What You Need to Know

Startup financing is a huge consideration and an important decision for any aspiring entrepreneur. There are plenty of ways to fund a business, and whether you borrow money, dip into your savings or go another route, you need to understand your options before you choose.

While these are far from the only ways to finance your startup, here are three of the most popular methods today’s entrepreneurs choose.

Borrowing
Traditional bank loans
The notoriously high rejection rate of bank business loans combined with the proliferation of online lenders has made traditional business lending seem like it’s not even worth the time and effort. But plenty of small business owners still turn to local and national banks, as well as the Small Business Administration (SBA), to help them finance their operations.

“There’s still a lingering perception out there that banks aren’t lending, but that’s not true,” said Jay DesMarteau, head of regional commercial specialty segments at TD Bank.

“Traditional bank loans typically offer better terms and build credit, but the arduous [process] that comes along with this type of financing often overextends time-to-credit necessary to meet the small business’s needs,” added Matt Schaffnit, CFA, co-founder and COO of Lending Technologies Corp.

Alternative lending
Alternative lenders provide quicker, smaller, more flexible loans through an online application and transfer process. Depending on your credit score, you can be approved for a loan in a matter of minutes and have your money in just a day or two.

While having all these options can be great for businesses that may not qualify for a traditional bank loan, it also means you’ll need to be much more diligent about researching potential lenders and their reputations. Sabrina Parsons, CEO of Palo Alto Software, said that although online lenders will make a lot of promises about their funds, some are just “sharks” out to take advantage of small business owners.

“These sharks will charge business owners to ‘qualify’ for a loan and to have access to their lenders,” Parsons said. “[Also, some alternative] loans can come at a very high interest rate, and business owners need to understand the implications of these types of loans.”

Important Business Trends to Watch

Financing has always been a big challenge for new startups. But as evidenced by the growing number of Kickstarter success stories, the business world is learning how effective it can be to raise money through small contributions from a large number of people.

As the popularity of crowdfunding continues to skyrocket, more startups and small businesses are taking advantage of the various trends that emerge in this space in the coming years. Here are three big ones to watch.

Crowdfunding will remain a popular funding choice
In years past, crowdfunding for businesses was a novelty, a rare exception to the traditional methods of bank loans, venture capital and borrowing money. Today, announcing your crowdfunding campaign is just as common as any of these other options, if not more so. In fact, Forbes reported that in 2016 crowdfunding is expected to surpass venture capital as a means of financing.

“Many major news organizations are now highlighting noteworthy campaigns,” said Bill Clerico, co-founder and CEO of WePay, a payment service provider for crowdfunding, marketplace and small business platforms. “That’s not just good for the campaigns, but it also normalizes the behavior and leads to more people [giving to] crowdfunding [campaigns].”

Nonprofits will benefit more from crowdfunding
While businesses in any industry can use crowdfunding, the nonprofit and charity sector has particularly benefited from the growth of this financing method.

“This entire industry is being disrupted with the introduction of crowdfunding of donations,” said Anisa Mirza, CEO and co-founder of charity crowdfunding platform Giveffect.

“Charities are seeing a twofold benefit from crowdfunding,” Clerico added. “First, it’s proven to be an extremely efficient way to solicit and manage donations compared with other methods. Second, the additional social and viral potentials of crowdfunding campaigns can give smaller charities a cost-effective way to create awareness for their cause.

Equity crowdfunding will grow
In 2012, Congress passed the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act to bring equity crowdfunding to the forefront. After three years of being stalled, the final provisions of this multipart bill were approved in 2015, and made it possible for small businesses nationwide to raise money through equity crowdfunding, even across state lines.

In an interview about Title IV of the JOBS Act (also known as Regulation A+), Alex Feldman, CEO and founder of crowdfunding review site CrowdsUnite, told Business News Daily that the rule will allow a much greater percentage of private startups to receive investment money. He noted that investments in small, community businesses, such as local restaurants or boutiques, will be driven by customers who want to keep those businesses running.

“This will be a huge shift in the traditional funding paradigm that will change how small businesses raise money,” Feldman said.

For more information on direct public offerings through equity crowdfunding, see this Business News Daily article.

Tips for new crowdfunders
If you’re hoping to launch a crowdfunding campaign in the near future, you should read the fine print on the platform or site you want to use, Mirza advised. Not all crowdfunding platforms are created equal, and before you launch a campaign or make your account, you should know the ins and outs of the site.

