A Guide to First-Time Business Loans: Getting Started

Camino Financial24 Apr 2024
A Guide to First-Time Business Loans: Getting Started

Securing your first-time business loan is significant when undertaking an entrepreneurial venture.

We design this guide to help you navigate this process, offering practical insights and tips.

Whether you're dreaming about opening a corner coffee shop or launching the next big tech startup, getting a business loan could be the pivotal first step in transforming your vision into reality.

So, let's get started and take a closer look at how to secure funding that aligns perfectly with your business needs.

Table of Contents
1. Business loans 101: definition, how they work & components
2. The do's and don'ts of getting your first small business loan
3. Pros and cons of business loans
4. How to get a first-time small business loan
5. First-time business loan requirements
6. Types of small business loans
7. How to choose the right business loan for your needs
8. How to prepare for a business loan application
9. What to do after you get approved for a business loan
10. How to manage your business loan effectively
11. Common mistakes to avoid when applying for a business loan
12. Best uses for a first-time business loan
13. FAQs

Business Loans 101: Definition, How They Work & Components

A business loan is a financial agreement between a borrower (the business) and a lender (a bank, credit union, or online lender). Once the borrower applies, the lender assesses the business's creditworthiness, financial health, and potential profitability before approving the loan. If approved, the lender provides the business with a certain amount of money they agree to repay over a specified period, along with interest. Here's a breakdown of the key components:

Loan Principal

This is the amount of money you borrow. The size of the loan principal depends on your business needs, your creditworthiness, and the lender's policies.

Interest Rate

The interest rate is the cost of borrowing money, expressed as a percentage of the loan amount. Interest rates can be either "variable" (changes with market conditions) or "fixed" (stays the same for the duration of the loan). The rate you get depends on various factors, including your credit score, the health of your business, the loan term, and the type of loan.

Loan Term

This is the period in which you agree to repay the loan. Short-term loans might be due within a year, while long-term loans can last several years.

Repayment Schedule

This details when and how frequently you'll make payments (e.g., monthly or quarterly). Keeping up with these repayments is important to avoid late fees and negative impacts on your credit score.


You could find secured loans, meaning you pledge certain assets to back the loan. The lender can seize the collateral if you fail to repay the loan. Unsecured loans don't require collateral but usually have higher interest rates due to the higher risk for the lender.

The Do's and Don'ts of Getting Your First Small Business Loan for a Business

Acquiring funding requires careful planning and thoughtful execution. It's not just about getting loans for the first time as a business owner; it's about doing it right.


  1. Do your research. Before applying for a loan, it's essential to research and understand the different types of business loans available to you. There are many different factors to consider, such as the amount of money you need, the interest rate, and the repayment terms.
  2. Do have a business plan. A business plan is essential for any business, but it's especially important when applying for a loan. Your business plan should clearly outline your business goals, strategies, and financial projections.
  3. Do get your credit in order. Your credit score is one of the most important factors lenders will consider when you apply for a loan. If you have bad credit, you may want to consider working on improving it before you apply for a loan.
  4. Do prepare yourself to provide collateral. Sometimes, lenders may require you to provide collateral, such as a car or a home, to secure a loan.


  • Don't wait too long to apply for a loan. The longer you wait, your business will likely need the funds.
  • Don't be afraid to negotiate. Once the lender approves you for a loan, don't hesitate to negotiate the loan terms. You may get a lower interest rate or a longer repayment period.
  • Don't overextend yourself. It's important only to borrow what you need. If you borrow too much money, you could have financial trouble.

Pros and Cons of Business Loans

The Bright Side

Kickstart Your Dream

Imagine having the power to turn your innovative ideas into reality. That's precisely what startup business loans can do. They provide the necessary capital to help you launch your business and set your entrepreneurial dreams into motion.

Maintain Ownership

Ever heard the phrase "Too many cooks spoil the broth"? You avoid diluting ownership with a loan by bringing in too many investors. You call the shots and maintain control of your business decisions.


With various types of loans available, you can find one that fits your unique business needs like a glove. Need to purchase inventory? There's a loan for that. Looking to expand your operations? There's a loan for that too.

Building Credit

As a first-time borrower, you might not have a business credit history yet. Securing a loan and making regular, timely payments effectively build your business's creditworthiness. This can open doors to larger loans and better terms in the future.

The Flip Side

Debt Obligation

Every loan comes with the promise of repayment. This obligation can financially strain your business, particularly if cash flow is inconsistent. It's like having a ticking clock reminding you of the repayment deadline.

Collateral Risk

To secure some types of loans, you might have to provide collateral, which can be business or personal assets. In the unfortunate event of default, you risk losing these assets. It's a bit like playing poker with your property at stake.

