Many of our start up business clients at www.ethos360.com come to us with basic questions on how to get financing from the SBA. There are a few things to have in your back pocket (and on the tip of your tongue) before going to them in order to increase your chances of getting approved.
1. Know your business inside and out.
You will need a business plan that not only covers all of the details of your business idea, but is also devoid of unnecessary embellishment and hyper extended financial projections. The SBA wants to know what you’re doing and how you’re going to do it. Also, they want to see evidence that you are qualified and capable of executing the tasks outlined in your business plan. The Management Summary of your business plan should detail your experience or at least the experience of the people you’ll have on hand to make up for any lack of qualifications you’ll have.
2. Show that you have invested in yourself and your business.
This seems like an obvious requirement, but a surprising number of people come up against a wall when faced with this. The SBA is not a zero percent down financing solution. You will have to show that you have invested a good sum of your own money, time and effort into the business in order to get the SBA to put up the loan. The SBA will not underwrite 100% of the venture so this means that you will have to not only have collateral for the loan, but will be providing evidence of having previously invested at least 25% to 50% of the asking amount in the business.
3. Understand that the SBA will examine your asking amount and prepare.
The SBA is very concerned and interested to know where the money you’re requesting will be going. Being prepared with a breakdown of future spending along with brief explanations as to what the money will be used for will help the SBA determine the level of your asking amount. Approaching a loan officer and just saying, “I’ll be needing $100,000, please” will not work half as well as illustrating in detail what that $100,000 will do such as: “I’ll need $50,000 for a new truck, $20,000 tenant improvements on a new office space, $10,000 for working capital, and $30,000 on upfront rent on an office space.” Keep in mind that a business that has been in existence for more than a year has a better chance of getting an SBA loan than a start-up.
There are many more tips and tricks to help increase your chances at getting funding from the SBA. It may seem a little daunting for a first timer to gather their ducks in a row, but there are many low cost ways to prepare you. Small business coaches and mentors can help a great deal with putting together what you need to help your business get financing. Don’t be afraid of approaching the SBA, they’re there to help.
Ellisa Brenneman has started green businesses and has vast experience managing public, media and investor relations for small-cap public and private companies. Ellisa is currently the President of Ethos 360. Ethos 360 provides entrepreneurs with affordable one on one coaching, business growth consulting and capital raising services so they can launch and grow their businesses.