I recently spoke to students at the University of Houston in the Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship on the topic of Dealing with Lenders. During the question and answer portion of the program, I was asked by a student, what lenders look at when they are deciding whether or not to approve a loan.
I answered the question by saying all lenders start with looking at the C’s of credit. There are normally five Cs of credit which I will define in a minute. But, the really important issue in getting your transaction approved rests upon your ability to present your case in satisfying each of the C’s.
5 Cs of Credit
The first C is Character. Normally borrowers don’t consider this but, lenders do. Lenders look at such things as your willingness to pay obligations, morality, and integrity. Lenders determine the borrower’s business character based on the historical information. To form an opinion on character, lenders will review the borrowers past success, payment history, and intangibles such as personal credit, family background and employment records.
Another C is the borrower’s Capacity to pay. The lender normally looks to the business and determines if the business has a history of successful operations. The lender will determine if the business has paid their debts when they were due and shown a proven ability to generate cash flow. If you are trying to fund a start up, you must show prior business experience relating to the operation of the business you are trying to start. You must provide evidence of the capability of operating successfully and paying your bills.
Next, lenders look at another C Capital. Capital is the equity or net worth of a company. Capital signifies the company’s financial strength as a credit risk. The more capital a company has, the smaller the credit risk. Your company needs a history showing increasing sales, profits and net worth. Additionally, your company needs favorable trends in your operations, such as, constant or increasing gross profit margins.
Another of the C’s is Conditions. Lenders will analyze how current and expected economic situations may affect your business. Such items might include past and current political history, and business cycles for you and who you sell to. Normally, the lenders like industries that are in periods of dynamic growth.
The final C is Collateral. Lenders will determine the company’s ability to access and provide additional resources such as, equity or other assets, to use for repayment if the company’s capacity or character fails.
By addressing these C’s in your business plan and on your loan application you make the lender’s job faster and easier. Therefore, understanding and selling your C’s will improve your chances of getting the lender to approve your request.
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