SBA loans are the gold standard in small business lending

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LOANS UP TO
$5 million
INTEREST RATES
5.50% - 7.75%*
LOAN TERMS
10 - 25 years

What is an SBA Loan?

You might have heard SBA loans are the gold standard for small business owners who want to expand. It’s true. Funds from these loans can be used in a multitude of ways to help a small business grow.

What exactly is an SBA loan? We’ll go over the costs, qualifications, use of proceeds and more to help you determine if this type of loan is the best option to fund your small business.


SBA Loans: The Basics

An SBA loan is a government-guaranteed small business loan that has a long-term and low-interest rates. The Small Business Administration (SBA) is the government agency that partially guarantees SBA loans and was founded in 1953 to support small business owners across the United States.

The most common misunderstanding about these loans is that the agency lends money directly to small businesses. However, the agency does not make direct loans. The SBA provides a guarantee on the loan, promising to reimburse the bank for a certain percentage of your loan if you default on that loan. This guarantee lowers the risks to banks and other lenders, encouraging them to offer these loans to more American small businesses. Many banks and other financial institutions offer SBA loans, but their process, requirements and fees can vary.


Where Can I Apply for an SBA Loan?

In the not-so-distant past, small business owners had one option when looking to secure an SBA loan – walking into a bank. However, many businesses might not know that while one bank may say 'no', another bank will say 'yes' to the same potential borrower. Technology now gives loan-seekers the ability to find an SBA loan provider online that is a good fit. In fact, SmartBiz has created the first online marketplace of Preferred SBA lenders for small businesses. With multiple banks with varying credit requirements on our platform, we’ve been able to secure loans for many applicants who were initially rejected by their local banks. What’s our secret? It’s no mystery - our sophisticated software allows us to match borrowers with the bank most likely to approve and fund their loan. Don’t waste your time going from bank to bank. SmartBiz does it for you quickly and efficiently.


What SBA Loans Cost

Now for the good stuff: How much is an SBA loan going to cost you? The news here is positive - it’s tough to beat the low interest rates and long repayment terms for these loans. SBA loans tend to be the least expensive financing available to small business owners.

SBA loans come with different rates depending on the lender you work with; however, the SBA establishes the maximum amount that can be charged for these loans. SmartBiz SBA loan interest rates are variable and depend on the loan amount:

  • 5.50% to 6.75% (Prime Rate plus 1.50% to 2.75%) for commercial real estate loans $350,000 - $5 million
  • 6.75% to 7.75% (Prime Rate plus 2.75% to 3.75%) for loans $30,000 - $350,000

As with other types of small business loans, there are several fees associated with SmartBiz SBA working capital loans. SmartBiz charges a one-time referral fee of no more than 2% the loan amount and a one-time packaging fee of no more than 2% the loan amount for non-commercial real estate loans. For working capital loans between $150,000 and $350,000 there is a 2.25% guarantee fee paid to the SBA. Bank closing costs for working capital loans typically add about another $450 and include standard bank fees, though additional 3rd party report charges may apply. SmartBiz fees are deducted from loan proceeds so you get the net amount when your SBA loan is funded.

For commercial real estate loans, SmartBiz charges no more than a one-time 0.5% referral fee of the loan amount and no more than a one-time 0.5% packaging fee of the loan amount. Commercial real estate loans have a guarantee fee paid to the SBA between 2.25% and 2.76%, depending on the loan amount. Bank closing costs typically add about another $5,000 and include standard bank fees, appraisal, and title fees though additional 3rd party report charges may apply. SmartBiz fees are usually deducted from loan proceeds so you get the net amount when your loan is funded.

Even after fees, SBA loans are vastly cheaper than the majority of alternative financing and alternative lender options. See below how these loans stack up against other small business loan options.


