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Best business loans for startups

Ready to turn your side hustle into a bonafide business?

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startup crew standing together on the office
Finding financing at the earliest stages of opening a business can be nearly impossible if you don’t know where to look. But there are more than just bank loans available for startups. Learn more about the ways you can fund your business and compare lenders that offer startup business loans.

9 best startup business loans

How did we choose these lenders?

To present the best options for startups, we focused on lenders that accept businesses less than a year old. And because each startup is unique, the lenders we chose work with a variety of industries, including cannabis. Fees, APRs and loan terms also played a role in our decision to include — or exclude — a lender.

What’s new in 2020?

We expanded our list to include five new categories:

  • Best for finding a low rate
  • Best for online startups
  • Best for microloans
  • Best for startups in the growth phase
  • Best for SBA loans for startups

We also confirmed that each lender takes your personal finances into account when determining approval, so startups without much revenue may still be able to find funding.

Best for rate shopping: Lendio

560
Min. Credit Score
6%
Starting APR
$5,000,000
Loan Amount
Lendio has a large network of lenders offering 12 types of business financing — including credit cards and startup loans up to $750,000. You also don’t need to have the best credit to qualify — its partners accept scores as low as 560. And its rates are capped relatively low for startup financing at just 17%. But it’s not a good idea if you’re in a rush — it can take up to a month to get your funds.
Min. Loan Amount $500
Max. Loan Amount $5,000,000
APR Starting at 6%
Interest Rate Type Variable
Min. Credit Score 560
Minimum Loan Term 12 months
Maximum Loan Term 300 months
Pros
  • Network of over 75 lenders
  • Wide range of business loan options
  • Bad personal credit accepted
Cons
  • Must pay origination fee after loan is finalized
  • May receive marketing material from lenders

Best for startups in the growth phase: SBG Funding

500
Min. Credit Score
5%
Starting APR
$5,000,000
Loan Amount
SBG Funding specializes in growth loans for businesses at least six months old that have struggled to qualify with traditional lenders. It also has low starting rates of just 5% — though they max out at 35%. While it accepts personal credit scores as low as 500, your business will need to have at least $150,000 in annual revenue to qualify. For smaller startups, that can be a tough obstacle to overcome.
Min. Loan Amount $5,000
Max. Loan Amount $5,000,000
APR 5% to 35%
Interest Rate Type Fixed
Min. Credit Score 500
Minimum Loan Term 6 months
Maximum Loan Term 60 months
Turnaround Time As soon as 3 business days
Pros
  • Low starting APR of 5%
  • Open to business owners with bad credit
  • Works with businesses in high-risk industries
Cons
  • High annual revenue requirement of $150K
  • Potential weekly repayments
  • Not transparent about fees

Best for starting a new business: Guidant Financial

690
Min. Credit Score
12%
Starting APR
$150,000
Loan Amount
Guidant Financial is one of the few lenders that offers a line of credit for businesses that haven’t opened their doors yet. To qualify, you’ll need good credit, minimal inquiries and a credit utilization ratio under 50%. It even offers a 0% introductory rate for well-qualified applicants. After that, interest rates range from 12% to 18% — lower than typical business credit cards. But it comes with a high 9% origination fee. And it’s not the fastest option out there — it can take up to a month to fund your LOC.
Min. Loan Amount $10,000
Max. Loan Amount $150,000
Interest Rate Type Fixed
Min. Credit Score 690
Pros
  • Businesses in the planning stage OK
  • Interest-free promotional period
  • Lower rates than typical business credit cards
Cons
  • Origination fee of 9%
  • Personal credit score of 690+ required
  • Can take 3 to 4 weeks to fund your LOC

Best for finding a low rate: Sunwise Capital

500
Min. Credit Score
5.49%
Starting APR
$2,000,000
Loan Amount
Sunwise Capital has a Best Rate Guarantee on top of its already competitive rates that start at 5.49%. If you’re looking for minimal paperwork and quick turnaround, Sunwise may be a good option. Just be sure your business is at least a year old and meets the high $150,000 annual revenue requirement.
Min. Loan Amount $10,000
Max. Loan Amount $2,000,000
Interest Rate Type Fixed
Min. Credit Score 500
Pros
  • Best rate guarantee
  • Bad personal credit accepted
  • Get funds in just one business day
Cons
  • High annual revenue requirement of $150K+
  • Potential daily or weekly repayments

