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How to Apply for an SBA Loan Like a Boss

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While the Small Business Administration (SBA) annually qualifies thousands of loans for small businesses, applying for an SBA loan can still seem daunting. Simply meeting the qualifications for a loan doesn’t always mean you’ll receive one.

According to, seven out of ten businesses survive at least two years but just 25 percent survive 15 years or more. Financial institutions that offer SBA loans want assurance up front that both the business and its owners are a good risk.

The good news? Financial institutions are on your side. “Small businesses are the cornerstone of the U.S. economy, and loans often make the difference between getting the capital needed to take the next step and closing the doors,” says Dave Christiansen, assistant vice president of SBA sales at Mountain America Credit Union. “Being prepared with the right information can have a big influence in the financial institution’s decision.

Consider these tips to make the process easier before you apply for your small business loan:

Review your credit profile
While some SBA loans are offered to business owners with FICO® Scores* below 700, most need to be in the high 700–800 range. If you notice mistakes on your report, correct them right away and bring the necessary documentation to your financial institution.

Nail down your business plan
For new businesses, be sure your business plan is solid, clear and concise. State what your business is, why you need the money and how you’ll be successful. Financial institutions want to see that you have a plan to facilitate repayment. For existing businesses, providing a two- to three-year financial history is helpful.

Prepare financial projections
Your monthly cash-flow projection is likely required; be prepared with projections 12–24 months out. Projections of profit and loss (P&L) statements and balance sheets are also beneficial.

Get professional help
Your financial institution can answer questions, help you improve your application, and determine how much money you’ll need to launch or support your company. Note that the SBA backs roughly 75 percent of the loan, but the financial institution you select is on the hook for the other 25 percent.

Work smarter
Utilize tools you already have at your fingertips. Does your financial institution offer business services—like Health Savings Accounts, cash management options or payroll services? Find out what they provide and put them to work.

Take care of your greatest resource
That’s YOU! Make sure you are exercising, getting enough sleep and eating properly. And take a moment every day to do something outside of work that makes you happy. That could be drinking an uninterrupted cup of coffee in front of a window with an amazing view. Or meditating for five minutes. Or even calling your spouse or kids just to check in and say “I love you”.

Once you’ve secured your small business loan, your work is only just beginning! Here are a few more tips to run your business like a boss:

  • Manage your cash flow—know what’s coming in and going out.

  • Keep impeccable records—it will be easier to spot trends and keep an eye on profit margins and inventory controls.

  • Provide stellar customer service—knowing your customer and giving them what they want will keep them coming back.

  • Stay on top of laws and industry protocols.

  • Be ready for change—it will happen.

  • Shop the competition.

  • Hire people you trust—you can’t do everything effectively.

  • Learn from your mistakes and move on.

  • Seek out a mentor—talking through challenges and brainstorms with an experienced, trusted mentor could be the most invaluable resource you have.

  • Have fun—do what you love and share the passion!

Mountain America Credit Union is a full-service financial institution committed to putting our members’ needs first. It’s just the way we do business. Contact us today—we’re here to guide you forward to your next financial destination.

*FICO is a trademark of Fair Isaac Corporation in the United States and other countries.
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