No matter how you slice it, taking on debt is a really big decision as a new business owner. It's personal, it's dependent on a lot of factors, and no one can make the decision for you.
That's why we decided to document our personal experience applying for and making the decision to accept an SBA loan.
This article is a bit different than others on our blog: it's a documentation of our experience and may not apply to everyone. Check out this guide if you're interested in applying for an SBA loan, or, read on to see how we approached the question of "Should I get a business loan?"
Debt is Leverage, Not a Savior
If your business is struggling, it can be easy to see outside financing as something that will pull you out of the rut. You think to yourself, "If I can just get some cash in the bank, I can make the next payroll, afford the next bill, and survive another month." If your business is in financial trouble, the core issue that you're encountering may not be the lack of immediate cash, even though it may feel like it.
Similarly, if you're starting a new business it often feels like cash is your biggest hurdle. How do you come up with the initial investment to get your business off the ground!? Transitioning from an idea to something real is a huge effort, but it's often not the cash requirements that are bogging you down.
New businesses often fail - or even worse, never start - because they focus on everything except sales. Existing businesses can fail, too, when they don't prioritize making money and get bogged down by expenses.
Regardless of your core problem, adding debt to the mix will amplify your current state.
Debt is often referred to as leverage because it allows you to harness the power of more cash to achieve something you may not be capable of by yourself. For example, if you run an e-commerce business and realize that your digital marketing efforts have helped you consistently sell a product at a low cost per click, you can use debt to acquire large amounts of your best-selling product and maximize your returns.
Similarly, if you're a service-based business looking to expand your offices, you can leverage debt to acquire another business and expand your empire.
Debt is used to maximize your potential return on investment. It can be incredibly helpful in starting a new business if there are significant startup costs involved. Still, for a business in the depths of a struggle, debt is not a ladder out. A real solution must be in place to fix the existing issues before any amount of money can help.
Once you've found a solid solution to your core issue, you can use debt to amplify the results of that solution.