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SBA Loan Requirements: Documents You’ll Need to Apply

Applying for a small business administration (SBA) loan can be a great way to get funding for your small business. But before you apply, it’s important to understand what documents and information you’ll need to provide. This article will walk you through the key SBA loan requirements so you can be prepared.

Overview of SBA Loans

The SBA offers several loan programs to help small businesses get access to funding. Some of the most popular options include:

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  • 7(a) Loans – The SBA’s primary and most flexible loan program. Loan amounts up to $5 million.
  • 504 Loans – Provides financing for major fixed assets like real estate or equipment. Loan amounts up to $5.5 million.
  • Microloans – Loans up to $50,000 from non-profit lenders. Helpful for startups and underserved communities.

To qualify for any SBA loan, you’ll need to meet certain eligibility criteria regarding your business’s size, use of proceeds, credit history, and more. We’ll break down these requirements next.

SBA Loan Eligibility Requirements

When applying for an SBA loan, you’ll need to demonstrate that your business meets certain eligibility standards. Key requirements include:

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Business Size

Your business must qualify as a “small business” as defined by SBA size standards. Standards are based on average annual revenue or number of employees, depending on your industry. Certain SBA loans have more flexible size standards than others.

Use of Proceeds

You must use SBA loan proceeds for sound business purposes – like working capital, equipment, renovations, or business acquisition. Using funds for prohibited purposes can risk loan approval.

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Credit History

Your personal and business credit histories are considered. Expect to provide past tax returns and financial statements so lenders can review your financial health. Minimum credit scores vary by lender but often range from 680-700.


For loans over $25,000, a collateral asset may be required. This gives the SBA recourse if you default on the loan. Collateral can include real estate, equipment, inventory, or receivables.

Documents Needed for SBA Loan Application

Now let’s review the key documents you’ll need to gather to apply for an SBA loan. Having these ready will make the application process much smoother:

1. Business Plan

Lenders will want to review your business plan to understand your company’s products/services, target market, operations, financial projections, and growth strategies.For startups, the plan is crucial to demonstrate feasibility. Existing businesses should include history, milestones, and future goals.

2. Personal Financial Statement

As an owner, you’ll provide a personal financial statement listing all your assets, liabilities, income sources and personal net worth. This helps assess your ability to repay loans or provide a guarantee.

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3. Business Financial Statements

You’ll need to provide historical and current financial statements for your business – including profit/loss statements, balance sheets, income statements and cash flow statements covering the past 3 years (or projected if a startup).These statements help lenders analyze business cash flows, growth, and ability to repay loans.

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4. Federal Tax Returns

Expect to provide federal tax returns for the past 3 years – both personal returns and returns for your business entity (if applicable). This includes supporting schedules and forms.Tax documents help verify the financial information from your statements.

5. Ownership Documentation

You’ll need ownership documents based on your business structure – like partnership agreements, articles of incorporation, operating agreements, or business licenses.This proves proper establishment and ownership stakes.

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6. Collateral Details

If pledging collateral, be prepared to provide supporting documentation like property deeds, vehicle titles, equipment invoices, inventory lists, or account receivables aging reports. This helps the lender properly value the assets.

7. Management Resumes

Resumes for owners and key managers demonstrate your team’s experience and capacity to operate the business and implement growth plans. Educational backgrounds and technical skills are also considered.

8. Business Lease

If you lease your commercial space, provide a copy of your current lease agreement. This allows assessment of your rent costs and lease terms.

9. Franchise Documents

If a franchise, include your Franchise Disclosure Document and franchise agreement. This helps the lender understand brand requirements, operations, and associated costs.

10. Additional Details

Other documents may be needed for your specific loan request – like purchase agreements for acquiring a business, construction cost estimates if renovating or expanding, equipment quotes, licenses/permits, or details on any affiliates.The key is being thorough and responsive so lenders can completely assess your application!

Tips for Streamlining the Application Process

Preparing the needed documents and financial details for an SBA loan application takes time. Here are some tips to help streamline the process:

  • Talk to your lender/CPA first – they can explain what specifics to gather for your situation. Don’t self-determine.
  • Use an online accounting system or bookkeeping app – this makes accessing historical financial statements and tax documents much easier.
  • Get your business plan in order – don’t wait until the application to start writing it. This is a long-term strategic exercise.
  • Gather ownership evidence early – revisiting old corporate docs from storage can get messy. Know where they’re stored.
  • Start your paperwork search early! Identify gaps and allow time to dig up missing info. Don’t delay submission.
  • Set reminders leading up to tax time to store returns – don’t scramble to find past docs each application.
  • Ask for help if needed – your banker, bookkeeper, CPA, and lawyer can all provide guidance. Two heads are better than one!
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The SBA loan application process can seem daunting. But going in informed and prepared with the required documentation makes approval much more likely. With a complete application in hand, lenders can fully verify eligibility and creditworthiness.Follow the tips above, get organized early, and ask questions along the way. This all allows for a smooth application and review – putting you on the path to securing beneficial SBA financing for your small business. Best of luck as you look to take that next step forward and grow!

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