“Truly understand the platform you are choosing,” Mirza said. “From traditional crowdfunding venture firms like Brightspark to platforms like AngelList, or even general platforms like Indiegogo and Kickstarter, there is a myriad of options. And chances are there is one that is better than others for your startup.”

You’ll also need a solid marketing plan to get your campaign off the ground.You may have a great idea that people are willing to fund, but if they don’t know about it, you’ll never see a dime of their money. Clerico reminded campaigners that crowdfunding is a challenging marketing exercise, and you need a strong, well-executed plan to raise the capital you require.

“Calculate how many people need to give at a specific amount to achieve your goal, and then devise a marketing plan to reach that many people,” Clerico said. “Be sure to identify early champions, those who can rally their network to help you reach your goal. Reaching out to media outlets and blogs can help your campaign get distribution as well.”

Jonathan Wilson, an attorney at Taylor English law firm, said he agreed: Although communicating with potential investors is easier than ever before, you need an organized campaign to make it work, he said.

“Campaigns fail that don’t have their business plans fully baked before they launch,” Wilson said. “Invest the time to complete a business plan and all of the related contracts before trying to tell [your] story through crowdfunding.”

While crowdfunding may never fully replace traditional funding options, Clerico said he believes small businesses, especially those outside of the tech industry, will continue to benefit tremendously from this method of raising capital.

Affordable Cities for Startups

For the second year in a row, cities in the South give entrepreneurs the best chances to keep their startup costs low, while big cities remain among the most expensive places to start a new business, new research finds.

The study from SmartAsset revealed that nine of the 10 cheapest cities to start a new business in are in southern states, including three in Tennessee.

To find the cities with the lowest startup costs, SmartAsset collected data on the typical costs of starting and running a business in 80 of the largest cities in the United States. They calculated the total expected startup costs over the first year of operation for a company based on five factors:

1,000 square feet of office space.
The cost of gas and electricity for a 1,000-square-foot office.
The average cost of filing fees for either incorporation or filing as an LLC.
Legal and accounting fees.
Payroll costs for five full-time employees, earning the city’s median annual salary.
Topping this year’s rankings of the most affordable cities for startups is Chattanooga, Tennessee. The city is attractive for entrepreneurs looking to save money because of its relatively low costs for office space and employee payroll. The research shows that it would cost $225,442 for a business owner with five employees and a 1,000-square-foot office to run a first-year startup there. That’s up about 2 percent from a year ago when the costs were $221,000.

“If you decide to start a business in the Gig City, you’ll be in good company,” the study’s authors wrote. “Many startups and accelerators operate there, including the Lamp Post Group and Gigtank 365.”

Overall, the 10 most affordable cities to launch a startup in are:

Chattanooga, Tennessee: $225,442
Wichita, Kansas: $232,057
Greensboro, North Carolina: $232,326
Columbia, South Carolina: $232,541
Knoxville, Tennessee: $232,620
Little Rock, Arkansas: $233,877
Memphis, Tennessee: $234,524
Lexington, Kentucky: $234,945
Orlando, Florida: $236,513
Winston-Salem, North Carolina: $237,983
Similar to a year ago, many of the 10 most expensive locations for startups are larger cities, including three in northern California: San Jose, San Francisco and Oakland.

For the second year in a row, San Jose and San Francisco are ranked as the two costliest cities to launch a business in. San Jose, where costs rose 3.9 percent from 2015, has the most expensive payroll and legal and accounting costs of the 10 cities with the highest startup costs, while San Francisco had the third highest office space and legal and accounting costs and second highest payroll expenses.

Show VCs You’re Playing to Win

There is an unconscious bias among venture capitalists that is preventing female entrepreneurs from securing more funding, new research suggests.

A study set to be published in an upcoming issue of the Academy of Management Journal revealed that venture capitalists have different expectations of men and women entrepreneurs, which in turn impacts how much, if any, money they give them.

The research argues that the bias comes in the form of the questions venture capitalists pose to entrepreneurs when trying to learn more about their startups. Specifically, women are asked questions that focus on how they won’t lose a venture capitalist’s money, while the questions to men focus on how much money they can make.

