Before you can build a successful business, you’ll need to make sure you have the money you need to bring your vision to life. While you can use your savings or borrow money from the people you know, it’s almost always best to apply for a small business loan. The process isn’t as straightforward as you might think. Here’s what you need to know to find the best loan to finance your company.

You Need a Plan

No matter what industry your business is in, you’ll need to present lenders with a comprehensive business plan at the time of your loan application. This plan shows lenders what your business does, how you’ll pay back the loan if they issue one and proves that you’re a responsible business owner. Think of the plan as an outline of how you run your business. Break things down clearly and be as detailed as possible. Even if lenders don’t review every section, it will give them confidence in your business.

Review Your Finances in Detail

Every lender wants to issue loans to borrowers that they’re certain will pay them back in full. This means they’ll carefully examine your personal and business finances. Before you apply, see where you stand. Take a long, hard look at your credit score, your income, your savings and any other assets you have on hand. The better your finances are, the easier it will be for you to qualify for the loan in the first place. If you have tons of outstanding debt, try to pay it down as much as you can before you apply. This will lower your debt-to-income ratio and increases the chances of you getting approved.

Apply as Soon as You Can

One of the biggest mistakes that small business owners make when applying for a loan is waiting until they already need the money. Unfortunately, the application process can take weeks before the bank is ready to render a decision on your small business loan. Instead of waiting until you know you need the money, apply as soon as possible. This way, you’ll have the money you need before your business is desperate for additional funds. Just make sure you know how you’ll use the money before you apply. Lenders will want to understand your plans for the loan when they review your application.

Applying for a small business loan is a great way to finance your business. Keep these things in mind before you apply so you can make the best choice for your company and your financial future.