  • Builder’s CAPLines are used to pay for expenses related to the construction or renovation of residential and commercial buildings that will be resold. Proceeds can be used toward labor, materials, landscaping, utility connections, and fees such as building permits.
  • Working Capital CAPLines provide short-term working capital for businesses. Fixed assets may be acquired using this credit line, but it must be refinanced within 90 days.

Loans of up to $5 million are distributed through all CAPLines programs. The maximum repayment term is 10 years, with the exception of Builder’s CAPLines, which have maximum terms of 5 years. The interest rate will never exceed 4.75% over the base rate.

Term Rates/Fees

Maximum Borrowing Amount

$5 million

Maximum Term Length

  • 5 years for Builder’s CAPLines
  • 10 years for Seasonal, Working Capital, and Contract CAPLines

Percentage Guaranteed By The SBA

  • 85% for loans below $150,000
  • 75% for loans above $150,000

Interest Rates

Base rate + 2.75% to base rate + 4.75%

Fees

  • Guarantee fee of 0.25% – 3.75% of the portion of the loan guaranteed by the SBA
  • Other possible fees charged by the bank / partner lender

SBA CDC/504 Loans

The SBA CDC/504 program is a government business loan program that provides financing for business expansion. Loan proceeds can be used to purchase buildings or land, build new facilities, renovate existing facilities, or purchase long-term machinery. Loan funds can also be used toward consolidating existing debt related to the purchase or renovation of facilities or equipment.

Through the SBA CDC/504 program, a borrower receives up to 40% of the project costs through an SBA-approved Certified Development Company, or CDC. Fifty-percent of the project cost is obtained by the borrower through a bank, credit union, or other lenders. The remaining 10% is paid by the borrower.

The maximum funding amount through the CDC/504 loan program is $5 million. Repayment terms are set at 10 years and 20 years, while the interest rate is based upon the 5-year and 10-year Treasure issues rate.

SBA 504 Loans

Borrowing Amount

No maximum, but the SBA will only fund up to $5 million

Term Lengths

10 or 20 years

Interest Rates

Fixed rate based on US Treasury rates

Borrowing Fees

  • CDC servicing fee, CSA fee, guarantee fee, third party fees (however, most of these fees are rolled into the interest rate or cost of the loan)
  • Possible prepayment penalty

Personal Guarantee

Guarantee required from anybody who owns at least 20% of the business

Collateral

Collateral required; usually the real estate/equipment financed

Down Payment

10% – 30%

Find out more about the terms, rates, and requirements for SBA 504 loans.

How Does The CDC/504 Program Differ From The SBA 7(a) Program?

CDC / 504 Loans SBA 7(a) Loans

Loan Size

The CDC portion of the loan has a size limit, but the overall loan can be used to finance larger projects.

Offers flexibility for size projects, but are generally used for smaller sized projects.

Interest Rates

504 loans offer fixed-rate financing, which locks in low rates for the full length of the loan.

Usually has lower fees, but are variable, not fixed, and are adjusted quarterly. Rates typically rise over time.

Prepayment Penalty

High prepayment penalties

Prepayment penalties vary depending on loan

Loan Structure

  • 50% Bank Loan
  • 40% CDC Loan
  • 10% Borrower Down Payment

Varies depending on risk. Minimum 10% down payment for the borrower.

Loan Fees

Fees are negotiated per the 50% bank loan. Can be financed within the 504 loan.

Fees are based on the size of the loan. Can be financed within the 7(a) loan. An extra .25% of fees can be charged on portions of a 7(a) loan exceeding $1 million.

SBA Microloans

The SBA Microloan program provides loans to all small businesses that meet the basic requirements of the SBA. Non-profit childcare centers are also eligible to apply. Microloans can be used as working capital or to purchase inventory, supplies, fixtures, or equipment. Microloan proceeds cannot be used for the purchase of real estate or to refinance debt.

The maximum amount that can be borrowed through the Microloan program is $50,000. Interest rates for microloans vary by lender and are dependent upon their cost of funds. The typical interest rates for these government-backed loans are between 8% and 13%. The maximum repayment term for microloans is 6 years.

