Taking out loans can keep your business afloat but do it only as a last resort

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There are plenty of reasons for not taking out loans even if you are starving for cash to keep your businesses afloat

By: Hitesh Khan/

Every business needs extra cash from time to time, and there are plenty of good reasons to take on debt: to launch new products, expand your business, or purchase needed inventory.

Even though every business needs extra cash, there are also plenty of bad reasons for not taking out loans. Here are five.

1. To launch a new business idea before you have thoroughly researched it. Fads come and go; the goal is the find one that sticks. Before you decide to buy into the latest fad concept, spend some time doing market research and deciding whether or not the concept is a good match with your experience and interests. Many people think that owning a restaurant is glamorous but find out later that it is very hard work.

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Although every business needs extra cash, you have to do your homework before taking out loans.

Personal guarantee is an inherent part of obtaining small business loans but there are many ambiguities and misunderstandings that surround the topic of personal guarantees. A personal guarantee is an unsecured promise from an individual to make loan payments when a small business is not able to do so. “Unsecured” means it is a promise that is not backed up by a specific asset, such as real estate, in which case, the asset would be considered collateral.

A personal guarantee is an added assurance that you are serious about your business – and most importantly – serious about repaying the loan. One big reason why a personal guarantee is needed is because most lenders are bankers and are in the business of accepting deposits. They use those deposits to make small business and other loans, and, as a result, they are responsible for protecting the interests of their depositors.

Be mindful that while your small business may be a borrower, you are also a depositor. As such, you would be affected if an unscrupulous small business owner borrowed your company’s deposits and did not bother to repay them.

A personal guarantee is a psychological reminder to you of your company’s obligation to make timely payments and eventually repay the loan. If it fails, you are responsible. A personal guarantee shows your commitment to being a responsible business manager and repaying your business loan.

Every business needs extra cash and the financial affairs of a small business are commonly intertwined with the personal financial affairs of its owners, so it is logical and reasonable to ask you to promise to repay the loan, if your company cannot. be mindful of this when taking out loans. A personal guarantee offers lenders the ability to follow the due process to recover the business loan from you personally.

2. Your credit cards and lines of credit are maxed out. Even though your business needs extra cash, if you have exhausted all other available credit, maybe taking on more debt is a bad idea. When lenders see that you are overextended, you will likely be required to secure the loan with assets. If you are having difficulty paying your existing financial obligations, you are entering risky territory by gambling with your facilities, inventory, equipment, or even worse, your own house.

3. To make an impulse buy you can’t afford. Perhaps there is a new technology or machinery you think would benefit your business, or maybe you want to remodel or upgrade your facilities. While all of these things may prove advantageous to your business, you won’t be able to reap the rewards if you have leveraged all of your assets and the extra profits you make go toward repaying the loan. If the idea doesn’t bring in extra revenue, you are still responsible for paying back the loan. If you used assets to secure the loan, you may end up without a business at all.

4. You saw an advertisement or received an email about unbeatable interest rates. As the old adage goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. And on the outside chance that it is true, just because you can get a great interest rate doesn’t mean you should. Be mindful of this when taking out loans.

5. You want to consolidate your debts but haven’t learned how to budget. Maybe your company is going through a tough time, or maybe you have mismanaged your company’s finances and are now looking to consolidate all of your debts. Debt consolidation may ease the pressure temporarily, but you need to address the underlying problem if you want your business to succeed. Fix this before taking out loans.

As a high number of applications for SME loans are unsuccessful, besides understanding loan types, it is important for passionate business-owners to work with trusted hands, and people who know the industry. One recent research report said that up to 81 per cent of SMEs in Singapore do not qualify for business financing.

But credit access to SME loans to grow the business is often hindered by the lack the relevant financial knowledge and / or the resources to engage professional business consultancy services to manage and address their obligations and financial liabilities as business owners. The terrain to apply and qualify for SME loan is also uneven because creditors are not just banks but finance companies and other licensed lending entities whose security arrangements may be different or are more complicated.

Written by Ravi Chandran

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