Blog   Commercial Lending

How to secure a commercial loan: a lender’s inside scoop

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From bakers and brew masters to dentists and doctors, all business owners have one thing in common – they all need money. That fact is true regardless of the stage: starting, expanding or continuing their operations. Securing financing for a business can be one of the most overwhelming tasks an entrepreneur will ever face.

Lenders ask the same questions and look at certain criteria when evaluating loan requests no matter the amount of money a business owner needs.

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What’s the Plan?

Lenders want to know how much money will be personally invested in the business, how much money the creditor is being asked to fund and how the money will be used. For a startup company, you will need to present more than the basics. You’ll need to show a business plan, giving the opportunity to answer the aforementioned questions as well as the following:

  • Who will own and operate the business?
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  • What experience and/or qualifications do you have to operate the business?
  • What will the business sell/provide?
  • Who is your target market?
  • What is your marketing plan?

For a company that has already been in business two or more years, lenders will require current balance sheets, profit and loss statements, and interim balance sheets. It’s a good idea to bring personal tax returns and financial statements, as well.

Money Makes the Business World Go Round

Once the lender has reviewed your business plan and expertise, they will move on to the money. For a startup, the first question a lender will ask is how much money is needed to start the business and make it profitable. Think about working capital such as inventory, real estate, equipment and furniture.

The next question is how much money will you personally contribute to the business? Actual cash investment by the business owner is necessary. An existing business will need to present its current balance sheet to demonstrate how much has already been invested and how the money was spent. All of this information will be reviewed to determine how much actual cash investment remains after paying out expenses and providing a living for the business owner.

These questions will be evaluated by the lender to determine if the business will operate soundly, that the debt burden does not place unreasonable demands on the profits of the business to repay the debt, and that you have enough capital at risk to keep you committed to the success of the business.

The Payment Terms

The biggest challenge business owners face when seeking a loan is showing the lender how and when they will pay the money back.  This is the chance to prove to the lender that your earnings will be enough to repay the loan.

To accomplish this goal, existing business owners should bring historical operating statements to showcase prior sales, expenses and profits. If you’re new to this, provide projections of sales, expenses and profits for the next two to three years, and an annual budget of cash expected from sales. Industry and market research data can serve to back up your projections.

Borrowing money is all about convincing the lender that you have the capital needed to succeed, the ability to repay the loan, the character and skill to implement the plan and the collateral to serve as backup. When entrepreneurs clearly understand the process and questions a lender will ask, they are adequately prepared to go out and secure a loan that will help their business succeed.

For more tips to prep you before your meeting with a lender, check out this earlier blog post: The 5 C’s of Credit.


Michael Rosales is senior vice president and small business banking manager at UMB Financial Corporation. Mr. Rosales joined UMB in 2005 as part of the founding crew of the Small Business Banking Department. He manages a group of associates who process requests for small business loans. Mr. Rosales can be reached at Michael.Rosales@umb.com.

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The 100-Year Old Entrepreneur

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A century is a significant amount of time for anything. However, it’s an especially meaningful milestone for UMB. When you think about some of the challenges over the past 100 years: the Great Depression, world wars and most recently the Great Recession, it’s a unique feat to not only survive 100 years, but to thrive. We aren’t the only century old company, there are many more like us. So, what’s the secret to success?

It’s the story of the 100-year-old entrepreneur.

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What do I mean by that? It’s the idea that regardless of how long a business operates, the leaders must make a conscious effort to always incorporate the entrepreneur mindset in their day-to-day work. It’s the visions, strategies and practices that continue to reinvent, reset and remind an organization of who they are, what they offer, and how/why they do what they do.

There are several common values entrepreneurs bring to the table – below are a few I believe are most important.

Evolution is not optional

It sounds simple, but this can be hard for companies. As time, customers, technology and pretty much everything else change, so must elements of a business. Having the foresight and commitment to take calculated risks based on these evolving needs is critical. Entrepreneurs start a business venture because they see an opportunity for a new way to do something – a mindset existing businesses should also adopt. Whether it’s adapting delivery models, expanding or eliminating offerings, or entering new markets, continuing to evolve as a business will help you stay relevant. Fear of failure cannot be an inhibitor. We all know, the only constant is change…and that’s actually a good thing for business.

Surround yourself with the best team

We all say it, but not everyone does it. Successful entrepreneurs understand that associates are as important as their business model. They are the heartbeat of the organization. A business can have the best offering in the marketplace, but it won’t mean anything if the right people aren’t part of the team. Having people that continually evaluate, question, advise and champion the way products and services are formed and executed will determine your success. Associates are also the face of your company, so having people who are passionate about your organization and what you do is a must. We all know in a competitive market, customer service and relationships can be the differentiator. Anyone can win on price. The real question is whether you can win, and more importantly keep the business, based on service.

Ethics and Integrity

It’s the Golden Rule. It’s your moral compass. It’s your reputation and the value behind your brand. How you conduct business defines your worth as a trusted advisor, a community member and an employer.  I’ve often said, “We do what’s right, not what’s popular.” And it’s been one of the biggest contributors to our success. Having these types of guiding philosophies that are passed down generation after generation and consciously employed in the daily culture and actions of your organization will result in outstanding client relationships, quality community involvement, and loyal, engaged associates—all of which will support the longevity of your business and overall success.


Mr. Kemper is the chairman and chief executive officer of UMB Financial Corporation and UMB Bank, n.a. He joined UMB in 1997. Mr. Kemper is active in both civic and philanthropic endeavors. One of the causes he is most passionate about is the arts. He currently serves as a trustee and executive committee member for the Denver Art Museum and is a past board member for The Arts Council of Metropolitan Kansas City.

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