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The Ultimate Guide to Bad Credit Business Loans in Canada

By Arthur Dubois | Published on 15 Sep 2023

A businessman confidently holds a tablet displaying a concept of business loans, showcasing his financial expertise and technological savvy.

    Are you a Canadian business owner struggling to secure a loan due to bad personal or business credit? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Many entrepreneurs find themselves in this predicament, and it can be frustrating. However, with the right knowledge and strategies, you can still access the funds you need to grow your business. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about bad credit business loans in Canada.

    Understanding Bad Credit Business Loans

    Before we dive into the details, let’s start by defining what exactly a bad credit business loan is. Simply put, it’s a loan specifically designed for business owners with less-than-perfect business or personal credit scores. These loans typically have higher interest rates and stricter terms compared to traditional business loans.

    To clarify, a business credit score in Canada is a numerical representation of a company’s creditworthiness, assessing its ability to repay debts and manage financial obligations, which is crucial for obtaining loans and favourable business terms. In Canada, business credit scores are calculated by Equifax, TransUnion, and Dun & Bradstreet. 

    A personal credit score, on the other hand, is related to the business-owner’s personal ability to pay back his or her credit obligations. While many lenders look at business credit scores when they receive an application, many of them also consider the personal credit score of the business owner. As such, having a poor personal credit score can also get in the way of your ability to obtain a loan for your business. 

    Now, let’s explore this topic further and delve into the intricacies of bad credit business loans.

    What is a Bad Credit Business Loan?

    A bad credit business loan is a financing option that provides funding to business owners who have a low credit score. This type of loan is specifically tailored to meet the needs of entrepreneurs facing credit challenges.

    When business owners have a low credit score, traditional lenders may be hesitant to provide them with the necessary funds. However, bad credit business loans offer an alternative solution. These loans are designed to help business owners overcome their credit limitations and obtain the funding they need to grow their ventures.

    How Does Bad Credit Affect Your Business Loan Application?

    When lenders evaluate your loan application, they consider various factors to determine your creditworthiness. Your personal credit score plays a significant role in this evaluation process, as does your business credit score if you have one. A low credit score can raise red flags for lenders and make it more challenging to secure a loan.

    However, it’s essential to understand that bad credit does not necessarily disqualify you from getting a business loan. There are specialized lenders in Canada who cater to business owners with bad credit. These lenders take a more holistic approach to evaluating loan applications, considering factors beyond just the credit score. They take into account other aspects, such as the business’s revenue, cash flow, and future prospects. 

    It’s worth noting that bad credit business loans often come with higher interest rates and stricter terms. This is because lenders perceive a higher risk when lending to business owners with bad credit. The higher interest rates help compensate for this perceived risk.

    However, despite the higher costs associated with bad credit business loans, they can still be a valuable tool for business owners looking to improve their creditworthiness. By responsibly managing these loans and making timely repayments, business owners can demonstrate their ability to handle debt and potentially improve their credit scores over time.

    Common Types of Bad Credit Business Loans in Canada

    A bad credit business loan can take on several different forms in Canada. These different options can allow business owners to choose an option that best fits their needs and circumstances and get the best possible deal on their loan. Some of the bad credit business loan types that are available to Canadians are: 

    Secured Loans

    These loans require collateral, such as equipment, inventory, or property, to secure the loan. Secured loans are often considered less risky for lenders since they have a tangible asset to seize in case of default. As a result, secured loans may offer lower interest rates and more favourable terms compared to unsecured loans. However, it’s important to carefully consider the value of the collateral and the potential consequences of defaulting on the loan.

    Unsecured Loans

    Unlike secured loans, unsecured loans do not require collateral but may have higher interest rates. Unsecured loans are not backed by any specific asset, making them riskier for lenders. These types of loans can be a viable option for businesses that do not have valuable assets to offer as collateral.

    Do also keep in mind that lenders can sometimes require personal guarantees from small and medium-sized business owners when extending loans. While the loan is still unsecured, these guarantees mean that the business owner is personally responsible for loan repayment if the business can’t meet its obligations. It adds a layer of security for the lender, increasing their confidence in the loan’s repayment.

    Invoice Financing

    This type of financing allows you to access funds by selling your outstanding invoices to a lender. Invoice financing, also known as accounts receivable financing, is a popular option for businesses that have outstanding invoices from customers. Instead of waiting for the customers to pay, businesses can sell these invoices to a lender at a discounted rate. The lender then advances a percentage of the invoice value, providing immediate cash flow. Once the customer pays the invoice, the lender deducts their fees and returns the remaining amount to the business.

    Merchant Cash Advances

    With a merchant cash advance, you receive a lump sum upfront in exchange for a percentage of your future credit card sales. Merchant cash advances are particularly suitable for businesses that generate a significant portion of their revenue through credit card sales. Instead of traditional loan repayments, the lender deducts a percentage of each credit card sale until the advance, along with fees, is repaid. This repayment structure allows for flexibility, as the amount deducted fluctuates with the business’s sales volume.