Compare & Save

Better rates and lower monthly payments

PROVIDERAPR
APR includes the interest rate and all fees
FUNDING PROCESSLOAN TERMTYPICAL PAYMENT FOR A $100,000 LOAN
SmartBiz Loans5.85% - 8.95%As fast as 7 days10 - 25 years$1,148 per month
Peer-to-Peer Lenders9% - 36%7 – 14 days1 – 5 years$5,000 per month
Cash Advance Providers20% - 100%1 – 7 days< 1 year$12,000 per month (daily payments required)
SmartBiz LoansCash Advance Providers
APR
APR includes the interest rate and all fees
5.85% - 8.95%20% - 100%
LOAN TERM
10 - 25 years< 1 year
FUNDING PROCESS
As fast as 7 days1 - 7 days
TYPICAL PAYMENT FOR A $100,000 LOAN
$1,148 per month$12,000 per month (daily payments required)

Personal and Business Requirements to Apply for an SBA Loan

SmartBiz SBA loans are for financially healthy borrowers. Most businesses can qualify for these loans if they’ve operated for at least two years with good credit, have no recent bankruptcies or foreclosures, and have cash flow that is sufficient to make the monthly payments throughout the life of the loan. The actual approval requirements will depend on the on the individual lender and factors such as your business revenue, cash flow and credit scores.

The eligibility requirements for a SmartBiz SBA loan of up to $350,000 are:

  • Time in Business: 2+ Years
  • Business owners must be U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents
  • Business owners must have personal credit scores above 650
  • Cash Flow: Sufficient business and personal cash flow to service all debt payments demonstrated by tax returns and interim financial data
  • Public Records: No bankruptcies or foreclosures in the past 3 years; no outstanding collections; no open tax liens
  • SBA Specific Requirements: no delinquencies and/or default on government loans

The eligibility requirements for an SBA commercial real estate loan above $350,000 are:

  • The real estate must be majority owner-occupied. This means at least 51% of the square footage of the property you’re buying or refinancing must be occupied by and used by your business.
  • Time in Business: 2+ Years
  • Business owners must be U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents
  • Business owners must have personal credit scores above 660
  • Cash Flow: Sufficient business and personal cash flow to service all debt payments demonstrated by tax returns and interim financial data
  • Public Records: No bankruptcies or foreclosures in the past 3 years; no outstanding collections; no open tax liens
  • SBA Specific Requirements: no delinquencies and/or default on government loans
  • The rent replacement option requires a loan payment that does not exceed the current monthly lease expense

If you meet the requirements above, you’re a good candidate to apply for a SmartBiz SBA loan. If you don't currently qualify, SmartBiz is here to help. We have lots of resources on our Small Business Blog about how to improve your credit scores.

Additionally, SmartBiz Loans has established a program called SmartBiz LevelUp that helps small business owners whose initial application was denied to take actions to improve their likelihood of approval on their subsequent application. We’ve worked with many small business owners who come back and are able to secure a low-cost SBA loan on their subsequent application.


Documents Required to Apply for an SBA Loan

The best strategy to follow before you apply for these loans is to be prepared. The more readily available your documentation is, the faster you’ll move through the process.

At SmartBiz Loans, we use intelligent automation to only request those documents that are actually needed based on your individual application. That means you won’t waste valuable time gathering and submitting unnecessary documents. It’s another way we support busy small business owners who have limited time on their hands.

The following is a checklist of the most commonly collected documents. It can be very helpful to work with your accountant or tax preparer to gather some of the financial documentation.

Personal & Business Tax Returns

SmartBiz requires the previous 3 years of business and personal income tax returns.

Personal Financial Statements

A Personal Financial Statement is required from each individual owning 20% or more of the company.

Profit and Loss Statement

Also known as an “Income Statement,” a Profit and Loss Statement measures a company's financial performance over a specific period of time. This statement includes all revenue and expenses over a given period.

Balance Sheet

According to the SBA, this statement provides an overall financial snapshot of your small business. As an equation, it looks like: Assets = Liabilities + Equity. The two sides of the equation must balance out to equal each other.

Collateral

Most banks require some type of collateral. At SmartBiz Loans, collateral required depends on the SBA loan size. If you apply for a SmartBiz loan of $30,000 to $350,000, a lien on business assets is required. This includes assets such as accounts receivable or inventory, as well as fixed assets such as new equipment purchased with loan proceeds or commercial real estate owned by the business. The value of these assets does not need to equal the loan amount you are requesting.

If you apply for a SmartBiz commercial real estate loan of $350,000 or more, the property you are refinancing or purchasing will be the collateral for the loan and a first lien on the real estate is required. Based on the appraised value, you must have at least 10% - 20% equity in the real estate for a refinance or put 10% - 20% down for a purchase of the real estate.

Other Documents

These can include entity and location documents such as business licenses, Articles of Incorporation, commercial leases, or franchise agreements.


Use of Funds

Now the fun part! How can you use SBA loan proceeds to save money and grow your small business? There are lots of ways.

