With bank lending to small businesses nearly frozen, these 8 entrepreneurs are among the thousands fighting for the credit lines and loans they need to keep their companies alive.
Co-owners, Midwest Fiat
Business founded: 2004
My wife and I sell vintage Italian car parts online and have a service and restorations shop for Fiat-brand vehicles. The business started as a hobby, specializing in the Fiat X1/9, and it's now a full-time operation. Our revenues have grown each year and have continued to go up in the last eight months.
We were recently offered a great opportunity to purchase one of our main competitors. That move would quadruple our business, push us into a bigger facility and allow us to focus on other Fiat models. We need a loan to help us make the purchase and sustain the operating capital needed for the first six months of the expansion, which includes hiring another five employees and transferring all the inventory to our depot.
Sounds easy for a company that has never over-extended itself and has a great track record with excellent credit, right? Not so.
With a solid business plan and all the documentation, financials and records needed for the loan, we approached a national bank and were told by the loan officer that it would be a slam dunk. In fact, he encouraged us to up the request from $110,000 to $125,000.
After a month, he came back to us and said that because we don't have a credit history (we never had any institutional debt because we launched the business organically), the loan was going to fall through. He encouraged us to pursue a home equity line of credit from the consumer side of the bank. But that would only afford us half the amount we would need. We said thanks but no thanks - we're not about to buy something and then not have the money needed to operate it.
I've since approached several other community banks and filed applications with two of them. They're coming back to us, asking clarification questions, which is a good sign that they're actually reading our financials.
I'm optimistic, but nervous. They are taking a long time to make a decision and we are on borrowed time at this point, having already missed the date our competitor gave us to take the offer.
NEXT: A cafe on the edge