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How to Start a Business and Get a Loan: Your Comprehensive Guide

How to start a business and get a loan

How do you start a business and get a loan to grow the business sustainably? You need capital to run your business. The question always is, “What type of funding do I need to start my business?” A business loan is one of the ways to fund your business. However, many do not know how to obtain a loan for their business. How does one start a business and secure a loan?

We understand that funding is a big challenge entrepreneurs face which is why we bring a finance expert in the Start Your Business in 30 Days program to teach the different types of funding available to entrepreneurs as they build.

Every entrepreneurial journey begins with a spark—the drive to create something from nothing and the boldness to believe it’s possible. But as you’ll soon discover, passion alone will not set the gears in motion; you’ll need the oil that keeps the business machinery running smoothly: financing.

Start Your Business in 30 Days Even If You Don't Have An Idea
Start Your Business in 30 Days Even If You Don’t Have An Idea

See Also: How to transition from idea to starting your own business in 30 days.

In this article, you will learn how to start a business and obtain a loan to grow your venture. You will determine the right type of loan for your needs, understand the prerequisites for loan eligibility, and prepare your business so that, when it’s time to discuss finances with a lender, you will approach the conversation with confidence.

Welcome to “How to Start a Business and Get a Loan”—the entrepreneur’s guide to launching and leveling up.

Lay the Groundwork for Your Business

Building a business starts with a foundation as strong as the idea itself. Before you dive into the financials, let’s set the stage for what lies ahead.

Choosing a Viable Business Idea

Identify Your Niche

What problem are you solving? What needs are you meeting? These are the questions at the heart of every successful business idea. Dive into your passions, experiences, and skills to unearth a business idea that resonates with you and your future customers.

Validate Your Idea

An idea might sound great in theory, but how does it fare in reality? Validation involves gauging interest, understanding market needs, and anticipating future trends. This crucial step can save you time and resources down the line.

See Also: How to start a business and make money sustainably.

Market Research Essentials

Understand Your Target Audience

Who are you selling to? Create customer personas to better understand your audience’s demographics, needs, and behaviors. Tailor your products or services to the very people who will use them.

Analyzing the Competition

Who else is out there, and what are they doing right (or wrong)? Analyzing your competitors gives you insight into market saturation, opportunities for differentiation, and potential barriers to entry.

Writing a Compelling Business Plan

Go from idea to starting your business in 30 days
Go from idea to starting your business in 30 days

Outlining Your Vision and Objectives

This document is your roadmap, outlining where you want your business to go and how you intend to get there. It should be clear, concise, and compelling enough to convince stakeholders of the viability of your business.

Financial Projections and Strategies

No business plan is complete without detailed financial projections. Include income statements, cash flow statements, and balance sheets for the next few years, considering best-case and worst-case scenarios.

Legal Considerations and Business Registration in Nigeria

Understanding Nigerian Business Laws

Familiarize yourself with the legal landscape of Nigerian business. What regulations must you adhere to? How does taxation work for businesses in your category?

The Registration Process

Take a step-by-step look at registering your business. From choosing a business structure to obtaining the necessary permits and licenses, this part of the process makes your business official and legal. Once you enrol into the Start Your Business in 30 Days Program, you will get your business registration documents.

Protect Your Business

Touch upon intellectual property rights, insurance, and other protections your business needs. Ensure that your hard work is safeguarded against common legal pitfalls.

See Also: How to start a business without a degree.

Understanding Business Financing

Funding is the fuel that powers the engine of any startup. It’s vital to not only secure funding but to understand the various types available to you and how they align with your business needs.

Types of Business Financing

Before we jump into the specifics, let’s recognize that choosing the right type of financing is a decision that could affect your business for years to come. The key is to understand the pros and cons of each and how they fit into your overall business strategy.

Equity Financing – Sharing Your Vision

Equity financing involves exchanging a portion of your business ownership for capital. It’s a path that can lead to significant funds, without the immediate pressure of repayments.

However, it does mean you’ll be sharing decision-making power with investors. This route is excellent for those who seek not just funds, but also mentors who bring expertise and networks to the table.

Debt Financing – Borrowing for Growth

Debt financing means taking on a loan that you’ll need to repay over time, typically with interest. It includes a variety of options, such as term loans, lines of credit, and merchant cash advances. Each comes with its own set of terms and conditions, and it’s crucial to choose the one that aligns with your capacity to repay and your long-term business goals.

Grants and Crowdfunding – Alternative Routes

When you start your business, before you think about getting a loan, think grants. Grants are like the windfalls of business financing – they don’t require repayment and often come with support and resources.

