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Electronic Signature Options and Why You Should Use Them – Small Business Trends

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Electronic Signature Options and Why You Should Use Them - Small Business Trends

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Electronic signature apps like HelloSign are becoming an important part of modern document management for small businesses. Digital signatures cut down on costs. Signing documents on the go reduces processing time. What’s more, clients are willing to provide signatures and send documents digitally. Consider a report saying that mobile ecommerce sales are expected to account for 54% of ecommerce sales this year. All good reasons to search for an excellent document management tool. The best electronic signature apps are listed here too.

Choosing the Right e Signature App

You need to choose the right electronic signature app for important documents. Here are some of the best. Remember to look for the products with mobile app capabilities. Like HelloSign.

1. DocuSign

DocuSign is the e signature product that allows you to sign documents using any device. Security features are one of the other advantages with DocuSign. Any of the documents that you send are encrypted. What’s more, complete audit data is kept. This is the platform used in 180 different countries. You can use 44 different languages to sign documents and send agreements. There’s a PCI data security standard. That’s important for small businesses handling payment data.

Best of all, the DocuSign mobile app uses the same admin/password as the desktop. This is a great feature for sales teams or for you when you need to sign documents on the go. DocuSign also offers a free trial.

2. HelloSign

HelloSign is a Dropbox company with a variety of tools for managing documents including an esignature solution. There are built-in reminders and different signing options available here to improve your ROI. You can customize signature requests with your company logo and/or tagline. Manage document permissions from a central dashboard.

HelloSign offers other important features like solid API documentation.

Business plans start at $40 a month. There’s a 30 day free trial with HelloSign. This product also allows you to store signed sales contracts and pdf documents digitally. Hellosign allows you to do the same with an NDA.

3. Adobe Sign

This product gets credibility for the Adobe name.

Another of the advantages of Adobe Sign is the fact it is easy to use. Get an electronic signature by adding in customer email addresses. There are no downloads or account sign-ups needed with this software. Adobe Sign is an industry leading electronic signature app. Just upload the document, type in the recipient’s email, and hit send.

With Adobe Sign, you can manage all of the documents and track each. There are some excellent integrations for this e signature software including Microsoft 365 and Dropbox. You can also create a PDF document solution for export to Word, Excel and Powerpoint.

This solution starts at $16.99 a month for SMB teams.

4. YouSign

YouSign is another e-signature software that has a free trial. This esignature solution is scalable and there is no commitment. You can monitor the requests for results in real time. Other features include being able to keep track of docs and files that are timestamped. This is another of the apps that provides legally valid results.

This ranks as one of the best electronic e signature products for its flexibility. You can get a subscription for your office, leave and come back when you need to. You can also automate any of the e-signature solution reminders you send. And personalize the user experience to your prospects.

5. SignNow

This is another electronic signature app that is easy to use. It works well on any mobile device. You can get an electronic signature from multiple customers at once. SignNow is cloud based and can be used around the globe.

This software can also embed the signatures into your website or app. It’s a great tool if you’re looking for a quick way to complete contracts. A user can collect signatures from customers through online templates you build.

Get started with the free startup trial or the business plan that starts at $8 per user monthly

6. DocSketch

DocSketch is an electronic signature app that has a free version allowing you several documents per month. This software also allows you to know when all of your items get viewed. Along with being able to send documents for signature, there are sales documents features.

This app has more than just digital signatures to offer. Walk customers through bids and proposals that have been approved. They have clients like Cornell University. There are several products to choose from. Along with the free version, there’s a personal plan with an unlimited number of documents. If you want to get started with that, it’s $8 a month.

The business plan costs $24 per month. You get in person signing and custom branding with this version.

7. Signable

Any good electronic signature app needs to be easy to use. That’s why we’ve included this software on our list. With Signable, you can upload your PDF documents from the United States or in other locations around the world. You can even convert a PDF to a form that can be filled out. The software includes a PDF converter online that makes this product easy to use. As a result, this document signing product makes it easy for you to upload a PDF and sign it online

Signable is one of the products that works especially well with important documents and mobile devices. There is a signature wizard that provides you with different ways to sign your documents. They include drawing on a mark with your finger.

