Your Small Business Loan Checklist: What You Need Before You Apply

Your Small Business Loan Checklist: What You Need Before You Apply 

Before applying for a loan for your small business, you need to prepare the documentation that lenders want to see. Although you have many different choices of lenders, from banks and government-backed lenders to private lending companies and peer-to-peer options, most ask for the same types of information. A missing form or lack of detail could disqualify you from getting the business loan you need, so it’s important to ensure you meet the exact requirements of the lender you choose.

small business todo list

Understanding the Loan Application Form

Forms vary between lenders, but all are designed to assess whether or not your business is a good candidate for a loan. You’ll be expected to provide basic personal information such as your current and previous addresses, names used, education, and criminal background (if any). You should also be prepared to answer these common questions:

  • What type of business are you running?
  • What is the purpose of the loan?
  • How much money do you need?
  • How will the money from the loan be used?
  • What other outstanding debt do you have, and who are the lenders?
  • Who are the key managers in your company?
  • Who are your suppliers?
  • Who are your customers?
  • What do you have to use as collateral?

Business Plan

All lenders will require you to submit a detailed business plan along with your loan application. The business plan should include:

  • A description of the business: What does your company do? What product or service does it provide? Explain what makes your business unique.
  • The local market and competitive landscape: Describe your company’s location and its target customers. Be honest about the competition, and explain how you differentiate your business to ensure its success.
  • Organization and management: Explain the management structure of your business, and provide details about the qualifications of your management team.
  • Sales and marketing: Describe your sales and marketing tools as well as any promotions or public relations campaigns. How do potential customers learn about your business? What does your company do to attract new business?
  • Financial data: New businesses are required to show detailed estimates of expenses, expected sales, and costs. Include a break-even analysis and cash flow projections. Existing businesses should provide financial documents, such as tax returns for the past three years, accounts receivable and payable, balance sheets or profit and loss statements, and bank statements from the last year.
  • A Resume or CV: Lenders want to see your education and employment history to determine if you have the skills and expertise necessary to run a business successfully.

Other Documentation

In addition to a business plan, lenders may ask to see:

  • Your equity investment in the business
  • Personal and business credit reports
  • License or registration
  • Franchise agreements
  • Articles of incorporation
  • Commercial leases
  • Third-party contracts

Keeping good records is essential for running a successful business and even more critical when applying for a loan. Make sure your documents are organized and accurate so that you can bring everything together as quickly as possible. All the information you disclose will be verified by your lender. False or deceptive information will result in your loan being denied. Keep personal copies of all loan documentation to refer back to or bring to another lender should your first choice turn you down.

Next Steps for Business Loans

With the right documentation in hand and a solid financial standing, you should be able to obtain the loan you need to keep your business running. To determine exactly how much to ask for, learn how to estimate your business costs. Budget the loan money to ensure it goes where it should, and start moving your business toward a bright and successful future.

Know that you have your business ducks in a row, it's time to take the next step – learn how to estimate your business costs so you can get the capital you need. 


  About Naftali Feig  

 Naftali Feig holds a bachelor’s degree in finance as well as an MBA.
He has over 15 years of professional experience in financial management, reporting,
and project management. He has worked as a controller and operations manager
and owns his own real estate investment company. He believes relationships are
the key to a successful business. He currently provides consulting and solutions
to entrepreneurs starting their own brokerage businesses.




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