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INTEGRO360sm is our proprietary financial modeling tool that gives our customers access to a level of financial modeling sophistication and private industry peer performance data that is only typically available to large corporations or publicly traded entities.


We have created a technology platform that helps you build a 5-year forecast, understand your cost of capital, financing needs and estimated business valuation with a user-friendly dashboard and expertly trained bankers to help you plan your growth or exit strategy.

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Small Business Resources

  1. Factors That Impact Loan Decisions
  2. How to Increase Approval Odds
  3. How Your Business Structure Can Affect Your Taxes
  4. Get Started
  5. Glossary

Factors That Impact Loan Decisions

How you will use the loan

Lenders want to make sure you're using the right product for your needs. Options may include small business credit cards, which are designed to help you manage day-to-day expenses; a line of credit, which is generally used for short-term working capital needs; and a commercial term loan, which is best for financing larger investments over time.

If you're not sure which type of financing you need, ask your banker for advice.

The amount of financing you're seeking

Attempting to borrow more than your business can afford is a red flag to lenders. Lenders may also question the application if you don't borrow enough for your demonstrated need. "If a doctor is applying for a loan for a new practice but isn't including the office build-out, they could end up cash-strapped. It may make sense to borrow those additional funds, so they have more cash on hand in the short term," Wilson says. Seek advice from your accountant or banker on how much to borrow.

Your business and personal credit profile

When you submit your credit application, lenders will typically look at both your business credit and your personal credit standing. "You're almost always going to have to sign a personal guarantee on a small business loan," Wilson says. A personal guarantee is a legally binding promise to repay money — from your personal assets — that your business has borrowed.

Before you submit a credit application, review both your personal and business credit reports for delinquent accounts (or incorrectly reported delinquencies) with all major credit reporting agencies. Business credit reporting agencies include Dun & Bradstreet, Experian and Equifax; you can check your personal credit reports with Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. If there is any negative information in your credit report, submit an explanation so the lender can better understand the situation.

Read more: "Credit score basics for small businesses"

Your capacity to repay

Your application should also demonstrate your ability to pay back borrowed money. "A lender may ask for at least two years of personal and business tax returns, a debt schedule that includes details of all of your business debts, and personal financial statements," says Chris Ward, Small Business Credit executive with Bank of America. He adds that lenders now might also ask for profit and loss and balance sheet statements, "in order to understand the impact the pandemic may have had on the business."

You might also need to show business and personal assets, as well as cash reserves. Lenders often want to know about your business's capital assets such as cash and equipment, and about any funds that others have invested in your business. If you are applying for a loan that is secured by collateral, a lender might ask for details about your accounts receivable, inventory, equipment and commercial real estate.

How to Increase Approval Odds

Gather information before you start

Gathering the necessary information (see common requests below) before you apply can save time and reduce the risk that you will omit anything important.

How much information you'll need to provide can vary by the type of financing. Credit card decisions usually require a fairly simple application, but loans and lines of credit may require more documentation because of their higher credit limits and longer potential borrowing time span.

Commonly requested data includes:

Information about the business
  • Name of the business
  • Business street address and date moved to current address
  • Business phone number
  • Business Tax ID number
  • Nature of the business
  • Date the business was established
  • Date the business was acquired by current owner
  • Number of employees
  • Annual net profit
  • Annual gross sales
  • List of outstanding obligations, if any (include lender, current loan balance or credit limit, and monthly payment)
  • Two years of business tax returns
  • Information on collateral, such as accounts receivable, inventory, equipment and commercial real estate
Checklist
Information about the owners

Your bank may also require the following information about each business owner, guarantor and controlling manager:

  • Name and title of the person opening the account
  • Name and address of the entity for the account
  • Name, date of birth, Social Security number (for U.S. citizens), passport number and country of issuance (for foreign citizens), residential address, country of citizenship, country of residence and percentage of ownership for each beneficial owner and controlling individual (this information is required even if no equity owner has 25% or greater ownership)
  • Certification that the information provided on the beneficial owner and/or the controlling manager is accurate
  • Personal household income
  • Personal financial statement
  • Two years of personal tax returns
  • Residence status (rent or own) and monthly housing payment

Work With an Advisor

Understanding what lenders look for can help you enhance your application and increase your approval odds. Ward suggests working with your accountant or business advisor to prepare these documents, as an advisor can help you look at the package as a lender would. "Something like a dip in revenue isn't necessarily a deal-breaker, but the lender will want to understand your business's story," Ward says.