8. RightSignature

RightSignature is the esignature software that’s designed specifically for business. You can send files that you already have or get forms filled out when you need more information to go with an electronic signature. It’s an easy to use esignature app. You can set up a documents for signatures with just one click. Another legally binding feature is the ability to get handwritten signatures.

If you are a freelancer or start up, the standard signature plan starts at $12 a month. As far as business plans go, the advanced version costs $60 a month for three team members. You can try this electronic signature app for free before you decide on a plan.

They suggest the security features work best if all your employees sign up as a separate user. Business needs to put security first. RightSignature covers that angle with 256-bit EV SSL encryption. Electronic signatures are also backed up in Amazon data centers.

9. Panda Doc

This is the signature software that comes with a 14 day free trial to help you get started. The PandaDoc,

API is specifically designed to integrate with a businesses applications and websites. It’s a great way to speed along personal signing without needing to switch applications. It makes a client’s signing experience easier. Contact them to learn about pricing on a business plan or other options they sell to sign documents.

10. Get Accept

There’s a free trial with this e signature platform. GetAccept is designed to help sales reps out. This electronic signature software provides custom workflows. This is the legally binding electronic signature software solution that works in a number of countries. The legally binding documents include an email address as part of the audit checks and balances. The user interface provides a transaction history as another feature.

There are several options this esignature product provides. Small businesses can get an account that starts at $25 per month per user. A good feature that is offered with this tool is chat. The most popular electronic signatures business plan starts at $40 per month. Another excellent feature included is data analytics.

Finally, the enterprise account option includes contract management. This software also has an api for developers.

11. SecuredSigning

SecuredSigning is an e signature product that boasts many different software technologies. It works by allowing a user and viewer to see the document before signing.

The personalized security features include X509 PKI digital technology. This makes document signing customizable and safer. The legally binding features include video signing and remote witness signing.

One of the big bonuses is that user documents are backed up with video recordings when signed. This product can be used in the United States or anywhere around the world. You can also perform remote online notarizations with the signature software.

12. ContractBook

ContractBook is the e signature solution that rivals HelloSign for working with contracts. This software and signature app allows businesses to share templates. These templates are specifically designed to provide electronic signatures that reduce any risk since they are legally binding.

The platform offers tools for both lawyers and small businesses. Resources include free contract templates and a help center where you can learn more about some of the platform’s features.

13. Lightico

This is the e-signature app for businesses with customers who need to sign on mobile eForms. As far as mobile apps with esignature capabilities go, this tool is good for small business.

With Lightico, you can get electronic signatures through your CRM. This makes signing for any user easier. And providing a good user experience for personal signing improves productivity. This also changes PDF format documents into smart e-forms. Replacing paper and these PDFs for the person signing shortens the sales cycle.

The company reports that this signature product can boost completion rates up to 96%. That means you can use the electronic signatures you get to bump your bottom line up. Get started with their product demo. This esignature solution is used in many different industries including auto finance and banking.

14. Eversign

Here is another electronic signature app that provides legally binding signatures. Data is encrypted with this app using 256-bit SSL. Eversign also allows your customers to sign documents by integrating with your existing applications. Get a document back after connecting to apps like Dropbox, Salesforce and Google Docs.

You can even schedule documents to auto expire with this product. Or, you can transfer documents to other locations. Eversign digital signature also allows you to import documents you or your customers will need to sign from Adobe and the cloud.

There is a free e signature trial version. After that, you can sign up for a basic plan that includes three templates and unlimited documents. The professional plan allows for signing for 5 team members and unlimited documents too.

Another good feature included with the user interface is the ability to manage documents in the cloud. The features here are similar to industry-leading products like HelloSign.

15. SnapSign

SnapSign is the e-signature app that stresses a user-friendly interface. There are a variety of templates for nondisclosure agreements, sales contracts and others. The workflow process for any document can be configured. There’s a history that shows all of your documents. Document signing is possible from anywhere with the global support for applications.

