FIVE MYTHS ABOUT SBA LOANS
The Small Business Administration (SBA) is a federal agency established in 1953 to support entrepreneurs and small businesses. Their mission is “to maintain and strengthen the nation’s economy by enabling the establishment and viability of small businesses and by assisting in the economic recovery of communities after disasters.”
A big part of the support they offer is in the form of loans, and we see lots of misconceptions out there about how SBA loans work, and their pros and cons. Here are five myths about SBA loans, along with the real story.
MYTH #1: The SBA lends money to small business owners
TRUTH: Banks and credit unions make the loans, the SBA simply helps guaranty them. It’s like having a rock-solid co-signer for a personal loan. The SBA guarantees that the bank won’t lose the principal they loaned you if you default, so the bank experiences less risk and is, therefore, more likely to approve the loan, and may offer a larger amount. The SBA guarantees a large portion (between 50-85%, depending on program) of the loan.
Each institution evaluates and approves or declines loans based on their own criteria, so if you’re declined by one, you should still apply at other institutions.
Myth #2: The SBA demands extensive collateral
TRUTH: While the SBA does require that lenders take collateral when available, the lack of collateral does not automatically disqualify applicants. The SBA will help those small businesses whose collateral doesn’t meet lending standards, which also helps borrowers overcome some of the challenges linked with lower credit scores. Borrowers without real estate equity to pledge should seek out lenders who are experienced at relying on the business’s financial strength for repayment.
MYTH #3: SBA loans require a ton of burdensome paperwork
TRUTH: The SBA has revamped their process to streamline it for applicants. Today’s applications are typically processed within 3 to 5 business days, and Preferred Lender Program (PLP) institutions can provide even faster turnaround because they are qualified to approve applications in-house without SBA oversight.
Working with a PLP lender is generally recommended because they are better acquainted with all the ins and outs of the SBA loan process. They’ll know how to determine eligibility, how to optimally structure the loan, and what documents are necessary.
MYTH #4: I can only borrow once from the SBA
TRUTH: The SBA does not limit the number of loans to a single borrower or business. They do observe a limit of $5 million in loans outstanding at any time to a single guarantor. Until a borrower hits that limit, they may take out multiple loans for acquisition, working capital, real estate or other expansions.
MYTH #5: I’ve got a successful business, so I don’t need an SBA loan
TRUTH: SBA loans offer favorable terms, so they are actually very suitable for successful businesses. They offer longer terms, lower down payments, flexible payments and no balloon payments. A business seeking capital should absolutely investigate the SBA option.
If you have any questions about this article or about buying or selling your business, please give us a call at 612-331-8392.