Business Loans

What Documents Will You Need for a Small Business Loan?

May 28, 2024 • 10 min read
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      More than 30% of American small businesses are not approved for at least some of the funding they apply for.

      Reasons for this can range from operating in a risky industry to a low credit score. But what really shouldn’t be a concern is flubbing the preapproval process by not having the required documentation.

      If you’re concerned that you might fall into that category, read on—these are the documents you’ll need to apply for a small business loan or other financing.

      Which documents will you need to apply for business financing?

      The first thing you will do when you apply for financing at Lendio is give us enough information to help our lender network assess your risk. When you click “Apply now,” you’ll start our 15-minute online application.

      You’ll need the following documents:

      • 3 months of business bank statements (you’ll be given the choice to connect your account or manually upload images)
      • A copy of your driver’s license or state ID
      • Voided check from your business account
      • Proof of business ownership
      • Month-to-date transactions

      You’ll also be asked to provide:

      • The amount of money you want to borrow
      • When your business started and some general information about your business
      • Your birthday and your social security number

      What documents will you need for the next stage?

      After we receive your application, our financing network will review your application and we’ll let you know what you’re eligible for. Depending on the types of loans or other financing you’re being offered, you may need to provide some of the following documents before your financing funds. And you won’t be asked to guess at anything: your Lendio funding manager will walk you through all of this.

      You may be asked to provide:

      Tax returns 

      These will objectively show lenders how much money your company makes, how much you draw from the business, and how much money you personally have in the bank.

      Some lenders will want to see profit on your business tax return—and if not profit, then a clear path to profitability. They’ll want to know that you pay your taxes in full and on time. 

      Business bank statements

      You will have already uploaded 3 months’ worth, but some types of financing can require additional bank info. These documents are used to show lenders your cash flow patterns. BTW, these will need to be business bank accounts, not a personal account.

      A business plan

      Some lenders will request a copy of your business plan, which they may review from two angles. 

      First, they’ll be looking at the legitimacy of both the problem your business solves and your solution to it, as well as how you plan to bring your solution to market and how you plan to make money from it. 

      And don’t make the mistake of thinking that only apps and tech platforms solve problems. A hair salon could solve the simple problem of there not being another hair salon closer than 6 blocks away, and it’s a perfectly sound solution to a perfectly reasonable problem.

      Second, they’re looking for a good fit, both from your business and from you, and this could mean different things. You may not be a good fit if:

      • They have a different idea of how you should be growing
      • They don’t share enthusiasm for the category you’re in
      • Any of a number of other reasons

      Also, don’t worry about not being a good fit, however. Lendio works with 75+ lenders, which opens up a lot of options.

      Profit and loss statement and balance sheet

      A P&L statement, also known as an income statement, shows a business’s revenues, expenses, and profits or losses over a specific period. It helps lenders understand how much money the company is making and where it is being spent.

      A balance sheet provides a snapshot of a company’s financial position at a given point in time. It lists all of the assets, liabilities, and equity of the business. This document gives lenders an overview of what the business owns and owes.

      If you didn’t previously upload your business license, you may be asked to by some lenders to provide it now. You could also be asked for a copy of your LLC or articles of incorporation, if relevant.

      Debt schedule

      A debt schedule is a document that outlines all the outstanding debts of a business, including loans, interest payments, and other financial obligations. It is an important piece of information for lenders when considering a business loan application.

      A debt schedule typically includes the following information:

      • Outstanding balance: This is the total amount owed on a particular loan or debt.
      • Interest rate: The annual percentage rate charged by the lender on the outstanding balance.
      • Payment frequency: This refers to how often payments are due (monthly, quarterly, annually).
      • Maturity date: The final date by which the loan or debt must be repaid in full.
      • Collateral: Any assets that have been pledged as security for the loan.
      • Guarantors: Individuals or entities who have guaranteed to repay the loan in case the business is unable to do so.

      Documentation requirements for SBA loans.

      If you have your heart set on a Small Business Association (SBA) loan, you’ll be asked for the following information in addition to the documentation listed above.

      • Why are you applying for this loan?
      • How will the loan proceeds be used?
      • What assets need to be purchased, and who are your suppliers?
      • What other business debt do you have, and who are your creditors?
      • Who are the members of your management team?
      • Anyone who owns more than 20% of the business will need to complete SBA Form 413.

      If any of these seem confusing, don’t worry. If you apply for financing through Lendio’s marketplace, your funding manager will explain any additional documentation required. You’ll also upload everything in your online document center, so you’ll have a record of what you’ve submitted and what’s still missing.

      FAQs about applying for small business financing with Lendio.

      “Amount of time in business” can be important to obtaining financing, but how important and how long you need to be in business will really depend on the lender’s preferences and the financing option you’re being offered. A startup, for example, may qualify for a merchant cash advance with minimal time in business provided their receipts fit the lender’s requirements. Your best bet is often to apply for financing (remember, it only takes 15 minutes and doesn’t impact your credit score) to see what’s needed. 

      Yes, some lenders have different requirements for the same type of loan. Your Lendio funding manager will walk you through all of this and can help you determine which documents you’ll need after you submit your online application and if there are other options available.

      If you don’t have a specific document, whether you can offer a substitute will most likely be up to the lender’s underwriter. Your Lendio funding manager can help you determine if there’s a suitable substitute or even how you can access the documents you need.

      My advice: apply online to see what type of financing is available based on the information you can supply. Our lender network offers more than 10 different types of financing, so the required documentation can vary widely.  

      Quickly compare loan offers from multiple lenders.

      Applying is free and won’t impact your credit.

      About the author
      Tanner Cupello

      Tanner Cupello has worked in the small business lending industry for eight years assisting thousands of small business owners to get financing to sustain and grow their businesses. At Lendio he oversees and trains the full team of funding managers on business loan products and a network of over 75 lenders.

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