“Female entrepreneurs are implicitly expected to prove that they can execute a safe return for the investor, whereas male entrepreneurs are instead expected to show the opportunity can grow,” the study’s authors wrote.

In turn, the answers the entrepreneurs give match the focus of those questions. The researchers said this prompts female business owners to position their startups as “playing not to lose,” referred to as prevention-focused, while men are better able to position themselves as “playing to win,” referred to as promotion-focused – the latter of which is much more appealing to investors.

The study’s authors said the unconscious bias comes from investors of both genders.

“Both male and female venture capitalists display implicit bias, holding men and women to different standards, [which] implies that the funding disparity cannot be corrected by merely ensuring that more female VCs are in a position to evaluate investment opportunities,” the study’s authors wrote.

Researchers came to their conclusions after analyzing the questions posed by venture capitalists at TechCrunch Disrupt, a startup competition held annually in major cities around the world. Since its launch in 2009, entrepreneurs who have presented at the competition have raised about $7 billion in venture funding over their lifetimes.

For part of the research, the study’s authors looked at data involving 189 startups that presented at the New York competitions organized by TechCrunch Disrupt from 2010 through 2016. The researchers specifically looked at video footage of Q&As between each company’s founder and a panel of venture capitalists. After transcribing all of the videos, they were able to determine the balance between promotion focus and prevention focus in company-panel interactions and the relationship of this balance to companies’ funding achievements over time.

The study’s authors, who statistically confirmed that the male- and female-led startups had comparable capital needs, discovered that male entrepreneurs secured more than five times as much funding as their female counterparts.

“Male entrepreneurs are more likely to be asked promotion-focused questions, whereas female entrepreneurs are more likely to be asked prevention-focused questions,” the researchers wrote. “Comparing dollars raised [over company lifetimes], we note that startups raised an average of $16.8 million when investors asked predominantly promotion questions, 7.21 times more funding than the average $2.3 million raised by those asked predominantly prevention questions.”

The study’s authors also conducted an online experiment in which angel and seed investors were played audiotapes of Q&As similar to the interactions at TechCrunch Disrupt. The investors were asked to allot hypothetical dollars based on what they heard.

Great Ways to Use It for Growth

Unless you’ve aggressively saved money to bootstrap your business, you’ll likely need to borrow money at some point to make ends meet, whether it’s a formal loan through a bank or online lender or an informal one from family and friends.

Regardless of the amount or source of your loan, it can be tempting to make those big “nice to have” purchases when the money hits your bank account. However, it’s important to plan your spending carefully and allocate borrowed funds toward expenses that will ultimately accelerate your business’s growth.

We spoke with small business lending experts about smart ways to put business capital to work.

1. Equipment and operational costs
When you’re just starting out, you may not necessarily have the funds for all the basic elements your business needs to function. Jay DesMarteau, head of commercial bank specialty segments at TD Bank, said early-stage businesses will often use their funds for operational necessities such as buying inventory and building products.

“We are also seeing higher demand for lines of credit, which typically are used to finance short-term needs, such as buying or leasing equipment, purchasing a company vehicle or injecting cash into the business during a lean period, especially seasonal businesses,” DesMarteau added.

2. Payroll and hiring
A company is only as strong as the people behind it, and investing your new loan funds in hiring can be a great way to help your business grow.

“True growth means spending funds to add employees who can take over some tasks such as bookkeeping or ordering supplies and help support the daily functions,” said DesMarteau. “This will allow the business owner to better focus on long-term strategy and driving profitable revenue growth.”

Isaac Rodriguez, CEO of Provident Loan Society, notes that as a not-for-profit collateral lender, most of his organization’s loans are made for short-term expenses such as meeting payroll.

3. Soft costs
“Soft” costs, as opposed to “hard” physical assets or products, are those expenses that don’t directly help create a product or provide a service but are necessary to keep your business functioning. This includes things like licenses, marketing campaigns and professional fees, said Rodriguez. This could also cover fees for advisors like CPAs, attorneys and bankers.

“Maximize the use of capital,” Rodriguez told Business News Daily. “For example, don’t just pay legal fees and get tax returns done – explore how those professionals can help grow your business through referrals, recommendations, introductions, etc.”

4. Technology
From mom and pop shops to software startups, technology plays an integral role for most modern businesses. Even businesses that aren’t focused on a tech product may still need to invest in hardware and software to make their daily operations more efficient.

