In the course of every small business’s lifecycle, there will come a time when you’ll need to raise capital. But for some, traditional bank loans are not obtainable. Fortunately, the Small Business Administration has programs in place to help owners, like you, get the funding they need. Applicants for these loans, however, often wait months for an approval. To solve this problem, the SBA has created “express” loans to speed up the turnaround time.
If you need funding for your small business and you need it fast, you should consider an SBA Express loan. Here’s what you need to know before you apply.
What Is an SBA Loan?
First, you need to understand how SBA loans work and why they might be right for your small business.
The Small Business Administration doesn’t actually provide loans. Instead, what the SBA does is guarantee a portion of the debt—up to 90 percent depending on the amount and type of loan—if the borrower is unable to pay. Doing so lowers the risk to lenders, allowing small businesses like yours to acquire the funding they may not have qualified for previously. Interest rates and fees are also regulated, making terms more favorable for borrowers.
The Small Business Administration has an interest in promoting the growth of your business and stimulating the economy. This is why they created these loan programs, and why they implemented two Express loan options for those business owners who need money quickly.
What Is the Advantage of an SBA Express Loan?
SBA Express loans are a part of the Small Business Administration’s 7(a) loan program, the SBA’s primary means for helping small businesses receive funding. They were put in place to help business owners obtain the benefits of other SBA loans in an expedited fashion.
Business owners who are in search of working capital loans, business lines of credit and equipment financing can cut the time they wait for approval from as high as 90 days to as low as 24 hours. Your business could realistically receive the funding in that same 90-day window instead of having to wait additional time after the approval. The SBA Express loan process is expedient because they generally deal with lower amounts of money, have fewer documentation requirements than other SBA programs and are therefore pushed through the application review system faster.
Types of SBA Express Loans
There are two different types of these loans—Express and Export Express—that you can utilize to get the funding you need. Both offer the ability to get fast capital for your business, but the type of business you own and what you’ll be doing with the funds will determine which of these you should apply for.
SBA Express Loans
StandardExpress loans are a great option for owners who require funding for a variety of reasons relating to the growth, operations and future of their business. Their flexibility and competitive terms make them a popular option for most owners. These loans have a maximum amount of $350,000 and carry a 50-percent guarantee backed by the SBA.
SBA Express Export Loans
Express Export loans are for owners who want to begin or enhance their international export business. To qualify, you must prove that the money will be used to fund your day-to-day operations, supplier orders and to refinance debts related to that part of your business.
Most traditional lenders associate companies who conduct international business with higher risk, so the Small Business Administration provides a higher guarantee of up to 90 percent to help borrowers receive approval. If you are considering taking your business international, these loans are a great way to get things started. They have a maximum amount of $500,000, and that substantial guarantee makes applicants much more attractive to potential lenders.
Who Is Eligible For SBA Express Loans?
The Small Business Administration is essentially going out on a limb to get your company the funding it needs to succeed, so they understandably have their requirements. Since these loans are meant to help persuade lenders to consider less attractive borrowers than they otherwise would, these criteria are a bit more relaxed than those lenders have.
Determining Your Eligibility
Here’s a quick checklist to determine if your business is eligible for an SBA Express loan:
- Operate business for profit
- Engage in operations within the United States
- In business for 2+ years
- Qualify as a small business using SBA size standards
- No delinquencies on any previous government loans
- Owner must have used personal equity to finance business before seeking SBA assistance
If you can check off all the boxes, you may be eligible. When you apply, the SBA still needs to know they’re making the right decision to back you. You’ll be required to prove that you need the funding and that any money you receive will be used for sound business purposes. If they don’t believe you’ll be making a good investment, you’ll be denied.
Businesses Ineligible For SBA Loans
As a government agency, the Small Business Administration stays away from working with certain businesses that can create conflicts of interest or illegalities. For this reason, they restrict lending to companies that fall into the following categories:
- Lending companies
- Gambling businesses
- Businesses that promote or partake in illegal activities
- Insurance companies
- Businesses following a pyramid sales structure
- Businesses primarily engaging in the teaching, instruction or promotion of religious practices
- And many more
If your business doesn’t qualify, there are still alternative ways to get the funding that traditional lenders won’t provide you.
