FORTUNE Small Business:

How can I qualify for a loan?

An entrepreneur gets the dirt on impressing bankers.

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(FORTUNE Small Business) -- Dear FSB: If borrowing won't get any easier, then how will potential new small business owners go about getting qualified quicker?

- Cynthia Lee, Charlotte, N.C.

Dear Cynthia: Cash is king, says Rebecca Macieira-Kaufmann, executive VP and head of the small business segment at Wells Fargo (Charts, Fortune 500). "If you really understand your cash flow and what your needs are, you are going to do better at the bank."

When sifting through potential loan candidates, bankers look at the Five C's of credit: character, conditions, capital, cash-flow and collateral. For small business owners already in business, this analysis includes both personal and business credit history. An already-established relationship with a bank can speed things up, too.

For business owners who are just starting out, The Five C's also apply. Bankers will again look to see how much of yourself is invested in the business and if you already have some collateral, such as a building or equipment. Inform the bank of any previous experience you have in the industry and make sure the details are included in your stellar business plan.

Bottom line? Banks want to see that you have invested some of your own money in your venture. "Start with your bootstraps before borrowing from a bank," Macieira-Kaufmann suggests. To top of page

Got better ideas for raising capital? Write in here!

Related question: How can I overcome poor credit?
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Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.