How do you fund a startup in the middle of a global pandemic?
With a loan from the Small Business Administration, also known as the SBA!
Funding your scrappy start-up is no walk in park, even in normal times. Luckily, the SBA can help get your dream off the ground. If you are wondering about SBA loan requirements, you're in the right place!
However, you can find the SBA loan requirements in an easy-to-follow format here.
SBA Loan Requirements
If you weren't already aware, an SBA loan is not a loan directly from the SBA. It may be more accurate to call these loans SBA-backed loans. An SBA-approved bank will loan you the money, but the SBA guarantees the loans.
An SBA loan guarantee is no small matter. An SBA is a department within the U.S. government. Translation: an SBA guarantee is a government guarantee.
This fact alone allows the bank to offer you a significantly lower interest rate than most other conventional loans. SBA-backed loan rates can range from 3%-6% for a typical 7a loan, SBA's most popular.
Whichever type of SBA loan you choose, it's important to understand the basic pillars of loan eligibility. While each loan type will have specific additional qualifications, all SBA loans require the following:
1) You Must Be A For-Profit Business
Traditionally, you had to be a for-profit business to qualify for SBA funding. However, the pandemic forced changes within the SBA as well. Thanks to the CARES Act, non-profits were able to qualify for SBA help as well.
Unfortunately, the pandemic exploded the SBA requirements. The SBA lending has expanded in many ways, from loosening credit requirements to tightening interest rates to extending loan amounts to non-profits.
However, the fact remains, even though non-profits can now qualify, SBA loans continue to be reserved for business organizations, not private individuals.
2) You Must Do Business in the United States
Just because you are a U.S. citizen doesn't automatically entitle you to an SBA loan. Your business must be physically located within the United States.
If you are a U.S. resident living in New Guinea, you probably won't qualify for an SBA loan if you want to fund your online business.
So, to all the would-be dropshipping moguls wanting to make a fortune from their beachside laptop station: sorry, you're gonna have to find another way to fund your budding empire!
3) You Must Have Invested Equity
To a certain degree, every lender is making a bet on a borrower. They bet that you'll pay back the loan under the agreed-to conditions. To secure their bet, lenders will often need to see some type of collateral.
An SBA loan is no different. One way the government secures its bet on you is to have you prove you've invested equity. Essentially, they want to see some "skin in the game" on your end.
And it's not just any willy-nilly amount. There are specific equity requirements when it comes to an SBA loan application. Most of the specifications depend on whether you are a new or existing business.
For a new business, the SBA wants to see $1 for each $3 borrowed. This equity can be in the form of cash you've invested (so keep records!). Proof of equity can also come from business assets you've acquired for your business thus far, like equipment or commercial real estate.
As such, if you're looking to borrow $30,000 in the form of the ever-popular 7a loan program, be prepared to show that you've got $10,000 of provable equity invested.
For an existing business, equity requirements are more stringent. The SBA wants to see that you've gone into debt for your business. The requirement is $1 of debt to every $4 you're seeking to borrow.
So if you're seeking a $50,000 SBA loan, guess what? You'll need to show $12,500 in business debt that you've already invested.
Why the equity requirement? The SBA does not want someone who hasn't already invested in their business. It makes sense, right. If you woke up one morning and decide you want $50,000 from the SBA for a pipe dream, there's a good chance you won't pay it back!
Despite the measures you take to run a profitable business using SBA funds, you may still not succeed. With businesses folding every day because of the pandemic, you wouldn't be alone.
If you find yourself on the brink of bankruptcy, you will need help negotiating your SBA loan. The SBA attorneys at Protect Law Group can help you with all aspects of outstanding SBA loans. From repayment to loan deferment, we'll help you explore all of your options.
4) You Must Have Exhausted All Other Financing Options
When you fill out your SBA loan application, they will want to see that you've sought out other financing options. More accurately, they want to see that you've exhausted your other options!
Understand, a loan is a type of liability, and, as with all liabilities, those who are taking a risk like to see that liability spread around a bit.
Moreover, other lenders involved in your business financing is also a kind of "vote" for your venture. Therefore, others have vouched for your dream and, most importantly, your creditworthiness. All of this makes you a safer bet for the SBA lenders.
Your Credit Score
The above four requirements are the major foundations for an SBA loan. To that end, from the 7a loan to SBA microloans, think of these requirements as prerequisites for all SBA funding.
All that said, your credit score matters. A lot. For instance, your business may be far along enough to have its own credit score. But the chances are, you'll be using your own personal credit score on your SBA loan application.
So if you're looking ahead at an SBA loan soon, start beefing up your credit. Of course, the SBA will see your own creditworthiness as a sign of your ability to manage your business' finances as well.
What if You Default on Your SBA Loan: Get Specialized SBA Assistance
Even though you've met the SBA loan requirements, you may have secured a loan you can't repay. If you find yourself with SBA loan issues, contact us to see how we can advocate for you.