Working Capital

Working capital keeps businesses afloat and humming along; it’s the common measure of your company's liquidity, efficiency and overall health. Calculating working capital is pretty simple: deduct current liabilities from current assets. If your current assets do not exceed your current liabilities, you run the risk of being unable to pay your short-term creditors on time. This can lead to late fees, delayed delivery of important goods and more business crushing problems.

Business owners should make sure to have enough working capital in the bank to meet financial obligations and cover day-to-day expenses. A low-interest, long-term SBA loan can provide a steady cushion of working capital to keep your company running and growing.

In addition to using funds from a SmartBiz loan to run day-to-day operations, working capital can be used to buy additional inventory. For example, SmartBiz customer Bryan Tracey owns a skateboard manufacturing business in San Diego, CA. Stickers and skateboards go hand-in-hand and Tracey used to only be able to buy small amounts of stickers. With working capital from a SmartBiz loan, he was able to buy in bulk this year, saving a significant amount of money. He wouldn’t have been able to take advantage of those savings without working capital.

Take a look at your cash flow and business plan. Could your small business use an infusion of working capital? Find out in about 5 minutes if you’re pre-qualified for the best working capital loan --a low-interest, long-term SmartBiz SBA loan.

Debt Refinancing

You can save up to thousands of dollars per month by refinancing expensive debt. That’s money saved that can go back into investing in your business instead of making high interest loan payments. A new loan, like a low-rate, long-term SBA loan, can make a big difference to your company. Here’s how a debt consolidation loan can be a great savings solution.

Lower rates: Paying off high interest money means you’re lowering the cost of your capital. Your bank account and cash flow will thank you.

Longer Terms: If two loans are similar in all respects though one has a shorter term than the other, the shorter term loan will always have a higher monthly payment versus the longer term loan. Because of this, short-term loans can hurt cash flow, and very short term loans can even spell disaster for a small business owner by trapping them in a cycle of borrowing. SmartBiz SBA loans have long 10 - 25 year terms resulting in lower monthly payments.

SmartBiz Loans’ customer Milton Martinez, owner of Triple D Towing, was struggling to make payments on two expensive daily payment loans. He needed to create additional income instead of paying outlandish interest rates. A low-cost SBA loan was the solution. “I’m saving $15,000 - $18,000 dollars. That’s money I can put back into growing my business or into savings.”

Commercial Real Estate (CRE)

If you’re an established and profitable business looking for the lowest funding costs and the longest repayment terms for buying or refinancing a property, an SBA 7(a) loan from $350,000 to $5 million offered through SmartBiz is your best bet. With 25-year terms and interest rates between 5.50% to 6.75%* and a minimal down payment rent replacement option these loans can be used by a small business to refinance an existing commercial real estate mortgage, buy the property the business currently operates from, or purchase other owner-occupied commercial space.

SmartBiz customer Pro-Glo Auto Finish and Glass Inc. is a family owned and operated auto body repair shop. The small business needed to refinance a high interest rate commercial real estate loan with a large balloon payment coming due. The SmartBiz team helped the business take the maturing 5-year loan and turn it into an affordable 25-year fully amortizing SBA loan. Along with the refinance of the property, the loan proceeds were used to refinance existing small business debt. This helped cash flow and put the business in a much stronger financial position.

To qualify for a commercial real estate SBA loan, you need a minimum personal credit score of 660, at least two years in business and $350,000 or more in annual revenue. In addition, a minimum of 51% of the property you purchase must be occupied by and used by your business. Unless you qualify for the rent replacement option, you’ll also be expected to put at least 10% down. The property you purchase or refinance will be the collateral for the loan. The rent replacement option requires no down payment and a loan payment that does not exceed the current monthly lease expense. The SBA 7(a) loans offered through SmartBiz are typically faster than loans from a traditional bank and funds can be distributed in as fast as 30 days after your commercial real estate loan application is complete.

Hiring employees

Is business good but your stress level is high? Perhaps you’re multi-tasking like a pro but you just can’t get it all done. Would an extra employee or two help your business - and yourself? An SBA loan can come to the rescue! If it’s time to bring in fresh talent, proceeds from these loans can help cover recruitment, salary, benefits and other costs associated with finding and onboarding employees.

Take a look at your business plan to discover if funds can help finance one or more new hires. FitSmallBusiness co-owner Marc Prosser needed to hire additional staff in order to meet his growth goals. He’s using proceeds from his SmartBiz SBA loan for $350,000 to add 20 staff members. “We’re hiring great people with real hands-on experience,” he says.