Pricing starts at $9.99 per user per month. There are unlimited documents. The business plan for a brick-and-mortar or digital office costs $19.99 per user per month. Documents are unlimited for up to 5 users.

The enterprise package has a 30 day free option like the others. It offers third-party integrations for the document platform you use. Call the company for more information on this document signing plan.

16. FormstackSign

This is an interesting product if you have a mobile office. Formstack can provide an electronic signature on a mobile phone, tablet or computer. Customers who need to sign documents are alerted via text message.

This esignature product saves time since you can create templates for the document types you frequently use. There’s an auto reminder feature so employees don’t need to remind customers to sign.

People in small businesses in healthcare take note. This app can provide a HIPAA compliant esignature. FDA compliant workflows are also available. The secure data storage and password protection are other bonuses for any document. Take the time to review the hundred plus integrations this app includes.

There is a free trial that lasts 14 days and a silver account for individuals that costs $50 a month. The more popular esignature account is the gold platform. It costs $83 per month with advanced features.

17. SignRequest

This is the e signature platform with over 300,000 users. SignRequest stresses simplicity. For every signature license they sell, they plant a tree. They are also an ISO 27001 certified company. Any document that gets signed is stored in one place for quick retrieval.

There are several signature plans for you to choose from. The first one is free and you get 10 documents per month. The professional and business versions offer a free option and unlimited documents.

You can implement any document you get signed with popular tools like Google Drive and Salesforce. It’s great for sales people who are mobile.

18. SignEasy

SignEasy doesn’t require a credit card to sign up. Self signing is easy with this product. You can use your mouse or download a picture of your signature. The application competes with HelloSign for integrations as well as security and document management.

Here’s another useful option this product offers. There is a document status tracking feature so you can keep on top of your business flow.

The platform offers an essential plan for individuals at $8 a month. It comes with an unlimited document option. The pro plan is $15 a month for a single user. The business plan starts with three users who can get clients to sign digitally. Finally, there’s an enterprise esignature solution.

What are electronic signatures anyway?

An e signature is basically all about getting legally binding consent on forms — without the ability to secure a physical signature on a document. So esignatures replace a handwritten signature. They are used for various things like NDAs and onboarding agreements. Companies like HelloSign also have options for W9 forms. Other companies like Onespan Sign offer compliance options.

How legally binding is an Electronic Signature?

Having a document signed is an important function for small businesses. When customers sign a contract or invoice with digital signature technology, it can be legally binding. It’s been this way in Europe since 1999 and the United States since 2000. There are some factors that make a document signed digitally legal. These include expressed or implied intent.

Attribution is another important factor. To make such signatures legal, there must be an audit trail including things like an email address and time stamp.

An esignature is also legal when a copy is sent to the client. People need to have an opt out clause they can read before they sign. When choosing an esignature tool, look for instructions on how the product works with pdf files and others.

Industry-leading products like HelloSign also assign a queue for signing documents And companies like OneSpan Sign offer additional compliance options.

What is the best electronic signature app?

Small businesses will want to know what the best electronic signature apps are. Here’s a list that includes industry leaders like HelloSign.

This product is an industry leader for several reasons. Reasons to choose HelloSign include the fact that it can produce a document which complies with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability (HIPPA) Act. It also allows you to sign a Business Associate Agreement (BAA). HelloSign can also be used with Google Docs and Salesforce too.

PandaDoc also makes the list. The platform offers an audit trail as well as customizable templates and document analytics.

Onespan Sign offers enhanced compliance which is important for small businesses.

SignNow also offers analytics for the document that gets created. Step 1 for the deployment of the solution are customizable templates. These are good for people and sales teams on the go.

How do you use a mobile app to sign a document on your phone?

Today’s businesses need to be sure they can get an esignature on a smart phone. That’s why going paperless means having the right mobile app like the one that comes with the HelloSign product. In most circumstances, you need to tap on an attached email to sign. When you do, you’ll see some simple instructions for adding your signature and text. Usually, you can tap right inside the document to place any text and on a pen icon if you need to sign your name.

