Mandatory Documents Required to Get a Business Loan
As the saying goes, a loan just doesn’t happen without proper documentation. Or in other words, no documentation, no loan. In fact, documentation is the very face and nature of the loan because it contains all details, terms, and conditions of repayment and figures etc. Which is why documentation is not only an important part of the loan taking procedure but inextricable to the process also.
Although lenders may have their own specific and varying requirements, certain documents are mandatory for submission to all lenders. Thus, you need to keep the following documents ready when you apply for a loan:
Traditional, Non-SBA Loans
The following documents are required:
- Bank statements covering the last 3-12 months.
- Last 3 years’ tax returns and financial statements.
- Appropriate trade and business licenses as also other certificates required for conducting business.
- Business history and overview, including vision and mission statements, challenges, goals and intended deployment of borrowed funds.
- Copies of sealed, signed and delivered agreements with key vendors and clients.
- Copy of lease on office space or a statement from the landlord on lease/rental terms.
- Signed profit & loss statements over the last 90 days.
- Franchise agreements, if any.
- Ownership structure and affiliations, if any.
- Funding application.
- Personal tax returns and financial statements spanning last 3 years.
- Personal resume of each partner/director/owner/principal and individual business experience.
For SBA Loans
The following specific documents are required for SBA loans:
- The business loan application (Form 4).
- Personal history statement (Form 912).
- Application of lender for participation or guaranty (Form 4i): To be filled in by lender or lending institution.
- Ownership structure; affiliations, if any including companies or concerns where the applicant happens to hold a controlling interest as also other companies that could be affiliated by franchise, stock ownership or proposed merger with the applicant.
- Full details of one-year projection of finances and income, with a written explanation on how the applicant expects to achieve the disclosed numbers.
- Certificate of Business. If it’s a corporation, the corporate seal is required on the SBA Form 4, Section 12.
The Application Form: Most prominent lenders are tech savvy now and encourage online applications for small loans. It saves them unnecessary paperwork and time. However, a good many still go by the conventional route and make it compulsory for a prospective borrower to personally visit their offices or branches and fill out proper paper application forms to get their required funding.
However, applying to multiple institutions may be detrimental because prospective lender will go through your business’s credit history with a fine comb. This will certainly lessen your chances getting funds because lenders interpret it as a sign of desperation and that you are shopping around. Thus, your creditworthiness becomes questionable.
Business Plan: For small business owners seeking loans, submitting a business plan is a must because this document will provide a detailed explanation of what the business is all about and where its owner desires to take it.
The aforesaid business plan should mandatorily include:
- A business description about the activities of the company and how it will make profits; Personal information about the business owner’s background including current and all previous addresses, criminal records, if any, aliases and educational details.
- Location of the business and its target audience.
- Its competition and plans on how the owner plans to stand out in the competition.
- Full details of all its services and/or products and unique selling points, if any; full details of marketing, sales, and promotion plans (marketing tools to be used, web site details, public relations (traditional and social media), advertising, sampling, trade shows, and sales promotions.
- Full details of the management team including their individual professional experience.
- All relevant financial data including break-even analysis, sample balance sheet, cash flow projection, and profit-and-loss statements.
- Investment information about how much the owners are investing in the company.
- Estimate of revenues, sales, and type of return an investor may expect.
Personal Credit Report: Any lender will first get your personal credit report when you apply for a loan. However, getting an authentic credit report from all the 3 major consumer credit rating agencies before you submit the loan application always helps. Blemishes and inaccuracies on your personal credit report may diminish your chances of getting that business loan. Therefore, it’s critical that you clear up any discrepancies before you start the process of loan application.
Business Credit Report: If the business is already operating, a company credit report needs to be submitted. However, review it carefully before submitting it. If your score is 650 or more, it’s considered good. Remember, anything less than 600 may make it difficult to get loans from banks or credit unions. For those with low credit scores, opening business credit cards and/or clearing up past debts by paying off monthly balances fully and timely helps greatly in improving credit worthiness.
Income Tax Returns: Most lenders insist on the business owner’s personal income tax and business income tax returns spanning the last 3 years. This may not be possible for a startup but personal returns in cases of owners of new companies carry immense weight.
Collateral: Some lenders may insist on collateral, particularly in cases where the loan involves high risk because the collateral is used to secure the loan.
Legal Documents: Legal documents such as Articles of Incorporation, franchise agreements, and contracts with third parties are also required to be submitted.
Executive Summary: A short description of the business, its operations, marketing efforts, revenue model and goals is also critical. In fact, that’s perhaps the only part of the proposed business plan that your loan officer may bother to go through. Make sure to keep it succinct.
Appendices: Information on any research that you may have conducted including graphs, charts and logos.
An additional yet mandatory requirement for getting your desired loan is to keep all documents accurate and orderly. This is a must as any information you disclose is subject to verification by the lender as also the organization that guarantees the loan. Any misleading or false information will immediately result in the loan application getting rejected.
Finally, ensure that you also have personal copies of each and every document submitted and associated with the loan in your files.
Anne is a Senior Author for SBL. She began her career as an independent consultant for local businesses after graduating with a BA in Management. Since that time, she’s expanded to writing as well as consulting to spread helpful knowledge to small business owners across the country.