How to appy for an SBA Loan

In recent years the SBA has provided record numbers of loans to small business owners. This increase may have been driven in part by the SBA’s effort to streamline the application process and get more loan money into the hands of business owners.

Nonetheless, it is lenders, and not the SBA, that provide the applications, so you must contact a participating SBA lender directly to apply.

The Requirements

Each lender has its own specific requirements. In general, your application will usually require you to provide details about who you are, including your professional and financial history, as well as the finances of all principals in the business.

You’ll need to describe your business, your competitors, your challenges, your plans for borrowed funds, your plans for loan repayment, your projections for the near future of the business, and your collateral.

You may also be asked by your lender to provide a lease, franchise agreement, purchase agreement, articles of incorporation, plans/specifications, copies of licenses, letters of reference or intent, contracts, or partnership agreements.

SBA Loan Application Checklist

The SBA Loan Application Checklist is an 11-item list of forms and documents you’ll need to provide to your lender as part of the process:

  1. Your SBA loan application (SBA Form 4) — may be downloaded from
  2. Personal background and financial statementSBA Form 912 (Statement of Personal History) and SBA Form 413 (Personal Financial Statement)
  3. Business financial statements — a current profit and loss (P&L) sheet and a detailed, one-year projection of income and finances, attached to an explanation about how you intend to meet this projection
  4. Ownership and affiliations — names and contact information for anyone holding a controlling interest in the business, subsidiaries, or affiliates
  5. Business certificate / license — original business license or certificate to do business
  6. Loan application history — records of previously applied-for loans
  7. Income tax returns — personal and business for all principals for the last three years
  8. Resumes — for each principal or member of the management team
  9. Business overview and history — a brief history of your business and its challenges, including an explanation of why you need the loan
  10. Business lease — either a lease or a note detailing the terms of the lease from a landlord
  11. Items for purchasing an existing business — if your loan would be for the purchase of an existing business, you’ll need a current balance sheet and P&L of business to be purchased, its previous two years of income tax statements, a proposed Bill of Sale, and the asking price (with details about schedule of inventory, machinery, furniture, etc.)

To be sure, applying for an SBA-backed loan can be a lengthy, sometimes frustrating process. It certainly points to the need to have a solid business plan and detailed financial records.

And because lenders set their own requirements (within the context of SBA guidelines, of course), this also means it may make sense for you to work with a company that can help you find the right SBA lending partner. To understand how SBA loans work, please see this previous article.

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