We receive advertising fees from the brands we review that affect the ranking and scoring of such brands.
Advertiser Disclosure

From Application to Approval: How to Get a Business Loan

Lendstart Updated: February 28, 2024 • 6 min read
startup company with workers

Key Points:

  • Securing a business loan is crucial for growth and expansion in the entrepreneurial world.

  • Business loans are designed to meet the needs of businesses, providing them with the capital necessary to fund operations, growth, and essential activities.

  • Whether you need a bank loan, an SBA loan, or financing from an online lender, following these 6 steps can guide you through the application process.`

Securing a business loan is crucial for growth and expansion in the entrepreneurial world. It offers the necessary capital for various business needs, from startup costs to expansion efforts. This article serves as a comprehensive guide to navigating the process of obtaining a business loan, aiming to equip business owners with the knowledge needed to secure the financial support their ventures require successfully.

Securing a business loan is crucial for growth and expansion in the entrepreneurial world.

What is a Business Loan?

Business loans are financial products designed to meet the diverse needs of businesses, providing them with the capital necessary to fund operations, growth, and other essential activities. These loans are typically provided by banks, credit unions, and online lenders, each offering various terms, interest rates, and eligibility requirements to accommodate different business models and financial situations.

Top Business Loan Providers

Fundera Logo
  • Reputable marketplace with solid customer service
  • A lender network of over 30 lenders and partners
Visit Site
Lendio Logo
  • Flexible loan terms and amounts
  • Get approved in minutes and funded in 24 hours
Visit Site
  • Designed for small businesses and entrepreneurs
  • An experienced team of loan professionals
Visit Site

How to Apply for a Business Loan

Applying for a business loan can seem daunting, but breaking it down into manageable steps can simplify the process. Whether you're aiming for a traditional bank loan, an SBA loan, or financing from an online lender, following these six steps can guide you through the application process for securing the financing your business needs.

1. Determine Your Financial Need

  • Determine the Amount: Clearly define how much money you need and what it will be used for, whether for starting up, expanding, purchasing inventory, or bolstering cash flow.
  • Business Plan: Prepare a detailed business plan that outlines your financial projections, market analysis, and the purpose of the loan. This will help you understand your financial needs and prove your business's potential for success to lenders.

2. Check Your Credit Score

  • Personal and Business Credit: Lenders will review your personal and business credit scores. A higher score can lead to better loan terms. Before applying, check your credit reports for any errors that could affect your scores negatively.
  • Improve Your Score: If necessary, improve your credit score, such as paying down existing debt and making all payments on time.

3. Find the Right Type of lender

  • Type of Loan: Depending on your needs, determine the type of loan that best suits your business, such as term loans, lines of credit, or SBA loans.
  • Lender Type: Research various lenders, including traditional banks, online lenders, and credit unions, to find the best fit regarding loan terms, interest rates, and eligibility requirements.

4. Prepare Your Documentation

  • Financial Statements: Gather your business financial statements, including balance sheets, income, and cash flow statements.
  • Legal Documents: Compile necessary legal documents, such as business licenses, registrations, leases, and any franchise agreements.
  • Tax Returns: Have recent business and personal tax returns ready, as lenders will likely request these to assess your financial health.

5. Submit Your Application

  • Application Form: Fill out the loan application form thoroughly. Be honest and accurate with the information you provide.
  • Required Documentation: Attach all the required documentation to your application before submission to avoid any delays in processing.

6. Await Decision and Next Steps

  • Approval Time: The time it takes to get approved varies by lender. Traditional banks may take longer, while online lenders can offer quicker responses.
  • Review Offer: If approved, carefully review the loan offer, including the interest rate, repayment terms, and fees.
  • Negotiate Terms: Don’t hesitate to negotiate the terms if you have room for improvement.
  • Plan for Repayment: Finally, ensure you have a solid plan in place for repaying the loan according to the agreed terms.

By following these steps, you can streamline the process of applying for a business loan, improving your chances of approval and securing the best possible terms for your financing needs.

