November 29, 2023

Empower Your Business: Knowing Your Financial Rights in Borrowing

In today's fast-paced business world, getting the hang of borrowing can be a game-changer. It's a simple yet powerful tool that can put you way ahead in the race against your competitors...
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In today's fast-paced business world, getting the hang of borrowing can be a game-changer. It's a simple yet powerful tool that can put you way ahead in the race against your competitors. For week five of Financial Literacy Month, we delve into the essentials of recognizing and protecting your rights as a borrower, helping you make informed and confident decisions about your business.

The Landscape of Borrowing for Businesses

Navigating the borrowing landscape can be challenging and complex. As a business owner, understanding the act of borrowing money is not just about securing funds but doing it in a way that aligns with your long-term business goals.

Below are six crucial steps in the borrowing process, ensuring you make choices that not only meet your immediate financial needs but also support your business's growth and success.

1. Knowing Your Borrowing Options

Understanding the array of borrowing options available is crucial for any business owner looking to secure funding. Each option comes with its unique set of terms and benefits, making it essential to choose the one that aligns best with your business’s needs and financial health.

Knowing Your Borrowing Options - REV Capital

Begin by reviewing the various types of borrowing options available to you:

Traditional Loans: Offered by banks, these often have strict eligibility criteria but usually lower interest rates. These loans are best suited for businesses with a strong financial record and those needing larger funding.

Online Lenders: These lenders tend to offer more flexible options, especially beneficial for businesses that may not qualify for traditional bank loans. The application process is usually quicker, with less documentation required.

Credit Unions: Typically offer personalized service with competitive rates, especially for members, and can be a good option for smaller businesses seeking a more relationship-driven banking experience.

Peer to Peer (P2P) Lending: P2P platforms connect businesses with individual investors willing to lend money. These platforms often provide an alternative for those who may not have access to any other lending resources.

Merchant Cash Advances: These provide funds based on future credit card sales. They are usually quick to obtain but can be more expensive than other types of loans. This option is typically used by businesses with high credit card sales volume needing short-term funding.

2. Understanding the Fine Print

By thoroughly understanding the details of your loan agreement or contract, you can make informed decisions that align with your business’s financial goals and capacity.

Make sure you thoroughly review your:

• Interest Rates and Fees: It’s essential to understand whether the rate is fixed or variable. Fixed rates stay the same throughout the loan term, while variable rates can fluctuate. Additionally, be aware of any additional fees, such as origination fees or processing fees, as these can significantly affect the total cost of the loan.

• Repayment Terms: This includes the duration of the loan and how frequently payments must be made (monthly, quarterly, etc.). Understanding the repayment schedule is important for managing cashflow. Be mindful of any penalties for late payments or fees for early repayment, as some lenders charge a fee if you pay off your loan early.

• Collateral Requirements: Some loans require collateral, meaning you pledge certain assets (like property, equipment, or inventory) as security for the loan. If you default on the loan, the lender has the right to seize the collateral. Understanding what's at stake if you can't repay the loan is crucial in evaluating whether it’s a suitable option for your business.

3. Your Rights as a Borrower

As a borrower, you have a number of rights that are absolute in situations that involve the legal exchange of money in a borrower-lender relationship. Remembering and exercising these rights is key to ensure you have a fallback option when the waters get rough.

• Right to Transparent Information: Lenders are obligated to provide clear, accurate, and timely information about the loan terms. This includes explaining the interest rate, how much you need to pay back each month, any fees or charges that might apply, and the total cost of the loan over its lifetime. If there are any changes to your loan terms, make sure these are communicated clearly and promptly.

• Right to Non-discriminatory Practices: When you apply for a loan, the decision to approve you should only be based on your financial situation – like your income, expenses, credit history, and the purpose of the loan. It shouldn't be influenced by personal characteristics such as your race, gender, age, or other similar factors. If you suspect that your loan application was denied or you were given a bad deal based on discriminatory reasons, you have the right to ask for an explanation and, if necessary, file a complaint to the appropriate authorities.

• Right to Fair Debt Collection Practices: There are laws protecting borrowers from harassment and abuse by debt collectors. They explain how and when debt collectors can contact you and forbid them from using misleading or threatening tactics. While lenders have a right to collect what is owed, they must do so in a manner that is respectful and lawful. If necessary, get help from a consumer protection agency or legal advisor if you feel your rights are being violated.

4. Negotiating Loan Terms:

Being informed puts you in a stronger position to negotiate terms that are more favorable to your business. Don’t hesitate to negotiate interest rates, collateral requirements, or repayment schedules. If a loan requires collateral, discuss what assets need to be pledged and understand the consequences if you're unable to repay the loan. You might negotiate for a longer repayment term to reduce monthly payments or ask for a grace period before the first payment is due if you're investing in assets that will take time to generate returns.

5. The Importance of Credit Scores

A higher score often translates into lower interest rates, higher borrowing limits, and better loan terms. This is because a high credit score suggests a history of timely payments and responsible credit management. You can use a variety of tactics to help with your credit score such as keeping your credit utilization ratio low and maintaining a healthy mix of credit (such as revolving credit and installment loans) which contribute positively to your score.

The Importance Of Credit Scores - REV Capital

6. Legal and Financial Advice

It’s often worth investing in legal or financial advice when taking out larger loans. Financial advisors and consultants can help you understand the details of your loan agreement and work to reassess your financial plan by exploring more options like restructuring your debt or presenting you with alternative funding options to help you navigate your emergency.

Maintaining Financial Health Post-Borrowing

After obtaining a loan, it's vital to keep a close eye on your business's financial health. Managing your debt sustainably is key to ensuring the long-term success of your business.

This involves:

• Debt-to-Income Ratio: Keep an eye on your debt-to-income ratio, which compares your monthly debt payments to your monthly income. A lower ratio means you are using less of your income to pay off debt, which is generally healthier for your business.

• Avoid Excessive Borrowing: Resist the temptation to take on more debt than your business can handle. Even if additional funding is available, consider the long-term effects of increasing your debt.

• Prioritize High-Cost Debt: If you have multiple loans, prioritize paying off the ones with higher interest rates first. This approach can reduce the amount of interest you pay over time, freeing up more money for other business needs.

• Plan for Future Loan Needs: If you anticipate needing more loans in the future, manage your current debt wisely to maintain a good credit score. A history of responsible debt management can make it easier to secure loans with favorable terms in the future.

Sustaining Your Financial Success

Understanding and protecting your financial rights in borrowing is an important part of maintaining your business’s financial health. It empowers you to make smarter borrowing decisions, negotiate better terms, and handle financial challenges more effectively.

If you're looking for ways to manage or eliminate business debt to help with your borrowing power, consider invoice factoring. Our factoring services can provide a practical and efficient way to boost your cashflow, giving you more flexibility and control over your finances, easing the burden of existing debt, and strengthening your financial position.

For personalized advice and solutions that align with your business’s unique financial needs, talk to the team at REV Capital today and explore strategies to not only protect your financial rights but also propel your business toward sustained financial success.

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