Approval Challenges

As a new business with no proven track record, getting approved for a loan can be challenging. Think of it as trying to win a race before you've learned to run. Lenders often consider startups and first-time borrowers risky, and you might face strict criteria or high-interest rates.

Can Stifle Growth

Ironically, while loans can fuel growth, they can also restrict it. If a significant portion of your income goes towards loan repayment, it can limit available funds for other growth opportunities.

How to Get a First-Time Small Business Loan for a Business

Identify Your Needs

Every business has unique financial needs. To start, ask yourself: Remember that the loan's purpose will affect the type of loan you should apply for and how lenders perceive your application. For example, lenders might view loans for asset purchases as a lower risk than working capital loans. So, clearly articulate your needs and ensure they align with your business plan.

Research Your Options

Various loan programs are available for first-time business owners, each with pros and cons. These could include traditional bank loans, SBA loan programs, business credit cards, business lines of credit, and more. Research each option and consider factors like interest rates, repayment terms, collateral requirements, and approval times. Don't forget to explore offline (banks, credit unions) and online lenders (fintech companies, peer-to-peer lenders) for a broader perspective.

Prepare Your Business Plan

Your business plan is essentially your roadmap to success. Lenders consider this document vital as it gives them a glimpse into your vision, market research, financial projections, marketing strategies, and more. Invest time to create a thorough and compelling business plan. Ensure it provides a detailed overview of your business model, target market, competitive advantage, and financials. This can significantly boost your credibility and convince lenders that you're a worthwhile investment.
#DidYouKnow At Camino Financial, we won't ask you to show a business plan.

Check Your Credit Score

Before approaching lenders, it's wise to review your credit score. This is because your credit history often acts as a trust signal for lenders, reflecting how responsibly you've managed credit in the past. Both personal and business credit scores are relevant. If you notice any discrepancies in your credit report, resolve them promptly.
#CaminoTip To maintain a healthy credit score, ensure you're timely with bill payments and maintain a low credit utilization ratio.

If You Don't Have Credit History

For individuals who find themselves in the unique situation of having no credit score, there are still options available to fulfill their financial needs. Camino Financial understands first-time loan applicants' challenges and is here to help. Whether you have never had credit cards or other credit products before, we recognize the potential in aspiring entrepreneurs who may not have an established credit history. As a specialized business lender, they offer a pathway for business owners to apply for loans even without a credit history.  So, even with no credit score, take a step forward with Camino Financial and explore the possibilities awaiting your entrepreneurial journey.

Find a Lender

Finding the right lender can make a significant difference in your loan experience. While banks might offer lower interest rates, they can be strict with their eligibility criteria, for example, asking you for a business bank account with a certain amount of earnings.  Credit unions might provide more personalized services, while online lenders often offer quick approval times. Do your research, ask for recommendations, and choose a lender that best aligns with your needs.

Apply For The Loan

Finally, you're ready to apply for the loan. Gather all necessary documents, including your business plan, financial statements, proof of cash flow, and more. Ensure everything is accurate and up-to-date. Avoid common mistakes like incomplete applications or errors in your financial documents. Double-check everything and remember - transparency is key. Misrepresenting information can lead to loan rejection or even legal trouble. At Camino Financial, we designed our loans to meet the unique needs of small businesses. We understand that every business is different, and we offer a variety of loan amounts to fit your specific situation.  Apply for a business loan today

First-Time Business Loan Requirements

Meeting first-time business loan requirements can often be the deciding factor in getting approved for a business loan. Here's what you need:
  1. Business Plan: A clear and concise business plan can demonstrate your ability to repay the loan.
  2. Credit Score: Good personal and business credit scores can make you a more attractive candidate to lenders. A score in the 600s is generally best for qualifying, but some lenders may accept scores as low as 500, and even if you don't have a credit history, you still qualify, depending on the lender's requirements. 
  3. Financial Statements: Documents like balance sheets and income statements can provide lenders with a comprehensive view of your financial health. You must meet a lender's annual revenue requirements. These requirements typically range from $36,000 to $100,000 or higher.
  4. Collateral: Depending on the type of loan, you may need to provide collateral as a form of security.

Types of Small Business Loans for Businesses

From first-time startup business loans to SBA loans, various options are available for business owners.
  • Traditional Bank Loans. These are often the first option for many small business owners. However, they can be challenging to qualify for without an established credit history. Bank and SBA loans have tight requirements than other lenders.
  • SBA Loan. Backed by the Small Business Administration, these loans offer lower interest rates and longer repayment terms.
  • Credit Union Loans. Credit unions often offer competitive rates and more personalized customer service.
  • Online Lenders. These lenders can offer faster approval times and more flexible terms, but interest rates may be higher.
  • Term loans. Term loans are a type of loan that is repaid over a fixed period, typically with monthly payments.
  • Lines of credit. Lines of credit are a product that allows you to borrow money up to a specific limit and repay it as you need to.
  • Merchant cash advances. Merchant cash advances are a type of short-term loan that is repaid through a percentage of your future sales.
  • SBA loans. The Small Business Administration (SBA) guarantees these loans. This means they will cover a part of the loan if the borrower defaults.

