"We don't have receivables and we don't own a building," she says. "We don't have collateral."
Male loan officers have also made inappropriate comments about the fact the company sells lingerie. Charlick is convinced that they have a problem with women-owned businesses.
Women owners have long been at a disadvantage getting loans. Some states required husbands or other male relatives to co-sign business loans until the practice was outlawed by the Women's Business Ownership Act of 1988. But women's business loan approval rates are between 15 percent and 20 percent below men's, according to the online lending marketplace Biz2Credit.com.
Several factors contribute to the problem. Banks historically have been gun-shy about small businesses, and that caution increased due to stricter government regulations after the 2008 credit crisis. Often, women-owned businesses are young, making them look risky to lenders.
They don't look as creditworthy as men. Their credit scores in 2013 were on average 20 points below men's, an improvement from 40 points in 2012, but still a significant difference, according to Biz2Credit.
But women owners may also hurt their chances for approval.
"Women don't ask, 'what do I need to do to get ready to borrow?'" says
Many women-owned businesses don't have enough revenue and cash flow to convince bankers they have the ability to handle their debts, says
Some make a poor impression when they show up at the bank.
"They don't take the time to prepare paperwork. They don't have the proper documents, financial statements," says
Many women can't explain in detail why they need a loan and what they'll use the money for, Gallo says.
The problems may come from a lack of confidence that would allow them to be aggressive about their companies, including getting a loan, says
"You need to let the bank know you're a good bet and they can invest in you and they can get their money back," she says.
Regulations the government imposed on banks after the 2008 financial crisis have forced them to be wary,
Members of the
Stringent terms demanded by one lender forced
"It didn't make sense to me. We needed that cash in case we needed to fund the business," she says.
Hill got a loan within weeks from a financing company. She had been wary of financing companies, believing they would charge a higher interest rate. But the rate she got turned out to be only slightly higher than a bank loan. And the company had a more realistic view of her ability to repay the loan than the big bank she had a 15-year relationship with, Hill says.
Individual banks may be resistant to lending to women owners if they don't understand the business, says
"If the bank didn't like that category, she might get turned down," Fiorentino says.
Owners should find out before they apply what kinds of companies a bank is likely to lend to, he says.
Women should also get mentoring and advice from accountants, attorneys and other experts before applying, to help make an approval more likely, says
"The most successful businesses are constantly looking outside of themselves for advice or perspective," she says.
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