The Best Business Loan & Financing Resources For North Carolina Small Businesses
North Carolina is one of the fastest-growing states in the nation and has posted significant economic growth over the last 30 years in cities such as Greensboro, Raleigh, and Charlotte. The city of Charlotte is one of the largest banking centers in the United States and the information and biotechnology industries are thriving thanks in part to the Research Triangle Park, Gateway University Research Park, and the Piedmont Triad Research Park. In 2018, North Carolina was ranked in the top ten on CNBC’s Top States for Business list.
With all this growth and opportunity, it’s no surprise that more people are considering entrepreneurship. Maybe you’ve thought about starting your own small business, or maybe you’ve already opened your doors. Either way, you’re here because you want to learn more about financing opportunities and resources for new and established businesses in North Carolina.
In this post, we’re going to look at the best opportunities for small business owners in North Carolina. From easy online loans to small business grants for new and innovative businesses, we’ll explore the many options available to North Carolinians. Let’s get started.
Table of Contents
Online Business Lenders For North Carolina Businesses
If you need an easy and convenient small business loan, look no further than your computer. You can secure a business loan without even leaving your home or office by working with an online lender. Not being stuck in a bank for hours isn’t the only benefit to online lending, either. If you don’t qualify for a traditional loan for any reason (low credit score, new business, or low revenues, for example), you can find a lender that’s willing to work with your specific situation.
Finding an online lender isn’t difficult. Just typing search terms like “small business loan” in a search engine brings up thousands of hits. Unfortunately, though, not all lenders are cut from the same cloth. In your search for an online business loan, you’ll encounter lenders that aren’t reputable, charge ridiculously high fees, or have poor reviews from their borrowers. It’s easy to get caught up for hours just finding a lender, so save time and start with one of these options.
You want to shop around when it comes to financing options, but you don’t want to submit application after application. You also want to avoid having multiple hard inquiries on your credit — a move that could bring your score down or even disqualify you from receiving a loan. By working with Fundera, you can avoid these hassles.
Fundera allows you to fill out one easy application to see what financial products you qualify to receive. Fundera uses a combination of technology and experienced lending specialists to find the best financing options for your business. You’ll work with your lending specialist to evaluate all offers to determine which is best for you. Then, you select your funding and receive the money in your bank account. Your lending specialist will even continue to work with you to determine how you can receive even better options in the future.
Working with Fundera is free, and there’s no impact to your credit score just to shop around your options. However, it should be noted that once you accept an offer, a hard pull will likely be performed on your credit.
Fundera offers several financial products for small businesses, including:
- Small Business Administration (SBA) Loans: Up to $5 million with terms up to 25 years
- Lines Of Credit: Starting at $10,000 with terms up to 5 years
- Term Loans: Up to $500,000 with terms up to 5 years
- Startup Loans: Up to $150,000 with terms up to 4 years
- Equipment Financing: Up to 100% of equipment value
- Invoice Financing: Up to 100% of invoice value
- Short-Term Loans: Up to $250,000 with terms up to 18 months
- Personal Loans For Business: Up to $35,000 with terms up to 5 years
- Merchant Cash Advances: Up to $250,000
Rates, terms, and borrower requirements vary based on the financial product selected.
If you want to compare lender offers, Lendio is another option to consider. This loan aggregator has over 75 financing partners you can reach through just one application. There’s no fee to apply, and submitting your application won’t affect your credit.
The application process takes just minutes, and you could receive funding in as little as 24 hours depending on the product you select. Lendio has a variety of financial options available to small businesses including:
- SBA Loans: Up to $5 million with terms up to 25 years
- Term Loans: Up to $2 million with terms up to 5 years
- Lines Of Credit: Up to $500,000 with terms up to 2 years
- Equipment Financing: Up to $5 million with terms up to 5 years
- Commercial Mortgages: Up to $5 million with terms up to 25 years
- Business Acquisition Loans: Up to $5 million with terms up to 25 years
- Startup Loans: Up to $750,000 with terms up to 25 years
- Short-Term Loans: Up to $500,000 with terms up to 3 years
- Business Credit Cards: Up to $500,000
- Accounts Receivable Financing: Up to 80% of receivables with terms up to 1 year
- Merchant Cash Advances: Up to $200,000 with terms up to 2 years
Rates, terms, and borrower requirements vary by financial product.