    Loans With A Co-Signer

    When seeking a business loan with a less-than-ideal credit score, there are strategic options to improve approval odds. One approach is enlisting a co-signer, someone with a strong credit history willing to guarantee the loan. Alternatively, if multiple co-founders exist, including a co-founder with a better credit score on the application can also enhance the chances of approval. Both strategies provide added assurance to lenders and demonstrate a commitment to responsible repayment. 

    These are just a few examples of bad credit business loans available in Canada. It’s essential to thoroughly research and compare different lenders and loan products to find the best fit for your specific business needs and financial situation.

    Top Bad Credit Business Lenders in Canada

    So, are you ready to apply for a bad credit business loan in Canada? Whether you’ve been rejected by traditional lenders, such as Canada’s big banks, or just want to avoid the risk of rejection due to your low credit score, check out these bad credit business lenders that may be able to suit your needs. Do note that these options may charge higher interest rates than traditional lenders in Canada. 


    OnDeck, an online lender operating in Canada and the U.S., is a financial institution that specializes in providing small and medium-sized businesses with access to loans and lines of credit. Leveraging technology, they offer quick and convenient financing solutions to help businesses meet their short-term financial needs, making it easier for them to thrive and grow in the competitive market, no matter their circumstances. 

    Merchant Growth

    Merchant Growth is a prominent Canadian lender catering to small and medium-sized businesses. They offer customized financing solutions such as working capital loans and merchant cash advances. With a focus on speedy approvals and flexible repayment terms, Merchant Growth assists businesses in overcoming cash flow challenges and achieving their growth objectives in Canada’s dynamic business landscape.

    Loans Canada

    Loans Canada connects borrowers, including business owners with bad credit, to lenders offering various loan options tailored to their needs. By leveraging their extensive network and expertise, Loans Canada helps business owners secure financing options that suit their needs, offering a lifeline for those seeking financial support to grow and succeed, even with less-than-perfect credit histories.

    Qualifying for Bad Credit Business Loans

    Now that you’re familiar with the types of loans and lenders available in Canada, let’s discuss how you can qualify for a bad credit business loan.

    Qualifying for a bad credit business loan can be challenging, but it’s certainly not impossible. Lenders understand that businesses may face financial difficulties at times, and they are willing to provide funding to help them get back on track.

    The specific eligibility requirements vary among lenders, but some common criteria include:

    • A minimum credit score threshold (usually around 500-550)
    • A minimum annual revenue requirement (typically $50,000 or more)
    • A specified time in business (usually at least 6-12 months)
    • Positive cash flow and profitability

    Meeting these criteria is important, as it demonstrates to lenders that your business has the ability to repay the loan. However, it’s important to note that meeting these criteria does not guarantee approval. Lenders will also consider other factors, such as the industry your business operates in and any collateral you can provide.

    Before applying for a bad credit business loan, it’s crucial to prepare your business to increase your chances of approval. Taking the time to gather the necessary documents and address any outstanding debts can make a significant difference in the lender’s decision.

    Gather All Relevant Financial Documents

    When applying for a bad credit business loan, lenders will require you to provide various financial documents to assess your business’s financial health. These documents may include your business tax returns, bank statements, and financial statements.

    Showcase a Solid Business Plan

    A well-crafted business plan is essential when applying for any type of business loan, especially if you have bad credit. Your business plan should outline your goals, strategies, and how you plan to use the loan funds.

    By showcasing a solid business plan, you can demonstrate to the lender that you have a clear vision for your business and a strategic approach to overcome any financial challenges you may be facing.

    Address Outstanding Debts, Liens, or Judgments

    If your business has any outstanding debts, liens, or judgments, it’s crucial to address them before applying for a bad credit business loan. These negative marks on your credit report can significantly impact your creditworthiness and decrease your chances of loan approval.

    By proactively addressing these issues, such as negotiating payment plans or settling outstanding debts, you can improve your creditworthiness and increase your chances of obtaining the loan.

    The Application Process for Bad Credit Business Loans

    Now that you’re ready to apply, let’s walk through the typical application process for bad credit business loans. 

    Steps to Apply for a Bad Credit Business Loan

    The application process typically involves:

    1. Researching and comparing lenders to find the best fit for your business needs. This is a crucial first step in the application process. It’s important to consider factors such as interest rates, repayment terms, and customer reviews to find a lender that aligns with your business goals.
    2. Gathering all required documents, such as business financials, identification, and proof of ownership. Additional documents may include recent financial statements, tax returns, bank statements, and any other documents that demonstrate your business’s financial health and stability.
    3. Completing the online application or meeting with a lender in person. Once you have chosen a lender, you can either complete the application online or schedule an appointment to meet with a loan officer in person. Online applications offer convenience, while in-person meetings allow for a more personalized experience.
    4. Providing additional documentation if requested by the lender. During the application review process, the lender may request additional documentation to further evaluate your eligibility. It’s crucial to promptly provide any requested documents to avoid delays in the decision-making process.
    5. Waiting for the lender to evaluate your application and make a decision. After submitting your application and all required documents, the lender will review your information and assess your creditworthiness. This evaluation process may take some time, so it’s important to be patient and avoid unnecessary stress.