David Reiling, CEO of Minnesota-based Sunrise Banks, confirmed this trend, noting that many of the bank’s small business customers now use their borrowed capital for technology purchases.

“Traditionally, businesses come to us when they need to expand, whether they have outgrown their space, are increasing their production capabilities, or [are] adding staff,” Reiling told Business News Daily. “Recently, there has been a change, with a large number of businesses investing in their technology infrastructure to keep pace with growing digitalization.”

What’s the Best Choice for Your Business

Finding ways to fund your business is often a major concern for entrepreneurs. While there are many types of financing, don’t settle for just anything.

If you are looking to open a business or expand your current operation, there are two main financing options: debt financing or equity financing. Deciding which one is right for your business can be confusing. Below we’ve outlined each option, including the pros and cons of each method.

What is debt financing?
Debt financing is borrowing funds from an outside source with the commitment to repay, plus interest. This encompasses traditional loans, such as those offered by banks. Borrowers make payments monthly and offer a form of collateral, such as inventory, real estate, accounts receivable, insurance policies or equipment, which can be used to repay the loan if the borrower defaults on the loan.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) is a popular choice for business owners. The SBA offers loans with lower interest rates and longer terms, but there are stricter requirements for approval.

Alternatives to business loans include merchant cash advances, personal lines of credit and business credit cards. With some of the alternative financing methods, borrowers may be required to make weekly payments or repay a percentage of their profits rather than make fixed monthly payments.

Pros and cons of debt financing
Debt financing is available in some form for most small business owners. It is most popular with traditional business, such as those companies in the manufacturing or retail sectors. With traditional debt financing, borrowers retain complete control of their business, and they have a finite agreement with their lender.

However, the repayment and interest terms can be steep. Borrowers typically begin making payments the first month after the loan has funded, which can be challenging, because the business isn’t on firm financial footing yet.

Another disadvantage of debt financing is the potential for personal financial losses if it becomes impossible to repay the loan. Whether a business owner is risking their personal credit score, personal property, or previous investments in their business, it can be devastating to default on a loan.

What is equity financing?
Equity financing involves funding business aspirations by selling individual shares of the company to investors. Business owners who choose this method don’t have to repay the money with regular installments. Instead, those individuals who purchased shares of the company become partial owners who are entitled to a portion of the profits for as long as they hold those shares.

One of the most common arrangements has investors waiting to be repaid until the business is earning a predefined profit. Payments then continue until investors have been repaid and received the agreed-upon profit.

In other situations, investors may retain their shares unless they are sold. Usually, smaller businesses approach friends and family to invest, but angel investors and venture capitalists may invest in a business.

Effectively Market Your Equity Crowdfunding Campaign

Equity crowdfunding, a creation of the 2012 Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, is an alternative way for startups and small businesses to crowdsource capital from investors and consumers who are passionate about their products or services. However, running an equity crowdfunding campaign can be difficult; there are many startups vying for the crowd’s dollars, and making your voice heard in a sea of exciting ideas can be difficult.

The success of these types of campaigns largely rides on how you market your company to the crowd. Establish a unique brand and a voice that cuts through the clutter, and you’ll get you the capital you need to get moving. Fail to forge an essential emotional connection, and your equity crowdfunding campaign could end in failure. Here’s how to make sure your crowdfunding endeavor pays off in both capital raise and brand awareness.

1. Know your audience and cultivate relationships.
The first step toward any successful equity crowdfunding campaign is to understand your audience. What are their needs or desires? Why would they support your product? Even more importantly, why would they be passionate about your product? Forging an emotional connection starts with understanding your potential supporters and catering to their needs, both with a quality product and impactful storytelling.

“Emotional connection really comes when you understand your audience and the people you’re trying to reach,” said Chris Westfall, a pitch strategist and author of “Bulletproof Branding” (Marie Street Press, 2014). “Oftentimes for entrepreneurs, this means look for the impact. Giving people something to believe in, that emotional connection, that’s what [draws the crowd].”

Reaching the correct audience is also a matter of medium and messaging, said Mark Stanich, president with the ELEQT Group. High-quality photos and video are huge boosts when it comes to marketing ideas; allowing potential investors to place themselves in the shoes of a satisfied customer brings them one step closer to understanding the value of your idea. It’s also imperative to speak to the things that make your idea stand out from the rest.