How long will it take for your application to be processed?

Each borrower's situation is different, so time frames for approval and funding may vary. A typical commercial mortgage might take up to 60 days, while a line of credit might take three to four weeks. Credit card approvals may take a week or less. If the lender requests additional documentation, the process might take longer.

Six "Cs" of Creditworthiness

Lenders look at these six "Cs" to help determine the creditworthiness of a business that's applying for financing.

1. Capacity

Lenders will evaluate your business's financial capacity to support the loan obligation as well as operating expenses. Typically a business needs to have $1.25 of income to support every $1 of debt service. The extra $0.25 provides a cushion for your business to absorb unexpected expenses or a downturn.

2. Capital

Your business may own capital assets such as cash and equipment that could be used to support your credit application. You and others may have invested funds in the business too, which is also an important consideration for a lender. The amount of capital assets and equity you have on hand will say a lot about your prospects for receiving financing.

3. Collateral

Accounts receivable, inventory, cash, equipment and commercial real estate are all forms of collateral — assets lenders may accept to secure loans. When estimating the value of your collateral, a lender will look for liens — existing debt owed — on that collateral. The existence of a lien may disqualify the collateral as a supporting asset for the loan.

4. Conditions

The state of the economy, industry trends and pending legislation relative to your business are all conditions that are considered by lenders and are factors in the evaluation of your loan application.

5. Character

Work experience, experience in your industry and personal credit history are all character traits that lenders will consider. Your personal integrity and good standing — and the integrity and standing of those closely tied to the success of the business — are of the utmost importance.

6. Communication

Your willingness to communicate candidly with your banker and your other advisors about the opportunities and challenges your business faces is key to a productive financial partnership.


How Your Business Structure Can Affect Your Taxes

The "Inc.," "LLC" or "Partners" at the end of your business name isn't just decoration you add to look official. Each one signifies a different way to set up your business — also known as business formation — and each affects how your business income will be taxed. For instance, owners of sole proprietorships, partnerships, limited liability partnerships, limited liability companies taxed as partnerships, or S corporations may be able to deduct up to 20% of their qualified business income under Section 199A in calculating their individual tax obligation under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, in a deduction that started in 2018 and lasts through 2025 unless it is extended or noted otherwise.

When you decide to establish or formalize your business as a corporation, limited liability company, or partnership, you should take the time to understand the ramifications. Additional considerations apply to nonprofit entities. Structure, like a good foundation, bears the weight of whatever you build and establishes how you'll deal with your partners, customers and clients on tax issues, as well as with the IRS and state taxing agencies.

Set it up right the first time around

A trait many successful businesspeople share is that they acknowledge the need to do it right and do it right the first time. To get started on the right foot with determining your ideal business structure, two IRS publications are particularly helpful resources: Publication 334, Tax Guide for Small Businesses, and Publication 583, Starting a Business and Keeping Records, which also includes a link to the tax forms for each business structure.

You may find professional advice to be valuable at this point. It's important to discuss the options with a tax advisor before making a determination about the best structure. For simplicity, the owners of each business structure described below are treated as individuals. However, the owners of a business may be other entities, which may have different legal and/or tax implications. Consult your legal and/or tax advisor.

Six business structure options to choose from, each with different income tax implications

Partnership

In this arrangement, taxable income from the business flows through to the partners' individual income tax returns via Schedule K-1 generally depending on the percent of the partnership owned by each partner. If you and your partner own the business 50/50, you'll generally each pay taxes on 50% of the income. But you can also create a partnership agreement with an income allocation that differs from what the ownership percentages may otherwise dictate. Because a partnership may be formed without formal documentation where two or more individuals are engaged in a trade or business together to earn a profit, you should consult with your tax advisor if you potentially may be involved in a partnership.

