How to Get a Small Business Loan in 7 Steps

Getting a business loan

Getting a business loan is a significant milestone for entrepreneurs and small business owners alike. Whether you’re launching a startup, expanding your operations, or managing cash flow, the right business loan can provide the financial boost needed to achieve your goals, Ecwitty has your back. 

We will guide you through the essential steps of finding, applying for, and securing the ideal business loan for your specific needs. 

Decide What Type of Loan You Need to Fund Your Business

Determining the type of loan you need to fund your business is a crucial step in the borrowing process, which determines business sustainability. Your choice should align with your specific financial needs and the purpose for which you require the funds. Here are some common types of loans and considerations for getting a business loan:

Term Loan

  • Purpose: Term loans are suitable for one-time expenses, such as purchasing equipment, expanding your business, or launching a new product line.
  • Repayment: You’ll receive a lump sum of money and repay it, plus interest, over a fixed term, typically with regular monthly payments.

Line of Credit

  • Purpose: A line of credit is a flexible option for managing cash flow fluctuations, covering operating expenses, or taking advantage of opportunities as they arise.
  • Repayment: You can draw funds as needed up to a predetermined credit limit and pay interest only on the amount borrowed.

SBA Loan

  • Purpose: Microloans are typically smaller loans designed for startups, very small businesses, or entrepreneurs who need modest funding for initial expenses.
  • Repayment: They come with shorter repayment terms and may be easier to qualify for, but the loan amounts are relatively small.


  • Purpose: Microloans are typically smaller loans designed for startups, very small businesses, or entrepreneurs who need modest funding for initial expenses.
  • Repayment: They come with shorter repayment terms and may be easier to qualify for, but the loan amounts are relatively small.

Decide What Type of Loan You Need to Fund Your Business

Let’s see how getting a business loan is with a case scenario for better understandability:

Case Scenario: Sarah's Bakery Business

Sarah owns a successful bakery business and is considering applying and getting a business loan to expand her operations. Here are six points to help her determine if she qualifies for the loan:

  • Credit Score Analysis: Sarah should start by checking her personal and business credit scores. Her personal score is 720, which is considered good. However, her business credit score is relatively low at 620. To improve her eligibility, she might need to work on building her business credit.
  • Business Financials: Sarah’s bakery generates an annual revenue of $300,000. While this demonstrates a healthy cash flow, she should prepare her financial statements, including profit and loss statements and balance sheets, to provide a comprehensive view of her business’s financial health to potential lenders.
  • Loan Purpose and Plan: Sarah plans to use the loan to renovate her bakery, purchase new baking equipment, and hire additional staff. She should develop a detailed business plan outlining these expansion plans, along with revenue projections and a repayment plan, to present to lenders when getting a business loan.
  • Collateral Evaluation: Sarah owns the building where her bakery is located. This commercial property could potentially serve as collateral for the loan. She should have it appraised and prepared for evaluation by potential lenders.

Compare Small Business Lenders

Comparing small-business lenders is crucial to find the best fit for your specific business needs and getting a business loan. Lenders vary in terms of loan types, interest rates, eligibility criteria, and customer service. Here’s a comparison of different types of small-business lenders:

Traditional Banks


  • Established reputation and trust.
  • Wide range of loan products.
  • In-person customer service.


  • Stringent eligibility criteria.
  • Lengthy application and approval process.
  • May require significant collateral.

Credit Unions


  • Lower interest rates compared to some banks.
  • May have more flexible lending terms.
  • Local focus and community involvement.


  • Membership requirements.
  • Limited branch network.
  • Smaller loan limits.

Online Lenders


  • Faster application and approval process.
  • More accessible for businesses with lower credit scores.
  • Variety of loan types, including term loans, lines of credit, and invoice financing.


  • Higher interest rates compared to traditional banks and credit unions.
  • Less personal interaction.
  • Potential for predatory lending practices (do thorough research).

Small Business Administration (SBA) Loans


  • Lower interest rates and longer repayment terms.
  • Partial government guarantees, making them accessible for riskier ventures.
  • Various SBA loan programs tailored to different needs.