If you don’t want to work with a loan aggregator and want to dive in immediately with a direct lender, BlueVine is a reputable lender to consider. BlueVine offers two financial products for small businesses: lines of credit and invoice factoring.
If you want a flexible financing option, a line of credit could be the right choice for you. Instead of receiving one lump sum payment, you’ll have access to a revolving line of credit to use whenever you need it.
You may qualify for as much as $250,000 with BlueVine. You don’t pay if you don’t use your line of credit. When you do make a draw, rates start at just 4.8%. Payments are made monthly or weekly over 6 or 12 months. As you make payments on your line of credit, funds become available for you to use again for unexpected expenses, emergencies, purchasing inventory, or filling revenue gaps.
To qualify for a BlueVine line of credit, you must meet these minimum requirements:
- Personal credit score of 600 or above
- At least 6 months in business
- At least $100,000 in annual revenue
With BlueVine’s online application, you can be approved for a line of credit in as little as 20 minutes.
If unpaid invoices are plaguing your business, BlueVine offers a solution with its invoice factoring service. You can qualify for a line of credit up to $5 million using your unpaid invoices. You can receive up to 90% of the money upfront for your invoices. Fees start at 0.25% per week, and you can be approved for financing in as quickly as 24 hours.
To qualify for invoice factoring, you must have:
- A personal credit score of 530 or above
- A time in business of at least 3 months
- At least $100,000 in annual revenue
- A B2B business
Amex Business Loans
If you have an American Express Business Card, you may qualify for a small business loan. Not only will you receive a loan with competitive interest rates, but applying has no impact on your credit since the lender uses your information that’s already on file.
With an American Express loan, you can receive $3,500 to $50,000 to use for your business expenses. Interest rates are 6.98% to 19.97% with repayment terms of 1 to 3 years. You can be approved in just seconds and receive funds in your bank account in as little as 3 business days.
The only drawback to this product is that you must be a preapproved American Express Business Card member to receive the offer. You can find out if you’re preapproved by logging into your American Express account. To receive an offer, you must be a Basic Card Member in good standing, a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, and at least 18 years old. Please note that meeting these minimum requirements does not guarantee an offer.
IOU Financial offers flexible business financing that can be delivered to your bank account in as little as 24 hours. Through IOU Financial, you can receive up to $500,000 for growing your business. Even if you’ve faced challenges receiving funding in the past, you may qualify for an IOU Financial product, as the lender preapproves 85% of all applications.
IOU Financial offers financing with terms up to 18 months. Fixed daily or weekly payments are automatically taken from your business bank account. There is no early payment penalty if you pay off your loan early. If you need more capital, you may qualify for renewal once you’ve paid 40% of your loan. The lender doesn’t use a traditional interest rate but instead uses a factor rate between 1.15 and 1.31. Learn more about factor rates and how they affect the cost of your loan.
To qualify for a loan through IOU Financial, you must meet the following minimum requirements:
- Own at least 80% of your business OR at least 50% if owned with a spouse
- Time in business of at least 1 year
- At least 10 daily deposits
- Annual revenue of at least $100,000
- Average ending balance of at least $3,000 per day in a business bank account
If you need access to a large amount of capital, look to a lender like P2Binvestor. You can qualify for asset-backed lines of credit from $500,000 to over $10 million. These funds are unrestricted and can be used for any business purpose, from purchasing commercial property to covering payroll. P2Bi’s lines of credit have 1-year revolving terms with interest rates in the high teens.
According to the lender, the ideal candidate for a line of credit should:
- Have time in business of at least 1 year
- Have at least 10 employees
- Have an experienced management team
- Be a B2B business
- Have at least $10 million in revenue
- Have at least 10% annual revenue growth
- Have accounts receivables that pay within 90 days
Businesses in the construction, real estate, medical insurance billing, and cannabis industries do not qualify for funding through P2Bi.
