Entrepreneurs and small businesses in need of start-up, expansion and/or research funding often turn to government business loans. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), which oversees the government’s loan programs, does not directly lend money. It serves as guarantor and sets the standards for small-business borrowers. The SBA loan application process can be daunting and protracted, but the agency provides several tools, including individual and group mentoring, to help optimize an applicant’s chances of getting government business loans.
Visit your local SBA office or attend a community information session; these are held several times a year, often at libraries and community centers. Call your district office or visit its web page for date and time information. Make it a point to begin establishing a rapport with your local SBA representatives; they have a profound knowledge of government regulations and policies, and can help you hone your application for government business loans so that it is more likely to be approved.
Rehearse your answers to the questions lenders typically ask. They include the reasons you are applying for government business loans and how you will use the funds. Preparing your responses prior to compiling your application package can help make the process smoother and easier to complete. SBA’s “Business Loan Checklist” notes the questions most often asked by lenders, as well as resources to help you develop your answers.
Gather up the required documentation. The SBA offers three different loan programs: 7(a) is the most common, Microloan is the short-term program and CDC/504 is the economic development business loan program. You will need to submit your personal and business history, your loan history and recent tax returns, as well as financial statements, licenses and several more documents in the application package corresponding to the loan that best fits your business’ needs. The 11-item “SBA Loan Application Checklist” is available online, through local offices and at most SBA community events.
Ask your accountant and at least one other person to review your application package for errors -- both typographical and content. Review the package with your SBA representative to ensure you are making the best possible presentation. Make any final adjustments and submit your application. All that is left to do is wait; how long it takes to get a response to your application for government business loans depends on your lender.