“In terms of actual messaging, why is it different than competition? How does it fit a true need or desire for your lifestyle? Is it simple to use? [Does it] free up time to do other things? Make life easier?” Stanich said. “There’s this area of social investing that’s becoming very important … If you can speak to those things, you build this emotional bond. Obviously, financial return is important in equity crowdfunding, but I think that’s not enough. I think many people want to support something they really believe in.”

2. Keep it simple.
Keep your message simple. Overwhelming audiences with too much information or the slew of benefits your product provides – even if they’re all valid – is a surefire way to lose their attention. The shorter and sweeter your pitch, the better.

“You need a simple, distilled description of your product,” Stanich said. “People often launch something and love it and want to go on and on about it, but that’s complicated and noisy. There are lots of other competing products, so you need to keep it very, very simple.

“As you go further down the path of investment, you can flesh the benefits out and talk more and more,” he added.

Consistency and simplicity go hand in hand. That means aligning your brand with the right platforms, speaking to the right audience with the right message, and selling the right idea, Westfall said.

“You want alignment every step of the way,” he told Business News Daily. “Choose the right platform and you’ll reach the right people. But if you have the right idea in the wrong platform, that still adds up to the wrong idea. You want to be careful and deliberate about picking your alignment, from the platform you choose, to the way you approach it, to the methods you use.”

3. Build a strong brand.
Without a clear brand and associated message for your campaign, it’s easy to miss opportunities to engage potentially interested investors. On the other hand, if your brand is successful and consistent, it will be much easier to initially grab people and encourage them to investigate your idea further.

“A broad crowdfunding platform gives you a place to stand in the market square, but they don’t give you a megaphone,” Stanich said. “Successful campaigns have [an] existing connections base already with people passionate about [their] product, or if they don’t already have a big base to tap into or influence, they build an emotional bond with passionate people. That’s when you start to get viral pickup … That’s when you see successful campaigns.”

Finance in the Legal Cannabis Industry

The legal cannabis industry is one of the fastest growing in the U.S. In 2016 alone, the industry brought in $6.9 billion – a 30 percent increase over the previous year, according to Arcview Market Research.

Still, cannabis remains federally illegal, placing the entire legal industry in a precarious position subject to the whims of each Congress and administration. Banks and larger venture capital firms are hesitant to enter the game, leaving the industry undercapitalized.

The undercapitalization of a multibillion dollar industry
The federal prohibition has led to several problems, but few so stark as the lack of access to banking and conventional financing options like checking accounts, lines of credit and business loans. Its breakneck growth might appear healthy, but the cannabis industry has a financial albatross around its neck. Without the ability to bank like other businesses, entrepreneurs and employees alike suffer.

“There’s no regular way to access institutional capital for the cannabis entrepreneur in the U.S.,” said Hadley Ford, co-founder of iAnthus Capital Management. “Unless you have a rich family member or a strong balance sheet, you’ve got to bootstrap. And that [slows] the growth of the industry quite significantly.”

“It’s crippling right now. You don’t realize how important banking is until you don’t have it – just giving employees a paycheck is just brutal,” added Keegan Peterson, CEO of payroll and HR company Wurk. “In a cash environment, it’s difficult to even prove you paid [your employees], or your vendors, or your tax liability.”

Banks aren’t the only ones hesitant to enter the cannabis sector. Large venture capital firms have eyed the industry with interest, but thus far have been reluctant to stake much of a claim in the fledgling industry.

“With later stage companies, [it’s] difficult to make the jump from raising a few million up to five or 10 million,” Micah Tapman, managing director of Colorado-based accelerator CanopyBoulder, told Business News Daily. “There really aren’t larger venture capital or private equity firms playing yet. They’re looking at it but not writing checks.”

A number of reasons beyond simply federal prohibition figure into their calculations, he said. The fragmented nature of the industry and the varying regulations state by state are also great concerns, in addition to the constant fear that the Department of Justice will reverse course on the Cole Memorandum, which has thus far allowed legal entities to operate in compliance with their home states’ laws. All of this adds up to a significant lack of the working capital that would otherwise be in play.

As a result, the industry has produced some workarounds. Largely bootstrapped companies find themselves relying on angel investors and accelerators to get to the next level. Here are some of the solutions that have evolved out of the legal cannabis industry’s financial plight.

