Preparing "Your Ask" for a Business Loan

June 2, 2020

When you are in business, it is inevitable that at some point, you will likely need to seek out and apply for a business loan.  Maybe it is for the purchase of some equipment, perhaps you are growing and need to buy a building, or it is possible that you are a seasonal business than needs a revolving line of credit to cash flow during slow times.  But where do you even begin?  

Whether you are going to be visiting with a bank, credit union, investor, or any other type of entity that can provide financing or investment dollars, you are going to need to prepare a package we like to call, “Your Ask.” 

Your Ask / yoo r ahsk / n. a package of information about your business, its financial situation, its future plans, the owners, their financial situations, and information about why the financing is needed; see also: proposal; plan; approach; presentation; prepare.

This packet will provide you the foundation for discussions to show the viability of your business and whether or not you have the ability to pay back the loan. Here is a list of the items you should assemble for “Your Ask” PRIOR to visiting with your lender about your financing needs. 

*below is an abbreviated checklist; please download our guide for a more in-depth checklist

Business Information:

  • 2 Years of business tax returns & year end financials 
  • Current, year-to-date financials 
  • Current business debt schedule 
  • 2 years of projected income statement with list of the assumptions you used to create the forecast 
  • Business plan (this may not be required for existing businesses but is definitely beneficial in supporting your plans and financing needs)

Owner information:

List of all owners of the business and their percentage ownership, then for each provide:

  • 2 years of personal tax returns
  • Current personal financial statement
  • Resumes
  • Copies of Driver’s Licenses.
  • Any personal credit issues

Your Ask:

  • How much do you need? And what will you use if for? (Provide supporting documentation)
  • When do you need it?
  • How much cash do you have available to put as a down payment toward the financing request?
  • Show how the financing will impact your business and its financial performance going forward.  

While it may look like a lot, you’ll soon realize that this checklist creates an overview for your loan request and paints a picture of your financing needs. This financing packet will put your several steps ahead of the norm and allow you to have productive conversations from the beginning about your needs and how to address them. 

Next time you’re feeling overwhelmed and not knowing where to begin, start preparing “Your Ask,” and go blow your lending institution away. Before you know it, you’ll be well on your way to getting that business loan you need to continue along your small business journey.  

Download our free in-dept guide here to get a step-by-step guide on how to prepare “Your Ask” and make your lending visit a success. 

Written by Steve Dusek

President & CEO of Dakota Business Lending

Steve eats, sleeps and breathes small business financing!  He has been at the helm of Dakota Business Lending since 2010 after leading Prairieland CDC in Minnesota for 15 years. Knowledge of lending programs and strategy are definitely his forte.  Steve used this experience for the betterment of the entire industry by serving on the National Association of Development Companies (NADCO) Board of Directors.  He has been involved with numerous committees to provide legislative advocacy and networking opportunities for small business development throughout the region.

With Steve in the lead, nobody gets left behind.  He is a trailblazer that ensures the whole team plays a vital role to our mission. He knows the value of the services that we offer and wants to ensure that all businesses have the opportunity to take advantage of these programs to help them achieve their dreams. He is a pioneer that is always looking for new and better ways to do what we do and have a broader impact on the success of those we serve.