Small loans for small businesses

October 5, 2012
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

If they knew then what they know now, business partners Clayton Willis and Brent Eskew might have looked for outside funding before launching Stage Ninja LLC.

Instead, they spent their own money researching and developing their retractable cable systems for audio equipment, then applied for loans to help the company grow.

“We would have been much better off going in with an idea and a business plan,” said Willis, 40. “We ran into wall after wall.”

So they settled for a more circuitous route. Stage Ninja began marketing its custom stage and studio gear in 2007, two years after Eskew built the first prototype. It took another few years to break even.

Then in July 2011, the Roncalli High School buddies got a boost in the form of a $4,000 loan from the not-for-profit Business Ownership Initiative of Indiana, which was testing microloans at the time. The money helped Stage Ninja build its inventory and improve cash flow. Sales increased as a result, and the partners repaid the note last month.

Now BOI is ramping up is microloan program and Stage Ninja is its first customer, borrowing another $10,000 to continue its growth.

Willis declined to share the private company's financial results, but he said sales so far in 2012 are higher than they were this time last year, which was a record setter.

“It’s a pretty exciting time for us,” he said.

He is grateful for the money and the support from BOI, which also provides one-on-one business counseling, but Willis admits that even $10,000 is far less than the company needs.

“From the numbers we’ve run, we think we could take on a $200,000 loan and really reach our potential,” he said. “But we just could not seem to find that.”

BOI is funding the microloan program with $150,000 in grants from the Glick Fund and Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority’s Business Expansion and Entrepreneur Development fund.

Executive Director Julie Grice hopes that’s just the beginning.

“"The more loans we issue, the more we are able to prove there is a real need in the community,” she said in a statement released this week announcing the Stage Ninja loan.

Ultimately, her goal is to increase the funding pool so BOI can raise lending limits closer to $100,000, giving startups and small ventures access to much-needed capital.

“It’s just not in a bank’s interest to do a lot of lending in space under six figures,” she told IBJ in May.

There's little doubt that finding financing is one of the biggest challenges small businesses face. So how much is enough? Can $10,000 make a difference to a fledgling firm?

ADVERTISEMENT
  • unfortunately
    Unfortunately for every successful step forward for a small business Obama will create two regulations that require more money and two steps back. Small business innovation will get the wet blanket thrown on them under liberal control.
  • Small Loans = Big Difference
    I absolutely believe that small microloans can help a business become more successful. Take a few examples: - $10,000 could fund a rather aggressive grassroots marketing campaign across a city or state - $10,000 could supplement a salary for 6+ months for a new position a startup wants to create, but cannot fund alone (too much risk) - $10,000 can build a new app for a business - $10,000 could fund a new delivery vehicle or a custom paint job (virtual billboard) So, yes, a loan of even $10,000 can make a huge difference to a small business and should be encouraged!

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT
  1. I think the poster was being sarcastic and only posting or making fun of what is usually posted on here about anything being built in BR or d'town for that matter.

  2. Great news IRL fans: TURBO the IMS sanctioned movie about slugs running the Indy 500 has caught the Securities and Exchange Commission because Dreamworks had to take a $132MILLION write down...because the movie was such a flop. See, the Indy/IMS magic soiled another pair of drawers. Bwahahahahahaha! How's CARTOWN doing? HAHAHAHA...Indy is for losers.

  3. So disappointed in WIBC. This is the last straw to lose a good local morning program. I used to be able to rely on WIBC to give me good local information, news, weather and traffic on my 45 minute commute.Two incidents when I needed local, accurate information regarding severe weather were the first signs I could not now rely on WIBC. I work weekend 12 hour nights for a downtown hospital. This past winter when we had the worst snowfall in my 50 years of life, I came home on a Sunday morning, went to sleep (because I was to go back in Sunday night for another 12 hour shift), and woke up around 1 p.m. to a house with no electricity. I keep an old battery powered radio around and turned on WIBC to see what was going on with the winter storm and the roads and the power outage. Sigh. Only policital stuff. Not even a break in to update on the winter storm warning. The second weather incident occurred when I was driving home during a severe thunderstorm a few months ago. I had already gotten a call from my husband that a tornado warning was just southwest of where I had been. I turned to WIBC to find out what direction the storm was headed so I could figure out a route home, only to find Rush on the air, and again, no breaking away from this stupidity to give me information. Thank God for my phone, which gave me the warning that I was driving in an area where a tornado was seen. Thanks for nothing WIBC. Good luck to you, Steve! We need more of you and not the politics of hatred that WIBC wants to shove at us. Good thing I have Satellite radio.

  4. I read the retail roundup article and tried Burritos and Beers tonight. I'm glad I did, for the food was great. Fresh authentic Mexican food. Great seasoning on the carne asada. A must try!!! Thanks for sharing.

  5. John, unfortunately CTRWD wants to put the tank(s) right next to a nature preserve and at the southern entrance to Carmel off of Keystone. Not exactly the kind of message you want to send to residents and visitors (come see our tanks as you enter our city and we build stuff in nature preserves...

ADVERTISEMENT