Here are the 5 steps for applying for a loan from WILL:
Make sure you have your ducks in a row— determine your business model, then work on a business plan, prepare financials, and line up your references. If you don’t yet have a business plan – get started now. Without a thorough, well-reasoned plan, you are not likely to convince anyone to loan you money. Even more important, the success of your business depends on having a cogent plan for achieving that success. Here are some Resources for creating a robust business plan.
Go to the website for the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions http://www.dfi.wa.gov/sd/smallbusiness.htm, and see if you need to file for an exemption from registering your solicitation for funding. The burden of filing for that $50 exemption lies with the borrower, not the lender. The folks at DFI are very helpful in answering questions about their process and whether it is needed in your case.
There are a number of ways to introduce yourself and your business to members of WILL:
- Attend one of our informal meet-and-greet events. These events have been held virtually, by Zoom, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. We plan to meet in person again in 2023. Time and place are posted on this website and announced on Drew’s List. This is a chance to take three or four minutes to introduce yourself and your business, but not to pitch a loan request. After introductions, there is time for informal conversation with WILL members.
- Hold an open house at your business or home for interested WILL members. Just send an invitation of no more than a page to firstname.lastname@example.org with a description of your business (but don’t make any financial requests in it yet). We’ll circulate it among our members, and let you know if enough of them express interest to make it worth your while.
- If you already have friends in WILL, ask if they will host a getting-to-know-you event in their home.
- For loans under $5,000, you can just send an email to email@example.com expressing your desire to meet members of WILL who might have an interest in your business. Describe your kind of business and your plans for it, but don’t make an actual request for a loan yet. An application and list of resources to help in filling it out is available (here). Your request to meet with WILL members will be circulated among them. Those who are interested will contact you.
Our application asks for general information but be prepared for the fact that potential lenders will want more specifics before deciding whether or not to loan money to your business.
Your application will be circulated to all members of WILL. Those who are intrigued by it will contact you directly for more information or to set up a meeting. If more than one member expresses interest, you can set up an informational meeting for all of them at once, but any deals that arise will be between yourself and individual members, not the group. At this point, potential lenders of all but the smallest amounts will probably want to know more about your projections of revenue and expenses for three or more years, your marketing plans, your collateral, potential risks, etc. They will want to assure themselves that the loan they are making will allow you to either make or save enough money to cover those loan payments.
Once you’ve sent in an application, any interested WILL members will get in touch within two weeks. The time required for information -sharing and loan negotiations depends on the complexity of your proposal and the amount of information potential lenders require in order to make their decisions.
If one or more WILL members decide to make a loan to you, terms and conditions (such as when repayments begin, how much they will be, how they will be paid, interest rate, collateral, how much may be taken in trade, etc.) will be worked out individually and may differ with each member’s loan agreement.
If you’ve been successful in obtaining the financing you need, please share your WILL experience with other potential borrowers and lenders. Good luck!