Man doing taxes

Sole Proprietorship

If you're earning business income, even if you haven't registered with the IRS or a state agency, or formalized your business, you're considered a sole proprietor (if you don't have a partner). For a sole proprietorship, your business income is reported directly on your personal federal income tax return, which means your business doesn't owe taxes separately. Instead, you'll pay taxes on your business's earnings at your individual federal income tax rate.

Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)

This is a partnership structure in which each partner's legal liability is generally limited to the amount of the partner's investment in the business. If the partnership fails, creditors generally cannot pursue the partners' individual assets or income. Like with other partnerships, all of an LLP's income passes through the LLP to the partners' individual tax returns via the Schedule K-1.

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

This structure offers a good combination of legal and tax benefits. You can set up an LLC to give yourself some protection from legal liability. A single-member LLC is automatically treated as a disregarded entity (and a sole proprietorship if owned by you directly), and a multi-member LLC is automatically treated as a partnership for federal income tax purposes, although you can elect for the LLC to be treated as a C or S corporation for federal income tax purposes. Unless you elect for the LLC to be treated as a C corporation, your income is still reported directly on your individual tax return via Schedule K-1.

Corporation

The most common type of corporation is a C corporation. In this case, your business — the corporation — pays taxes on the income it makes, a so-called entity-level tax. The U.S. federal corporate income tax rate is currently 21%. Company employees pay individual income tax on wages, and company shareholders pay individual income tax on dividends (at capital gains tax rates if qualified dividends) and certain other distributions from C corporations.

Another kind of corporation, called an S corporation, could have tax advantages in certain specific situations, but are subject to strict ownership restrictions. For S corporations, you owe individual income tax on the income of the corporation allocated to you, but the S corporation generally pays no entity-level income tax (subject to certain exceptions). A shareholder may be able to reduce their individual income taxes through "income splitting," in which you take a reasonable salary on which you pay income, Social Security and Medicare taxes, and take the rest of your compensation as distributions on which you are not required to pay self-employment tax. Consult a tax and legal advisor to ensure compliance with reasonable salary requirements.

Nonprofit

If you set up a nonprofit entity with a qualified purpose, such as a charitable mission, your organization generally won't owe federal income taxes on certain types of its income. But some nonprofits develop income-generating projects that aren't part of their exempt purposes, and in those cases, they can owe tax on what's called unrelated business taxable income.


Get Started

Once you have decided on the right structure for your business the next step is to begin the business formation process.

Third-party providers specializing in business formation can help streamline the process and get you the documentation you need. Learn more about exclusive offers to legally form your business from Incfile, a national provider of business formation services that has helped more than 500,000 entrepreneurs get started.

Keep in mind that business structures generally are governed by states and set up through state agencies, but local, state and federal governments may all levy taxes. It will fall to you to keep track of all the various tax-filing deadlines. Be sure to consult with your lawyer and tax advisor to determine the right tax structure for your needs and locale.


Glossary

Allocation

A co-owner's share of the taxable income of a partnership (or LLC taxed as a partnership) or S corporation, which is reported on a Schedule K-1 at tax time.

Distribution

A payment to partners of a partnership, members of an LLC or shareholders of an S corporation, which must be reported on a Schedule K-1 at tax time. Distributions also may be made to shareholders of a C corporation, all or a portion of which may be treated as a dividend.

Dividend

A distribution of a corporation's earnings and profits to its shareholders, either as cash or stock.

Entity-level income tax

A tax that is imposed on the entity-level of a company. Although the federal government generally does not tax pass-through entities at the entity level, some states do.

Partnership agreement

A contract between the partners in a partnership that states the terms and conditions of the partnership, covering subjects such as the percentage interests of ownership and how profits and losses will be allocated.

Pass-through

A business entity that generally does not have to pay taxes at the entity-level. All of the income is allocated to the owners and reported on their tax returns.

Sole proprietor

 Someone who operates an unincorporated business without any partners. All of the income is reported on the owner's personal federal income tax return.

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