When your startup or small business needs a loan to open and grow, turning to SBA loan programs is a good idea. These programs allow you to be approved on a larger loan than you can qualify for on your own because the funds will be partially backed by the Small Business Administration. You will still have to go through a lengthy process, however, and factoring in wait time can be crucial to your company.

Common Loan Types

The most common small business loan programs through the SBA are the 7(a) and the 504. The 7(a) program is for businesses that have been open for at least two years and have a wait time of between two and three months for approval. Working with an SBA Approved lender can cut this time down.

The 504 program is for businesses with a net worth of less than $15 million and which has had at least an average of $5 million or less in net worth for the two years before application. These funds are usually earmarked for property purchases and renovations and it can take between one and six months for approval.

Other programs include the microloan and disaster loan, which both average four-week approval time, and the express loan which can take up to thirty-six hours. These programs have many of the same requirements as the 7(a) program such as a two-year business record and the size restrictions on companies.

Working With Lenders

When you apply for an SBA loan, you can fill out an online inquiry with the needs of your business. You will then be matched with a lender according to your needs and company specifics, such as a number of years you have been in business and company size.


The paperwork you will have to do for a loan program through the SBA is lengthy with most applications averaging thirteen pages. Your lender will be able to help you with much of this paperwork, but it is a good idea to research what you will need to have available before starting the process. Having both your personal and business financial records up-to-date and taking them with you to the bank, can save you some time. If you are applying for a 504 loan, you will also need construction estimates and property information.

The SBA loan programs are designed to help small businesses grow and strengthen the economy, but they take time for approval. Knowing how much time the process is likely to take can help you find the right financing options for your needs. For example, if you need quick financing, then an express loan will be a better fit than a 7(a) loan.