Five Things to Know Before You Begin the SBA Loan Process

Five Things to Know Before You Begin the SBA Loan Process

The SBA loan process does not have to be as complicated as some banks make it. Here are a few things that will help move the application process along so you can have the cash in hand when you need it.


1.) Gather your financials

To begin the loan application process, you’ll need the last three years of personal and business tax returns, year-to-date profit/loss statement and your use of proceeds or business plan. Having easy access to your financials or a reliable CPA who can get documents to you at a moment’s notice will help move the SBA loan process along quickly. If you have a CPA who specializes in your industry, you will be a step ahead of the game. They will be able to guide you toward industry-specific deductions and will know what banks will need to close your loan.


2.) Be upfront about your financial history

Divulge any credit, legal or historic business issues that could impact your loan approval in the initial conversation. A lot of lenders have certain “non-starters,” so ask your lender about any of these items that could derail your loan down the line. The bank will find out about these eventually!


3.) Know that the process doesn’t end with your approval

The closing stage of the loan process–which comes after formal credit approval–is the most time-consuming and document-intensive part of the SBA loan process. If your bank leads you to believe that once you are through the loan approval process, things get easier, they aren’t telling you the truth! Be aware that any SBA lender will likely require–depending on the situation–the following before funding the loan: A life insurance policy, leases for your business’ locations, a business valuation, a purchase agreement (if you are acquiring business or commercial real estate with the transaction), corporate documents for the businesses you won, tax transcripts from the IRS and more.


4.) Work with a bank who has experience in your industry and with the SBA loan process

Many banks might want to look at your project. If they don’t understand your industry, however, you will likely be in for a headache when you have to explain both your industry and your business before being issued an approval. You can save three to six months in the process by working with a preferred SBA lender versus a general processing lender. A bank who is a preferred SBA lender can make its own credit decisions, rather than waiting for the SBA to approve the loan. At Live Oak Bank, our team is solely dedicated to lending to franchise restaurants, and we’re a preferred lender with the SBA.


5.) Focus on your target close date

As you move through the loan closing process, it is important that you remain aware of the timeline. If you take an extra week to get one of the closing requirements to your lender, it could delay the closing of your loan. Check with your bank throughout the process to make sure you and the bank are still targeting the same close date.


About us

Live Oak Bank is not your traditional bank. As one of the nation’s top lenders for the SBA and USDA loan programs, we pride ourselves in offering an efficient, transparent lending process. Our franchise restaurant finance team was built with only one goal: To help restaurant owners grow their businesses. Our team is solely focused on franchise restaurants, which allows our lending officers to become subject matter experts in your industry. We are eager for the opportunity to earn your business, and we have a suite of financing products to offer – all designed to meet the needs of franchise restaurant operators like you.


If you’re ready to get started or would like more information about Live Oak’s franchise restaurant lending team, contact Sims Richardson by email at or via phone at 910.550.2304.