That’s the process for a variety of file types like PDF and others. One of the other advantages to using a mobile app like HelloSign is the ability to auto fill in information. Another advantage to these mobile e-signature solutions is validation. Once again, HelloSign, leads the way with a data validation. This alerts the signer if incorrect information is being added.

This content was originally published here.

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Former NFL Star Says Small Businesses Can Thrive on Adversity – Small Business Trends

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Former NFL Star Says Small Businesses Can Thrive on Adversity - Small Business Trends

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Athletes and small business people have a lot in common. That’s what an ex-NFL player concluded when he hung up the cleats to work as a broadcaster/entrepreneur and consultant.

Jordan Babineaux is a former NFL defensive back for the Seattle Seahawks. And he’s the author of Pivot to Win: Make the Big Plays in Life, Sports & Business.

Small Business Trends contacted him to find out how small business owners can thrive on the same ingredients he’s used to succeed.

“We are all constantly pivoting whether we realize it or not,” he says.  “The one constant thing in life is change. Pivoting away from the NFL was one of the biggest challenges for me. I had to redefine success.”

Former NFLer Jordan Babineaux Offers Advice to Small Business Owners

Babineaux started out with a big hill to climb.

“Growing up in Port Arthur, Texas, I was surrounded by drug abuse, addictions, violence, economic ruins, and living on government assistance,” Babineaux says. “The streets were a much faster way to make money. In Pivot to Win, I share the story of losing my dad at eight.”

From those beginnings, his family learned how to make the most of misfortune.

“We learned from how Mama faced adversity every day,” he says. “No matter what you face, embrace it. Learn how to make the best of it and move on. It’s the only way to build grit and emotional resilience.”

The lessons he’s learned through life and sports have helped him achieve business success. Babineaux  is a broadcaster/entrepreneur and consultant.

So, what goes into his recipe for small business success?

“As a small business, the greatest asset you have, aside from your human capital, is your support group,” he says. “ It’s hard to compete with mega-giant companies. Your competitive edge is how well you build and establish strong relationships.”

He says having a performance partner and/or accountability group in another industry helps. Another box to check on his list is a familiar one

“Persistence is a lifelong practice for chasing something you desire. We’ve all failed at something. But, our shortcomings don’t make us failures,” Babineaux tells us.

Develop a Routine

Babineaux also says developing a routine is important. They don’t need to be perfect and you can always modify them as you go along.

“What do you do when you get to the office to start a meeting,” he asks. “Or before you give a big presentation to land a client?”

Growth is another important element. Babineaux says understanding where you are presently is a good place to start. He stresses that business and personal growth is a voyage.

“None of us start anything we do as the end version of the person we desire to be,” he says. “There are lessons in the experiences, successes, and failures of the journey. Be open to understanding what works well and what doesn’t. Then make the necessary adjustments.”

Finally he highlights the effort needed from everyone for business success.

“I was fortunate to play on championship teams with great teammates and coaches. I recognized that it takes the entire organization to create, develop, and curate a winning culture. The only way an organization can achieve ultimate success is by teamwork,” he says.

This content was originally published here.

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Business Musings: Focus on the Future (A Process Blog)

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Business Musings: Focus on the Future (A Process Blog)

The second vaccine hit my arm mid-April. I knew the vaccine was coming, and with it, a rather solid immunity to COVID-19. I won’t get hospitalized with a serious case, and the disease won’t kill me. It won’t kill Dean either, since he’s been fully vaccinated since February.

Our little household is okay, and cleared for moving forward.

The adults at our business have also received their vaccines. They’re waiting for the all-clear to get their kids vaccinated.

I know some of you are unwilling to get the vaccine. I understand that some of you are afraid of needles or are hoping (still!) that this will go away on its own. Some of you are filled with misinformation from the online and TV news that you consume.

Those of you who call the vaccine too dangerous to use really should compare the statistics of all of us who have taken the vaccines worldwide—millions of us—versus the COVID statistics. And since most of you won’t, let me remind you.

