Choosing the type of loan that’s right for your small business can be confusing and a major source of headache, but it doesn’t have to be! This article is going to outline the 3 major types of loans you should know about before going to the bank, what they entail, and what to expect.

small business owner shaking hands with a lender after getting a loan Loans are almost always a necessity for new, small businesses.  A common misconception about loans are that they are only used to start a small business.  The truth is, in addition to starting small businesses, loans are needed to maintain cash flow as well.  Don’t let this scare you!  Most business have a line-of-credit loan (we will discuss this type of loan later on) on the back burner for when things don’t go perfectly as planned.  This is perfectly normal, and the more you know beforehand, the more comfortable you will feel with your lender and your borrowing situation.  In this article, we will be discussing the 3 major types, or categories, of loans used by small businesses. We will also be discussing secured loans vs. unsecured loans.

The 3 Types of Loans.

The first thing to know is that all lenders have various names that they give their loans.  Don’t panic!  The point of this article is to give you the three most common categories in which these loans fall into. Establishing a good relationship with your bank or lender is key when it comes to borrowing.  Once you’ve established a bank, communicate clearly what your businesses needs are and how their services will best fill those needs.


This is the most common type of loan that small businesses will use in order to keep cash-flow running smoothly.  These loans are designed to cover the cost of inventory and payment of operation costs.  The nature of this loan is not to be used for business growth such as real estate, renovations, and equipment but only for stimulating cash-flow. This is a short-term loan.  The extent of that loan is up to the discretion of you and your loan officer.  The amount in which you receive is generally based on your credit score.  Your credit score and previous loan history will also determine the amount of interest charged on that loan.  Fortunately, Line-of-Credit loans fall on the lower spectrum of the interest rate scale because they are seen as low-risk loans. Most Line-of-Credit loans are written for a 1 year period.  During this period, interest rate payments are made monthly, while the payments on the principal is up to the discretion of the business owner.  It’s recommended that business owners make principal payments a little each month, rather than waiting until the end of the term to pay it in full.


Installment loans are written to meet whatever needs the business owner finds fit.  So, rather than Line-of-credit loans which only are written for operating costs and inventory, Installment loans can essentially be used for whatever the business wants. The way an Installment loan works is that an equal amount is set for month-to-month for combined principal and interest payments.  The loan is given in full to the business when everything is signed and set.  Interest is set before the loan is handed out, so if you pay the Installment loan before its end, the interest rate is adjusted. Depending on the nature of the loan (what it’s being used for), the loan will have various lengths.  They can range from a business cycle loan of 4 months to 1 year.  If you’re using this loan for real estate or renovations, they can be written for up to 20 years.  The shorter the life of the loan, the smaller interest rate you will have to pay.


Balloon loans are received in full on the date that the contract is signed.  Interest is paid off on a month-to-month basis with a “balloon payment” of the principal due at the end of the term.  These loans typically have lower interest rates and are most commonly used for mortgages.  Every bank is going to manage their balloon loans differently.  Often times banks offer ‘reset’ options for their balloon loans to reset the interest rates and expiration dates based off of current interest rates.  At the end of the balloon loan term, you have 3 options: pay it off in cash (and keep the asset), sell the asset, or refinance.

Secured vs. Unsecured Loans

Loans are either going to be secured or unsecured and this is entirely up to the bank you choose to borrow from.  Secured loans simply require collateral if things go sour and unsecured loans do not.   Unsecured loans almost always have higher interest rates, given their nature.   New businesses with zero financial and success history are usually never going to be given and unsecured loan.  These typically follow after a positive relationship has been developed between lender and borrower. Check out America's Best Bookkeepers About Complete Controller® – America’s Bookkeeping Experts Complete Controller is the Nation’s Leader in virtual accounting, providing services to businesses and households alike. Utilizing Complete Controller’s technology, clients gain access to a cloud-hosted desktop where their entire team and tax accountant may access the QuickBooks file and critical financial documents in an efficient and secure environment. Complete Controller’s team of  US based accounting professionals are certified QuickBooksTMProAdvisor’s providing bookkeeping and controller services including training, full or partial-service bookkeeping, cash-flow management, budgeting and forecasting, vendor and receivables management, process and controls advisement, and customized reporting. Offering flat rate pricing, Complete Controller is the most cost effective expert accounting solution for business, family office, trusts, and households of any size or complexity.