  • Stringent eligibility criteria.
  • Lengthy application process.
  • Extensive documentation requirements.

Gather your Application Materials

Gathering your application materials is a crucial step when getting a business loan. The specific documents and information you’ll need can vary depending on the lender and the type of loan you’re seeking. To help you prepare, here’s a general list of common application materials you and know how to get a small business loan:

  • Business Plan: A detailed business plan that outlines your business model, market analysis, revenue projections, and how you plan to use the loan.
  • Loan Application Form: The lender’s specific business loan application form, which you can typically find on their website or obtain directly from the lender when getting a business loan.
  • Personal and Business Financial Statements: Personal financial statements for all business owners, including assets, liabilities, and income. Check Business financial statements, including profit and loss statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements.
  • Tax Returns: Personal and business tax returns for the past few years (often three years).
  • Bank Statements: Recent bank statements for both personal and business accounts to demonstrate cash flow and financial stability.
  • Credit Reports: Personal and business credit reports, which you can obtain from credit reporting agencies like Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

Apply for a Business Loan

Prepare Your Business Plan

The first thing in knowing how to get business loan when managing a small business is preparing a business plan. Your business plan is a crucial document that outlines your business’s goals, operations, and financial projections. Lenders use it to evaluate your business’s viability and how you intend to use the loan when getting a business loan. A well-structured business plan should include:

  • Executive Summary: A concise overview of your business, its mission, and the loan purpose.
  • Market Analysis: Information about your industry, target market, competitors, and growth potential.
  • Use of Funds: A clear breakdown of how you plan to use the loan funds.

Determine the Loan Amount and Type

Major financial mistakes include not knowing which loan type you need. Decide exactly how much funding your business requires and which type of loan best suits your needs. Different loan types are designed for various purposes. For instance:

  • Term Loan: Suitable for one-time expenses like equipment purchase or expansion.
  • Business Line of Credit Loans: Useful for managing cash flow fluctuations or covering operating costs.
  • SBA Loan: Offers competitive rates and longer terms for various business purposes.
  • Microloan: Ideal for small business loans, modest funding needs for startups.

Research Lenders

Conduct thorough research to identify potential lenders when getting a business loan. Consider factors such as interest rates, fees, reputation, and their specialization in specific industries or business sizes. Reading customer reviews and seeking recommendations from other business owners can help you make an informed decision to avoid bankruptcy. Some lenders work differently such as microlending professionals.

Check Eligibility

Review the eligibility criteria of your selected lender to ensure your business meets the requirements and that you can successfully apply for business loan. Common eligibility factors include:

  • Credit Score: Lenders may have a minimum credit score requirement.
  • Time in Business: Some lenders prefer established businesses, while others cater to startups.
  • Annual Revenue: Lenders often specify a minimum annual revenue threshold.
  • Collateral: Some loans may require collateral, such as business assets or personal assets.

Gather Your Application Materials

Collect all the necessary documentation and information required for your loan application. Typical documents, getting a business loan, include:

  • Financial Statements: Personal and business financial statements, including profit and loss statements and balance sheets.
  • Tax Returns: Personal and business tax returns for the past few years.
  • Bank Statements: Recent bank statements for personal and business accounts.
  • Business Legal Documents: Business licenses, articles of incorporation, and contracts.

Complete the Loan Application

Fill out the loan application form provided by the lender accurately and comprehensively. Pay attention to details, as errors or omissions can lead to delays or rejection. Double-check that your application aligns with your business plan and the loan’s purpose when getting a business loan.

Review your Loan Agreement and Get Funds

If you want to know how to get approved for a business loan, reviewing your loan agreement and securing the funds is the final step in getting a business loan. Here’s a detailed breakdown of this crucial phase:

Receive the Loan Agreement

After your loan application is approved, the lender will provide you with a loan agreement. This document outlines the terms and conditions of the loan, including the interest rate, repayment schedule, fees, and any other specific terms relevant to your loan type.