SBA 504 Loans

Borrowing Amount

$500 – $50,000

Term Lengths

Up to 6 years

Interest Rates

6.5% – 13%

Borrowing Fees

Possible fees from the loan issuer

Personal Guarantee

Guarantee required from anybody who owns at least 20% of the business

Collateral

Collateral normally required, but depends on the lender

Down Payment

  • No down payment for most businesses
  • Possible 20% down payment for startups
  • Possible 10% down payment for business acquisition loan

Learn more about microloans and if these loans are right for your business.

SBA Disaster Loans

A disaster or unexpected event can cripple a business, even leading to its closure. SBA Disaster Loans are available to provide small business owners with the aid they need to keep their businesses alive.

  • Business Physical Disaster Loans provide up to $2 million to businesses and non-profit organizations to rebuild or replace property including buildings, equipment, and inventory following a disaster. Interest rates for these loans are set at 4% and 8%, with repayment terms up to 30 years.
  • Economic Injury Disaster Loans are available to small businesses, non-profits, and agricultural co-ops that are significantly affected by economic injury. Funding up to $2 million is available to help cover operating expenses and debts. Interest rates for these loans are 4% with repayment terms up to 30 years. Businesses may obtain a Business Physical Disaster Loan in addition to an Economic Injury Disaster Loan, but proceeds between both loans may not exceed $2 million.
  • Military Reservists Economic Injury Loans are available to reservists who are put on active military duty. These funds can be used to cover operating expenses but do not apply to refinancing debt, business expansion, or to cover profit or income loss. A maximum of $2 million may be borrowed based on the SBA’s calculation of the actual economic injury. Interest rates are 4% with maximum repayment terms of 30 years.
Term Rate/fee

Borrowing Amount

Maximum $2 million

Term Lengths

  • Max 30 years if no credit available elsewhere
  • Max 7 years if credit available elsewhere

Interest Rates

  • Maximum 4% if no credit available elsewhere
  • Maximum 8% if credit available elsewhere

Fees

None from the SBA; possible fees from outside agencies

Qualifying For A Government Business Loan

personal loans used for business

 

To qualify for a government business loan, a business must be based and operated in the United States. Unless otherwise specified, businesses should be for-profit. All businesses should meet the definition of a small business under the SBA’s guidelines, which limits the number of employees, annual revenues, and company net worth.

Applicants must have a good credit score, with a minimum recommended score of 680. Business and personal credit reports will be considered when applying for an SBA loan.

For many government loans, collateral is required. If there is not adequate business collateral, personal collateral in the form of real estate may be accepted. All borrowers must also sign a personal guarantee to be held liable in the event that the loan goes into default.

Down payments and fees will also be required and will vary based on the type of loan taken, the amount borrowed, and the lender’s policies.

To qualify for the Community Advantage program, the business must operate in an underserved area. To qualify for the Veterans Advantage program, the business must be at least 51% owned and operated by a military veteran, service member, reservist, National Guard member, or qualifying spouses or widows.

Can I get a government business loan if I have bad credit?

Credit is an important factor in qualifying for a government business loan. A minimum score of 680 is typically required to qualify for most SBA loan programs.

In addition to the credit score, intermediary lenders will also evaluate a credit report. Previous defaults on government-backed loans, bankruptcies, and foreclosures will be likely to disqualify the loan applicant. Additional negative items, such as collections and missed payments, will need to be explained by the applicant.

Any potential borrower that does not have a good credit score should work on raising their score before applying for government-backed loans. This can be done by obtaining a free credit report and score, paying off existing debt, and disputing any erroneous credit report items. Learn more about ways to boost your credit score.

I’m not qualified for a government business loan. What are my other business loan options?

Whether your credit score misses the mark or you just don’t meet the standard requirements need for government business loans, there are other options available. These options include working with your bank or credit union, borrowing from non-profit lenders, or seeking financing through online lenders.

