Sometimes, companies need a hand getting by when the market changes or unexpected costs arise. In other situations, a business needs a bigger boost to push it to a new operating level. In both instances, short- and long-term business loans are helpful. Learn more about these two loan options and the best time to apply for one.
Short-term loan basics
As the name implies, short-term business loans don’t stay on the books for long. According to Rosemary Peavler in an article for The Balance Small Business, these loans usually last less than a year, with some terms as short as 90 days. These smaller loans are great for businesses that need to build up inventory for busy times. For instance, a retail shop might apply for a short-term loan to buy Christmas inventory in the fall so they’re ready when the holiday season strikes. A manufacturing business that needs to pay for supplies before production begins might also use a short-term loan to help them get moving and bring money in.
Long-term loan basics
While short-term loans are for quick infusions of cash, long-term loans are for much bigger projects. According to NerdWallet, these loans are best suited for a business making a major investment or expanding. Long-term loans have more options, with some of them having terms up to 10 years. While a business (and its owner, depending on its structure) needs to be in good order to qualify for either a short- or long-term loan, long-term loans are much harder to qualify for. The benefits of a longer loan period include lower interest rates and smaller monthly payments.
Which one to choose
Choosing between short-term and long-term loans is fairly simple, as it depends on how quickly a business can pay back what they owe. If the money from a loan is more of a bandage solution until more capital comes in (and the business knows it’s coming), a short-term loan is probably the right choice. However, if a business needs a lot of cash to pay for something that might not produce income for a while, a long-term loan is a better option.
Another thing a business should consider when looking at short-term and long-term loans is which one they qualify for and how expensive it is to borrow that money. Start-up businesses usually qualify for short-term loans more easily than long-term loans. The funds might be enough to get them going, but the higher interest rates might make repayment harder than looking for other sources of cash. If a business qualifies for a loan with a longer term and is comfortable committing to payments spread over several years, the interest rate — or cost to borrow money — tends to be lower.
Choosing the right small-business loan is difficult, especially if an enterprise qualifies for different types. If there is any question about which term is best, consult a financial or business advisor before signing on the dotted line.