How to Choose the Right Business Loan for Your Needs

Consider factors like interest rates, loan terms, and repayment conditions. Don't forget also to consider your unique business needs and financial capabilities. Here are a few factors to keep in mind when choosing a business loan:

The Amount of Money You Need

How much money do you need to borrow? Be sure to factor in the cost of your expenses and working capital needs.

The Repayment Period

How long do you have to repay the loan? Consider your cash flow and income when making this decision.

The Interest Rate

The interest rate is the cost of borrowing money. Shop around and compare interest rates from different lenders.

The Fees

There may be fees associated with getting a business loan, such as application fees, origination fees, and late payment fees. Be sure to factor these fees into your decision.

How to Prepare for a Business Loan Application

Gather all necessary documentation, including your business plan, financial statements, and cash flow projections. Reviewing your credit report and resolving any discrepancies before applying is also a good idea. Here are additional tips:
  • Get your business plan in order: Your business plan should clearly outline your business goals, strategies, and financial projections.
  • Get your credit in order: Your credit score is one of the most important factors lenders will consider when you apply for a loan. If you have bad credit, you may want to consider working on improving it before you apply for a loan.
  • Get collateral: In some cases, lenders may require you to provide collateral, such as a car or a home, to secure a loan.

How to Increase Your Chances of Getting Approved for a Business Loan

You can do a few things to increase your chances of getting a small business loan. Here are a few tips:
  • A good credit score shows lenders that you are a good borrower and that you are likely to repay your loan on time.
  • A well-written business plan shows lenders that you have a clear business plan and are likely to be successful.
  • Providing collateral, such as a car or a home, will make you a more attractive borrower to lenders.
  • Lenders will likely ask you several questions about your business and financial situation. Be prepared to answer these questions clearly and concisely.

What to Do After You Get Approved for a Business Loan

Managing your finances carefully is crucial. Make sure you understand your repayment terms and budget accordingly. Regularly review your business financials and adjust your spending as necessary.
  • Sign the contract. The contract (or "loan agreement") is a legal document that outlines the terms of your loan, such as the interest rate, the repayment period, and the penalties for late payments.
  • Get the money. Once you have signed the contract, you will receive the money from the lender.
  • Use the money wisely. Be sure to use the funds for the intended purpose, such as starting or expanding your business.
  • Make your payments on time. It is important to make your payments on time every month. This will help you build a good credit history and improve your chances of getting approved for future loans.

How to Manage Your Business Loan Effectively

Effective loan management includes regular payment, financial review, and communication with your lender. Always plan ahead and closely monitor your business's financial health.

Create a Budget

Creating a budget will help you track your income and expenses and ensure you use the money for the intended purpose.

Make Payments on Time

This will help you build a good credit history and improve your chances of getting approved for future loans.

Pay Down the Principal as Quickly as Possible

The more principal you pay down, the less interest you will pay over the life of the loan.

Consider Refinancing

If you can get a lower interest rate on a new loan, you may be able to save money on interest by refinancing your current loan.

Be Prepared for Unexpected Expenses

Things don't always go according to plan, so it's essential to have a plan in place for unexpected expenses. This could include setting aside money in a savings account or accessing a business line of credit.

Get Help if You Need It

If you struggle to make payments or manage your loan, don't hesitate to ask for help. Many resources are available to help you, such as your lender, a financial advisor, or a business consultant.

Use the Loan for Its Intended Purpose

If you take out a business loan for one purpose but then use it for something else, you may violate the terms of your loan. This could lead to penalties, such as late fees or interest rate increases.

Keep Good Records

Keeping good records of all your financial transactions, including your business loan, is important. This will help you track your spending and ensure you make your payments on time.

Be Aware of the Terms of Your Loan

Before you take out a business loan, be sure to read the terms and conditions carefully. This will help you understand your obligations and avoid any surprises down the road. By following these tips, you can manage your business loan effectively and avoid any financial problems down the road.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Applying for a Business Loan

Avoid mistakes like applying for the wrong type of loan, borrowing more than you need, or not reading the fine print. These can all lead to difficulties down the road. Here are a few of the most common mistakes that qualified business owners avoid:
  • Not having a business plan. A well-written business plan will show lenders that you have a clear business plan and are likely to be successful. Even if the lender doesn't require a business plan, you should have one.
  • Not having good credit. Lenders will look at your business and personal credit score when considering your loan application. If you have bad credit, you may want to consider working on improving it before you apply for a loan.
  • Not providing collateral. In some cases, lenders may require you to provide collateral, such as a car or a home, to secure a loan. If you cannot provide collateral, you may have a harder time getting approved for a loan.
  • Not negotiating the terms of the loan. Once the lender approves you for a loan, you may be able to negotiate the loan terms, such as the interest rate or the repayment period. Be sure to negotiate the loan terms to get the best possible deal.

