Step One: Pre-Qualifying for a Loan You need to be able to answer yes to the following: 1. Geography: My business is located in either: North Carolina, or One of the following counties in the greater Chicago area: Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will. If you answered no, find a community lender near you. 2. Financial health: I can attest that: I have not had a bankruptcy in the last three years, I do not have any open tax liens, and I do not have any unpaid judgments. Step Two: Contacting Us If you answered yes to the above statements, you may qualify for a loan! Contact us to get started. We'll follow up with you within three business days. Step Three: Applying for a Loan After you hear back from us, you can fill out your loan application. In the meantime, make sure you have gathered the documents you'll need during the application process. (Note, some items may not be relevant to you if your business is a start-up.) Tax returns (business and personal) from the last two years Year-to-date profit and loss statement and balance sheet statement Resumes of key management 12-month cash flow projection What we look for when evaluating a loan We work closely with our borrowers to make the application process as easy and transparent as possible. When we evaluate your application, we look at the following criteria: 1. Experience. What experience do you have in the industry related to your business? What management experience do you have? 2. Creditworthiness. Do you and your business have a history of paying debts and suppliers on time? You can get a free copy of your credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com. 3. Capital. How much money have you invested so far in your business? How much money can you invest in this project? 4. Cash flow. Can your business cover expenses plus the loan payment? 5. Collateral. What assets can be used to secure the loan? Possible collateral includes real estate, cash and in some cases equipment. Note: Some of our smaller loans do not require collateral. 6. Personal debt-to-income ratio. Is your business able to pay you a sufficient salary to cover your personal debts? For start-ups especially, we will look for the borrower or co-signer to have a secondary source of income. Our Specialty Loan Programs We make loans to small businesses of all kinds, but we have special expertise in sectors like rural lending and child care lending. If your business is in one of these sectors, you might also qualify for one of our specialty loan programs: Child Care Loans Environmental Loans (loans to recycling or renewable-energy businesses) SBA Loans For loans of more than $500,000, take a look at our commercial loan programs.