However, they can be competitive and restrictive. Crowdfunding, on the other hand, can be an excellent way to validate your product while also raising funds. It’s a more democratic form of financing that empowers your customers to become your initial investors.

Determining How Much Funding You Need

One of the most challenging aspects of starting a business is understanding the amount of money you need to get off the ground and keep things running smoothly.

Calculating Startup Costs

Your startup costs could include inventory, equipment, marketing, and any other expenses that arise in the early stages. It’s important to list everything, no matter how small, to get a clear picture of your initial capital requirement. Being meticulous here can save you from financial strain later on.

Projecting Cash Flow Needs

Once the business is operational, you’ll need to forecast your cash flow – the lifeblood of any business. This involves a realistic assessment of how much cash you’ll need on hand to cover all your expenses, from salaries to suppliers. Overestimating your revenue or underestimating your expenses can lead to serious liquidity issues.

See Also: How to start a business with little capital.

The Role of Personal Finances in Startup Funding

It’s tempting to look to your own wallet to fund your dream. While self-funding shows a strong commitment to your venture, it’s essential to consider the risks.

Self-funding – Investing in Your Dream

Using personal savings means not having to give up equity or pay interest, but it could also mean putting your financial security at risk. Never invest more than you can afford to lose.

Friends and Family – The Personal Network

Borrowing from friends and family can be a fast way to secure funds, but it’s crucial to treat it as formally as a bank loan. Draft loan agreements to avoid future conflicts and to keep your relationships intact.

Personal Loans and Credit Cards – Handle With Care

Personal loans and credit cards are readily available sources of funds, but they come with high-interest rates. They should be approached with caution, ensuring that you have a solid plan for repayment to avoid spiraling into debt.

See Also: How to start a business with no money.

How to Prepare to Apply for a Loan

When you’re gearing up to apply for a business loan, the preparation you do beforehand can be as crucial as the application itself. It’s about putting your best financial foot forward and showing lenders that you’re a safe bet.

Here’s how to do just that.

Build a Strong Personal and Business Credit Score

Your credit score is one of the first things lenders look at. A strong credit score can mean better interest rates and more favourable loan terms.

Establish Credit History

Start by making sure you have a credit history. If you’re new to credit, consider small, manageable loans or a credit card with a low limit to begin building your credit profile.

Maintain Good Credit Habits

Always pay on time, keep your credit utilization low, and avoid taking on too much debt. These practices will help improve your credit score over time.

Review Your Credit Reports

Check your credit reports regularly for inaccuracies that may be hurting your score. If you find any, dispute them with the credit bureau.

Collateral: What is it and Do You Need it?

Collateral is an asset that can secure a loan. Lenders may require collateral for certain types of loans, particularly if you’re borrowing a large amount or if your credit history is less than ideal.

Evaluating Your Assets

Make a list of your assets to determine what you could offer as collateral. This could include real estate, inventory, or equipment.

Understand Lender Requirements

Different lenders have different requirements for collateral. Some may accept a broader range of assets, while others might only accept traditional forms of collateral like real estate.

Documents and Records: Preparing Your Financial Statements

Accurate financial statements are critical when applying for a loan. They show lenders a snapshot of the financial health of your business.

Profit and Loss Statement

This document will show your income and expenses over a certain period. It gives lenders an idea of your company’s profitability.

Balance Sheet

Your balance sheet provides a look at your business’s assets, liabilities, and equity. It’s an essential tool for lenders to assess the financial stability of your business.

Cash Flow Statement

A cash flow statement shows how well your company manages cash to pay debts and fund operations. Consistent positive cash flow reassures lenders that your business can sustain the loan.

Organizing Additional Documents

Be ready to present tax returns, bank statements, legal documents like your business license, and any other documents the lender might require.

See Also: How to start a successful subscription-based business.

Finding the Right Loan for Your Business

Navigating through the multitude of loan options can be daunting for any entrepreneur. In Nigeria, where the economic landscape is as diverse as its people, knowing where to look can set you on the path to financial empowerment.

Loan Options in Nigeria

The Nigerian financial ecosystem offers several avenues through which entrepreneurs can secure loans.

Banking Institutions

Banks are the traditional go-to for business loans. They offer a range of products, from short-term loans for immediate needs to long-term financing for substantial investments. Interest rates and terms vary, making it essential to shop around.

Microfinance Institutions

For smaller loan amounts or if you lack the collateral required by banks, microfinance institutions may be the answer. They typically have more flexible criteria and a faster application process but might charge higher interest rates.

Government Programs

The Nigerian government often runs programs intended to boost small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). These programs may offer loans with favourable terms, such as lower interest rates or longer repayment periods.

