I’m a loan officer. I work for a major regional bank. I’ve made over $300 million in loans to small, medium, and large businesses. I’ve given loans to start-ups, emerging and well seasoned businesses. I’ve lent as little as $1,000 for a credit card to over $50 million to one valued customer.

This article will help you to know what information to gather when applying for your own business loan. In my experience those who are the best prepared have the greatest success in obtaining financing. Don’t leave it to chance.

The trick of getting a loan is to know why, what, and how to prepare for the loan request.

The ‘why’ is pretty simple. You need to convince the loan officer that you can start and run your business such that you’ll be able to repay the loan — with interest.

For the ‘what’ there are basically two areas of preparation you need to cover:

A Business Plan

Personal Financial Information.

For the business plan you need to cover the following:

Description of the Business (what is the product or service)

Detail of the funding request (purchase, working capital, living expenses)

Historical Income and Balance Sheet statements for the past three years (for an existing business)

Projection of revenues and expenses for the next 12 months

Feasibility Study (Establishing demand for your product or service)

Marketing Plan (Detail of how you’ll market your product or service)

Competition Analysis (show how you stack up)

Show how the loan will be paid back (Work this into your projections)

For the Personal Financial Information you’ll need to provide the following:

Personal Financial Statement

Copies of Tax Returns for the past 3 years

Resume / Narrative of Business Experience (Really important if you’re starting a business )

Credit Report (usually ordered by the bank)

Keep in mind, the larger the loan request, the more detailed the information provided will need to be. Don’t take shortcuts. The more you have analyzed your own business and prepared for obtaining a loan, the better you’ll be at managing that business, and the less risk you’re likely to take.