A term loan is basically a loan for a specified amount that has a structured repayment schedule and a floating or a fixed interest rate. For instance, a lot of the lenders have a term loan program that is designed to provide small businesses with cash they need for their monthly operations. Small businesses make use of the cash to buy fixed assets like equipment for their production process. Bankers generally tend to classify term loans into two broad categories:
At a Glance
A traditional term loan is probably the most common form of business loan, so it’s pretty easy to understand. You borrow a lump sum of money—usually for a specific purchase you’re making for your business—and pay the loan back over a set term, most often at a fixed interest rate.
Next Loan Type:
Maximum Loan Amount
$25,000 to $500,000
1 – 5 years
6 – 25%
As little as 2 days
How does it work?
- Medium term loans – This usually runs less than three years and is repaid in regular monthly installments from the cash flow of the business. More often than not, the repayment is directly tied to the useful life of the asset that is being financed.
- Long term loans – These are usually set for more than three years. Most of them are between three and ten years, and some of them can extend up to twenty years. The business’ assets are used as collateral and the loans typically require monthly or quarterly payments that are derived from the cash flow or the profits. The offer documents for these loans are usually worded in a way that limits the amount of financial commitments that the business can take on (other debts, dividends, principals’ salaries and more), and the borrower is often required to set aside a portion of the profits to repay the loan.
Term loans are perfect for small businesses that can leverage substantial down payments and sound financial statements to minimize their monthly payments and loan costs. In most of the cases, the repayment is linked to the item that is being financed. Term loans need the borrower to set down some kind of collateral and they have a rigorous process of approval. However they can help reducing the risk by lowering the costs. Before you decide to finance your equipment, you need to ensure that you can make full use of all the ownership benefits, like depreciation.
Term loans are well suited for construction, capital improvements, huge capital investments, like machinery, purchasing existing businesses and working capital. Fortunately, the loan does not cost that much if the borrower can pass the lender’s financial litmus test. The rates tend to vary. So, you should shop around before you settle on any particular loan. Generally, the rates run around 2.5 points over prime for loans which last less than seven years and 3 points over prime for the longer loans.
Advantages of a term loan
- It’s cheap – Term loans are a really cheap source of medium or long term financing.
- It offers tax benefits – The interest that is payable on a term loan is a tax deductible expenditure, which means that you get to avail taxation benefits on the interest.
- Flexibility – Term loans are negotiable loans between the lender and the borrower. So, the terms and conditions for such loans aren’t rigid and allow for a lot of flexibility.
- Control – Since term loans represent debt financing, the equity shareholders’ interests aren’t diluted.
Disadvantages of a term loan
- Obligation – The yearly interest payments and the repayment of the principal is obligatory. If you fail to make the payments, it raises serious questions on your liquidity position and its existence will be at stake.
- Risk – Like all other forms of debt financing, term loans increase the company’s financial risk. Debt financing is advantageous only if the concern’s internal rate of return is more than the cost of the capital. Otherwise it will adversely affect the benefit of the shareholders.
What do lenders usually look for?
- Character – Lenders generally tend to see how you have managed all your other loans (both personal and business). They also look at your business expertise before making a decision.
- Credit capacity – Usually, the lender will conduct a thorough credit analysis, including a comprehensive review of your personal finances and bank statements to get an idea of how well equipped you are to repay.
- Collateral – More often than not, this is your main source of repayment. Typically, the lender will want the value of this source to be bigger than the amount that you want to borrow.
- Capital – The lender will look at the assets you own that can be turned into cash if needed. If they are going to lend you money, they are going to want to know what all you own outside your business – apartment buildings, stocks, bonds – that can be used as an alternate source of repayment. If you undergo a loss, the assets you own will be tapped first. You will also be required to add a personal guarantee.
- Confidence/comfort with your business plan – Are your expense and revenue projections accurate? Expect the lender to make a comprehensive assessment of both. The condition of the industry and the economy also play a major role.
What You Need to Consider Before You Apply For a Term Loan
You need to think about the amount of money you need to borrow, the kind of loan you need and the time period you need it for. You should also think about whether you can afford to pay ongoing fees and interest. Here are the steps you need to take before you apply for a business loan:
- Draft a foolproof business plan – This is the most crucial step. The loan proposal must match with both the long term and short term goals that you have outlined for your business. This means that you need to think about the kind of commercial loan that you need and have a clear idea of how it will help you with the operation and growth of your business, whether you want to purchase new equipment or increase your working capital. The plan must also identify the history and operations of the business, ownership details, industry information, historical financial information and forecasts. When you’re preparing the application you must not mistake the cash flow for profit as most credit providers only look at the net profit, not the revenue you get from sales and services.
- Do your homework – It helps if you can ask for the exact amount that you need. If you ask for less or more than what you need, it will result in one of two likely outcomes – you will either have to revisit the lender and ask for an extra loan, or your application might end up being rejected. If you request for a large loan, then there is a chance that your application will get rejected since the loan decisions are based on formulas that determine how much your business can afford to borrow. Don’t forget to assess your business’ potential for growth against industry and company forecasts. This will give you an idea of how your loan will work with the trend and how it can be used to aid you with your loan repayments.
- Seek advice – The wide variety of loan services coupled with the complexity of the application process makes it worthwhile to seek the services of business counselors, accountants, business advisors and support groups, as well as government and non-government organizations. Seeking the advice of someone who has been through the loan process with success will allow you to closely analyze the appropriateness of the loan product in relation to the needs of your business.
Can you go for balloon payments?
With a balloon payment structure, the remaining balance of your loan comes due after you have made a percentage of your annual payments. Who exactly is it suited for? Balloon payments are perfect for businesses that have a limited repayment capacity in their early years but are able to refinance or repay the loan after being in operation for many years. The amortization schedule’s length as well as the balloon payment’s timing can be designed to fit your individual needs. You can amortize the loan over a long time to keep your payments small during the early years. You can use the financial calculator to compute your loan payment.
Why choose Sapphire Financial?
Our business term loans offer you flexible terms coupled with highly competitive interest rates that are designed to cover all your long term financing needs. We give your business the credit it deserves. We forge long lasting fruitful relationships with our clients and we choose them carefully. Once you have a working relationship with us, we will do our best to take care of your immediate and long term financial needs.
Term Loan Advantages & Disadvantages
Lowest down payments
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