The Pros and Cons of Various Loan Types

Each loan type comes with its own set of advantages and drawbacks.

Term Loans

With fixed interest rates and predictable repayment schedules, term loans are ideal for businesses with consistent cash flow. However, they may require extensive documentation and collateral.


An overdraft allows your business to withdraw more money than is available in your account, up to a certain limit. It’s useful for covering short-term cash flow shortages, but the high interest rates for overdrawn funds can add up quickly.

Asset Financing

Loans taken to purchase equipment or vehicles are secured against the assets themselves. This can lower the interest rate, but if you fail to make payments, the lender can seize the asset.

Alternative Financing: Grants, Investors, and Crowdfunding

Beyond traditional loans, other financing routes can offer capital without the typical constraints of loan repayments.


Grants are funds provided to businesses that you don’t have to repay. They might come with specific conditions, like hiring within certain demographics or operating in a particular sector.

Angel Investors and Venture Capital

Investors provide funding in exchange for equity. Angel investors typically come in the early stages, while venture capitalists invest larger amounts in more established businesses. Both can offer valuable business guidance in addition to funding.


A modern approach to financing, crowdfunding platforms enable you to raise small amounts of money from a large number of people, often in exchange for product perks or early access. It’s a great way to gauge customer interest and build a community around your business.

See Also: How to become a billionaire by building a successful business.

The Loan Application Process

Applying for a loan can be an intricate dance of numbers and negotiations. This section demystifies the steps involved and sets you up for success.

Step-by-Step Walkthrough of the Loan Application Process

Applying for a loan is a systematic process that requires attention to detail and thorough preparation. What are the things you have to do so you can be successful? If you start a business and you want to get a business loan, do the following:

Initial Research

Start by researching potential lenders and their loan offerings. Compare interest rates, repayment terms, and eligibility criteria.

Preparing Your Documentation

Gather all the required documents. These typically include business plans, financial statements, legal documents, and personal identification.

Completing the Application

Fill out the loan application form with accurate information. Provide detailed responses to all questions about your business and its financial standing.

Submission and Follow-Up

Submit your application through the appropriate channels. It’s vital to keep a record of all communications and follow up regularly to show your keen interest.

Tips for a Successful Loan Interview

The loan interview is your chance to make a compelling case for your business. You have gone through the start process, and your business need the loan, so you need to be prepared.

Here are the things you need to prepare for:

Presentation Matters

Dress professionally and arrive early for your appointment. Make a positive first impression by being organized and prepared.

Know Your Numbers

Be ready to discuss your business’s financials in depth. Understand your projections, break-even point, and how the loan will contribute to growth.

Communicate Your Vision

Share your business vision and goals. Lenders are more likely to invest in entrepreneurs who are passionate and have a clear direction.

Common Reasons for Loan Rejections and How to Avoid Them

Understanding why loans get rejected can help you avoid these pitfalls. When you start your business and decide to apply for a business loan, ensure to avoid these pitfalls.

Inadequate Credit History

Build a credit history by managing current debts responsibly and keeping your credit utilization low.

Insufficient Collateral

Before applying, assess your assets thoroughly. If your collateral is lacking, look for lenders who offer unsecured loans.

Weak Business Plan

A weak business plan can be a red flag for lenders. Ensure yours is detailed, realistic, and demonstrates a clear path to profitability.

Poor Cash Flow

A business with poor cash flow is a risk for lenders. Work on strengthening your cash flow through better management and by cutting unnecessary expenses.

Lack of Preparation for the Interview

Lack of preparation can derail your interview. Practice answering potential questions and review your business plan and financials beforehand.

See Also: How to build a business with the goal of selling it.

After the Loan – What To Do After You Collect Loan.

Congratulations on securing your loan! Now, the focus shifts to managing this capital wisely to ensure sustainable growth and financial health for your business.

Effective Strategies for Utilizing Your Loan

The influx of cash from a loan can feel like a windfall, but every naira must be accounted for and allocated towards growth-generating activities.

Prioritizing High-Return Investments

Invest in areas of your business that promise the highest returns. Whether it’s new equipment to increase production efficiency or marketing campaigns to expand your customer base, choose investments that align with your business growth strategies.

Strengthening the Foundation

Use a portion of the loan to strengthen your business’s foundation. This could mean clearing high-interest debt or shoring up your inventory to meet increasing demand.

Budgeting and Financial Planning for Your Business

A solid budget and financial plan are your roadmaps to profitability and sustainability.

Creating a Detailed Budget

Outline all expected income and expenses. Keep your budget realistic, and review it regularly to adjust for any changes in your business landscape.

