Why Small Business Finds It Hard to Borrow from Banks

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -- A small-business owner faces two daunting challenges: The first is securing the financing needed to open his enterprise. The second is ensuring he maintains the financing needed to stay open.

“Startups are the hardest to finance,” says Steve A. Spencer, president of the Youngstown chapter of Score, formerly the Service Corps of Retired Executives. Spencer should know. He’s the former president of three commercial banks.

“The success ratio of startups is low,” he says, “because of their lack of capital.”

“Borrowing starts even before a business is created,” notes his colleague, Nick Moliterno, treasurer of Youngstown Score. To secure funding, the entrepreneur “needs a good [personal] credit record and to demonstrate he has some management experience.”

“Eighty-five percent of small businesses borrow from a commercial bank,” reports Ann Marie Wiersch, a senior policy analyst with the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, the route she recommends.The remaining 15%, of which small-business owners should be wary, include lending clubs, finance companies and online sources. “The news coverage of alternative lenders is disproportionate to their share of the market,” she says. Moreover, “venture capitalists and angel investors are not as strong as they once were.”

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