In today’s economy, borrowing money from your local bank isn’t as easy as it used to be. For the small business owner without much collateral, the alternative to a bank loan might be to consider a government-backed loan.
The good news is, there is a loan program from the SBA—called SBA Express—that makes the process of procuring a government loan quick, attractive, and accessible to small business owners looking to start-up or expand quickly.
The SBA Express program offers small businesses the chance to get an SBA-backed loan of up to $350,000 to start-up or expand operations. The “express” piece refers to that fact that your loan can be turned around in thirty-six hours.
Here’s what you need to know about SBA Express:
- Facts and Figures—SBA Express is available to existing or start-up for-profit businesses. You can borrow up to $350,000 or up to $25,000 in an unsecured loan. The maximum loan term is seven years; interest rates vary but must not exceed SBA maximums.
- Using Your Loan—You can use the loan to expand your business, purchase an existing business or obtain working capital. You can also use the loan to refinance existing business debt that is not already structured with reasonable terms and conditions. These are just general guidelines; the SBA has more specific guidance here.
- Eligibility and Getting Started—To apply for an SBA loan, start by getting a list of SBA lenders in your area. You can do this by contacting your local SBA District Office.
Other Options for Small Businesses
If you don’t need the level of financing offered by SBA Express, you may want to consider SBA Microloans. With a microloan you can borrow up to $35,000. The average loan, however, is a lot lower and can sometimes be in the hundreds of dollars, making this loan ideal for home-based businesses looking to set-up or expand.
If you’re still having trouble pinpointing the right loan for your business, consider using the new SBA Business Gateway program’s grants and loans tool or explore other loan options offered by the U.S. government.
It’s All in the Planning
Like the old saying goes, “poor planning equals poor performance”, and it’s the same with loans. If you really want to succeed in securing the right loan for your business, you must have a rock solid business plan.
You can find lots of planning resources here to help you document your businesses missions and goals and, of course, explain how you are going to get there.