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Whether you've got a great business idea of your own or are preparing to buy into a well-known franchise, you're likely to run up against a common problem: lack of cash. Fortunately, you have options for finding financing--one of which is getting help from software.
Robert Schmidt is a computer and business writer in Culver City, California.
A Loan Of Your Own
Consider Jian's LoanBuilder ($49), touted as "complete software for financial analysis and preparation of loan applications." It provides the documentation you need to get money quickly.
Once you've chosen a loan to pursue, you're ready to apply LoanBuilder's software. Like other Jian packages, LoanBuilder includes templates and other components, such as:
Documents: Loan proposal summary letter, executive summary, schedule of business debt, promissory note;
Spreadsheets: Balance sheets, cash flow statements, income statements, historic-ratio analysis; and
Forms: Universal business loan application, SBA forms, IRS forms.
LoanBuilder focuses on the Small Business Administration (SBA) as a prime funding source. It devotes a chapter to understanding the SBA's loan programs and choosing the appropriate one. LoanBuilder comes with JetForm Filler, a utility that lets you enter data in the SBA's official forms.
Finally, LoanBuilder tells you which documents to include in your loan application and suggests what to do if you're turned down. Giving up is not an option: As the manual says, "Attaining full creditworthiness can take up to three years."
If you've been in business for one year or more, another tool you may find useful is Moneysoft's LenderPro ($295). Although it's geared toward established companies, this DOS program can still help a relatively young business prepare an effective proposal for expansion capital or project-based funding requests.
In LenderPro's Analysis section, you enter and analyze historic financial data. This includes income statements, balance sheets and monthly sales cycles. Then the Report Writer compiles this data into a narrative report. You can edit it in a word processor and customize the report format for future use.
Money For Nothing
The Internet offers many utilities to help with the nuts and bolts of borrowing money, from calculating repayments to tracking your loan portfolio. Web sites such as Filez (http://www.filez.com) and Shareware (http://www.shareware.com) are good sources of useful software. (See June 1998 "Software Solutions.") Another good site is Download (http://www.download.com); a search for "loans" there generated 44 hits. Also visit Finance Web (http://www.financeweb.com) for a list of small-business and homebased business links.
Hot To Buy
- InstaCorp. This product from Corporate Agents Inc. helps entrepreneurs incorporate in any state. The 138-page guide and accompanying software explain how self-employed professionals can form corporations by following eight simple steps. The package has details on a full range of supplies, including incorporation kits, sample forms, "how-to" publications, a small-business discount network called E.A.R.N. and delivery options for expediting articles of incorporation. Call (800) 877-4224 or visit http://www.corporate.com Price: $29.95.
- Subject Search Spider. How much time do you waste trying one Web search after another in the quest for a single answer? To alleviate this problem, PKWARE is marketing SSSpider, a personal Web agent. You program the inquiries you want, and SSSpider does the rest, submitting your criteria to search engines and reporting the results. To improve the speed and quality of your Internet research, visit http://www.pkware.com or call (414) 354-8699. Price: $29.95.
Jian, (206) 378-6080, ext. 104, firstname.lastname@example.org
MoneySoft, (800) 966-7797, http://www.moneysoft.com