September 29, 2023 By Caitlin Rose

Paperwork! It’s a necessary evil for all small business owners. And if you have decided to apply for a small business loan from a bank, the process may bring with it a flurry of required information. Do you know the information needed to complete a bank loan application? Do you know how to get an SBA loan? 

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The specific documents you need to apply for a SBA loan may vary depending on the type of SBA loan program you are applying for and the lender you choose to work with. However, much of the necessary information required is the same.

When you are ready to apply, create a checklist of the items below to streamline your application process.

1. Personal Background/Resumes

Information needed includes your business background as well as information about the business owners, including resumes, personal financial statements, personal income tax returns, previous addresses, names used, criminal record, and educational background.

2. Business Plan

A business plan is a comprehensive document outlining your business’s goals, financial projections, and how you plan to use loan funds. Though SmartBiz® doesn’t require a business plan, your bank may require one. If you need help preparing a business plan, there are free or low-cost resources available. Check out your local SBDC office for assistance. 

3. Personal and Business Credit Reports

Lenders may check your personal and business credit histories. Be sure to obtain a credit report from all three major consumer credit rating agencies - Equifax®, Experian® and TransUnion®. If there are inaccuracies, try to resolve them before getting started.

4. Income Tax Returns

Most lenders require the previous two to three years of complete business income tax returns, including all schedules. 

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5. Business Financial Statements

Owners with more than a 20 percent stake in a business are often required to submit signed personal financial statements. Business financial statements generally have three components:

  • Profits and loss statements.
  • Cash flow statements 
  • Balance sheets  (SmartBiz requires profits and loss statements and balance sheets).

6. Collateral

Requirements for collateral typically vary - some bank loan programs don’t require it, others do. Have a document prepared that describes personal or business property that may be used to secure a loan.

7. Legal Documents

These documents may include business licenses and registrations, Articles of Incorporation, third party contracts, franchise agreements, commercial leases, and other legal documents related to your business.

8. SBA Forms

You will need to complete specific SBA loan application forms. The SBA Form 1919, or Borrower Information Form, collects identifying information about your business, loan request, indebtedness, principles of the business, and information on current or previous government financing. The SBA Form 1920, or Lender Application, may also be required. 


Beyond the necessary forms and documents, review the Eligibility Summary listing specific requirements for our loans including business requirements, cash flow needed, liquidity, personal credit, public records and specific SBA criteria.

Eligible businesses must be in business for at least two years. Business owners must be U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents.

Typically, businesses approved for an SBA loan from banks that participate in the SmartBiz lending network have $50,000 to $5 million in annual revenues and 1 to 40 employees. Most are profitable and have a positive cash flow. All are able to provide proof that they are able to make the monthly loan payment.

Ready, set, apply

Don’t let the paperwork scare you off! With longer repayment terms and lower rates, SBA-backed loans generally offer excellent value when you need funding to grow your business. And, you can see if you pre-qualify before needing to gather up any of the required documentation. 

When you are ready to get started, our application process is quick and easy. Visit SmartBiz today and discover in about five minutes if you’re qualified to apply for an SBA loan with one of our bank partners.

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