Business Loan-Related Articles

Types of Business Loans

A business loan is a sum of money borrowed by a business from a financial institution, to be repaid over a set period, with interest. The types of business loans available are varied, each serving different business needs:

  • Term Loans: These are traditional loans where a business borrows a lump sum of money upfront, repaid with interest over a fixed term. Term loans are ideal for businesses looking for capital to invest in long-term growth initiatives.
  • SBA Loans: Guaranteed by the Small Business Administration, these loans offer favorable terms and interest rates. They are designed to support small businesses that might not qualify for traditional bank loans.
  • Lines of Credit: Unlike lump-sum loans, lines of credit give businesses access to funds up to a certain limit, which can be drawn upon as needed. This flexibility makes them suitable for managing cash flow and unexpected expenses.
  • Equipment Financing: Specifically designed for purchasing equipment, these loans use the equipment itself as collateral, often leading to lower interest rates.
  • Merchant Cash Advances: This type of financing provides businesses with a lump sum in exchange for a percentage of future sales. It's a quick, albeit often expensive, way to access capital.

Why Businesses Need Loans?

Businesses seek loans for various reasons, all aimed at fostering growth and ensuring operational efficiency:

  • Startup Costs: New businesses often require significant capital to cover initial costs, such as leasing space, purchasing inventory, and hiring staff.
  • Expansion: Established businesses looking to expand their operations, whether by opening new locations or expanding their product lines, may require loans to finance these growth initiatives.
  • Inventory Purchase: Seasonal businesses or those preparing for high-demand periods may need loans to purchase inventory in advance.
  • Cash Flow Management: Loans can help businesses manage cash flow during slow periods, ensuring they can operate smoothly and meet financial obligations.

Understanding the types of business loans available and recognizing the reasons for needing one are crucial first steps for any business owner considering a loan.

Business Loan Alternatives for Startups and Bad Credit

Securing a traditional business loan can be challenging for startups and individuals with bad credit. However, several alternatives exist that cater to these groups, offering different forms of financing that might be more accessible or better suited to their unique needs. Here's an overview of some viable business loan alternatives:

1. Personal Loans

Personal loans are a good option for entrepreneurs with a steady source of income and good credit that need funding to start a small business. These loans are based on your personal finances rather than your business.

2. Business Credit Cards

Business credit cards are a faster line of credit alternatives for small, day-to-day expenses. And if you pay the card off each month, you won’t pay interest.

3. Crowdfunding

Platforms like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and GoFundMe allow businesses to raise small amounts of money from a large number of people. This method can be particularly effective for businesses with a compelling story or innovative product that resonates with a broad audience.

5. Microloans

Microloans are small, short-term loans with low-interest rates aimed at startups or small businesses with minimal capital requirements. Organizations like the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and non-profit lenders offer microloans and typically have less stringent eligibility criteria than traditional banks.

6. Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Lending

P2P lending platforms connect borrowers directly with individual lenders, bypassing traditional financial institutions. This can be a more accessible option for those with bad credit, as lenders on these platforms may be more willing to consider non-traditional credit indicators.

8. Equipment Financing

For businesses that primarily need funds to purchase equipment, equipment financing offers a way to secure loans specifically for this purpose. The equipment itself often serves as collateral, making this financing more accessible to those with less-than-perfect credit.


Securing a business loan is a strategic step towards growth and sustainability for many businesses. This article has outlined the essential steps and considerations for applying for a business loan, from assessing financial needs and exploring lending options to preparing documentation and understanding the application process. It's crucial to carefully evaluate your options and ensure you're well-prepared before applying. Consider consulting with a financial advisor or reaching out directly to potential lenders for personalized advice or more detailed information. Your journey to securing a business loan starts with informed preparation and a clear understanding of your business's financial landscape.



How long does it take to get a business loan?

The time frame varies by lender and loan type. Traditional banks may take a few weeks to a couple of months, while online lenders can offer decisions within a few days to a week.

Can I get a business loan with bad credit?

Yes, but it may be more challenging. Some lenders specialize in loans for those with bad credit, though these often come with higher interest rates. Improving your credit score before applying is advisable.

How much can I borrow for a business loan?

The amount you can borrow depends on the lender, your creditworthiness, and the financial health of your business. Loan amounts can range from a few thousand to several million dollars.

Do I need collateral for a business loan?

Not always, but it depends on the loan type and lender. Secured loans require collateral, while unsecured loans do not. However, unsecured loans might have higher interest rates.

What are the typical interest rates for business loans?

Interest rates can vary widely, from as low as 2-3% for the most qualified borrowers to over 20% for riskier loans. Rates depend on the lender, your credit score, and the type of loan.

Article Topics

Lendstart aims to simplify complicated topics in the personal finance field. Gain insight from our thought leaders, seasoned industry experts, who strive to provide timely and practical information on current market trends.