One in five people who catch COVID-19—the original version—end up in the hospital. One in six people who catch COVID—the original version—have long-term symptoms. We’re only just beginning to understand Long COVID, and it scares the medical professionals. They’re predicting that we are going to have an entire population of chronically ill people who will need help and support over (possibly) years.

As a person who has a chronic illness, Long COVID scared and scares me a lot more than dying of the disease. And Long COVID hits younger people more than older people. Younger people don’t die of the disease as much; they just get sick for months, maybe years.

You really want to mess with that? The infection rate for the COVID variants is much higher than the original highly contagious version of the disease. If you’re unvaccinated, you will eventually catch this thing—and then, inadvertently, you will share it with others.

So mask up. And get your damn vaccine. I don’t care how much you hate needles. Look at the actual science, not the crap you’re getting from your uncles or your friends on Facebook. Talk to your doctor instead. Read medical journals, and look around. The information isn’t hard to find once you get off your usual news sites.

That said…we’re hitting an in-between phase of the pandemic. Some of us have a lot of protection and we’re trying to return to some semblance of normal. Some of us have pretended things were normal all along and have ignored the friends and family falling ill around us. Some of us are determined to live in pandemic-land forever.

From here forward, this post is for the folks who have their vaccines or, at least, have their vaccine appointments. People who are actually trying to end this pandemic, rather than the people who are getting in the way.

After I got the first vaccine, I was weak with relief for days. I knew that I wouldn’t get Long COVID and if I am going to die this year, it won’t be from COVID itself. I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. I made tentative plans.

Then I got the second vaccine. That same day, I registered for next fall’s Spanish class—a conversation class, in person—and made some other in-person plans.

I also got notification from the Smith Center, where I have season tickets for the Broadway touring shows, that there will be performances in the fall. I haven’t gotten concert tickets yet for the fall residencies, but I will. And I will speak at 20BooksTo50K. In person, in front of real humans.

These are all markers of the future. I’ve been excited as I added each and every one of them.

But after I got the second dose, I realized I still felt unsettled. Yes, some of that is the two-week wait for the vaccine to be fully activated, but most of it was something in my head.

I realized a few things this year. First, the political landscape of the Trump years really took up a lot of my headspace. I have always been politically active, but that activism took a fierce urgency in those years. The bigotry and hatred needed to be countered. Some of it on the local level, but some of it could only be achieved by ensuring that Trump was a one-term president.

Which happened. And despite the horrid events of 1/6, we managed to install a new president on 1/20. That’s not a panacea. A lot needs to be done.

But I no longer woke up every morning wondering what fresh hell occurred during the night. I gradually stopped consuming news every moment I was awake, and stopped jumping whenever my phone beeped with a notification.

I have more time to think about other things now.

The same goes for COVID numbers. Test positivity is low in my state. After we got out of the winter surges, we’re in a safer place now. With nearly half of the eligible people in the state vaccinated, I have finally accepted that we are moving out of this pandemic. It might not be this year, but it will happen.

Yes, COVID will be with us, but it will be endemic, like the flu, rather than a pandemic. I’ve lived with the flu as a threat my whole life. I can live with another endemic disease, even if I don’t want to.

Living with the pandemic took a different portion of my brain. Some of it was practical—am I wearing a good-fitting mask? Do I have to go to that business today?—but much of it was a simple trudge.

I had to get through the days until I got my vaccine. I’ve trudged before. When I was sick in Lincoln City, I never knew what kind of day or week I faced. I couldn’t really plan for a future. I just had to make it through the hours and months.

It was easy to slip back into that. But it had a weird effect on my writing: I could handle deadlines. In fact, I was great with deadlines. They fit into a trudge. Finish Project A, then move to Project B.

But doing anything long term was hard. So was anything that took me out of the now. A lot of people escaped into fiction during the worst of the pandemic. Because of who I am, I consumed more and more reality. I had to, to know what kind of dangers we faced, so we could protect from them.

