As a business owner, securing funding is an important part of keeping the business running smoothly. Two options for financing that business owners often consider include equipment financing and traditional bank loans. While these two financing options help businesses achieve their goals, they are vastly different in their structure and how they work. This blog post will compare and contrast equipment financing and traditional bank loans, identify the pros and cons of each approach, and discuss what type of businesses may benefit from one financing option over the other.
Equipment Financing: What is it?
Equipment financing is a loan that business owners can use to purchase new equipment or upgrade existing equipment. The equipment itself serves as collateral for the loan, so traditional collateral may not be required. The loan terms vary, but businesses can expect to pay it off over a period of 2-7 years.
1. Keeps equipment up-to-date: Equipment financing allows businesses to get the latest technology and equipment without waiting. This can give a competitive advantage and help businesses remain efficient.
2. No collateral required: Since the equipment being financed is the collateral for the loan, businesses may not need to put up other assets as collateral.
3. Easy approval process: The equipment being purchased is the security for the loan, making the approval process simpler than with traditional bank loans.
1. Limited to Equipment Only: Equipment financing is only available to purchase equipment, so businesses may need to seek additional financing for other expenses.
2. Lower maximum loan amounts: Many equipment lenders restrict the amount of money a business can borrow which may not be sufficient enough to cover the costs associated with larger businesses.
3. Interest rates: Equipment loans can come with higher interest rates than traditional bank loans.
Traditional Bank Loans: What is it?
A traditional bank loan is a financing option that involves borrowing money from a bank or another lending institution. These loans are often used for purchasing assets or inventory, improving cash flow or for a variety of other purposes like buying real estate or even providing working capital for expansion. They tend to be more long-term than equipment financing, often up to 10-30 years.
1. Flexible payments terms: Bank loans offer more flexibility in payment terms, from monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly.
2. Larger loan amounts: Banks can offer large sums of money to businesses with maximum lending amounts higher than equipment financing.
3. Business development: By offering a higher loan maximum amount, businesses have the financial capacity to expand their operations over time.
1. Strict qualifications: Traditional bank loans require detailed financial statements, long-term business operation history and collateral to secure loans.
2. Time-consuming application process: Applications for bank loans tend to be more involved and time-consuming than equipment financing.
3. Cautionary Interest rates and fees: Banks tend to have higher interest rates and fees which can add up to significant expenditure over time.
Which Option is Better for Your Business?
Equipment financing and traditional bank loans both, have advantages and disadvantages as well as different qualification criteria. Therefore, when deciding on which financing option to pursue, your business objectives and financial situation play a crucial role in making the final decision.
In general, equipment financing is ideal for businesses that require significant capital investment in equipment and do not require large sums of money for expansion. New business owners or small businesses that lack collateral or detailed credit history and applications can find equipment financing a more reasonable option as an alternative in comparison to traditional loan options.
Traditional bank loans are ideal for businesses that require larger sums of money for expansion, real estate purchases, or other significant investments. For a startup or a new business, equipment financing may not provide sufficient borrowing capacity or be the most suitable solution for covering all business-related expenses in the initial growth phases.
Scenario 1: A small business with high equipment costs would benefit from Equipment Financing
A small business that specializes in landscaping and lawn maintenance recently purchased new equipment on credit. The business was having trouble keeping up with the monthly payments and was concerned about accruing an extensive amount of debt. A closer look found that the interest rates on the credit line were high. As a result, choosing equipment financing would have reduced the amount of interest paid, making the monthly payments more affordable, and ultimately help the business save their revenue.
Scenario 2: A mid-sized business requiring a large sum of money for expansion would benefit from traditional bank loans.
A company providing IT solutions is seeking to expand operations and is looking to rent new, larger office space. By evaluating the business' financial situation, available hidden assets, and showing a solid business plan to support their high repayment capacity, they were able to attain substantial funding by taking on traditional bank loans. By utilizing these resources, their expansion will proceed at a faster pace compared to Equipment Financing options while still being able to meet the financial requirements of paying loans over a more extended period.
In summary, the decision to choose between equipment financing and traditional bank loans depends on various factors like business targets, growth plans, current financial situation, credit score, and interest rates, etc. To make the best borrowing choice, it's important to assess the needs of the business and discern what option best suits it. The most effective way to evaluate your business’s financial needs is to consult a business financial advisor or an accountant.