If you want a flexible line of credit without having to jump through hoops to get it, apply with Kabbage. This lender offers a quick, easy application process that can give you access to capital in just minutes.
Kabbage specializes in small business lines of credit up to $250,000. Repayment terms are 6 months or 12 months and are based on how much you borrow. Fees are between 1.5% and 10% of your loan balance. If you pay off your loan early, no prepayment penalties are charged and you can save on your monthly fees. Payments are made monthly and are automatically withdrawn from your business bank account. No fees are charged until you use your line of credit.
One thing unique to Kabbage is the Kabbage Card. You have the option to make a traditional draw on your line of credit. Your funds will hit your account typically within 1 to 3 business days. Or you can use the Kabbage Card anywhere Visa is accepted to immediately access your funds. If you go this route, a new loan with the same rates and terms will be created on your Kabbage Dashboard.
To qualify, you must meet the following minimum requirements:
- Time in business of at least 1 year
- At least $50,000 in annual revenue OR at least $4,200 per month for the last 3 months
There are no credit score requirements, as Kabbage bases its approval decisions on the performance of your business. However, a credit check for the business owner is performed.
If time in business requirements are holding you back, consider getting a personal loan for business. By going this route, you can qualify for funds using your own personal income and credit score.
LendingPoint is one option to consider for personal loans. This lender provides up to $25,000 for qualified borrowers. APRs start at 15.49% and go up to 35.99%. Repayment terms are 2 to 4 years with payments due twice per month.
To qualify for a LendingPoint personal loan, you must meet these requirements:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Have a valid ID and Social Security Number
- Have a verifiable bank account
- Have an annual income of at least $20,000
Banks, Credit Unions, & Nonprofit Lenders In North Carolina
If going a more traditional route makes more sense for you and your business, there are plenty of banks, credit unions, and nonprofit lenders that serve business owners in North Carolina. If you have a business or personal checking account, you can check out the services available through your own bank. Or if you are shopping around for a specific product or lower rate, consider these picks.
BB&T is one of the largest banks in North Carolina with branches in nearly 200 cities including Asheville, Charlotte, Chapel Hill, and Greensboro. In addition to business checking and savings accounts, BB&T offers multiple borrowing options including:
- Small Business & Startup Loans
- Lines Of Credit
- SBA Loans
- Business Credit Card
You can also take advantage of other business services provided through BB&T including merchant services, payroll services, and employee benefits such as retirement solutions. You can learn more about opening an account and the services provided by calling BB&T’s toll-free number or visiting a local branch.
Truliant Federal Credit Union
Truliant Federal Credit Union was first chartered in Winston-Salem, Burlington, and Greensboro in 1952. Since then, the credit union has grown to serve over 200,000 members in cities throughout North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia. Truliant branches are located all throughout North Carolina in cities including Charlotte, Asheboro, Greensboro, and Winston-Salem.
In addition to business checking and savings, you can apply for:
- Commercial Real Estate Loans
- Commercial Auto Loans
- Lines Of Credit
- Construction Loans
- SBA Loans
- USDA Business & Industry Programs
- Equipment Financing
You can begin the process online by downloading and completing a business loan application. Once complete, bring the application, your business debt schedule, and a personal financial statement to your local financial center.
Business accounts and financial products are available to Truliant members. To become a member, you must meet one of the following requirements:
- Live, work, attend school, or worship in an area served by Truliant
- Work at one of Truliant’s partner companies
- Have an immediate family that is a Truliant member
- Be a member of the American Consumer Council that lives in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, or Tennessee
Self-Help Credit Union
Self-Help is an organization made up of two credit unions, an advocacy group, and a nonprofit loan fund. Self-Help is a designated community development financial institution that provides opportunities to underserved communities.
Self-Help Credit Union provides financial services including checking and savings accounts to North Carolina residents. Self-Help also offers funding opportunities for small businesses, nonprofits, child care centers, and faith-based organizations.
