As a small business owner, one of the most significant challenges you can face is getting the money necessary to operate and grow your enterprise. Whether you’re just starting or you’ve been in business a while and want to expand, getting a loan can feel like an overwhelming process.
Although there are a lot of alternative loan sources emerging these days, not all of them may work for your needs. However, one loan that should be beneficial for almost any small business is an SBA loan.
Today we want to talk about the benefits of this kind of loan and how you can qualify for it. Creating financial stability for your business doesn’t have to be an insurmountable obstacle. With an SBA loan, getting the funds you need is a lot more reasonable.
What is an SBA Loan?
SBA stands for Small Business Administration. The SBA is a governmental organization focused on helping small businesses get the financial footing they need to succeed. Although it’s called an SBA loan, the Administration is not a lender. Instead, the SBA works with banks and other financial institutions to lessen the risk associated with small businesses so that they are more willing to lend money.
There are three versions of the SBA loan, so you will want to talk with your broker to find out more about them to ensure that you’re making the right choice. The loan options are:
SBA 7(a) Loan
This loan is the most flexible, as you can borrow money for almost anything you may need for your business. You can borrow up to $5.5 million for this loan, with a repayment plan of up to seven years.
In some cases, all you need money for is new equipment or a new retail space. A CDC/504 loan is designed specifically to pay for these high-ticket items. That does mean you can’t use the money for anything else, but if new machinery is all you’re after, this loan can be a little easier to obtain. Not only that, but repayment plans can go for up to 25 years.
Most small businesses don’t need cash flow in the millions. The Microloan is designed for smaller cash infusions, up to $50,000. These loans can be repaid for up to six years.
Benefits of SBA Loans
Before we get into the qualifying process for these loans, it’s imperative that you understand the advantages that they offer when compared to traditional options. We won’t go into full detail here, but be sure to talk to your broker about the specifics of these benefits so that you know what you’re getting into with the SBA.
- Lower Interest Rates – because the Administration guarantees most of the loan, lenders are willing to offer low-interest rates.
- Flexibility – the 7(a) loan is basically a cash infusion for your business that you can use for whatever you need.
- More Capital – again, the safety net provided by the SBA makes lenders more willing to give you money, which means your loan options are usually a lot higher.
- Longer Repayment Plans – if you worked with a bank directly, you may have to repay your loan within a few months or a couple of years. With SBA loans, you have more time to get on track, ensuring that you don’t have to borrow more right away.
How to Qualify for an SBA Loan
As a small business owner, you should be enthusiastic about securing one of these loans. However, because they are so desirable, you will have to fulfil a variety of qualifications to obtain one. Let’s go over the various details you need to know.
You Don’t Borrow, Your Bank Does
One thing that you need to keep in mind is that you’re not the one applying for the protections offered by the SBA. Instead, you need to contact your bank or financial institution and ask for a loan. If they want additional security to avoid risk, they will apply for SBA protections on your behalf.
For your company to qualify for an SBA loan, you have to satisfy these requirements.
- Located in the US – you may have offices outside of the country, but your headquarters are within US borders.
- For-Profit – 503c businesses and nonprofits cannot apply for these loans
- Eligible Business – for the most part, if you’re running an insurance company, you’re a lender, or you make money from gambling, you can’t qualify. There are more restrictions outlined in the SBA loan application as well.
- Personal Investment – if you haven’t put any equity into the business, the SBA won’t approve your loan status.
- Company Size – since the SBA is focused on small businesses, you need to make sure that you’re not too big to be disqualified. Some elements you may have to disclose include annual earnings and number of employees.
- Loan History – if you can get a similar loan with identical terms from somewhere else, the SBA doesn’t see the need to provide additional protection.
When applying for one of these loans, you will likely have to produce a variety of documents related to your business. You should have all of these ready to go already (since most traditional lenders need them as well). This list is not comprehensive, and there’s no guarantee that you’ll have to provide all of them.
- Business Plan
- Business License
- Articles of Incorporation
- Financial Statements (current and projected)
- Tax Returns
- Credit Report
- Current Debt Schedule
Talk to a Broker Today
Trying to get an SBA loan may seem a little complicated, but as long as you have an expert by your side, you shouldn’t have any significant issues getting the capital your business needs. Be sure to contact one of our brokers today to find out more and see how you can qualify for an SBA loan.