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3 ways to get a small-business loan

SBA loans

Another way to find a bank loan is through the Small Business Administration, or SBA. The SBA can direct you to banks that offer loans guaranteed by the agency. This way, you'll have the advantage of approaching banks specifically interested in lending to small businesses.

Interested businesses should contact the SBA office nearest to them, which can be found on the agency's website. Jeanne Hulit, the SBA's acting administrator, urges businesses to seek a bank that is an experienced SBA lender.

Banks granting SBA loans place increased emphasis on business plans, cash flow and profit forecasts in deciding whether to lend, she says. The SBA also can refer businesses to free counseling centers to improve their performance.

Online opportunities

Another source for loans is the Internet. There are several sites where businesses can seek alternative lenders, such as individuals and small companies.

Interest rates are generally a little higher than what a bank will charge, but it's much less than what you'll have to pay on many credit cards.

Look around at different sites, some may charge a one-time fee to list your business, while others are free to list but might have fees reflected in loan rates.

If you're going to list your company on one of these sites, describe your business in clear and concise language.

Lastly, make sure to investigate the company you are looking to post your business on. These kinds of companies were successful in 2008 and during the recession, but times have changed. Many have since gone out of business. Before paying for anything, make sure the company is legit.

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