How to Start a Microlending Company

Video how to start a micro loan business

Start a microlending company by following these 10 steps:

  1. Plan your Microlending Company
  2. Form your Microlending Company into a Legal Entity
  3. Register your Microlending Company for Taxes
  4. Open a Business Bank Account & Credit Card
  5. Set up Accounting for your Microlending Company
  6. Get the Necessary Permits & Licenses for your Microlending Company
  7. Get Microlending Company Insurance
  8. Define your Microlending Company Brand
  9. Create your Microlending Company Website
  10. Set up your Business Phone System

We have put together this simple guide to starting your microlending company. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.

STEP 1: Plan your business

A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:

  • What will you name your business?
  • What are the startup and ongoing costs?
  • Who is your target market?
  • How much can you charge customers?

Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.

What will you name your business?

Choosing the right name is important and challenging. If you don’t already have a name in mind, visit our How to Name a Business guide or get help brainstorming a name with our Microlending Company Name Generator

If you operate a sole proprietorship, you might want to operate under a business name other than your own name. Visit our DBA guide to learn more.

When registering a business name, we recommend researching your business name by checking:

  • Your state’s business records
  • Federal and state trademark records
  • Social media platforms
  • Web domain availability.

It’s very important to secure your domain name before someone else does.

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What are the costs involved in opening a microlending company?

Microlenders typically don’t have a lot of overhead, though you’ll likely need to hire a loan processor, a collector, and a bookkeeper. If you plan to take on all of these roles on your own at the beginning, you’ll need to be extra careful. Even one mistake on your part can land you in legal hot water.

What are the ongoing expenses for a microlending company?

Overhead for a microlender is low, as you generally don’t need an office to conduct business:

  • Employee salaries
  • Advertising costs
  • General office supplies
  • Website costs

Who is the target market?

If you’re hoping to make a social contribution as much as an economic one, an ideal person to lend a small sum of money to may be a woman in a third-world country, for example. She may be smart and capable of running a small family farm, but she lacks the resources to get started. A small sum of money may buy her enough for a few animals, which she can then raise to provide for her family. She may use the milk from goats or eggs from chickens to both nourish her family and sell to others in her community.

If you’re hoping to make money on your loan, you may want to consider lending to young go-getters who lack the credit history they need to get a conventional loan. There are a number of reasons why people may need a small amount of money, so do your research first before you decide which areas need your assistance the most.

How does a microlending company make money?

Microlenders make money by charging people interest on their loans. You may lend out $500 at a 20% interest rate, meaning the debtor will owe $600 by the time all is said and done.

How much can you charge customers?

Interest rates vary widely from place to place. Some may charge 10% while others charge up to 80%. The average is about 35%, but you’ll want to do research on the interest rates in any given area. Some well-known non-profit microlending websites don’t even offer the option of interest, while others may go as low as 3%. In these cases, it’s more like charity than a business venture though. Those who charge extremely high interest rates are usually for-profit businesses.

How much profit can a microlending company make?

With persistence and patience, a microlender can make a considerable amount of money when in the right area. Some studies state that up to 97% of low-income borrowers pay back their loan under the agreed-upon terms. If you make $100 on average on each loan, you’ll need to make 600 loans in a year to make $60,000.

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How can you make your business more profitable?

You may wish to expand to other parts of the world to make your business more profitable. Or you could consider opening up a payday loan store in your neighborhood if you feel you have a good handle on microlending and want to serve others who may need financial assistance.

STEP 2: Form a legal entity

The most common business structure types are the sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), and corporation.

Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your microlending company is sued.

You can form an LLC yourself and pay only the minimal state LLC costs or hire one of the Best LLC Services for a small, additional fee.

STEP 3: Register for taxes

You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.

In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It’s really easy and free!

There are specific state taxes that might apply to your business. Learn more about state sales tax and franchise taxes in our state sales tax guides.

STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card

Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.

When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.

Open a business bank account

Besides being a requirement when applying for business loans, opening a business bank account:

  • Separates your personal assets from your company’s assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
  • Makes accounting and tax filing easier.

Get a business credit card

Getting a business credit card helps you:

  • Separate personal and business expenses by putting your business’ expenses all in one place.
  • Build your company’s credit history, which can be useful to raise money later on.
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STEP 5: Set up business accounting

Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.

Make LLC accounting easy with our LLC Expenses Cheat Sheet.

STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses

Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.

State & Local Business Licensing Requirements

Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a microlending business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.

Certificate of Occupancy

Businesses operating out of a physical location typically require a Certificate of Occupancy (CO). A CO confirms that all building codes, zoning laws, and government regulations have been met.

  • If you plan to lease a microlending office location:
    • It is generally the landlord’s responsibility to obtain a CO.
    • Before leasing, confirm that your landlord has or can obtain a valid CO that is applicable to a microlending business.
    • After a major renovation, a new CO often needs to be issued. If your place of business will be renovated before opening, it is recommended to include language in your lease agreement stating that lease payments will not commence until a valid CO is issued.
  • If you plan to purchase or build a microlending office location:
    • You will be responsible for obtaining a valid CO from a local government authority.
    • Review all building codes and zoning requirements for your business’ location to ensure your microlending business will be in compliance and able to obtain a CO.

STEP 7: Get business insurance

Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.

There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.

Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers’ Compensation Coverage.