So, your company needs money that you currently don't have. Maybe your business is just taking flight and is still lacking the necessary funds, or perhaps you have high aspirations with low profits at the moment.
If loans are your go-to choice for financing, you'll need to decide between a traditional bank loan and an alternative lender. For the latter, peer-to-peer (P2P) lending might be a smart option if you're looking for a smoother, faster borrowing process.
According to Investopedia, P2P lending lets individuals borrow and lend money without an official financial institution as the intermediary. Lenders collect income from interest, usually at a higher cost than with traditional loans, while borrowers access financing they may not have been approved for elsewhere.
"P2P loans can often offer higher approval rates and competitive interest rates — a stellar combination," said Emily Bartz, a writer at NextAdvisor.com, which provides independent research and comparison tools for financial, tech and business products. "The beauty of P2P lending is that it offers borrowers a more personal experience by avoiding big banks and financial institutions. Plus, borrowers can rest easy knowing that their lender is accredited and provides legitimate loan support."
Another upside, according to Bartz, is that P2P lending is flexible, allowing borrowers to complete the process in pieces. [See Related Story: A Guide to Choosing the Right Small Business Loan]
Is P2P right for you?
So how can you determine if P2P lending is right for your business? Be sure to ask yourself these questions:
Is it legal in your state?
Not all states allow P2P lending. However, it may depend on the platform you use. For example, according to LendingMemo, 49 states provide funding through LendingClub, while only 47 do so through Prosper.
"Potential borrowers should make sure that P2P lending is legal in their state, as it is prohibited in some areas," Bartz said. "You can usually find this information fairly easily on the lender's website or by completing a quick Google search," she noted.
Before committing to the idea, research which sites are accessible in your state.
How quickly do you need the loan?
One potential downside of P2P lending is that it might take longer than a traditional loan, thus hurting any immediate transactions or aspirations, Bartz said.
Bartz said that "if you are in a time crunch, P2P lending might not be ideal." Make certain that your company's needs are in tune with the time frame of your lending process before settling, she advised.
Is your financial standing good enough?
Bartz noted that it's important to consider costs such as interest rates and origination fees. While not all P2P lenders require this, it's smart to determine whether your credit score is high enough, and your business makes enough money, for you to be approved.
"It's crucial that all potential borrowers have a clear understanding of exactly what they'll be paying and have a plan to keep their payments consistent and on time," she told Business News Daily.
What are your options?
There are quite a few choices of loans when it comes to P2P lending. Once you've put a financial blueprint into place, you can start to explore your options and decide which will offer the best APRs, loan amounts and repayment terms for your credit score, Bartz said.
Depending on the size and age of your business, you may want to explore which type of loan is the best fit for your company's needs.
"If you're a brand-new business, you'll likely want to look into personal loans that you can use for business purposes, because you likely won't meet the requirements of a business loan," Bartz said. "On the other hand, if your business has been around for a year or longer, a small business loan will be best for you."
Here are some popular P2P lenders:
To view our recommendations for nonbank alternative lenders, visit Business News Daily's best picks list.