Business Loan Myths Busted

Obtaining a loan for your small business is a great way to boost investment and even grow your business when the time is ripe. You might have heard some grumblings about small business loans: they’re hard to obtain; your credit has to be flawless; don’t ask for too much money or you’ll be denied. Fortunately, these prominent myths surrounding small business lending aren’t necessarily true.

It’s important to manage debt properly, but doing so can help grow your business at a faster rate than scrimping and saving. To help you obtain a small business loan for your company, Business News Daily spoke with finance experts to debunk six common myths about getting a business loan.

Myth No. 1: Getting a small business loan is the hardest thing you’ll ever have to do.
Like other forms of financing, obtaining a small business loan is all about preparation. Ensuring your books are transparent and you maintain the reserve liquidity to encourage the lender that you’ll be able to service your debt on time and consistently will lead to success. And experts agree the best way to avoid unnecessary snags is to prepare ahead of time for the application process.

“A lot of the frustration around obtaining small business financing can be eased by doing your due diligence,” said Michael Adam, founder and CEO of Bankmybiz, a site that connects business owners with business funders. “Be prepared, and have all your documents ready to present to lenders.”

Low credit scores are a concern for some lenders, but banks aren’t the only lenders out there. Alternative and private lenders are often able to offer more flexible terms, including which level of creditworthiness they can approve.

“While traditional banks may be restrictive when it comes to obtaining credit, there are alternative options,” said Michael Kevitch, president and founder of Small Business Funding.

Alternative lending sites such as Small Business Funding tend to base lending decisions on the financial realities of a business rather than the financial history of business owners. Specifically, Kevitch said, alternative lenders take a close look at business performance, industry type, time in business and cash flow before handing out a loan.

Tips to Easily Obtain Financing

Obtaining a small business loan can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be a nightmare. Coming to the application process prepared can help you easily obtain the capital you need to bring your business to the next level. That means having all of your ducks in a row and showing the lender that you’re a reliable borrower who will pay back the loan on time.

Want to speed up the process and make the loan application process go more smoothly? Business News Daily spoke with small business financing experts to find out what you can do to improve your chances of getting that loan quickly and painlessly.

1. Keep your documents in order.
Transparency into the financial state of your business is an absolute must! The application process will be more seamless if you take the time to keep your financial, accounting and tax records up-to-date and accurate. Make sure your business has a system in place to keep everything organized. You might even consider hiring an accountant, said Mason Cole, co-founder of the law firm Cole Sadkin.

“Many small business owners attempt to save money by self-financing and handling their own bookkeeping,” Cole said. “However, this too frequently leads to owners ignoring the books when they get too busy. A good accountant will also help the owner to look at the books without emotion when making the tough decisions.”

2. Maintain good credit.
In addition to keeping track of your documents, make sure to pay your bills on time. You’ll have to meet some type of credit criteria, so it’s important to have the best credit possible. Avoid foreclosures, bankruptcies, charge-offs and late payments. While banks have different credit requirements, good credit is an essential part of the process.

This also means you should apply for one loan at a time! Lenders often require a credit report that can mildly impact your credit. Applying for too many loans at once could kill your chances of obtaining any financing, said Nate Masterson, director of HR for Maple Holistics.

“When submitting a full loan application, the lender will do what is called a ‘hard pull’ of your credit score, an action which can knock a few points off of your credit score. As a one-off this is not a big deal, but if you apply to many lenders, all of whom knock a few points off of your credit score, this will surely add up,” Masterson said. “Don’t bring your overall odds down by applying for as many loans as possible – start by applying for the loan that you have the best chance of securing and work from there.”

3. Know which type of loan you need.
Understanding the type of loan that works best for you is imperative. Applying for a highly scrutinized loan like a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan when all you need is a line of credit will greatly slow down the process and possibly even end in a denial.

“The biggest myths based around small business lending are that it is hard to get approved, expensive and takes too long to get done. The truth is that it depends on what program they are applying for,” said Jonathon Fodera, president of Sprout Lending. “If a business owner is looking for an SBA loan they have higher standards and take 30 to 90 days to complete. They will ask for much more documentation as well. If a business owner applies for a line of credit or merchant cash advance the requirements and documents needed are less stringent.”