Best for online startups: US Business Funding

Not stated
Min. Credit Score
3.5%
Starting APR
$2,000,000
Loan Amount
Older startups that work solely online can take advantage of US Business Funding’s low starting rates of just 3.5% and flexible loan terms between three months and 10 years. And it’s fast — you might be able to get your funds in just two business days. But to qualify, you’ll need to be operating out of the same office for at least a year.
Min. Loan Amount $10,000
Max. Loan Amount $2,000,000
Interest Rate Type Fixed
Minimum Loan Term 3 months
Maximum Loan Term 120 months
Pros
  • Flexible loan terms available
  • Extremely low starting APR of 3.5%
  • Get funds in just 2 to 3 business days
Cons
  • Only available to internet-based businesses
  • Must be operating out of the same office for at least a year

Best for using your retirement funds: My Solo 401k Financial

None
Min. Credit Score
$4,000
Setup Fee
$899+
Annual Fee
If you have retirement savings, you can use your funds to open or fund your business. Its setup fees are about $1,000 lower than the rest of the competition. And you’ll get help setting up your business and responding to audits from the IRS or Department of Labor. But if you plan on adding additional employees, the $75 annual fee per person can add up quickly for businesses just starting out.
Setup Fee $4,000
Annual Fee $899+
Maximum Loan Amount Up to 100% of your 401(k)
Pros
  • Free legal and compliance assistance
  • No minimum time-in-business requirement
Cons
  • Must establish a C corporation
  • High fees for large companies

Best for microloans: Kiva

None
Min. Credit Score
0%
Starting APR
$15,000
Loan Amount
Kiva is a microlender that specializes in small-dollar financing for underserved business owners. Its crowdfunded loans come with 0% interest, making it one of the most competitive options on this list. It’s willing to work with entrepreneurs of all credit types. And you don’t necessarily need to be a US citizen or permanent resident to qualify. However, it can take over a month to raise funds – think twice about this lender if you need cash fast.

UPDATE: In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Kiva has announced it will loosen its eligibility requirements and extend its maximum loan amount by $5,000 — to a total of $15,000. Additionally, borrowers can request a six-month grace period before payments are due.
Min. Loan Amount $25
Max. Loan Amount $15,000
APR 0%
Interest Rate Type N/A
Minimum Loan Term 1 months
Maximum Loan Term 3 months
Pros
  • No interest or fees
  • All credit types welcome
  • No residency requirements
Cons
  • Relies on your social network for crowdfunding
  • Can take up to 45 days to raise funds

Best for startups in high-risk industries: Diamond Business Loans

680
Min. Credit Score
5.9%
Starting APR
$150,000
Loan Amount
Diamond Business Loans is a California-based lender that works with startups in industries other lenders might turn away — including cannabis. It also has some of the most competitive rates you’ll find for new businesses, ranging from 5.9% to 19.99%. But you’ll need to have a personal credit score of at least 680 and no late payments or bankruptcies on your credit report to qualify. And it can take one to two weeks to receive your funds.
Min. Loan Amount $25,000
Max. Loan Amount $150,000
APR 5.9%-19.99%
Interest Rate Type Fixed
Min. Credit Score 680
Minimum Loan Term 12 months
Maximum Loan Term 60 months
Pros
  • Low starting APR of 5.9%
  • Cannabis and high-risk industries accepted
  • Line of credit available
Cons
  • 10% origination fee
  • Can take up to 2 weeks to get funds

Best for SBA loans for startups: Seek Business Capital

680
Min. Credit Score
Varies
Starting APR
$500,000
Loan Amount
As a business loan connection and consulting service, Seek Business Capital specializes in connecting startups with funding — including Small Business Administration (SBA) loans. It’s not for businesses that haven’t opened their doors yet, though. You’ll need to be up and running for at least six months and meet strict criteria to qualify for government-backed funding. But it comes with some of the lowest rates out there for startup financing.
Min. Loan Amount $5,000
Max. Loan Amount $500,000
APR Varies by lender
Interest Rate Type Fixed
Min. Credit Score 680
Pros
  • Borrow up to $350,000
  • Open to businesses just 6 months old
Cons
  • Only works with SBA Express Loans
  • Takes 3 to 6 months to get funds

How does a startup loan work?

Startup loans work like almost any other business loan. Your business borrows money then repays it plus interest and fees over a set period of time. And while applying for a business startup loan does not take much time, it can take up to a month or more for the lender to process your application and disburse approved funds. The amount you receive may vary based on the type of loan you apply for as well as on the industry you’re in, and terms can last anywhere from a few months to multiple years.

What sets startup loans apart is the eligibility criteria and application process. Since your business isn’t off the ground and hasn’t generated much revenue yet, your lender won’t have much to go by other than your personal credit and business plan. Both of these need to be strong to qualify for most startup loans. Most lenders also have minimum monthly revenue requirements as well as business age requirements your business will need to meet before it qualifies.

