Finance ConceptYou could be. One of the biggest challenges for small business owners in need of financing is looking where the odds are in their favor. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York has said the average business owner spends 33 hours trying to secure a loan. I’m convinced much of that time is wasted looking in the wrong places.

This is not a dig on banks. For the right borrowers and the right loan purpose, the bank is a great place to get a loan. I’m a big fan of the role community banks can play—although that role has decreased as more and more small banks either disappear or are consumed by bigger banks each year. The bank just isn’t the right place for every small business loan. In fact, some may not be able to work with new or young businesses, businesses that aren’t doing $1 million or more in revenue, or are looking for loan amounts of under $250,000.

Even the SBA has recognized this and spent much of this year courting the two largest credit union trade organizations to encourage their member credit unions to do more smaller-dollar small business lending. However, banks, credit unions and the SBA aren’t the only options for a small business owner today. In fact, there are probably more opportunities for financing today than ever before—provided you know where to look and understand the qualifying criteria.

What’s the Best Source for You?

BusinessLoans.com, an educational resource launched by OnDeck, recently released what we call the Fundability Quiz to help small business owners weigh their options and get a better feel for where they might find success looking for a loan. Twelve very straightforward questions, designed to address some of the key data points most lenders are looking for, will walk a potential borrower through some of the criteria that will not only help them find the right places to begin their search, but even more importantly, help them identify where they won’t have much success and where they might be wasting their time.

The quiz asks about things like loan purpose, loan amount, credit profiles and collateral. At the end of the quiz, they’ll receive a report that will not only tell them where they might find success—it will tell them where the holes are so they can better prepare for an upcoming loan application.

An online loan (like those provided by OnDeck), a traditional loan at the bank or credit union, a crowdfunding campaign, invoice financing, a merchant cash advance, a non-profit lender and even an SBA loan are all options. Depending upon a business owner’s answers, he or she will likely have multiple choices—or at least multiple places where it makes sense to look.

We hope this quiz will become a valuable tool to assist small business owners evaluate their potential choices so they can save time when they need capital by helping them look in all the right places.

The landscape of small business lending has changed a lot over the last few years, and there’s even some confusion regarding what type of financing is right for any given situation. While it would be unreasonable to expect a small business owner, who didn’t start his or her business to become a financing expert, to know about all the options available, I do think it’s important for business owners to become experts at what they need to finance their business. In addition to great resources like the mentors at SCORE or the counselors at your local SBDC who can help you get started in the right direction, I believe the Fundability Quiz can help you identify where to start your search for financing.

Click HERE if you’d like to take the Fundability Quiz.

Ty Kiisel is a contributing author at BusinessLoans.com, a new resource full of content addressing all aspects of business financing for small business owners. Ty has over 25 years of experience in the trenches of small business, and provides personal anecdotes and valuable tips to help small business owners become more financially responsible.

Image: Dollar Photo Club