SBA 101: Small Business Loans for Startups

SBA loans: The superhero of small business financing.

Kallee Feuz Mar 13, 2018

A shortage of business capital is kryptonite to any startup company. But for entrepreneurs with a dream — and a down payment — a U.S. Small Business Administration loan can swoop in and save the day.

Think of the SBA loan program as the superhero of small business financing: able to leap tall financing hurdles in a single bound. While SBA loans are frequently used by established businesses (when longer or blended terms, or different collateral requirements are desired), there can be specific advantages for startups that merit consideration.

While the SBA does not lend directly to small businesses, banks receive a guarantee that the government will repay a portion of the loan if the borrower defaults on payments. This backing incentivizes banks to consider funding viable business concepts that may be considered inherently more risky for a variety of reasons, such as less than two years in business, change of ownership, or operating in a particular industry segment.

The SBA offers a variety of loans for small businesses, each with its own super strengths to meet your startup’s specific needs. 

SBA 7(a) Loan.

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s the SBA 7(a) loan! Just as Superman is the most recognized superhero, the SBA 7(a) general small business loan is the most popular SBA loan. That’s because, like the Man of Tomorrow, the 7(a) loan is powerful and versatile.  This Loan of Steel can do it all, from funding start-up costs to paying for equipment, machinery, furniture, fixtures, supplies or materials. With loan amounts up to $5 million, the 7(a)’s superpowers can imbue your startup with improved cash flow and long-term financing during those first make-it-or-break-it years.

SBA Express Loan.

In superhero terms, the SBA Express loan is The Flash of SBA-backed loans. The speedier cousin of the 7(a) loan, the SBA Express loan can put as much as $350,000 in your hands. While the Scarlet Speedster is adept at quantum tunneling to pass through walls, the SBA Express passes over excess paperwork with a streamlined approval process for an easy-to-use line of credit or a term loan. SBA offers a lightning-fast turnaround time of 36 hours to help accelerate the decisionmaking process. 

SBA 504 Loan.

No superhero draws power from specialized equipment and real estate holdings quite like Batman and his alter-ego, Bruce Wayne. An SBA 504 loan finances fixed assets like land, buildings and machinery so you can begin building your future Wayne Enterprises. With an SBA 504 loan, the bank funds a portion and a Community Development Corporation (CDC) funds a portion, along with the down payment from the borrower.  Maximum loan amounts range from $5 million to $5.5 million, depending on the type of business or project.

SBA CAPLine Loan.

As seamlessly as the Black Panther switches back and forth between Panther suit and plainclothes, an SBA CAPline loan lets you transition between busy and slow seasons without an interruption in cash flow so you have working capital when you need it. If you are a contractor, builder, or own a seasonal business, a CAPLine loan of up to $5 million can meet your short-term cash flow needs.

SBA Export Loans.

Wonder Woman is on a mission to unlock the potential of humanity. Similarly, SBA export loans are aimed at unlocking the potential of small businesses. SBA Export Express loans allow your startup to expand or enter new export markets. The Export Working Capital Program gives working capital to small, export businesses so they can maintain their export orders.

SBA Veterans Advantage Loans.

While super-soldier Captain America was born out of patriotic sentiment during World War II, SBA Veterans Advantage loans were created for real-life military heroes and their spouses. The Veterans Advantage loan gives fee relief to businesses that are at least 51-percent owned by veterans or military spouses. These loans offer the same terms as SBA 7(a) loans and Express loans but with reduced or waived guarantee fees.

For more information on SBA loans, check out this loan comparison table and visit a Zions Bank lender who can match your startup with the right business loan.

As the no. 1 7(a) SBA lender for 24 years running in Utah and for 16 years running in Idaho, Zions Bank’s team of experts can help you find the right SBA loan for your business. Apply online any time or at a local Zions Bank branch. 

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