Loan options available through Self-Help include:
- Small Business Loans: Up to $250,000
- Commercial Loans: $250,000 and up
- SBA 504 Loans
- New Markets Tax Credit Loans
- Commercial Real Estate Loans
- Environmental Loans
- USDA Rural Development Loans
- Specialty Loan Funds: NC Rural Center Small Business Loan Program and Golden LEAF Loan Program
- Small Business Recovery Loans
- Food System Finance Loans
- Child Care Loans
- Charter School Loans
- Multifamily Housing Loans
- Neighborhood Stabilization Program Loans
To apply for any of these loan programs, you must be a Self-Help member. To qualify, you must meet one of the following requirements:
- Live, work, attend school, or worship in an eligible county
- Meet family or employer affiliation criteria
- Member of the Center for Community Self-Help
Carolina Small Business Development Fund
The Carolina Small Business Development Fund is a nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution that has served communities in North Carolina since 1990. This organization provides business loans and training to community-based organizations, startups, and existing businesses.
Through Carolina Small Business, you can apply for loans and lines of credit up to $250,000. Rates are typically 8% to 12%.
To apply for a loan, you must complete the online application. Along with the application, you must upload documentation including:
- Personal & Federal Tax Returns
- Business Plan
- Resumes Of Managers
- Financial Statements
Additional information may be requested by a loan officer throughout the application process. Businesses requesting less than $50,000 will receive a loan decision within 10 business days. If the loan exceeds $50,000, a decision will be given within 15 business days.
Small Business Grants In North Carolina
You’ve probably seen the advertisements while watching late night TV: “Access the secret to millions of dollars in business grants for the low, low price of $99.95!” Unfortunately, obtaining a business grant isn’t exactly easy — or even possible — for most small businesses.
This doesn’t mean that grants (financing you don’t have to repay) don’t exist. They do. But most are open only to specific industries and applicants, like veterans, women, or minorities. Even if you do qualify for a grant, competition is often fierce.
If you want to explore all financing options, here are a few grants that may be a good fit for your business.
NC Idea is a private foundation that provides grants and other resources to entrepreneurs in North Carolina. Opportunities include:
- NC IDEA MICRO: Up to $10,000 for the advancement of new business ideas
- NC IDEA SEED: Up to $50,000 for innovative startups with a proven concept
Additional resources include leadership training through NC IDEA LEAD and mentorships for female entrepreneurs through NC IDEA SOAR.
Deadlines and requirements vary. Applicants can learn more by visiting the NC IDEA website.
City Of Raleigh Office Of Economic Development Grants
If your business is located in Raleigh, North Carolina, there are several grants available to small businesses. These grants include:
- Business Investment Grant
- Building Up-Fit Grant
- JobsRaleigh Grant
- Façade Grant Program
- Downtown Raleigh Retail Up-Fit Grant
- Impact Partner Grant
These grants are designed to help encourage growth, development, and job creation in the City of Raleigh. Requirements and deadlines vary by program.
National Association For The Self-Employed
Through the National Association for the Self-Employed, you could receive $4,000 through the NASE Growth Grant. Grant funds can be used to expand your business through advertising, marketing, hiring employees, or expanding your facilities.
To qualify for the grant, you must be an NASE member. Annual memberships are $120 for most entrepreneurs. Students can become members for just $25 per year, while veterans pay only $99 annually. A monthly membership plan is also available.
Grants are awarded each month, and you can apply through the NASE website.
Loans & Resources For Startups In North Carolina
Getting the capital you need to grow your business is difficult, but getting the financing you need to launch your business can be even tougher. Many of the loan options already discussed may be unavailable to you if you don’t have revenue or haven’t been in business for a specific period of time.
This doesn’t mean you’re down and out. There are plenty of business financing options and resources for startups if you know where to look. Unsure of where to start? We’ve rounded up some great options that can help you get your business off the ground.
SCORE is one of the nation’s leading resources for startups and small businesses. Through its 300 chapters, it has helped more than 11 million entrepreneurs since it was launched in 1964. SCORE offices are located all throughout the nation, including the state of North Carolina and cities including Raleigh, Charlotte, and Greensboro.
You can contact SCORE to be connected with a business mentor. There is no cost for this service. You can also lean on SCORE’s other business resources, including live and recorded webinars, online courses, and workshops.
