A traditional business term loan is a lump sum of capital that you pay back with regular repayments at a fixed interest rate. The “term” in “term loan” comes from its set repayment term length, which will typically be one to five years long. Most business owners use the proceeds of term loans to finance a specific, one-off investment for their small business.
• Set payment structure
• Suitable for a wide range of business purposes
• Lower monthly payments than short-term loans
• Longer payment terms than short-term loans
• Potential prepayment penalties
Plenty of businesses can qualify for a traditional term loan—as long as you’ve been in business for a bit, have a good credit score, and are generating revenue.
(See more on a term loan’s minimum qualifications below.)
Not all business term loans are the same, though: the interest rate, length of the term, and maximum loan size depends on your business revenues and credit rating.
Since traditional term loans have longer repayment periods than short-term loans, your business’s financials and credit score are more important.
Business term loans are traditionally a bank product. If you’re applying to a term loan from a bank, you can expect a longer application process with many documents required.
There are now many online term lenders, like Funding Circle and Lending Club, that offer term loans at affordable rates. These lenders have online applications that are much faster to complete and process.
Every business could use some extra cash. Whether it’s for an equipment upgrade, an order of inventory, or a new employee, a business loan could always help out.
But how can you find funding that your business can afford?
We deal with all sorts of businesses here at Fundera, and we’ve got some insight into which applications lead to which loans.
Take a look at how a business term loan works—and what you’ll need to qualify for one. That will help you understand whether a term loan is the right product for you.
Quick—imagine a business loan.
You probably thought of a business term loan, since it’s the most common kind of business loan out there.
And simply put, they’re all about predictability.
You get a predetermined amount of money with a set interest rate, which might be fixed or variable. Then you pay that cash back over an agreed-upon amount of time in regular intervals and increments.
When it comes to term loans, there’s nothing unexpected. You know exactly what you’re getting into.
That doesn’t mean all business term loans are exactly the same, though.
Depending on your small business’s growth needs, credit rating, cash flow, revenue, and more, there are plenty of different term loans available.
In fact, you can get business term loans with lengths and payment structures as varied as 1 year with daily payments to 5 years with monthly payments—and everything in between.
Similarly, loan amounts and interest rates vary according to your business’s needs and history. You can get more or less money—at higher or lower rates.
The exact details of your term loan depend on your business’s financials, but the structure will always stay the same.
Traditional business term loans are a wide category of business financing, available both from traditional banks and alternative non-bank lenders.
Business term loans from traditional banks and certain online lenders will be the hardest term loan products to qualify for.
Getting a traditional business term loan isn’t easy if you’ve got a low credit score or no collateral to secure that cash with.
In fact, collateral might be a requirement for a term loan—depending on the rest of your business’s financials—and you risk losing that collateral if you can’t repay your loan.
And while many of these lenders might not ask for a specific piece of collateral but, instead, put a “blanket lien” on your business, the same risk still applies.
(Learn more about blanket liens here.)
Don’t forget: when you apply for a small business term loan, make sure to ask if there are any prepayment penalties or other fees you should be aware of. Go over the exact terms with the lender so you can arrive at a monthly payment you know you can afford.
The point of a business term loan: to help you finance something big for your business.
Whether you need to make a specific equipment or inventory purchase, want more working capital, need to refinance other business debts, are looking to meet tax or payroll obligations, or something else entirely, a small business term loan can help you out.
And as it turns out, there are few loan use restrictions, if any—though, generally speaking, it’s best practice to spend that money creating more revenue for your business.
Since borrowing isn’t free, you want to come out of a loan with more money than you began with. It’s all in the planning ahead.
If used the right way, traditional term loans can help you push your business to the next level—introducing new equipment, locations, products, or marketing campaigns into your toolbox.
Plus, remember that a business term loan is predictable.
You should be able to figure out whether a term loan will help or hurt your business from the get-go. Just understand the calculations beforehand and plan the coming months or years of spending carefully.
You should know how much the financing will cost you no matter what type of financing you’re applying for.
Thankfully, the price tag of a business term loan is pretty easy to figure out, and it tends to be pretty affordable.
Let’s take a look at a cost example.
Let’s say you’ve qualified for a business term loan.
In this business term loan offer, you’re borrowing $25K from a lender at a 12% interest rate and a 5-year term.
Given the longer length of that traditional term loan, you’ll most likely have a monthly payment of about $556. (Term loans can come with weekly payments, too.)
That’s a predictable expense you can easily understand and plan your financials around.
Small business term loans, like other business loans, can also come with fees attached to the loan. These fees could be origination fees, packaging fees, prepayment fees, and so on.
Don’t overlook fees on your loan offer—be sure to factor any and all small fees you might have to pay in order to understand the true cost of your loan.
Here’s the thing with business term loans: not every payment goes toward the same thing.
Traditional term loans amortize, which means you don’t pay equal parts interest and principal (or the amount you borrowed) from month to month. Instead, lenders usually stack interest payments early on and leave your principal payments for later on in the life of your small business term loan.
That way, even if you pay your loan off early and get the rest of the interest forgiven, you’ve still paid most of it to the lender.
This means that you might save less than you’d think by paying your term loan off before it’s due.
However, your monthly payment is still the same amount—it’s just the proportion of interest to principal that changes.
In order to understand your loan completely, make sure to ask your lender for an amortization schedule.