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rowing your business requires capital. While you can rely on self-funding to get your organization started, at some point, you'll likely need financing to purchase equipment, hire new staff, or build up inventory. When that time comes, you might decide to apply for business credit.

Various funding options are available for growing organizations, including loans and credit cards. To access them, you must complete a credit application for business with your chosen financial institution. The credit application details information about you and your company, which the lender will review when deciding to approve or deny credit.

What is a business credit application?

A credit application for a business account is a form used to initiate a request for financing from a financial institution. It's one tool that lenders use to evaluate a company's fitness for financing.

Completing a credit application form for business financing tells the bank you need money to support your company's operations. Typically, the application asks for key details about you and the business, such as contact information, industry sector, and how much money you want to borrow. The lender will use the details you provide to pull a business credit report and possibly a personal one, depending on your company's entity type.

Some lenders allow you to submit an online application, but you can also schedule an appointment at a local banking branch if you prefer one-on-one assistance. Typically, you'll receive a credit decision within a few business days — and sometimes even immediately, depending on the financial institution.

Depending on the lender's policies, loan type, and amount borrowed, you may need to submit additional information to support your business credit application. Examples of additional information a lender may request include your business plan, recent financial statements, tax returns, and financial forecasts.

If you receive approval for your loan, you'll get access to your new funds quickly via a designated bank account or a business credit card. However, if the financial institution denies funding, it will explain why in a written letter you'll receive after their evaluation.

What do lenders ask for in a business credit application?

Credit applications for businesses aren't standardized, so the questions you encounter will vary from lender to lender. The extent of the application will also differ based on the amount you apply for and the loan type. It stands to reason that the application process for a $5,000 vendor line of credit will likely be less complex than a request for $5 million to renovate your business office.

That said, here are a few questions you'll probably encounter when you apply for business credit.

Contact information

A lender will want to know the name of your company and where it's located. Identification details help them request business and personal credit reports, and it also tells them where to send the monthly bill if they approve your application.

Contact information you may provide includes:

  • Business name
  • Address
  • Owner name and address
  • Entity structure
  • Employer identification number (EIN) or owner's Social Security number
  • Business and personal phone number
  • Email address

You likely know your company's basic details by heart, so providing them shouldn't be too hard.

Market sector and industry details

The lender will want to know what your business sells and what market sector you're in. Learning the basics about your company helps them understand why you need financing and how it will benefit your organization.

Expect questions about the length of time your company has been in business and your target customer base. A lender may also ask about vendor relationships, inventory (if you have any), and the number of employees you have.

Typically, details about your company operations and market sector are included in your business plan. The bank may request to review your business plan, so preparing it before starting a credit application is a good idea. Your business plan doesn't need to be the next great American novel—a few pages will usually suffice for a growing organization.

Trade references

Some lenders will include a field requesting the name and contact information of any suppliers or vendors your company does business with. If you have an existing relationship with a supplier—especially one that involves a credit line—including it in your credit application can demonstrate your company's ability to stay on top of payments.

Expect the financial institution to request the name of your suppliers, their address, a point of contact, and phone numbers. Keep in mind that not every vendor reports their client's payment history to credit reporting agencies, so the lender may need to reach out directly for a reference.

Company financial statements

A lender is unlikely to approve a request for credit if they don't believe your business can stay on top of payments. So, they'll want to review your company's financial statements to see how much revenue you earn and whether there's enough income to support ongoing debt repayments. They'll also evaluate your business's outstanding debt, such as loans and credit cards, to determine if the company is overextended.

Some lenders may request audited financial statements depending on the size and complexity of your loan request. Other financial institutions may be happy with statements a local accounting firm reviews. You may also need to provide financial projections and copies of your recent business tax returns.

How a lender uses a credit report and score in business loan applications

Once you finalize your application and submit all the required documents, the lender will start the evaluation process. It will ensure all the details in your application are accurate and may request additional details if necessary.

The lender will pull your business credit report (if there is one) and may request a copy of your personal credit report. A business credit report is similar to a consumer credit report. It will list identifying information about your company, as well as open and closed credit accounts for recent years and payment history.

Along with your credit report, the lender may check your business credit score. The credit score it uses may be the FICO Score model or a different scoring model of its choosing. Typically, the higher your company's credit score is, the more likely you'll receive an approval and the more favorable your credit terms will be.

A high credit score may result in an automatic approval with some lenders. If your application requires additional review, it will pass to the financial institution's underwriting team, who will perform a more detailed assessment. The underwriter's objective is to determine whether the risk of issuing a loan is worth the potential return to the lender. If the underwriter decides the loan is too risky, they may provide you with a lesser loan amount or deny the application altogether.

How to handle a business credit denial

A denial of business credit can be very frustrating. However, you may still be able to obtain a loan through another lender or apply for a different financing option that's more suitable for your organization.

Start by understanding the reasons for the denial. You'll likely receive a short letter stating basic reasons for the denial, such as a high debt-to-income ratio. If the rationale doesn't make sense to you, schedule an appointment with a lending specialist for clarification.

Next, address any issues that are problematic for lenders. For instance, if customers aren't paying you quickly enough to meet the lender's standards, tighten up your company's account receivable policies.

If a low credit score is the problem, take action to improve it. Learn the factors that impact your credit score, such as too much debt or missed payments, and correct them.

How applying for credit impacts your credit score

The short answer: It can.

Applying for a business loan or credit card may result in a hard pull of your credit report—regardless of whether the lender approves you. The hard pull may decrease your credit score by a few points. If your credit score falls into the average or poor credit bucket, those few points can make a difference in whether other lenders will approve you for a loan.

To minimize the impact of credit inquiries on your personal or business credit report, understand the lender's requirements before you submit an application. Ask them what they require for approval and what credit score typically qualifies for a loan. You can then ask the consumer or business credit reporting agency for a copy of your credit report and score to assess the likelihood of obtaining credit. If you don't meet the lender's general requirements, shop around to see what other credit products you might qualify for.

Novo can help with your small business financing needs

Obtaining funding for your business can help you expand, support current operations, or provide an extra cushion if needed. At Novo, we offer up to $75,000 in merchant cash advances with a simple 10-minute application process. Learn more about our financing opportunities, and start your application today!

Novo Platform Inc. strives to provide accurate information but cannot guarantee that this content is correct, complete, or up-to-date. This page is for informational purposes only and is not financial or legal advice nor an endorsement of any third-party products or services. All products and services are presented without warranty. Novo Platform Inc. does not provide any financial or legal advice, and you should consult your own financial, legal, or tax advisors.

The Merchant Cash Advance is provided by Novo Funding LLC, PO Box 311092, Miami, FL 33231. Novo is the marketing name for Novo Platform Inc. and its subsidiaries and affiliates. Novo Funding LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Novo Platform Inc. Credit and Merchant Cash Advance products and services are offered by Novo Funding LLC. The information and materials contained on this website - and the terms and conditions of the access to and use of such information and materials - are subject to change without notice. Not all products and services are available in all geographic areas. Your eligibility for particular products and services is subject to final Novo determination and acceptance.

Novo is a fintech, not a bank. Banking services provided by Middlesex Federal Savings, F.A.: Member FDIC.

Novo Platform Inc. strives to provide accurate information but cannot guarantee that this content is correct, complete, or up-to-date. This page is for informational purposes only and is not financial or legal advice nor an endorsement of any third-party products or services. All products and services are presented without warranty. Novo Platform Inc. does not provide any financial or legal advice, and you should consult your own financial, legal, or tax advisors.

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