Getting a small business loan can seem daunting and complex – but it doesn’t have to be. With a bit of preparation (and finding the right loan provider), this process can be much smoother, allowing your business to access the capital it needs to make key investments and grow.
That said, one of the best ways to ease the loan-approval process is by meeting your business loan document requirements.
And by that, we mean having all your documents needed for a business loan prepared beforehand, simplifying the loan application process, and reducing headaches you might otherwise encounter without the requisite documents on hand.
There is a huge deficit in small business financing – the World Bank estimates that deficit to be as high as $5.2 trillion globally each year. In other words, so many small businesses could be growing much faster, if only they had access to the capital they need to fuel that growth.
And preparing your documents is a strong step towards securing that business financing, thereby helping you reach your business goals faster.
So, what are the documents needed for a business loan when you borrow from a bank? What documents do you need when you borrow from Credibly?
Documents Needed for a Business Loan
Now it should be said that depending on the type of loan you’re looking for and the lender you’re working with, like a bank, the business loan documentation requirements will vary.
But in general, there is a certain set of business loan documents that are pretty much universally required when you work with a lender like a bank.
When you borrow from a bank, the most commonly required documents for business loans are:
- Balance sheet
- Personal and business credit report
- Income tax returns
- Business plans
- Cash flow forecast
- Financial statements
- Proof of collateral
When you choose Credibly, your business loan application process requires far less documentation than with other lenders. Here’s what we need:
- Completed financial application
- Your most recent 3 month’s worth of business bank statements
These requirements are based on your business history and/or industry. You may need to provide additional information.
One of the most critical business loan documents required by a bank is your business balance sheet.
This will give your lender a snapshot of your business’s current financial position.
Your balance sheet doesn’t have to be overly complicated or overdone. Rather, it should simply and clearly state your business’s current:
- Equity sources
- Accounts receivable
This snapshot essentially demonstrates to a lender how much your business owns against how much you currently owe. As you’d imagine, the more assets you have versus liabilities, and your loan options grow. Vice versa, and it makes getting a loan more difficult (but not impossible!).
Remember that many small businesses (as many as 40%) have debts of $100,000 or more, so you can still obtain funding even if your current financial situation isn’t immaculate.
As a rule of thumb, you should bring in at least two years of balance sheets (if available) when presenting your business loan documents.
This document can be easily prepared by simply tabulating the above categories and laying them out in a clear and readable format.
When you choose Credibly, you don’t need to worry about your balance sheet. Simply complete our financing application, and send us the last three months’ worth of business bank statements—a much lighter lift.
Business and Personal Credit Report
Another set of critical business loan documents required by lenders like banks is your credit scores—both personal and business.
Your credit report/score is just your track record of paying down debts in your past. If your personal and business credit score are high, fantastic—it’ll be that much simpler to get the small business loan you need (and you’ll have an easier time accessing the amount of capital you’re looking to get).
But no matter what your credit score is, you’ll have to come to your lender with the paperwork—these are documents required for business loans.
You can find online several providers of business credit reports, while your financial institution should supply you with a personal credit report.
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Income Tax Returns
If your business has been running for several years, you’ll likely need to prepare at least two years of all tax documents in addition to proof of your monthly earnings.
This serves to help your lender understand your current financial position, which in turn will influence the size of the loan you’re eligible to receive. Typically, loans are provided in conjunction with a business’s average profit margin.
If you’re just starting out, you can more easily access a loan if you’re able to provide your personal finances. Showing your lender a personal bank account (or accounts) that demonstrate you to be in strong financial standing with a history of financial responsibility makes it much easier to acquire that loan your business needs.
Your personal and business accountant can provide these documents.
Unlike banks, however, Credibly doesn’t require your income tax returns. Instead, you can keep things simple with a completed financing application and the last 3 months of your business bank statements. Less documentation, and easier to manage. For deals over $100,000, you may need to provide business tax returns.
A well-structured, comprehensive business plan can go a long way towards facilitating the loan application process.
Among the business loan documents required by some lenders, a business plan can be the hardest to prepare. After all, your business plan will demonstrate to your lender how serious and thoughtful you are about your business, and can be a huge influence on how fast/how large the loan you’re able to access.
Your business plan should at least contain:
- Plan for implementation
- Accurate projected returns
- Action plan for yielding those returns within your projected timeline
Depending on your particular industry, you may also need to show that you have the requisite business licenses that allow you to operate in your relevant jurisdiction.
While this doesn’t apply to all businesses, it’s important to remember if it is relevant to your specific industry. Find out how to get your required business licenses.
Cash Flow Forecast
When you choose a bank as your lender, among the documents needed for a business loan, your lender will want to see your cash flow forecast.
Your cash flow forecast will demonstrate that you have a detailed plan on how to make the necessary profits to pay back the borrowed amount on time.
You’ll also need to determine what payment terms are realistic for your business. That includes the size of the loan, affordable interest rates, payment timeline, etc.
Learn more about cash flow statements and how to make them here.
Some lenders require, among other documents for your business loan, your business’s bank and financial statement (again, rule of thumb is to at least provide two years of data).
These differ from balance sheets as this provides a direct glimpse into your overall financial health (both business and personal), whereas balance sheets offer more of a snapshot in time.
You can obtain the necessary data for this business loan requirements document from your financial institution.
Proof of Collateral
Especially important for new businesses or those with poor credit, your lender will likely want proof of collateral.
This is to secure your debt and protect your lender.
Many different assets can be offered up as collateral, and it’s up to you to determine which ones you’re comfortable with selecting.
As far as business loan documentation goes, the need for collateral grows depending on how:
- The size of the loan
- Credit history
- Whether your lender requires you to partially or fully secure the loan
Among several other factors.
Considering that the average small business loan is worth $633,000, the posted collateral has to be a high value asset if the loan is fully secured.
Documents for Business Loan — Are They Really That Important?
Short answer: yes.
More detailed answer: the documents needed for a business loan vary depending on the lender and the type of financing required.
Financing options include:
- Unsecured term loans
- Merchant cash advances
- Line of credit
- Secured loans
- Business credit cards
Among others. Each will require its own set of required documents for a business loan.
In addition, some lenders have very stringent business loan requirements document checklists that you need to meet.
Others have more relaxed requirements. Like Credibly—we only require the last 3 months of your business bank statements, and a completed financing application.
But, typically speaking, you’re going to need the documents listed above in order to obtain your small business loan.
How the Required Documents for Business Loans Change Depending on Your Lender
The business loan documents required, as mentioned, are dependent on several factors, but among the most important is the specific lender you’re approaching.
Unlike traditional banks, Credibly loves helping small businesses thrive. End the frustration of trying to figure out what documents are needed for business loans, instead get clear answers when you work with us.
Eliminate the Mystery Involved in Applying for a Business Loan
If you’re struggling with a poor credit score or compiling the documents required for a business loan, that ends today.
Find funding options you are eligible for and get clear answers. Our financing experts help small business owners such as yourself get funded in as few as 48 hours.
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