Overcoming Common Roadblocks to Qualifying for an SBA Loan

SBA loan requirements

To qualify for an SBA loan, youll need a strong credit score, collateral to secure the loan and a clean record.

Discover the top five reasons why meeting Small Business Administration (SBA) loan requirements can be challenging and learn actionable tips to secure approval for financing. Gain valuable insights and strategies from a seasoned SEO expert with 10 years of experience in rewriting content for blogs.

Loans backed by the U.S. Small Business Administration are an attractive way to finance business growth because they have low rates, high borrowing amounts and long repayment terms.

Heres the catch: SBA loan requirements can be tough to meet, making it difficult for some business owners to qualify. Even if your business generates strong revenue and you have a sound business plan, you still may be denied financing.

Here are five reasons you might not qualify for an SBA loan and steps to take to secure approval.

» MORE: Learn about SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program loans

1. You have poor credit

The SBA doesnt have a minimum credit score requirement, but most lenders want to see an excellent personal credit score (720 FICO and up). This shows the borrower has a long history of making on-time payments and maintains low balances on credit cards and other revolving credit. A bad credit score (below 630) likely disqualifies you.

Work on building your score before submitting an SBA loan application. Ways to build your credit fast include making frequent payments on accounts, asking creditors for higher credit limits and disputing errors on your credit reports.

If youve gone through a bankruptcy in the past, it may still be possible to get an SBA loan if you have a good explanation for it, says Rob Wilson, former chief executive of C7a, a nonbank lender based in Maine.

As long as there is a plausible explanation for that, and people have acted responsibly and in good faith, then thats not necessarily an impediment to being a borrower.

2. You dont have collateral or cash to put in the deal

Lenders often require you to secure government small-business loans with collateral, an asset or property, such as real estate or equipment, that the lender holds as security for the loan. A down payment is also typically required.

Pledging collateral and a down payment helps you develop a partnership with the lender as you take on your share of the risk.

If you need help raising cash for a down payment, see if you can cut unnecessary expenses out of both your business and personal budget, negotiate prices with vendors and sell unused equipment or inventory.

» MORE: SBA loan collateral vs. guarantee: What’s the difference?

3. You have assets but don’t want to use them

The SBA wants to know: If you can do it yourself, why are you coming to us?

The administration requires borrowers to use alternative financing resources, including cash or other liquid assets, before seeking an SBA loan. If the borrowers personal and business resources are found to be excessive, those resources must be used in lieu of part or all of the requested loan proceeds, according to the SBA.

If you dont want to put any cash or collateral in, unsecured business loans may be an option for you. Interest rates are higher, but no down payment is required and lenders cannot directly seize your assets if you fail to repay.

4. You’ve defaulted on a government loan

Have you defaulted on your government-guaranteed student loan payments or a Federal Housing Administration loan?

If so, dont bother applying for an SBA loan.

Borrowers must be current on all government loans to qualify for SBA loans, and past defaulted government loans can disqualify borrowers, says Sean OMalley, co-founder and board member of SmartBiz, an online lender providing SBA loans.

If youve just missed a couple of payments and you can pay the past-due amount, it shouldnt count against your credit score or be entered as a default.

5. You have a criminal record

The SBA requires your business and all its principals to show good character, and a statement of personal history is required of each applicant so the SBA can make a decision about character and credit eligibility.

The SBA will ask you on this form if youve ever been charged with a crime, if youve been arrested in the last six months and whether the arrest was for something other than a minor vehicle violation.

An arrest doesnt necessarily disqualify a small-business owner, but having a criminal record delays the application process, OMalley says.

Felonies take the longest to clear — many months in some cases — while minor misdemeanors can usually be resolved in a few weeks, he adds. However, multiple misdemeanors are more difficult, and multiple felonies will disqualify a borrower entirely.

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SBA loan requirements

SBA loan requirements

SBA loan requirements