If your business is eligible, here’s what you need to know before you apply:
What Are the Terms of Express and Export Express Loans?
Now it’s time to get into the numbers. The fact that the SBA wants to help small businesses is great, but if the terms and conditions aren’t attractive, then what’s the point? Luckily, the rates, fees and other details of these loans are designed to make them more accessible and palatable.
Rates and Fees of SBA Express Loans
The bloated interest rates and hidden fees of many funding opportunities can cripple a business owner’s cash flow. You may get the funding you need now, but the premium you pay will make it more difficult to grow in the future. Knowing this, the SBA and its lending partners try to lower the financial burden that borrowers face.
To do this, they forbid lenders from including specific fees that are usually a part of their loan agreements. Processing, application, origination, brokerage and other fees that could add up are not allowed to be charged in SBA loans. This could mean thousands in savings for your business.
There are certain guaranty fees that are paid on the guaranteed portion of SBA loans, but they are generally lower than what you would expect in other loans. Depending on the loan amount and term length, your guaranty fees can range from 2-3 percent.
|Loan Amount||Repayment term < 1 year||Repayment term > 1 year|
|Up to $150,000||0%||2%|
|$150,000 and up||.25%||3%|
Note: Veterans and their spouses can qualify for Veterans Advantage loans with zero guaranty fees.
The SBA also regulates interest rates. Instead of letting lenders bloat the interest of borrowers based on their creditworthiness, these rates are capped using the current prime rates.
|Loan Amount||Interest rate|
|$50,000 or less||Prime rate + 6.5%|
|Over $50,000||Prime rate + 4.5%|
Doing this keeps funding affordable for you. As of May 2019, the current prime rate is 5.5 percent. Add the 6.5 percent and your $50,000 loan would be capped at 12 percent, which can be considerably lower than the rate an alternative lender would offer. You can check with the Federal Reserve to find the daily prime rates to apply to your potential SBA Express loan.
SBA loan programs are generally geared toward long-term financing for small businesses. Express and Export Express term lengths will be determined by your ability to repay the loan, what you are using the funding for and the expected life of the collateral you may put up.
Real Estate Loans
These loans, like mortgages, understandably have longer lengths of up to 25 years
Equipment Financing Loans
Maximum of 10 years unless the collateral used (often the equipment that was financed itself) is deemed to have a useful life shorter than that length of time
Working Capital and Inventory Loans
Maximum of 10 years
Business Lines of Credit
Up to 7 years, but lenders could set extensions on regular Express loans
How to Apply for SBA Express Loans
Now that you know all about the Express loan program, it’s time to apply. Even though working with government agencies can be difficult and full of red-tape, the application process is easier than you might think.
Step one is finding a participating lender. You can access these loans through regional banks and online lenders. Fast Capital 360 partners with SBA Express Loan providers, so you can get your start by completing our straightforward application.
There are a number of documents you should gather before doing so. You will want to download and fill out the SBA’s “Borrower Information” form, also called Form 1919. This document takes all the info about the structure and operation of your business that the SBA needs and is used to verify and qualify your application. Based on your answers on Form 1919, you may be required to fill out additional paperwork. We recommend downloading these items directly from the SBA website to ensure the accuracy of your application.
A few other important documents to prepare include:
- Personal & Business Tax Returns
- Personal Financial Statements (required from each individual owning 20 percent or more of the company)
- Profit and Loss Statement
- Balance Sheet
Other documents, such as business licenses, Articles of Incorporation, commercial leases or franchise agreements may be requested depending on the particular loan application.
Finalizing Your SBA Express Loan Application
When you have everything together, submit the documents to your lender and the Small Business Administration will review your application. Since you’ll be applying for an SBA Express loan, you’ll receive notification in just a few days. If you’re approved, you should have the money within 90 days.
If not, don’t worry. There are still other ways to get approved for business funding that will help you run your small business. See how it works and get started today.