11 ways to finance a startup

A business loan isn’t the only to cover the costs of your new business — it might not even be the best option. Before you take out a loan, consider your choices to find the right combination of funding.

1. Unsecured business loans

An unsecured business loan doesn’t require any collateral. These can be hard to come by if you haven’t opened your business yet, and it can be expensive since lenders tend to see startups as a risk. However, they have a number of benefits: You won’t risk losing any of your business’s assets if things don’t work out and can’t pay back the loan. But you could still lose some of your personal assets if it requires a personal guarantee.

2. Secured business loans

A secured business loan is backed by some of your business or personal assets as collateral. They can be easier to come by as a startup since the collateral offsets the risk for the lender. They also tend to have more favorable rates and terms than unsecured business loans. But you risk losing your collateral if you or your business isn’t able to repay the loan.

Compare secured and unsecured business loans

3. SBA loans

These government-backed loans come with some of the most competitive rates and terms out there. While not all programs are available to startups, your business might be able to qualify for a microloan or other small loan, which typically run up to $350,000. But they’re not always easy to get — only 54% of SBA loan applicants were approved in 2016, according to a Federal Reserve survey. You should also be prepared to spend at least a month working on the application and even longer waiting for an approval decision.

4. Microloans

Microloans are small-dollar financing available to all types of businesses, including startups. They are designed to help you cover the little things when you’re just getting on your feet — like buying office supplies or stocking up on your first set of inventory. Microloans typically start around $500 and come with shorter terms than your typical unsecured loan, but they may also have higher rates.

5. Personal loans

If you have strong personal credit and a steady source money coming in, personal loans could be a better deal than a business loan when you want to start a business. Your lack of experience won’t hurt your application, and many states don’t allow lenders to charge more than 36% APR. However, personal loans rarely go above $100,000 or come with terms longer than seven years, so it might not be able to cover all of your startup costs.

6. Equity investments

One of the more common ways to fund a startup is to take on investors in exchange for equity, or partial ownership of the company. Typically, small businesses can get an equity investment through a venture capital firm or an angel investor. There’s no limit to how much money you can raise through this method. And while you won’t have to pay back any of the money you receive from an investor, you could lose partial control of your company.

7. Crowdfunding

Entrepreneurs that have an pitchable idea might want to look into equity or rewards-based crowdfunding. With equity crowdfunding, your company starts an online campaign to receive funding from multiple investors in exchange for partial ownership. With rewards-based crowdfunding, your business offers prizes in exchange for donations. Like a personal loan, crowdfunding might not cover all of your startup costs, but could be great for funding a project.

8. Business grants

Startups with a mission — especially nonprofits — might want to look into business grants to get off the ground. Like an investment, you don’t have to repay a grant. However, they can be highly competitive and require a lot of work. They also typically don’t get much higher than around $15,000, so it will likely need to be supplmented by other funding methods.

9. Credit cards

A credit card can be a great way to cover smaller expenses and manage your company’s spending since multiple people can have cards from the same account. Some of the top startup-friendly business credit cards have a 0% APR promotional period, making it a viable option for businesses that expect to be able to pay off what they spend within the first year. Other types of business credit cards offer rewards on office supplies, Internet and other costs you might incur during growth.

10. Rollover for business startups (ROBS)

If you’re willing to borrow from your retirement plan, a ROBS might be a worthwhile investment for your startup. It involves taking advantage of a tax loophole that allows your business to access these funds without paying a penalty if it’s the right type of corporation.

You need to have at least $50,000 in your retirement account to qualify and could face heavy fines, so many business owners opt to hire a third party to handle the complicated details. But if it works, you won’t have to pay any interest, early withdrawal fees or lose equity in your company.

11. Friend and family loans

Borrowing from your friends and family is sometimes the easiest way to get a good deal on startup funding — and there’s a chance you might not have to pay interest or sell any equity. Want to make it official? Use a service like LoanWell to whip together a legally binding contract with interest fees and late penalties.

Do banks lend to startups?

The answer is generally no unless you’re taking out a personal loan. Banks tend to have stricter eligibility requirements than other types of businesses lenders. In fact, many won’t work with businesses less than two years old.

However, you might be able to get startup funding through a local bank that’s classified as a community development financial institution (CDFI). These nonprofit lenders have the mission of supporting the local economy in your area and might be willing to overlook your business’s lack of experience.

What are the differences between debt finance and equity finance?