I’ve been weaning my way off that, and as I have, I realized that to monitor every event, I had to shut down a part of my brain that created future projects. I really didn’t want to look at licensing because I wasn’t sure when it would return. I didn’t want to take on a project filled with unknowns because life had too many unknowns.

I’m slowly working my way out of that, as I’m recovering more and more brain space. It’s a weird place to be in, because part of my writing shut down. Not the part that works on existing projects, but the part that comes up with new ideas, new projects, and fun things to do.

This afternoon, I said to Dean that fun had been canceled in 2020, and that was true. Fun had also been canceled in my brain. Anything that made me laugh got set aside for serious things. I really didn’t want to look at the side of life I couldn’t enjoy at the time.

Now, that’s returning. Sports are back. Theater is coming back. Dinners with friends are returning.

I feel a bit a prisoner who had been kept in a dark hole and is finally emerging into the sunlight.

I’m not quite sure how to recapture the parts of the writing that got set aside. I think acknowledging that they got suppressed will help. Is already helping, really.

I got my first random story idea on a run just this week. I have returned to my Fremont Street runs, which I did not do in the height of the pandemic, because a joyful place had turned nasty and ugly. People were screaming at each other about masks and about the fact that “even Vegas isn’t fun.” Now, that attitude is gone, and the joy is starting to return.

With it, random story ideas. Thank heavens.

I need to revamp my schedule. I have to add driving time to my days again, which I don’t mind. I will need to get up earlier, because I still want to run outside, even during the hot months, which means running just after dawn.

I need to figure out how to tap all of what I suspect is a creative flood just waiting to be released. It’ll take time, I know. I’ve only just realized how much of myself I held in check so I could trudge forward, head down. Now I can lift my head and walk easily again.

I’ve missed being able to look toward the future. I’m glad that part of my life has returned.

I know there’s some damage. Some mourning still to be done for family and friends and the lost way of life. Some realizations still to be had from that strange COVID year.

But I’ll work through it.

I hope you will too.

And for godsake. Get your vaccine.

Let’s end this COVID nightmare once and for all.

*****

This weekly writing blog is reader-supported.

If you feel like supporting the blog on an on-going basis, then please head to my Patreon page.

If you liked this post, and want to show your one-time appreciation, the place to do that is PayPal. If you go that route, please include your email address in the notes section, so I can say thank you.

Which I am going to say right now. Thank you!

Click paypal.me/kristinekathrynrusch to go to PayPal.

“Business Musings: Focus on the Future (A Process Blog) copyright © 2021 by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Image at the top of the blog copyright © Can Stock Photo / abluecup.

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Where to Get a Loan to Buy a Business – Small Business Trends

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Where to Get a Loan to Buy a Business - Small Business Trends

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When seeking to buy an existing business, you may need to get a loan to cover all or part of the initial purchase. There are plenty of small business financing options to choose from, including SBA loans, bank loans, seller financing, and online options like Fundera and Lendio.

To learn more about buying an existing business, download your free copy of BizBuySell Guide to Buying a Small Business. You can also download the free ebook BizBuySell Guide to Selling Your Small Business for small business owners seeking a buyer for an existing business.

Use the BizBuySell Business for Sale feature to find a small business for sale or the Find a Business Broker  feature to get help finding a small business.

How to Get a Business Acquisition Loan

One way to buy an existing business is through a business acquisition loan. Below we outline some types of business acquisition loans available and some things you’ll need before you even get started looking for a loan to buy a business.

Requirements for the Loan Application Process

To begin with, here’s a list of application requirements and information that will be examined during the loan application process.

Financial Records

In order to get a loan to buy a business, you’ll need to prove the business’s financial stability. Financial records go a long way. This generally includes things like bank statements, current debt, and income. They demonstrate your ability to repay a lender.

Business Valuation

Lenders want to know that their investment in your loan is safe. So they generally won’t give you more money than a business is worth. As such, you’ll need to provide proof of the business’s value. This can be calculated using multiple factors, including revenue, assets, cash flow, and market analysis.

