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October 16, 2019

Ask the Experts

Operating Day to Day

| 4/22/2019

Improve your odds of securing a loan
Prove you can pay the money back. Provide a written analysis of anticipated cash flow and a description of any collateral that could be used as secondary repayment.

Present with a good track record and a realistic number. Before meeting with a banker, know your credit score and read your complete credit report. Correct all mistakes in advance and be ready to explain any potential “red flags.” And never ask how much the bank might be willing to loan; suggest an actual dollar amount instead.

Put some of your own money into the mix. Don’t expect a loan to cover all your financing needs; lay down some of your own cash too. After all, if you don’t believe in this venture enough to invest in it yourself, why would anyone else?

 

Targeted Financing Opportunities

If you are black, Hispanic or female, your business may be eligible for targeted financing:

The Black Business Loan Program (www.floridajobs.org/BBLP) provides loans, loan guarantees and/or investments through loan administrators to black business enterprises that cannot otherwise obtain capital through conventional lending institutions. In addition, Black Business Investment Corporations throughout Florida (see stand ready to facilitate access to capital for black business owners.

Hispanic business owners may find funding information pertinent to their needs through Prospera (formerly Hispanic Business Initiative Fund Florida) at www.prosperausa.org.

And while no government loan programs exist exclusively for women business owners, experience has shown that SBA-guaranteed loans are three to five times more likely to go to women than non-SBA-guaranteed loans. On the local level, Women’s Business Centers can provide assistance in applying for loans and also may provide access to alternative capital financing programs.

Improve your odds of securing a loan
The Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship at the Florida State University College of Business offers two veterans programs each year — at no cost to participants:

The Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans (EBV) Accelerate provides veteran business owners the tools and coaching needed to propel their existing businesses to the next level: sustainable growth. Topics addressed include: acquiring growth funding, rebranding for expansion, determining a sustainable growth rate, establishing partnerships and managing cash flow.

The bootcamp for veterans’ families (EBV-F) provides an opportunity for immediate family members of veterans with a service-connected disability to receive cutting-edge, experiential training in entrepreneurship and small business management with the aim of launching and growing their own small business that will provide a vocational path complementary to family responsibilities.

For more information, visit jimmoraninstitute.fsu.edu.

Jim Moran Institute
Randy Blass, Ph.D., executive director of the Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship, instructs veteran business owners as part of the EBV-Accelerate program at Florida State University.

 

Q

I’m a veteran looking to launch a new business. Are there any special funding opportunities to help me get my company off the ground?

AThe short answer is “no.” I know of no small business funding opportunities available solely to veterans. You might look into SBA-guaranteed loans, which typically feature lower rates and fees, but your application will be treated like any other. A lender is looking primarily for evidence of your ability to pay the loan back; military service will likely not even be considered.

Your question, however, gives me pause. In working exclusively with veterans who are already small business owners, I’ve come across many myths/preconceived ideas about doing business with the government. I’ve heard statements like “I’m a vet, so I get preference on government contracts, right?” or “I hire vets so that makes me a vet and my business veteran-owned.” None of this is true.

Veteran-owned businesses compete for government contracts just like any other business and they land the job because they’ve done their homework, not because of their military service. A mere 3% of government contracts are set aside specifically for veteran-owned businesses compared to 23% for all small businesses. And the bidding process is a fairly level playing field with one exception: If a veteran-owned business goes up against a non-veteran-owned business for a VA contract and all things are otherwise equal, the vet will likely get the job.

Answer provided by John DiGiacomo
Procurement Specialist, Florida PTAC at the University of West Florida

Tags: Florida Small Business, Ask the Experts

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