Thread Capital is a program launched by the NC Rural Center. This organization offers custom financing solutions for small businesses. Thread Capital also emphasizes helping underserved business owners, including women, minorities, low-income borrowers, and businesses located in rural areas.
Thread Capital offers small business loans from $500 to $50,000. Startup businesses with less than one year of documented revenue are eligible to receive up to $20,000. Established businesses with more than 12 months of documented revenue may be eligible to receive up to $50,000.
Loan terms are up to 72 months and interest rates start at 12.99% based on a number of risk factors. There are no prepayment penalties if your loan is paid off early.
To qualify for a startup loan through Thread Capital, you must:
- Have at least 1 employee, which may include the owner
- Have a business located in North Carolina
- Put up all available assets as collateral
- Have all individuals with more than 20% ownership co-sign the loan
As you become more established, Thread Capital offers additional loan options through its lending partners. Loans up to $5 million are available through these lenders.
Small Business and Technology Development Center
Since 1984, the Small Business and Technology Development Center has provided North Carolina small business owners with resources to help them grow and create jobs.
Whether you’re a brand new business or you’re an established business that has stalled on the path to growth, SBTDC offers business counseling and educational services to benefit you. These include:
- Business & Management Advice
- Financial Analysis
- Marketing Assistance
- Financial Assistance
- Strategy Development & Implementation
- Leadership & Employee Performance
Most services are free and are always confidential. There are multiple SBTDC locations located throughout the state of North Carolina, serving areas including Boone, Chapel Hill, Charlotte, Greensboro, Raleigh, and Wilmington. You can visit the SBTDC website to learn more about the services offered and to submit an online request for counseling.
Small Business Center Network
The Small Business Center Network has 58 centers located throughout the state of North Carolina to support the growth and development of new and existing businesses.
Through the SBCN, business owners can receive confidential business counseling, access to resource libraries, seminars, and workshops. All services are available at no cost or for a minimal fee.
Business counseling is available on a variety of topics, including:
- Business Plan Development
- Marketing Assistance
- Management & Human Resources
- Sources Of Capital & Loan Preparation
Business Link North Carolina
If you’re ready to start a small business in North Carolina, check out the resources offered through Business Link North Carolina. Through this partnership with the NC Department of Commerce, you can receive free one-on-one phone consultations with a business counselor.
Business counselors can answer your questions on multiple business topics such as:
- Regulatory Requirements
The toll-free hotline is available Monday through Friday. You can also submit an online request to have a counselor get in touch with you.
What To Consider When Choosing A Lender
Now that you’re aware of the financing options available to you, you’re one step closer to choosing a lender. There’s one problem, though: which lender is right for you?
Whether you’re spinning your wheels trying to narrow down your choices or you’re making the final decision between two lenders, ask yourself:
Do I Qualify?
This is an easy question that may immediately eliminate multiple lenders. Do you meet all the requirements of the lender? Is your credit score where it needs to be? Do you have enough revenue? Is your credit report free of anything that would disqualify you from receiving a loan?
If you don’t meet all minimum requirements, move on to another lender. If you find it difficult to qualify with most lenders, evaluate where you’re falling short. Get your free credit score, evaluate your credit report, and look at the financials of your business. If your funding need isn’t urgent, consider taking steps to resolve any issues that prevent you from qualifying for affordable loan options before submitting applications to lenders.
Does The Loan Amount Fit My Needs?
Before you seek funding, you should know how much capital you need. Maybe you need just a few thousand dollars to purchase new equipment. Maybe your financial needs are greater, and you need hundreds of thousands to renovate your commercial space. No matter how much capital you need, it’s important to find a lender that offers loans and financial products that have borrowing limits large enough to fund your project.
Can I Afford This Financing?
Before you submit applications and accept a loan offer, you need to make sure your business can afford to take on new debt. After determining whether your business can afford a loan, shop around to make sure you’re getting the best rates and terms for your business. High fees and interest rates, daily or weekly payments, or very short-term options could equal very expensive financing that could hurt — not help — your business.
Whether you apply for an online loan, a traditional bank loan, or a small business grant, there are plenty of financing options available to small businesses in North Carolina. Do your research, compare your options, and determine what opportunities are best to start or grow your business successfully.