How to Use a Business Loan: 10 Ways Financing Can Help

Erin Ryan
Erin Ryan
Erin Ryan

There comes a time in nearly every business owner’s life when a loan seems necessary to expand or simply sustain operations. To that end, business financing is used for a number of reasons. 

Find out how to use a business loan effectively, including several top expenses business loans are used for. 

  • What Are the Most Common Small Business Loan Uses?

    According to the Federal Reserve Bank’s 2021 Small Business Credit Survey, 45% of firms surveyed applied for business loans, making it the top choice of financing. 

    Others types of loans and financing applied for included:

    • SBA loan: 42%
    • Business line of credit: 35%
    • Auto and equipment loans: 12%
    • Personal loans: 11%

Here are 10 ways to use a business loan effectively:

1. Inventory

Ready to buy new inventory to stock your virtual or brick-and-mortar store? Whether inventory items are used for production or finished products, a business loan can provide the funds you need to manufacture items, stay on trend with your customer base or make a bulk purchase to refill empty shelves. 

Types of inventory could include:

  • Raw materials
  • Packaged goods
  • Packing materials
  • Parts, supplies and assemblies
  • Extra stock or anticipation inventory

2. Equipment

Some pieces of equipment are vital to certain business operations, whether you own a restaurant, run a retail store, operate a trucking business, work in manufacturing or are in another industry. 

When your company vehicles, machinery or equipment needs updating, or you need to add to your existing pieces, consider equipment financing for a purchase or lease.

Here are examples of equipment you could acquire with a business loan:

  • Office equipment
  • Warehouse equipment
  • Commercial or industrial machinery
  • Company transportation
  • Communication systems
  • Security systems
  • Point-of-sale systems and forecasting tools
  • Electronics and technology equipment

3. Investments

Jim Rohn, an author and motivational speaker, said: “Time is more value than money. You can get more money, but you cannot get more time.” 

This is the essence of capitalizing on an investment, which could be anything from buying out a competitor to buying into a franchise. When opportunity knocks, you’ll want to be ready to quickly open the door.

Image of a tree with coins and a gree line graph trending up with the word “investments”

4. Construction

It may be time to update your existing location. Alternatively, you might want to add on to your store or build a new one altogether. 

If you’re looking to finance leasehold improvements or construct a new facility from the ground up, business financing can provide the funds you need to start your project.

5. Expansion

If business has been good to you and you’re looking to grow, a loan could help. That’s true whether you’re interested in scaling operations or opening a new location, whether a lease or purchase, or buying land or a building.

6. Marketing

Marketing budgets vary by company and industry, but many businesses budget 7%-8% of revenue. There are times, though, you may want to ramp up advertising to attract new customers or beef up business during a slow season. 

Alternatively, perhaps you’d like to invest in enhancing your website, search engine optimization tactics or social media campaign. These are just a few reasons you might turn to funds from a business loan.

7. Personnel

Do you need an office manager or want to hire several seasonal workers? Sometimes, you need additional hands to keep business running smoothly. Expanding your team to invest in experienced, dedicated staff could offer a great return on investment. 

Consider the average office manager salary in the U.S. is slightly more than $86,000 annually, and seasonal workers average nearly $42,000 a year.

Additionally, you might use a business loan to pay for professional development for your existing team. Consider bringing in a trainer, purchasing a subscription to online learning platforms or partially funding field-relevant college degrees for your employees. 

8. Operating Expenses

Firms are more likely to apply for a business loan because they need financing to meet operating expenses, according to the Federal Reserve. When business owners need help covering operating expenses, which can run the gamut from rent and utilities to payroll, many use a working capital loan. 

Consider this example: Dr. Eileen Conti, founder of Conti Eye Care, worked with Fast Capital 360 to obtain financing for just this reason. Conti said she used financing to get through months when her patients’ health-care reimbursements weren’t immediate.

Several gear cogs turning with coins all around and green bar charts below with the words “operating expenses”

9. Debt Refinancing

According to the Federal Reserve’s report, 56% of firms surveyed have $100,000 or less in debt, while 44% have more than $100,000. If you have high-interest debt, unmanageable payments or financing you’d like to consolidate, find out if a business loan can help. 

Keep in mind debt refinancing with lower payments could free up your day-to-day cash flow, which you could then invest in other areas of your business. A more favorable interest rate and terms also could potentially save you money in the long-term.

10. Product Development

Is your business doing well? If you’ve noticed your customers are constantly asking for something that you just don’t have or you’re looking to one-up your competition with a better product line, maybe it’s time to launch a fresh piece of merchandise or offer a new, innovative service. 

  • How Much of a Loan Do Business Owners Need?

    Loan purposes and reasons to obtain financing can vary. 

    Here’s a bit more insight to consider when you’re seeking business financing. Take a look at average business loan amounts by lender, including conventional vs. alternative lenders:

    LenderAverage Loan Amounts
    Large National Banks$593,000*
    Small Domestic Banks $146,000*
    SBA Loans$107,000*
    Fast Capital 360 Lenders $31,000

    *According to Federal Reserve data

What Does a Business Loan Cover and Is One Right for You?

Unless there are restrictions on the use of your loan proceeds, such as is typically the case with equipment financing and certain SBA loans, you may be able to use loan funds for nearly any business need.

When you’re looking to apply for a business loan, consider the following:

  • How much capital do you need?
  • What will you need the funds for?
  • How soon will you need the funds?
  • Are your needs short-term or long-term?
  • How much of a payment can you afford? (Use a business loan calculator to estimate payments.)

Additionally, while you may be thinking a business term loan is the only option for financing your company’s needs, there are actually many different financing products for business owners. Other options include business lines of credit, merchant cash advances and accounts receivable financing

Erin Ryan Staff Writer and Editor at Fast Capital 360
Erin has more than 10 years’ experience writing, proofreading and editing web content, technical documentation, instructional materials, marketing copy, editorials and creative content. In her role at Fast Capital 360, Erin covers topics of interest to small business owners, including sales, marketing, business management and financing.