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Best Startup Business Loan Options for Entrepreneurs

Although some lenders offer business loans for startups, you may need alternative solutions to finance a new business.
Written by Randa Kriss
Edited by Sally Lauckner
Last updated on December 2, 2022

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Startup business loans can help new entrepreneurs cover startup costs — including equipment, inventory, payroll, utilities and insurance.
Although it may be more difficult for startups to qualify for traditional business loans, some online lenders offer capital to borrowers with one year or less in business. New businesses may also turn to alternative funding options, such as grants and business credit cards.
Here are our picks for the best startup business loans and tips on how to choose the right financing for your needs.

How much do you need?

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We’ll start with a brief questionnaire to better understand the unique needs of your business.

Once we uncover your personalized matches, our team will consult you on the process moving forward.

Here are 6 startup business loans

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Lender
Best for
Max loan amount
Min. credit score
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Fundbox - Line of credit

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Best for Unsecured business loans for startups$150,000600

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Bluevine - Line of credit

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Best for Fast business startup loans$250,000625

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Fora Financial - Online term loan

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Best for Startup business loans for bad credit$750,000550

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OnDeck - Online term loan

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Best for Online business loans for startups$250,000625

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Triton Capital - Equipment financing

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Best for Equipment loans for startups$250,000600

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SBA Microloan

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Best for SBA loans for startups$50,000620

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Here are 6 startup business loans

Best for Unsecured business loans for startups

Fundbox

Max Amount

$150,000

Min. Credit Score

600

Best for Fast business startup loans

Bluevine

Max Amount

$250,000

Min. Credit Score

625

Best for Startup business loans for bad credit

Fora Financial

Max Amount

$750,000

Min. Credit Score

550

Best for Online business loans for startups

OnDeck

Max Amount

$250,000

Min. Credit Score

625

Best for Equipment loans for startups

Triton Capital

Max Amount

$250,000

Min. Credit Score

600

Best for SBA loans for startups

U.S. Small Business Administration

Max Amount

$50,000

Min. Credit Score

620

Our pick for

Unsecured business loans for startups

Fundbox offers business lines of credit up to $150,000 and does not require physical collateral. You could qualify with a minimum of six months in business.

Fundbox - Line of credit

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Max Loan Amount
$150,000
Min. credit score
600
Est. APR
10.10-79.80%
Fundbox offers a business line of credit to fill a cash-flow gap, and qualifying is easier than with other lenders.
May fund quickly

Our pick for

Fast business startup loans

Bluevine offers business lines of credit up to $250,000 and can fund applications within hours after approval. You may qualify with just six months in business.

Bluevine - Line of credit

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Max Loan Amount
$250,000
Min. credit score
625
Est. APR
15.00-78.00%
Bluevine's line of credit provides fast working capital for short-term borrowing needs.
May fund quickly

Our pick for

Startup business loans for bad credit

Fora Financial provides working capital loans up to $750,000. You may be able to qualify with at least six months in business and a minimum credit score of 550.

Fora Financial - Online term loan

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Max Loan Amount
$750,000
Min. credit score
550
Fora Financial can be a good fit for borrowers who may fall short of qualifying for traditional bank financing, or young but established small businesses looking for speedy financing.

Our pick for

Online business loans for startups

You can apply for a short-term loan of up to $250,000 from OnDeck with a simple online application, and if approved, receive funding as quickly as the same day. You may be able to qualify with a minimum of one year in business.

OnDeck - Online term loan

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Max Loan Amount
$250,000
Min. credit score
625
Est. APR
29.90-97.30%
OnDeck offers a fast term loan for small-business owners with less-than-stellar credit who want to expand.
May fund quickly

Our pick for

Equipment loans for startups

Triton Capital offers equipment loans of up to $250,000. In many cases, Triton is able to fund startup businesses, although borrowing costs may be higher.

Triton Capital - Equipment financing

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Max Loan Amount
$250,000
Min. credit score
600
Est. APR
5.99-25.00%
Triton Capital offers fast equipment loans up to $250,000 for businesses in a range of industries.

Our pick for

SBA loans for startups

The SBA microloan program is designed to offer small loans to new and traditionally underserved businesses. Qualification requirements vary based on lender. In the 2021 fiscal year, 36.9% of SBA microloans issued went to startups.

SBA Microloan

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Max Loan Amount
$50,000
Min. credit score
620
Est. APR
8.00-13.00%
The average microloan is roughly $13,000, according to the Small Business Administration.

How Much Do You Need?

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Types of startup business loans

Here are some of the most common startup business loan options.

SBA loans

The U.S. Small Business Administration's microloan program is startup-friendly, offering loans of up to $50,000 for small businesses looking to start or expand. The average SBA microloan in the fiscal year 2021 was $16,557.
SBA microloans are administered by nonprofit community lenders and are typically easier to qualify for than larger-dollar loans. The downside: Funding may not be sufficient for all borrowers.
The SBA’s flagship 7(a) loan program also offers financing that borrowers can use to start businesses. But SBA 7(a) loans are tougher to get. The loans typically go to established businesses that can provide collateral, a physical asset, such as real estate or equipment, that a lender can sell if you default. The qualifications are strict, and even if you qualify, applying for an SBA loan can take several months.

Microloans

Microloans are also available outside of the SBA program, and microlenders and nonprofit lenders can be a less difficult route to access startup business loans, especially if you have shaky finances. Many of these lenders focus on minority or traditionally underserved small-business owners, as well as small businesses in communities that are struggling economically.
Because these startup loans often come from mission-based organizations, the terms will likely be better than you would receive from a private lender, making it possible for you to grow your business and establish better credit. That can help you qualify for other types of financing down the road.