Best Uses for a First-Time Business Loan

Once you've secured a business loan for your new venture, allocating the funds effectively is critical. Here are some of the best uses for a first-time business loan:
  • Business Premises. Whether buying a new location or renovating your existing space, a business loan can help fund your physical presence.
  • Equipment and Machinery. Improve your business assets; if your business requires specific equipment or machinery, you can use your loan to purchase these vital assets.
  • Inventory. A business loan can help you stock up on inventory before peak seasons or ensure you have enough product to meet demand.
  • Marketing and Advertising. You can invest a portion of your loan in marketing and advertising efforts to attract new customers.
  • Working Capital. Cover day-to-day operational costs, including utilities, rent, and salaries, ensuring the smooth running of your business.
  • Expanding your Team. If your business is growing, a business loan can help you hire new employees to manage increased demand.
  • Tech Upgrades. Keeping up with the latest technology can give your business a competitive edge. Use your loan to invest in new software or hardware.
Remember, every business is unique, and you should use these funds in a way that aligns with your specific business plan and growth strategy.

The Right Business Loan for Businesses

The right small business loan for your business will depend on your specific needs and financial situation. SBA loans, traditional bank loans, and credit union loans are all excellent options for first-time business owners. Online lenders can also be a good choice for those seeking flexibility and quick approval times. Growing a business can be a challenging but rewarding endeavor. With the right knowledge and preparation, you can secure the funds you need to get your business off the ground. At Camino Financial, we provide business owners with a competitive and flexible business loan that suits their unique needs. Our business loans range from $10,0000 to $50,000, allowing entrepreneurs to secure the funds necessary for their ventures. We believe in empowering our clients, so we have no early prepayment penalties. While we won't ask for collateral, a UCC filing is necessary at closing. We commit to helping businesses thrive with accessible and affordable financial solutions. Apply for a business loan today


What is the best way to get a business loan for a new business?

The best way to get a loan is by preparing a solid business plan, having a good credit score, and choosing the right type of loan for your needs.

What are the requirements for a first-time business loan?

Requirements may vary, but lenders generally look at your business plan, credit score, financial statements, and collateral.

What are some common mistakes to avoid when applying for a business loan?

Common mistakes include applying for the wrong type of loan, borrowing more than you need, and not reading the loan terms carefully.

How can I increase my chances of getting approved for a business loan?

Improving your credit score, offering collateral, and having a solid business plan can all increase your chances of loan approval.

What are the best business loans for new businesses?

The best loan for your business will depend on your specific needs and financial situation. SBA loans, traditional bank loans, credit union loans, and online lenders are all good options.

How long does it take to get a business loan?

Generally, the process can range from a few days to several months. For example, Small Business Administration (SBA) loans, known for their favorable terms, usually have a longer processing time due to their stringent requirements and thorough review process. It can sometimes take anywhere from 60 to 90 days or even longer. On the other hand, online lenders offering short-term loans or lines of credit may have a much faster approval process, often within a few days. However, these loans may come with higher interest rates.

Can you get a business loan to start a business?

Yes, you can get a business loan to start a business. Various types of loans are available for startups, including traditional bank loans, Small Business Administration (SBA) loans, and alternative lenders. However, eligibility criteria and interest rates vary, so it's important to research and choose the best option for your specific business needs. 

How hard is it to get a business loan for the first time?

Getting a business loan for the first time can be challenging due to requirements such as a solid business plan, good credit score, and often collateral. However, the difficulty varies with different lenders and loan types. First-time applicants can secure a business loan with thorough preparation and the right approach.

How to get a business loan if you have just started?

To get a business loan as a new startup, create a solid business plan detailing your business model, market analysis, and financial projections. Maintain a good personal credit score, as lenders often consider this in the absence of a business credit history. Explore different types of loans suitable for startups, such as SBA loans or those from alternative lenders. Lastly, prepare all necessary documents, including financial statements, and apply with a lender that aligns with your business needs.

Do banks give loans to first-time business owners?

Yes, banks do give loans to first-time business owners. However, traditional bank loans often have stricter requirements and may require a solid business plan, collateral, and a good credit score. Alternatives such as SBA loans, which the government partially guarantees, can be a more accessible option for first-time business owners.

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