Implementing a Financial Plan

Develop a financial plan that encompasses short-term and long-term goals. This plan should include strategies for growth, risk management, and investment.

Preparing for Loan Repayment and Avoiding Default

Loan repayment should not come as a surprise. Plan for it from day one to avoid the stress of scrambling for funds when due dates approach.

Setting Up a Repayment Fund

Consider setting aside a portion of your revenue in a separate account dedicated to loan repayment. This way, you’re consistently building the funds needed to meet your obligations.

Understanding Your Repayment Schedule

Know your repayment schedule inside out – the due dates, the amounts, and the duration of the loan. Missed or late payments can result in penalties and harm your credit score.

Negotiating Terms if Necessary

If you find yourself struggling to meet repayment terms, reach out to your lender to discuss your options. It’s better to renegotiate terms than to default on your loan.

See Also: How to save on taxes as you build your business.


We have looked at how to start a business and successfully get a loan. Now you understand the process of obtaining a loan when you start your business.

Starting a business and securing a loan can indeed be complex, but with the right approach and preparation, it’s certainly achievable. You can indeed start a business and get a loan.

Remember, choosing the right type of financing is crucial—it sets the tone for your business’s financial future. Whether it’s a bank loan, microfinance, or an alternative funding source, ensure that it aligns with your business goals and your capacity for repayment.

Above all, don’t let the fear of loans deter you. When managed wisely, they are a powerful tool that can propel your business to new heights. It’s all about intelligent planning, from how you utilize the loan to how you repay it, always with a focus on sustainable growth and financial health.

Ready to start your business? Enroll in the ‘Start Your Business in 30 Days’ Program. This program guides you from idea to business launch in 30 days. We will work with you in various ways to start, set up, and grow your business.

How We Can Work with You to Start And Grow Your Business

If you want to work with our founder- Florence Chikezie to start a profitable and sustainable business, then enrol in the Start Your Business in 30 Days Program. She will take you from idea to starting your business in 30 days. At the end of the program, you will get a registered business with CAC, logo and brand assets, admin set-up, one-on-one consulting sessions and more. Click here to enrol.

Every week, she teaches practical business lessons that have helped thousands of entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. If you want to benefit from her teachings, click to sign up for the weekly business lesson here.

She is an internationally trained award-winning entrepreneur running three profitable businesses and a member of the prestigious Forbes Coaches Council. 

She also works with companies and established corporations to scale their impact and revenue. Reach us at Business@entrepreneurs.ng if you would like to transform your business.

See the different ways we can help increase your business success.

FAQs About How to Start a Business and Get a Loan

Q1: Can I get a loan to start a business without any collateral?

A: Yes, it’s possible to secure a loan without collateral, especially if you’re considering microfinance banks or alternative lenders.

Some government programs and grants also do not require collateral. However, unsecured loans may have higher interest rates or more stringent repayment terms.

Q2: How do I determine the best type of loan for my business?

A: The best type of loan depends on several factors, including the amount you need, how quickly you need the funds, the current financial health of your business, and your ability to repay the loan. It’s vital to compare different loan products and lenders to find the best fit for your business needs.

Q3: What are the most common mistakes to avoid when applying for a business loan?

A: Common mistakes include underestimating the amount of money needed, overestimating the ability to repay, providing inaccurate or incomplete information on the loan application, and not reading the fine print of the loan agreement.

Q4: How long does it typically take to get a business loan?

A: The time it takes to get a business loan can vary widely based on the lender and the type of loan. Traditional bank loans might take several weeks to months, whereas loans from microfinance institutions or online lenders could be much quicker, sometimes within a few days or weeks.

Q5: Is it a good idea to use personal savings to fund my business?

A: Using personal savings can be a way to maintain control over your business without taking on debt, but it also involves significant personal financial risk.

It’s crucial to ensure that you have enough savings left for personal emergencies and to avoid putting all your financial resources into your business.

Q6: How do I improve my chances of getting a business loan?

A: To improve your chances of getting a business loan, make sure to have a strong business plan, maintain a good personal and business credit score, prepare thorough financial documentation, and offer collateral if possible.

Q7: Can I apply for a business loan if my business is brand new?

A: Yes, new businesses can apply for loans, but they may face more challenges due to a lack of financial history. You may need to rely more on your personal credit score, provide a detailed business plan, or explore alternative financing options.

Q8: How important is my credit score when applying for a business loan?

A: Your credit score is very important when applying for a business loan because it indicates to lenders your reliability in repaying debts. A higher credit score can improve your chances of approval and lead to better loan terms.



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