Online business loans

Some online lenders offer business loans for startups with one year or less year in operation. You'll typically need at least six months in business to qualify. Depending on the lender, you may be able to access different types of financing, such as short-term loans, startup business lines of credit, invoice factoring or equipment financing.
Compared to more-established businesses, however, you'll generally receive smaller loan amounts, shorter terms and higher interest rates.

Personal business loans

New small-business owners can also access financing through personal business loans, such as those offered by online or other lenders. Personal loans are based on your personal credit history, which makes them a competitive option if your startup is too new to qualify for other business loans.
Personal loans can have high annual percentage rates (up to 36%), especially for bad-credit borrowers. That means this type of startup business loan is best for borrowers with excellent personal credit and strong income.

Grants

Startup business grants from private foundations and government agencies are another way to raise funds for your small business. These aren’t loans, which can make them tough to get. But free capital might be worth the hard work for some new businesses.
For example, businesses getting started in scientific research and technology innovation may be able to qualify for grant funding through the Small Business Innovation Research, or SBIR, program or Small Business Technology Transfer, or STTR, program. Or, if you served in the U.S. military, you can access small-business grants for veterans. There are also small-business grants for women.

Friends and family

Perhaps the most common way of financing a new small business is to borrow money from friends or family. Of course, if your credit is bad — and your family and friends know it — you’ll have to convince them that you’ll be able to pay them back.
In these situations, the potential cost of failure isn't just financial; it's personal.
Trim your list of friends and family to those who understand your plans, and do your best to make certain they're comfortable with the risks involved.

Credit cards

Many entrepreneurs rely on business credit cards as funding. You can use this option as short-term financing for business purchases that you can pay off quickly. Startup business credit cards also typically come with rewards programs that offer cash back, rewards points or travel miles — so you can earn more for your spending.
Let the balance linger and interest charges will pile up, however, quickly turning your credit card into an expensive small-business loan.
The APRs on your business credit card are based largely on your personal credit scores. If you have poor personal credit, you’ll have a higher interest rate.

Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding has become a popular way for small businesses to raise money, thanks to such sites as Kickstarter and Indiegogo, which let you solicit funds through online campaigns. Instead of paying back your donors, you give them gifts, which is why this system is also called rewards-based crowdfunding.
Avenues are also available for equity crowdfunding, in which you tap a public pool of investors who agree to finance your small business in exchange for equity ownership. You can even reach out to mom-and-pop investors with this type of crowdfunding, and not just accredited investors.
Crowdfunding is a great funding option for business owners who want to test out their product or service with a customer base and gauge the response without having to take on debt.

How to qualify for a startup business loan

Some lenders may be less willing to work with startups because they don’t have the business history to demonstrate their financial ability to repay a loan. If you have less than a year in business or need capital to start a business, you’ll likely have to borrow money based on your personal finances.
To qualify for the best startup business loan options, therefore, you’ll want to have good personal credit and stable finances. If you’ve already started your business, it can be beneficial to show strong business finances and cash flow projections as well.
It can also be helpful to offer substantial collateral, even when it’s not required. In general, anything you can use to show your creditworthiness and ability to repay the financing will help you qualify for a startup business loan — as well as help you access more competitive rates and terms.
Although some online lenders offer startup business loans for bad-credit borrowers (those with a FICO score below 630), be wary of any lender that offers startup loans with no credit check or guaranteed approval. It could be an expensive option — or a scam.
To build your credit score fast, check your credit reports for mistakes that could be weighing down your score and dispute them with the credit bureaus, maintain a low balance on your credit cards and stay on top of all bills.

How to get a startup business loan

The process for getting a startup business loan will vary based on the type of funding you choose, as well as the lender or financial institution. In general, however, you can follow these steps to get a loan for your new business.

1. Determine what kind of financing you need

As a startup, it may be more difficult to get more traditional forms of business funding, so you’ll want to think carefully about what type of financing is right for your needs. 
You’ll want to consider how much capital you need and how you’re going to use it. You should also keep in mind that the best choice may not always be a loan. Instead, it might be a small-business grant, crowdfunding or another financing option altogether.

2. Evaluate your credentials

Next, you’ll want to review common eligibility criteria, so you have a sense of where you stand before applying. If you’ve already started your company, you’ll want to consider your time in business, credit score and revenue. 
On the other hand, if you’re working on launching your business, you’ll want to focus more heavily on your personal finances in addition to your credit score. 
You should also evaluate your available collateral and any other information you have that can bolster your financial profile.

3. Research and compare lenders

You should research several lenders in order to find the right fit for your startup business. Ideally, you’ll want a lender who can provide the financing you need, as well as offer competitive rates and terms. You should also be able to meet the lender’s eligibility requirements.
As you compare different options, you should think about factors such as loan types, interest rates, repayment terms, fees, the application process, funding speed and lender reputation.

4. Gather documents and submit your application

Your business loan application process will ultimately vary based on the lender and type of loan you choose. Typically, however, you’ll need to provide some, if not all, of the following:
  • Basic information about you and your business.
  • Business licenses or formation documents.
  • Personal and business bank statements.
  • Personal and business tax returns.
  • Financial statements, such as balance sheets and profit and loss statements (if your business is already operating).
  • Cash flow projections.
  • Collateral information.
Your lender will likely ask you to sign a personal guarantee and/or take out a UCC lien on your assets.

5. Review your options

You’ll want to compare multiple loan offers to make sure you’re getting the best deal for your new business. Once you’ve made a decision, you should thoroughly review your business loan agreement and ensure that you understand the rates, terms, fees and repayment schedule.
If you have any questions or concerns about the document, you should contact your lender for clarification before signing.

Learn more about getting business loans for startups:

Last updated on December 2, 2022

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