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Peer-to-peer business loans can be a great source of funding for those businesses that can’t quite qualify for a traditional loan, but still want a competitive interest rate. Similar to P2P personal loans, P2P business loans are funded by individual and institutional investors through a lending platform. Notable P2P business loan providers include Funding Circle, LendingClub and StreetShares.
What are Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Business Loans?
Peer-to-peer lenders, also referred to as marketplace or social lenders, act as a middleman between you, the borrower, and investors, who will fund your loan. These investors might be individuals or institutional investors, such as hedge funds, life insurance companies or banks. When you apply for a P2P loan through a marketplace lender, the lender will perform the initial underwriting of your application and determine whether they can post your loan offer on their platform.
The underwriting process will be similar to any other loan application -- you’ll need to submit various documents, such as tax returns and business financial statements, and agree to a hard credit check on your personal credit report. If you pass the underwriting requirements, your loan offer will be posted on a platform visible to investors, who then choose to invest in your loan. Typically, it takes one to two weeks before your loan will be fully funded.
How to Get a P2P Business Loan
While marketplace lenders may not have requirements as strict as those at a bank, your credit history as well as your business’s finances will play a part in the underwriting process. Almost all lenders will look at your personal credit history, and most P2P lenders require that business owners have a personal FICO score of 600 or above. Moreover, you’ll normally be required to personally guarantee the loan you’re seeking.
As for your business’s credentials, lenders will also require that you be in business for a certain number of years -- normally one to two -- and that you demonstrate a certain level of yearly revenue, anywhere from $25,000 to $150,000 and more. Some lenders may even require that your business be profitable for the past few years, and other companies may only lend to businesses registered as a specific entity type (such as LLCs, corporations, sole proprietorships, etc.).
Because individual and institutional investors will fund your loan offer, you’ll also need to have a strong and compelling business pitch -- why should they fund your business instead of another? A good business pitch will have detailed financial analyses and projections and a well-laid-out strategy for getting your products or services to market. Your goal in writing a business pitch is to make it easy for investors to decide to fund your loan.
Online P2P Lenders
While there aren’t as many companies specializing in P2P business loans as P2P personal loans, we take a look at a handful that do.
|Lender||Rates||Loan Amounts||Terms||Best For...|
|Funding Circle||7.35% - 33.00%||$25,000 - $500,000||6 - 60 months||Business expansion or growth|
|LendingClub||7.77% - 35.11%||$5,000 - $300,000||1 - 5 years||Lines of credit|
|StreetShares||8.00% - 39.99%||$2,000 - $250,000||3 - 36 months||Small, growing businesses|
|ApplePie Capital||9% - 16%||$100,000 or more||5 - 10 years||Franchises|
|Able Lending||8% - 25%||$25,000 - $1 million||1 - 5 years||Finding investors yourself|
We think Funding Circle is a good choice for business owners who are looking to expand or grow their established businesses. This is because the company requires businesses to be at least two years old with $150,000 in yearly revenue and profitability in the last two years to qualify for a loan. While you can receive a credit decision in as fast as 24 hours, it may take up to 10 days to fund your loan offer through the platform.
While LendingClub may be best known for their personal loans, the lender also offers competitive rates on small business loans and lines of credit, and it’s one of the few marketplace lenders to offer a line of credit product. Applicants can qualify at LendingClub by having a personal credit score of 620 or above and owning at least 20% of the business. The business in question will need to be at least two years old with $75,000 or more in annual gross revenue. If your application is approved, funding takes anywhere from two to 14 days.
StreetShares has one of the lowest yearly revenue requirements among the lenders on this list, making it a strong option for smaller businesses. Your business will only need to show $25,000 in revenue, be at least one year old to qualify and be incorporated or an LLC. As an owner, you’ll need a personal FICO score of 600 or above, and you’ll be required to personally guarantee the loan or line of credit. Funding takes up to four days from application approval.
ApplePie Capital only makes loans to franchisees, but it does offer low rates and loans starting at $100,000. For comparison, the cost of opening a new franchise routinely exceeds $100,000 -- some franchises, like KFC, require franchisees to have at least $750,000 in liquid assets and net worth of $1.5 million to open a location. While ApplePie Capital takes up to 30 days or more to fund, it is certainly much faster than a traditional loan application process and offers some of the largest loans among online marketplace lenders.
Able Lending works like a cross between a traditional peer-to-peer loan and crowdfunding. As a borrower, you’ll be responsible for finding investors for your loan, but they will only need to cover at least 10% of the loan amount, with Able covering the rest. The company does offer a 100% investor-funded loan for businesses that cannot meet the time in business or revenue requirements. Funding time is based on when your backers commit funds, which may take up to two weeks or more (and you’ll be responsible for getting them to fulfill their commitment).
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