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3 Ways an Accountant Can Help You Secure a Small Business Loan

November 9th, 2022 | 6 min. read

By Brian Paulson

Many small businesses take on loans to purchase a large piece of equipment, obtain another business, and even just to get cash flow money so they can expand. It can be a daunting process. Even if you're prepared to show forecasts and solid research to support your loan application, that won’t always be enough to guarantee success. What do you do then?

When you're looking for a small business loan, you don’t have to go into it alone. Turn to your accountant to help you secure a small business loan! Here are the steps an accountant can help with:

  • Loan planning
  • Preparing and gathering financial data
  • Creating an ideal presentation

At CSI Accounting & Payroll, we've helped many of our clients obtain loans over the past 50+ years. Do you know what your accountant can do for you? Here are three steps an accountant can take to help you secure a small business loan.

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1. Loan Planning

When you're seeking a small business loan, you need to have the full picture of what you want it for, how much money you're seeking, and how you would like to finance it.

What do you want the funds for? Failing businesses seeking money to stay afloat probably won't be approved for a loan, but businesses that are seeking money to grow will be approved a majority of the time. Sometimes small business owners may decide to avoid taking a loan altogether after giving it more thought or speaking with a financial partner.

An accountant can advise you on whether or not they think you'll qualify for a loan based on your financial statements. They can also provide an estimate on the amount they think you're eligible for, but only your bank can say for sure. If your accountant doesn't think you're eligible for a loan, don't worry! They can work with you to resolve certain issues, such as improving your business's profitability and reflecting that profitability to the bank. 

As for financing options, you can largely choose between bank loans or SBA loans. There are rare occasions when there are other options, such as financing a business vehicle at a dealership or taking on accounts receivable loans (which we don't recommend!)

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2. Preparing and Gathering Financial Data

You also need to make sure your books are ready before seeking a loan. The bank wants to see how your business is doing financially. If you're behind in your books or taxes and you need to borrow money, you have to get your books and taxes caught up first. Luckily, CSI can help you with back work and back taxes!

Once you're caught up, it's time to show the banks your financial data. Your accountant can help you gather these required pieces of information.

Existing Businesses

If you run an existing business, the bankers will want to look at the past. You will need to provide:

  • The last three years' worth of business tax returns.
  • The last three years' worth of December business financial statements.
  • An interim financial statement. This is referring to the most recent prior month's statements. (Life hack: when you use monthly accounting, you will always have current monthly statements!)
  • A personal financial statement for the owner and all partners. This is just a balance sheet to show what kind of financial shape the owners are in. You have to sign a personal guarantee, which says that if the business fails, you will guarantee the loan out of your own pocket.

New Businesses

Startups are exceptions because they won't have any financials or tax returns yet. If you run a startup, the bankers will want to look at an estimate of the future. There must be logic used, not just random numbers. Often, these numbers will be based on the accountant's knowledge of industry comparisons. You will need pro forma (projections) of the following:

Startups are exceptions because they won't have any financials or tax returns yet. If you run a startup, the bankers will want to look at an estimate of the future. There must be logic used, not just random numbers. Often, these numbers will be based on the accountant's knowledge of industry comparisons. You will need pro forma (projections) of the following:
  • Two to three projected years of business financial statements. These should show how fast you expect sales to go up, as well as costs and expenses going up. Be sure to include your estimated payroll needs and your business building's potential income and debt.
  • A personal financial statement for the owner and all partners. This is just a balance sheet to show what kind of financial shape the owners are in. You have to sign a personal guarantee, which says that if the business fails, you will guarantee the loan out of your own pocket.

3. Creating an Ideal Presentation

Finally, an accountant can help you improve the chances of a bank approving a loan by educating you on how best to present the information they've put together. Don't just walk in with a pile of documents; explain them and articulate your needs and qualifications. For example, an accountant will help a startup explain how the financial statement projections were arrived at.

Your accountant can walk you through the lending process from the bank’s perspective. In all loan situations, lenders want to know who’s borrowing the money, if they can repay it, and whether the bank is protected. You will then know how to show the bank that you need the loan and are able to pay it back. With background on the loan application process, you will be well-prepared for that walk into the bank.

Be Ready For Your Next Loan Application

The stakes can be high if you don't get the funds you need to grow! If you're thinking of applying for a small business loan, you may want to consider working with an accountant - even if you just have a few questions. 

An accountant can help you every step of the way: planning for the loan, preparing and gathering your financial data, and even helping you create the loan presentation that'll knock it out of the park. At CSI Accounting & Payroll, we've been helping our clients with small business loan processes for more than 50 years.

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Brian Paulson

Brian began working at CSI in 1996, and he purchased the business in 2002. As Owner, his primary role is in the management and growth of the firm. Since 2002, the firm has more than quadrupled in size. In 2009, Brian started CSI’s payroll service to complement CSI’s accounting and tax services. Brian received his Bachelor’s degree from the University of North Dakota, with a double major in Accounting and Financial Management. He’s a member of both the National Society for Tax Professionals and the National Society for Accountants, and he serves on the board of directors for the Professional Association of Small Business Accountants, where he was once president. Brian also serves on the business advisory council for Opportunity Partners, an organization that helps people with disabilities find employment. He’s also contributed to several business books, including Six Steps to Small Business Success and The Lean Mean Business Machine. Fun Fact: To help put himself through college, he used student loans, delivered pizzas, and worked summers in a salmon processing plant in Alaska.