How To Apply For A Government Business Loan

You know what government business loans are out there. You’ve selected a loan that fits your needs. The next step is to apply for your loan. Though the process can be time-consuming, it’s not much different from applying for a traditional loan from your bank.

To begin, the first step is to find an intermediary lender. You can find a lender through the SBA’s Lender Match tool, by a referral through your existing financial institution, or through an online loan broker.

In order to apply for a government business loan through an intermediary, required paperwork will need to be gathered. This includes business balance sheets, income statements, personal and business income tax returns for at least 3 years, and personal financial statements.

If loan proceeds are to be used toward the purchase of a business or franchise, documentation including real estate purchase agreements and business/stock/asset purchase agreements will be required. For debt refinancing, copies of notes, leases, and payment transcripts will need to be submitted with the loan application.

Startup businesses that don’t have all the required documentation must provide proof of industry experience, a detailed business plan, and financial projections with their applications.

Once the loan application is submitted, approval can take several weeks. However, with Express loans, approvals are given within 36 hours, although underwriting and funding can add additional weeks to the overall timeline. When going the traditional route with an intermediary lender, the entire loan process will take approximately 30 to 90 days.

To expedite the process, some borrowers opt to work with Smart Biz. This online marketplace simplifies and shortens the government loan application process and even provides non-SBA loan options when applicants fail to qualify.

Learn more about the process of applying for an SBA small business loan.

Alternatives To Government Business Loans

Even though government business loans are preferred by many entrepreneurs due to their long repayment terms and low interest rates, not every small business qualifies. Whether your business doesn’t qualify, your credit score isn’t yet high enough, or you need funding immediately, there are alternatives to consider.

Online Business Loans

Applying for a loan online is a great choice for many small business owners because these loans can be funded fast and requirements are much less stringent. Loans are available for business owners with credit scores as low as 500, although it’s important to note that terms and interest rates won’t be as favorable.

Through online lenders, small business owners can obtain installment loans, short-term loans, a business line of credit, equipment financing, or invoice financing. The required time in business and revenues vary, but requirements are typically lower than those required to obtain a government-backed loan. Depending on the type of loan requested, there may not be as much paperwork required as when applying for a government business loan.

Interest rates are based on the loan selected and creditworthiness. Repayment terms also vary and can range from a few months to several years. Daily, weekly, and monthly payment options are available depending on the lender and loan selected.

This is a great option for business owners with a low credit score or who don’t meet the requirements needed to get a government business loan. Interested in an online business loan? Narrow down your lender search by easily comparing lenders.

Banks & Credit Unions

Another business loan option is to go the traditional route with a bank or credit union. This option is best for a business owner that has collateral and a good credit score.

To apply, start with your existing financial institution. Speak with a loan specialist at your local branch, online, or over the phone to find out the types of loans available. This could include term loans, unsecured lines of credit, or other types of financing. Terms and interest rates vary by institution, creditworthiness of the borrower, and financing option selected.

It’s also important to learn about the requirements for obtaining one of these loans. Generally, collateral is needed as well as a credit score in the high 600s. However, requirements vary by institution. For loans, the funding process can take several months. If a faster option is needed, business credit cards for qualifying borrowers can typically be approved and sent out within days.

Non-Profit Business Lenders

Working with a non-profit business lender is another way to obtain small business loans. Typically, the loan amounts available through these lenders are much lower than government loans, usually maxing out at $50,000.

Because non-profit lenders are more limited in how much they can lend, they may be more selective with approvals. Applicants should expect to gather much of the same paperwork as required with government loans, while attending training or workshops may be required as a condition of the loan.

Loans from non-profit lenders often come with low interest rates. A good credit score is typically required, although qualifications vary by lender. Proof of sufficient cash flow, no bankruptcy filings, and other factors may be considered for loan approval.

Final Thoughts

Getting funding is often a critical step for taking a small business to the next level. For those who qualify, government business loans offer some of the best rates and terms on the market, helping to grow a business without adding a heavy debt burden. Though the process can be a bit difficult to navigate, knowing what to expect and the steps needed to qualify will pay off in the end for many small business owners.

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