By Emily Trant
I'm COO at Funding Options and we help businesses to access alternative finance. We typically match businesses with small or niche lenders who understand their sector and their finance needs particularly well. The lenders and businesses we connect are not always the usual suspects, but feedback from both sides tells us we have a knack for creating happy and fruitful relationships.
So much so that we’ve started describing ourselves as ‘like online dating for businesses and lenders’. We use a mix of clever technology and good old-fashioned nous to make some very successful matches.
While online dating may not be the most obvious analogy to the process of finding business finance, here are five reasons why we think it’s particularly suitable.
1. It’s pretty common for both sides to use a bit of ‘creative licence’ with their profile
Good lighting, a glossing over of some of those dark periods and really, who needs to mention that thing that happened last year? You know what I’m talking about.
If they can’t love you (or lend to you) for who you are, they’re simply not worth your time.
It might seem like a good idea to put your best foot forward, but inevitably the truth will come out. Being creative with the information you share, whether shopping for a loan or for a date, is only going to lead to wasted time and broken hearts.
Be upfront. If they can’t love you (or lend to you) for who you are, they’re simply not worth your time.
2. Everyone does a bit of window shopping
You know the type – they seem perfectly suited but when you ask for a meeting you just can’t pin them down. Turns out they’re not actually on the market right now. They’re just thinking that maybe at some point when they do come onto the market they’d like to know their options. Or, they already have a partner and are having a browse to reassure themselves that they’ve already landed the best catch.
Yes, yes, we know that you want to find that dreamy, tall, dark and handsome business loan. Turns out, so does everyone else.
Nothing particularly wrong with that, although if you’re looking to make a match right now it can be frustrating to spend time courting window shoppers.
A good rule of thumb is that if you reach out three times and get nothing back, it’s time to move on.
3. We all want to find the most attractive match
Yes, yes, we know that you want to find that dreamy, tall, dark and handsome business loan. Turns out, so does everyone else. Bottom line: the most attractive candidates are spoilt for choice. While it might appear that ‘tall, dark and handsome’ is available, the truth is they’ve got dozens of offers and can afford to be highly selective.
Those of us with a few <cough> imperfections need to stop fantasizing and start considering our real choices. This is not to say that you have to settle for second best; you just need a dose of perspective. Do you really need a low-rate term loan over five years? Or is a short-term cash injection just the ticket to get your business kicking up its heels again?
4. The best match is often not an obvious one
In hindsight, of course you found a fantastic partner. They support you, communication is great and you feel like you’ve really got to know them. But when you first met you had really specific ideas about what you wanted and they just didn’t tick those boxes. In fact you nearly passed them over and if it hadn’t been for a pushy friend, you may never have taken the leap.
Had you even considered unlocking your personal pension to fund business growth? Sometimes the happiest relationships are the most unexpected.
They may not have ticked any of the boxes on your list, but they tick all the boxes on the list you should have had.
To give a finance example, a surprising solution such as pension-led funding may be the perfect fit for your business. But had you even considered unlocking your personal pension to fund business growth?
Sometimes the happiest relationships are the most unexpected.
5. Sometimes you just want a quickie
Not all relationships need to last forever. Sometimes it’s not about Mr Right, it’s about Mr Right Now.
Both sides go in with their eyes open, you enjoy a short but fruitful partnership and then you move on. Just what the doctor ordered!
Emily is the chief operating officer at Funding Options. Make sure to follow her on Twitter.