Carefully Review the Loan Agreement

Take your time to thoroughly read and understand every detail of the loan agreement when getting a business loan. Pay close attention to the following key elements:

  • Interest Rate: Understand whether the interest rate is fixed or variable and the exact rate you’ll be charged. This significantly impacts your overall loan cost.
  • Repayment Terms: Review the repayment schedule, including the frequency of payments (e.g., monthly, quarterly), the due dates, and the total number of payments required.
  • Fees: Identify any upfront fees, ongoing fees, or prepayment penalties associated with the loan.
  • Collateral and Guarantees: Confirm whether the loan requires collateral (assets that secure the loan) or personal guarantees. Understand the consequences if you’re unable to repay the loan.
  • Covenants and Restrictions: Be aware of any financial or operational covenants or restrictions imposed by the lender. Ensure you can comply with these requirements.
  • Late Payment and Default Terms: Understand the consequences of late payments or loan default, including potential penalties, interest rate increases, and legal actions or business debt consolidation.

Ask Questions and Seek Clarifications

If you have any questions or concerns when getting a business loan, don’t hesitate to contact your lender. Seek clarification on any terms or conditions that are unclear or raise doubts.

Negotiate Terms (if possible)

Depending on the lender and your negotiation skills, you may have some room to negotiate certain terms, such as the interest rate, fees, or repayment schedule for a higher small business success rate. It’s worth discussing potential adjustments if you believe the terms can be improved to better meet your business’s needs when getting a business loan.

How to Find the Right Business Loan

Finding the right business loan requires careful consideration of your business’s financial needs, goals, and financial health, as well as researching and comparing various lenders and loan options. Here’s a step-by-step guide to getting a business loan:

Assess Your Business Needs

Determine the specific purpose for getting a business loan. Common reasons include startup capital, working capital, equipment purchase, expansion, or debt consolidation.

Evaluate Your Financial Health

Review your business’s financial statements, including profit and loss statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements. Assess your credit score, annual revenue, and cash flow to understand your financial position.

Determine Your Loan Amount

When understanding how to get a loan to start a business, calculate the exact amount you need to achieve your business goals. Avoid borrowing more than necessary to minimize interest costs and financial risk.

Consider the Loan Type

Explore various types of business loans, each designed for specific needs:

  • Term Loans: For first time business loan with a fixed repayment schedule. These include commercial loans, long term loans, 
  • Lines of Credit: Flexible funds for managing cash flow and short-term needs.
  • SBA Loans: Government-backed loans with competitive terms.
  • microloans: Small, short-term loans ideal for startups and very small businesses.
  • Equipment Financing: Loans such as installment loans are tailored for purchasing equipment or machinery.
  • Invoice Financing: Short-term financing based on unpaid invoices.
  • Commercial Real Estate Loans: For purchasing or renovating property.


Getting a business loan is a critical step for many entrepreneurs and small business owners. To find the right loan, assess your business’s needs, evaluate your financial health, and explore different loan types. 

Remember that careful preparation, a well-structured business plan, and a thorough understanding of loan terms are key to a successful loan application when starting a business. Whether you’re looking to start a new venture, expand an existing business, or manage cash flow, the right business loan can provide the financial support you need to achieve your goals.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: What credit score is needed for a business loan?

The credit score needed for getting a business loan varies depending on the lender and the type of loan. Generally, a personal credit score of 680 or higher is considered good for business loans. However, some lenders may accept lower scores, while others, especially for SBA loans, may require higher scores.

Q2: How can I get a business loan with no money?

It can be challenging but not impossible to get a business loan with no money. Consider options like microloans, crowdfunding, angel investors, or personal loans. Alternatively, bootstrap your business by starting small and reinvesting profits to fund growth.

Q3: Can I get a business loan with bad credit?

Yes, it’s possible to get a business loan with bad credit, although the terms may not be as favorable. Options include online lenders, microlenders, and certain SBA loan programs. You may need to provide strong business plans and demonstrate your ability to repay the loan.

Q4: How can I get approved for a business loan without collateral?

To get approved for unsecured business loans (without collateral), focus on improving your credit score, building a strong business plan, demonstrating a stable cash flow, and choosing lenders that offer unsecured loan options. Some lenders specialize in unsecured loans for businesses with solid financials.

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Checking your rate does not impact your credit score.

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