Business Plan

A business plan is what demonstrates your ability to continue running the business profitably. This type of plan generally includes your market, product or service, competitive analysis, and strategies for growth and marketing. You also generally need to submit a business plan when getting a loan to start a business. So it’s a similar requirement for business acquisition.

Earning Projections

What is the business expected to bring in moving forward? This obviously has a major impact on your ability to repay a lender. It’s common to use current revenue to create these projections. But there may also be other factors that you could use to demonstrate the likelihood of future growth. For example, if your new business is in an emerging industry, use industry market projections to back up higher earning projections. Some due diligence can go a long way toward demonstrating your potential future earnings.

Track Record and Experience of the Borrower

It’s not just the business’s finances that your lender will want to analyze. They also want to know your own personal financial situation and experience. For example, if you’re debt free and have successfully run businesses in the past, that bodes well for your ability to repay a business acquisition loan. However, excessive debt or a recent bankruptcy filing may serve as a red flag that makes it harder to secure financing.

Personal Finances

When it comes to your personal finances, potential lenders will review multiple factors to get the entire picture. Basically, they want to analyze your personal financial stability to gauge your ability to repay the loan. Here are some of the most important factors they’ll look at when an entrepreneur applies for a business acquisition loan.

Loan Type to Buy an Existing Business

There are a variety of loan types when seeking financing to buy an existing business. Here is a brief overview of each.

Conventional Business Loan

A conventional business loan generally comes from a bank or other financial institution. They often provide a large lump sum of cash that you pay off over several years. Terms vary, but these loans can come with competitive rates.

However, they are often difficult for very small businesses and new entrepreneurs to obtain. Banks consider business loans for this type of borrower to be fairly risky. So they generally check multiple factors like your credit score, business history, business plan, and assets. And their standards are likely to be a bit higher than those of online or alternative lenders. They may also require you to put up significant collateral to lessen their risk.

Additionally, conventional loans often provide a large amount of funding — sometimes up to $500,000. This can be a positive for those looking for large business acquisition loans. But it’s often not ideal for small businesses looking for more manageable payments.

Seller Financing from the Business Owner

With seller financing, the current business owner essentially acts as the bank providing financing for the buyer. They offer a loan that covers all or part of the purchase of the business. And the buyer repays that loan in pre-agreed-upon payments over time, with interest. The interest rate is often comparable to that of an SBA loan. And sellers generally still check credit scores and financial records before offering loans.

For the buyer, this provides an option for acquiring a new business without having to provide all the cash upfront. And it’s ideal for those that may not qualify for traditional bank loans. For the seller, this allows them to get a slightly better price for their business, since they’ll also be able to collect interest over time.

However, the arrangement does come with risks for both sides. Terms vary, but sellers are generally able to re-take ownership of the business if payments are missed for a significant period of time. However, many sellers only offer business acquisition loans if they’re fairly confident in their company’s ability to make money.

Rollover of ROBS Loan

ROBS stands for rollovers as a business startup. This type of loan involves using funds from a 401(k) or IRA retirement account to invest in a new business. But it can be used as a way to fund acquisition of am existing business too. It’s a complex option that requires an attorney or financial expert with experience in ROBS plans. Basically, you form a new corporation and set up a 401(k) for it. Then you can roll the money from your existing accounts into it and use it to fund the business.

This is an attractive option for some because it doesn’t involve interest. In fact, you don’t take on any official debt at all. It also does not involve the typical credit checks that come with applying for a business acquisition loan.

However, the risk for a ROBS loan is potentially losing your retirement savings. If the business you’re purchasing doesn’t work out, you’ve also lost your nest egg for the future. Additionally, this money being used to fund your operations means that it’s not growing in the market. This may be worthwhile if the venture works out. But if not, you’re missing out on years of potential gains.

How to Get an SBA Loan to Buy a Business

Another of the financing options open to entrepreneurs seeking to make a business purchase is the so-called SBA 7(a) loan. Here are some details about this option.

What is a Small Business Administration Backed Loan?

