As an entrepreneur or small business owner, you know that quick access to capital is often the difference between seizing a new opportunity or watching it slip away. However, traditional bank loans require extensive paperwork and strict qualification criteria, which can take weeks or months to secure. When you need funding fast to purchase inventory, hire staff, invest in equipment, or bridge a cash flow gap, an online business loan may be the solution.
Speed and Convenience Are Key
One of the biggest advantages online lenders have over brick-and-mortar banks is the ability to quickly approve and fund loans. While banks may take upwards of 90 days to approve and disburse funds, leading online lenders can approve your application in minutes, and deposit loan proceeds the next business day. This accelerated timeline allows you to act decisively on time-sensitive investments and expenses.
What makes online loans easy is the speed and convenience of the application and funding process. The convenience of applying for and managing an online loan from your computer or smartphone also cannot be overstated. Modern digital lenders have created user-friendly online platforms that consolidate the borrowing experience. You can upload documents, e-sign loan agreements, chat live with customer service agents, review payment schedules/terms, and monitor account balances through a single portal. Not having to visit a bank branch physically saves you significant time and hassle.
New Data Sources Lead to Broader Approvals
In addition to speed, online lenders differentiate themselves by using new data sources and algorithms to qualify applicants. Most online lenders analyze thousands of unique data points from integrated business software, online sales, shipping accounts, and business bank accounts to understand an applicant’s overall financial health. This gives them greater insight to accurately assess creditworthiness.
Rather than relying largely on consumer credit scores like banks, leading alternative lenders take a holistic, real-time view of a business’s performance. This allows approvals for newer businesses with limited credit history, loans for higher amounts, and second-chance financing for businesses turned down by traditional lenders. Thanks to their progressive, data-based approach, approval rates through online lenders can be exponentially higher.
Loans Tailored to Your Needs
Online business loans also provide more flexible options that address specific capital needs. While banks generally offer rigid installment loans repaid over a few years, online lenders provide specialized products like:
- Merchant Cash Advances – Funds repaid as a percentage of future sales, so payments scale up/down automatically with revenue. No set monthly payments.
- Line of Credit – A revolving credit line that allows multiple withdrawals up to a maximum cap based on eligibility. You only pay interest on what you use.
- Invoice Factoring – Receive funding against unpaid customer invoices to bridge the profit gap until invoices are paid. Percentage withheld once customers pay.
- Term Loans – Installment loans for a set amount/term, with daily/weekly/monthly payments. Rates as low as 6-8% from top lenders.
- SBA Loans – Online platforms like Lendio and OnDeck offer streamlined access to SBA loans with preferred rates/terms for qualifying businesses.
This diversity of online financing products empowers you to choose the exact type and amount of capital that best supports your goals and cash flow capabilities.
What to Look for in an Online Lender
While online loans provide many advantages, you must still vet potential lenders thoroughly. Pay particular attention to:
Interest Rates + Fees- Compare all-in costs across multiple lenders. Some disclose fees upfront clearly, while others surprise you. Never accept a loan with an APR exceeding 36%.
Funding Speed- Double-check transfer times promised by lenders. Leading options provide next-day funding.
Flexible Payment Terms- See if payments can be adjusted if your revenues dip or costs increase. Avoid lenders charging expensive modification fees. Customer Support- Check lender rating on TrustPilot and the value of their customer service reputation. This determines the quality of support if issues arise.
Security + Transparency- Only work with accredited lenders that safeguard data with bank-level encryption, provide clear loan contracts and adhere to responsible lending policies.
While evaluating many variables may seem daunting, reputable online lenders actually make securing necessary capital easier than ever, thanks to innovative technologies and customer-centric policies created specifically to serve small business owners.
The Future is Digital
Ultimately, online lending represents the future of small business finance thanks to unparalleled convenience. As millennials and subsequent generations – for whom digital experiences are second nature – increasingly make up the entrepreneurial ecosystem, seamless digital lending will become the expectation rather than an exception.
Even established business owners need to recognize the strategic edge technology-powered capital provides in outpacing rivals. Those leveraging digital-native tools often outperform outdated peers clinging to legacy processes like manual bank loans.
If you have an urgent capital need holding your business back, you should know that ready and flexible online financing options exist to strategically power your vision forward on your timeline. The ability to scale on demand at market speed is no longer reserved just for unicorns with deep pockets. Through online loans, cash to fuel your expansion is only ever a few clicks away!