Maybe you’re worried that your credit is too low to qualify for a small business loan. Or perhaps you’re afraid of damaging your credit when lenders pull your score. Whatever the reason, you want to know whether or not you can find a small business loan with no credit check.
The short answer? Not really. At least not for traditional financing. Lenders need to check your credit to understand how much risk they’re taking on if they qualify you for a loan.
There are, however, plenty of financing options if you have less-than-stellar credit or are looking to go without a credit check. Let’s take a look.
Invoice financing is when you borrow money against your outstanding accounts receivables. A lender gives you the cash you’re waiting for now, and once your client pays ups, you pay back the lender—with fees and interest, of course.
This is different from invoice factoring, in which a factoring company buys the outstanding invoices from you and is in charge of collecting the money from your clients.
For both methods, there are lenders who will waive credit checks because they are more interested in your invoices than your credit or financial history.
Getting the cash right away can help you pay employees and vendors, or other debts—which can, in turn, improve your credit in the long run. Plus, you can focus on running your business rather than chasing down delinquent payments.
Put simply, a merchant cash advance is a lump sum of capital you repay using a portion of your daily credit card transactions. While there is a credit check involved, these lenders typically accept bad credit.
Like invoice financing, a merchant cash advance is great for those looking for fast capital for things like making payroll, buying more inventory, or increasing marketing dollars. However, you should know that since these lenders are willing to take on more risk, the fees associated with a merchant cash advance are typically much higher than with traditional loans.
Equipment financing is a loan that helps you purchase new business equipment right away by using that equipment as collateral. This is perfect if you need to upgrade your gear to take your business to the next level but don’t have the cash on hand to do it.
Again, this method does require a credit check, but because the lender has the equipment itself as collateral, your credit score matters less. If you don’t pay the loan back, the lender simply repossesses the item—so nothing you already own is at risk.
Crowdfunding has become an increasingly popular option for startups and small business founders who believe they can rally a community of donors around their product or service.
Platforms like Indiegogo, Kickstarter, and GoFundMe have made it super easy to host an online campaign, show off your business, and reach potential backers through email and social media.
Not only does it help you get the capital you need, but it can be a great way to build a community around your business and provide product insight and feedback. For instance, if the market isn’t responding to your campaign, maybe you need to reevaluate your product or service.
That’s right—do it yourself. Most entrepreneurs realize they need to self-fund at least part of their business as they get off the ground. You can do this by starting savings accounts, taking out low-interest credit cards, or leveraging your assets—like cars, homes, fine art, and appliances.
Not that it’s easy, but if you believe in the value of your business, you should feel comfortable taking a financial risk. Plus, showing investors that you’re ready to put up your own money will give them more confidence to make an investment down the line.
Rodrigo Santibanez, the co-founder of EAT Club, says, “bootstrapping a business is a lesson in hard work and flexibility, but ultimately it can help accelerate a company’s success.” Especially if you’re able to show traction when you do seek capital from investors.
Securing funding from friends and family is a very popular way to round up some capital for your business. Especially if you’re just starting out. But be careful, mixing friends and finances can be risky business.
To avoid the risk of losing your personal relationships it’s best to approach the deal as a loan and seek legal counsel, according to Forbes contributor Brett Gleeson. He suggests structuring this type of funding “as a high-interest loan for one year. Borrowing just enough to launch the business into operations, build your website, or develop some additional pitch material…. And as much as you will want to avoid racking up legal fees, it is imperative that all parties get sound legal advice. Not doing so can potentially cost you much more down the road.”
Who doesn’t like free money? Small business grants are great because, unlike small business loans, you don’t have to pay them back. The downside is that grants are incredibly selective and it can be hard to qualify.
That said, federal, state, and local governments offer a wide range of grants to help small businesses start and develop. Each grant is typically reserved for specific industries and causes—like scientific or medical research or conservation efforts.
It’s best to do research on your niche or industry and find out what you might be eligible for, and tailor your application for each specific grant. Like you would when applying for a job or school.
While small business loans with no credit checks do not exist in the traditional sense, there are plenty of ways to find funding with little or no credit. You just might not be able to secure as much or you might have to pay a higher fee. The alternative is to put a plan in place to improve your credit over time so that you can go after higher quality SBA or long-term loans.