It’s not an opinion that small businesses are a vital part of the American economy — it’s a powerfully backed fact. Small businesses employ half the workforce and create 66 percent of net new American jobs. The Small Business Administration (SBA) has programs and new incentives that can help small businesses in the fight for capital.
SBA Incentives and Loans
The SBA not only guarantees loans to small businesses, but works to get small businesses capital in other ways, too. In 2015, the SBA announced that it launched a new online marketplace that will match potential SBA loan candidates with bank lenders in all 50 states. The service, “Leveraging Information and Networks to Access Capital,” or LINC, joins alternative lenders such as Kabbage, On Deck Capital and Biz2Credit, which provide financing to small business owners through digital marketplaces that match lenders and borrowers.
Also in 2015, the SBA began offering an incentive to help get companies licensed as “early-stage small business investment companies,” in an effort to increase capital for entrepreneurs and startups. This new incentive would allow licensed companies who put at least 50 percent of their investment dollars in early stage small businesses to qualify for federally guaranteed loans. The goal is to support President Obama’s Start-Up American Initiative and to encourage private sector investments in startups and small businesses.
For businesses that won’t benefit from the incentive, since it applies to those that have never achieved positive cash flow from operations in any fiscal year, an SBA guaranteed loan is still an option. The SBA doesn’t actually make direct loans to businesses; it provides a guarantee to banks and lenders for the money they lend to small business owners, (which alleviates the risk of lending to business owners who don’t qualify for traditional loans). There are a variety of different loans to choose from, but the 7(a) General Small Business loan is the most common.
How to Get an SBA Loan
Before you apply for a loan, there are several things you may want to get in order. During the small business loan application process, you may be asked for some or all of the following:
- Personal background information including previous addresses, other names used, criminal record and educational background, among other things
- Business plan
- Your personal credit report
- Your D&B business credit report
- Income tax returns (most loans will require personal and business returns for the previous three years)
- Financial statements
- Bank statements (often lenders will require personal and business statements for the past year)
- Collateral document describing the cost/value of personal or business property that will be used to secure a loan
- Legal Documents, including business licenses and registrations required for you to conduct business; articles of incorporation; copies of contracts you have with any third parties; franchise agreements; and commercial leases
You’ll also want to be prepared for the questions your lender might ask. You should know:
- Why you’re applying for the loan
- How the proceeds will be used
- What needs to be purchased and who your suppliers are
- What debts you have and who your creditors are
- Who is on your management team
You can use this checklist for reference.
2. Find a Lender
Once you’re prepared and have found a lender, you’re ready to actually apply for the loan. You can access the most current application form here. You’ll also need to fill out a statement of personal history and a personal financial statement. Make sure you have everything on this checklist so your lender can submit your application to the SBA, and then you’re finished.
The SBA also has resources specifically to help veterans begin the SBA loan process, such as the Boots to Business entrepreneurship training program. Go to the SBA’s Office of Veterans Business Development website for more information.
Finding better ways to get all small businesses access to capital is imperative for the stabilization and growth of our economy. With the unemployment rate the lowest it’s been since 2008, things are looking up, but small business is too powerful a force to not get behind and an SBA loan can help business owners get much needed access to capital to grow and potentially hire. Learn more about SBA loans at SBA.gov.
Judy Hackett is chief marketing officer of Dun & Bradstreet, Emerging Businesses. Hackett has more than 25 years of experience in consumer and B-to-B strategic planning, marketing, advertising, brand development and product management. She was previously CMO of Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp., which was merged into Dun & Bradstreet. Previously she was CMO at Web.com and CMO for CareerBuilder, where she led consumer marketing, corporate communications, and product development