An SBA loan is similar to a conventional business loan in that it is offered by a bank or credit union. However, the funds are backed by the U.S. Small Business Administration and are specifically set aside as small business loans. So the financial institution doesn’t have to take on as much risk. This allows banks to provide more opportunities for new entrepreneurs and small loans.

How to Qualify for an SBA 7(a) Loan

SBA loans are set aside for small businesses. And there are different types of SBA loans with clearly defined standards that vary by industry. But generally, you need to have fewer than 1,500 employees and less than $40 million in receipts each year. You also must be located or do business in the United States and operate for profit.

A borrower must also demonstrate the need for a business loan. This means you must have already invested personal assets before seeking a loan. And you must use the funds for a sound business purpose like operating expenses or growth.

Though your personal financial situation may not be quite as scrutinized with an SBA loan, you cannot qualify if you have outstanding debts to the federal government. And lenders can still consider your financial history when approving your application and deciding your interest rate.

Documentation Needed for an SBA Loan

Your bank or credit union will use a variety of factors to determine your loan eligibility and interest rate. Before applying for an SBA loan, gather the following documentation:

Steps to Get a Loan Backed by the SBA

The process of applying for a business acquisition loan can vary from case to case. But there are some basic steps that apply to most entrepreneurs looking for SBA loans:

Buying a Business with No Money Down

Finally you can buy a business with no money down. Here are the most popular methods.

Get Financing from Small Business Owner

As mentioned earlier, instead of getting an official business acquisition loan, you may secure financing from the current small business owner. Seller financing is often used to fund just part of a small business. But depending on your situation, they may provide the full amount that you can pay off over time.

This option does generally come with some interest. And you’ll risk losing the business if you can’t make payments on their terms. But small business owners often only offer to finance if they’re fairly confident in the business’s ability to earn.

Get Money from Friends and Family

You don’t necessarily need your own capital to pay for a business completely upfront. If you have friends and family who are willing to help, this can be an easy and low risk way to invest in a new business opportunity.

The risk with this type of business purchase is mostly personal. You may risk relationships or provide too much power to friends and family without business experience. This is why clearly outlining the terms before borrowing from friends and family is so important.

Get Funds from Leveraged Buyout

A leveraged buyout involves using borrowed money and using the assets of the company being purchased to cover the initial cost. For example, you might secure a business acquisition loan to cover part of the purchase. And then you can leverage the business’s equipment or real estate assets as collateral to secure a larger sum.

This allows you to complete a business acquisition with little to no money down. But it also means you won’t have much equity in the business early on.

How much can you borrow for buying an existing business?

The amount of money included in a loan to buy a business varies depending on what type of financing you seek. With a traditional business loan, you may be able to get up to $500,000. With smaller or alternative financing, you can borrow smaller amounts as little as $5,000.

The amount you’re able to get also varies depending on factors like your business and credit history. When securing a loan to buy a business, the company’s profitability and financial history will also play a role. The lender will want to know that you’ll easily be able to pay back the loan with your earnings.

What kinds of businesses can you buy with SBA loans?

The SBA can help you secure a loan to buy a business in a wide array of industries and niches. The main qualifications are that the business must be for-profit and have an established history of at least two to five years. It should also qualify as a small business under the SBA’s guidelines.

Other factors like your access to capital and credit history may impact your personal eligibility. And the business’s income and need for a loan may also factor in. But the actual industry or type of business should not affect your ability to get a loan, outside of its impact on potential profitability.

How do you start a business with no money?

There are several options to start a new venture without startup capital. You might seek small business financing from SBA loan programs or seek an alternative financing option like Fundera or Lendio. Some small business owners also seek a startup loan from family or friends, either to cover the whole sale price or the money needed to secure a loan. Using bootstrapping techniques to start your business may be another option.

No matter what method of financing you choose, it may be beneficial to start a business that doesn’t require much startup capital. For example, an online business without a physical location is going to require less upfront investment. So even if you do need a loan to cover equipment or supplies, it should be easier to obtain the full amount.

This content was originally published here.

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