08/02/2012 11:26 am ET Updated Oct 02, 2012

For Small Businesses, Bank Loan Alternatives

After years of a small-business credit crisis, conditions seem to have improved. But with the economy still struggling and new regulations meant to eliminate bad lending, bank loans continue to lag.

"The days of yesteryear when you could go to your corner bank are over," said Kenneth Walsleben, who teaches in the entrepreneurship and emerging enterprises department at the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University. "Small, emerging, growing businesses have few traditional sources to turn to. You have to get a little creative."

Some creative alternatives have been around forever; others emerged during the crisis. Almost all are substantially more expensive than traditional bank loans, which is why they have been sources of last resort. But as demand for alternative options has increased, some prices have come down. This guide, based on conversations with lenders, brokers and business owners, suggests which products make the most sense for different types of businesses.

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