    What Lenders Look for in Your Application

    Lenders assess various factors when reviewing your application, which may include:

    • Your personal and business credit history and score
    • Your business’s financial health and profitability
    • Your ability to repay the loan based on your cash flow
    • The collateral you can offer (if applying for a secured loan)

    It’s vital to be transparent and provide accurate information during the application process to build trust with the lender. Any discrepancies or misleading information can negatively impact your chances of approval. 

    Managing Your Bad Credit Business Loan

    Once you secure a bad credit business loan, effectively managing it is crucial for the long-term success of your business. It’s important to understand that while a bad credit business loan may provide the necessary funds to keep your business afloat, it also comes with its own set of responsibilities and challenges.

    Managing your loan requires careful planning and financial discipline. By following a few key strategies, you can ensure that you stay on top of your loan and work towards improving your creditworthiness.

    Tips for Successfully Managing Your Loan

    Consider the following tips to ensure you stay on top of your loan:

    • Create a budget and track your cash flow to ensure steady repayments. A well-planned budget will help you allocate funds for loan repayments and other business expenses, ensuring that you don’t fall behind on your payments.
    • Communicate openly with your lender if you encounter any challenges in making payments. If you’re facing financial difficulties that make it difficult to meet your loan obligations, it’s crucial to reach out to your lender and discuss possible solutions. Lenders are often willing to work with borrowers who are proactive in addressing their financial challenges.
    • Explore opportunities to refinance your loan if your credit improves during the repayment period. As you make consistent and timely loan payments, your credit score may gradually improve. This improved creditworthiness may open up opportunities to refinance your loan at more favorable terms, such as lower interest rates or longer repayment periods.

    How to Improve Your Credit Score While Paying Off Your Loan

    One of the significant benefits of bad credit business loans is the opportunity to rebuild your credit score over time. By making consistent and timely loan payments, you can gradually improve your creditworthiness and access better financing options in the future.

    However, improving your credit score requires more than just making loan payments. It involves adopting healthy financial habits and taking proactive steps to rebuild your credit history. Here are a few additional strategies to consider:

    1. Pay all your bills on time: Timely payment of all your bills, including utility bills, credit card bills, and other debts, demonstrates your financial responsibility and helps improve your credit score.

    2. Keep your credit utilization low: Your credit utilization ratio, which is the amount of credit you’re using compared to your total available credit, plays a significant role in your credit score. Aim to keep your credit utilization below 30% to maintain a healthy credit profile.

    3. Diversify your credit mix: Having a mix of different types of credit, such as credit cards, loans, and lines of credit, can positively impact your credit score. It shows that you can handle different types of credit responsibly.

    4. Regularly review your credit report: Keep a close eye on your credit report to identify any errors or discrepancies that may be negatively affecting your credit score. If you spot any inaccuracies, report them to the credit bureau and have them corrected.

    5. Avoid applying for new credit unnecessarily: Each time you apply for new credit, it results in a hard inquiry on your credit report, which can temporarily lower your credit score. Only apply for new credit when necessary and avoid excessive credit applications.

    By implementing these strategies and managing your bad credit business loan responsibly, you can gradually rebuild your credit score and improve your financial standing. Remember, rebuilding credit takes time and patience, but the rewards are well worth the effort.

    Alternatives to Bad Credit Business Loans

    While bad credit business loans can be a viable solution for many entrepreneurs, it’s essential to be aware of alternative financing options available.

    Other Financing Options for Businesses with Bad Credit

    Some alternatives to consider include:

    • Personal loans: If your business is relatively new, you may qualify for a personal loan based on your creditworthiness as an individual.
    • Equipment leasing: Instead of purchasing equipment outright, you can lease it, reducing the upfront costs.
    • Trade credit: Negotiate with suppliers to provide you goods or services on credit.

    The Pros and Cons of Alternative Financing Options

    While alternative financing options can be helpful for businesses with bad credit, it’s essential to consider the benefits and drawbacks. For example, personal loans may have lower interest rates, but they can put your personal assets at risk if you default on payments.

    Bad Credit Business Loans in Canada: The Bottom Line

    While having bad credit can pose challenges, it should not deter you from seeking financing for your business in Canada. By understanding bad credit business loans, exploring your options, and taking proactive steps to improve your credit, you can navigate the landscape and secure the funding you need to propel your business forward.

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    Arthur Dubois is a personal finance writer at Hardbacon. Since relocating to Canada, he has successfully built his credit score from scratch and begun investing in the stock market. In addition to his work at Hardbacon, Arthur has contributed to Metro newspaper and several other publications