Purchase Equipment

Every company needs equipment to run smoothly, effectively and profitably. Whether you are manufacturing products, guiding clients or creating information, there is always equipment to buy. From computers to copiers, coffee machines to vans or cars, the sudden need to purchase new equipment can come up at any time. You might need to upgrade an older model or buy new equipment to streamline your business and speed up production. Getting an SBA loan is a low-cost way to finance major purchases that are beyond the scope of a credit card or other type of expensive funding. SmartBiz customer Terry Trumbull was able to use proceeds from his loan to finance a new refrigerated truck. With low rates and long terms, he’s saving money and is able to expand his business.

Marketing

Marketing is a great use for loan proceeds. Marketing is a must for businesses of all sizes helping to build your brand, attract customers and increase sales. However, marketing is often the first expense cut from budgets when cash flow is tight. An established small business can spend up to 30 percent on marketing initiatives. So what should you do if your marketing budget has shrunk or is nonexistent? Consider financing marketing with a SmartBiz SBA loan just like you would finance new equipment or inventory. With low rates and long terms, these loans can open up a world of marketing possibilities. Do you need direct mail collateral? Social media advertising or a new website? Low-cost funds with long terms are the way to go so you don't stress your cash flow. The Small Business Administration writes that marketing is the key to future sales and cautions business owners not to ignore it. Explore a SmartBiz SBA loan to fuel your marketing efforts.

Business Expansion

Small business expansion goes beyond increasing profits. If your goal is to scale while increasing your bottom line, a low-cost SBA loan facilitated by SmartBiz is a great solution.

There are many ways your small businesses can expand. Funds from these loans can help you conduct detailed research to identify your main competitors. By diving into their target audience and product offerings, you'll be able to eliminate segments of the larger market and carve out a corner you can concentrate on for expansion. Other business expansion activities include increasing your product line. SmartBiz customer Asha Waterstreet owns Tasteful Additions, a brick and mortar store specializing in gourmet oils, vinegars and salts. She used loan proceeds to add luxury beauty products and high-end tableware to her lineup. This helped her successfully expand and keep profits steady all year.

More small business expansion activities can be kicked off with a SmartBiz SBA loan. If you require a bigger location, different pricing or new and improved marketing techniques, look into these low-cost loans.

Inventory and Operational Expense

An SBA Loan is great way to increase your inventory to meet busy times. If you don’t have products on hand, you can’t make that sale. What about new products? What about expanding your product line? Proceeds from a low-cost SmartBiz SBA loan can help you meet that goal as well. SmartBiz customer Bryan Tracey, owner of the skateboard company SkateXS, knew he needed deeper pockets to purchase additional inventory. During the holidays, SkateXS can get over 10x over their usual orders in a single day. One year, his inventory shortages were so severe he actually had to turn off Amazon sales because he couldn’t keep up with product demand. Bryan worked with SmartBiz Loans to secure an SBA loan. He’s using the proceeds to prep for his busiest season by buying more inventory. Because he’s buying large amounts, his costs are much lower than in previous years. What could your small business do with more inventory this year?


The SmartBiz Difference

Born in California after the 2008 financial crisis, SmartBiz Loans was created to give small business owners easier access to smart funding. Instead of walking into your local bank, working with them for several months and ending up with a 'no', SmartBiz has streamlined and automated the entire process and is able to help businesses quickly get to a 'yes'. You can complete the online application process and get funded with ease from the comforts of your own home or business.

How have we streamlined the process to get small business owners a low-cost SBA loan quickly? First of all, we’re very clear about the documents you need to apply for a SmartBiz SBA loan. If you have your paperwork in order, the process can move swiftly from prequalification to funding. Secondly, our online platform makes uploading documents and moving through the process a snap. We’ve greatly simplified the entire lending experience from end-to-end. Finally, we match borrowers with the bank that is most likely to approve and fund an SBA loan for your business. You won’t waste time going from bank to bank, we do all that for you.

We believe a SmartBiz SBA loan is a great fit for businesses who want to grow and flourish. If you’re still not convinced, read what actual SmartBiz customers have to say on our TrustPilot page. You can also review interviews with real SmartBiz customers on the SmartBiz Small Business Blog. You’ll discover that we offer stellar customer service and our motto stands up - SBA Loans Made Easy™.


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