There are three main types of funding: Debt, equity or internal funds. Debt involves borrowing money from a business lender, equity finance is provided by an owner or investor, and internal funds are derived from cash flow or profits.

In a business’s early stages, internal funds can be harder to come by. This leaves you with a choice between debt and equity finance.

FeaturesDebt financeEquity finance
Where to find it
  • Banks
  • Credit unions
  • Online lenders
  • Angel investors
  • Family and friends
  • Business partners
  • Crowdfunding
How much you can borrowBusiness loans usually range from $1,000 to $5,000,000.It could be hundreds or millions of dollars, depending on the source.
How it’s repaidYou make regular payments to repay the debt. Terms differ depending on the lender.It isn’t repaid, but the financiers may then own a part of the business or take part in decision-making.
Pros
  • You stay in control of your business
  • Some business lenders have flexible eligibility criteria
  • There’s a range of loan types available
  • Funding can be quick depending on the turnaround time
  • No collateral is required
  • You’re not required to repay the funds
  • Investors can provide strategic guidance for the business
  • No exposure to interest rate changes
Cons
  • You may be required to provide collateral as security
  • There may be restrictions on the fund use
  • Your profits need to be used to repay the debt
  • Finding equity finance is usually a slow process
  • You usually give up some control of your business or the business decision-making power
  • The funds can come with restrictions on usage
  • There may be conflicts with investors on which direction to take the business

What will a startup loan cost?

Business lenders charge a variety of different rates and fees for their loans.

  • Upfront costs. Lenders may charge an establishment fee or application fee when you borrow a loan. This is typically added onto your loan amount when you receive your loan funds.
  • Ongoing costs. You may have to pay daily, monthly or annual fees to service the loan. Other costs may include direct debit fees, transaction fees or line fees.
  • One-off costs. These can include early repayment fees, document fees, amendment fees and other costs associated with managing a business loan.

How do I find the right loan for my startup?

The best way to find a match for your new business is to shop around. Consider the following features when you’re comparing business startup loans:

  • Loan amount. You’ll need to have a clear idea of the amount your startup needs to avoid borrowing too much or too little.
  • Interest rate. Even a seemingly small difference in percentage can have a big effect on how much you end up paying as interest, especially if you borrow a large sum over a considerable period of time. Compare loans by APR to get a clear picture of the potential costs.
  • Eligibility criteria. Not all lenders have the same eligibility requirements. Make sure that you and your business meet the lender’s requirements before you apply.
  • Turnaround time. Startup loans typically take longer to process than consumer loans, with some lenders taking up to a month or even more. If you need money in a hurry, consider other forms of credit, such as a personal loan.
  • Collateral. Many startup loans require you to provide some form of collateral. This can be through equity in your home or in the equipment or vehicles you own as part of your business. You can even get a business loan to purchase new equipment where the equipment itself acts as collateral.
  • Repayment terms. While it’s easy to compare rates, the competitiveness of a business loan comes down to how much you pay each month. Work out your ongoing repayments to see if the loan is competitive and whether your business can manage the repayments.
  • Repayment flexibility. Can you make extra repayments? Are you able to repay early? Find out just how flexible this loan will be.

3 questions to ask before deciding on a lender

  1. What does my business need the funds for? Are you planning to buy a fixed-price item like equipment, a vehicle or floor space? Or will the cost be variable, such as production supplies or to assist with cash flow? The way you want to use a loan will help guide which option is right for your business.
  2. How will the loan be repaid? Can your business afford the monthly payment? What if the loan’s terms include weekly or daily repayments? Have a plan for repaying the loan and make sure it doesn’t affect your cash flow too much.
  3. Is taking out a loan the right decision for my business? Extra money is always useful, but is your business in a position to be borrowing right now? Will the loan help your business expand or hinder it by having repayments eat into your profits?

Does my business qualify for a startup loan?

Eligibility requirements tend to vary from lender to lender. However, most focus on the entrepreneur’s history of paying off personal debt rather than the business itself. Typically, you must have:

  • Good credit. Many business startup loan providers ask for a 680 credit score or higher.
  • No recent bankruptcies. In addition to looking at your credit score, startup lenders typically also look at your credit report. Bankruptcies stay on your report for seven years.
  • No recent delinquencies. If you’ve been late paying off debt, that could also hurt your chances of getting a startup loan.
  • A strong business plan. Since your business doesn’t have a track record to back itself up, your business plan is often the only place where you get to make a case for yourself.

Compare secured and unsecured business loans

How to apply for a startup loan

Once you know how much you need to borrow and have compared lenders, you’re ready to apply. To speed up the application process, ask your lender what documents and information you’ll need before you apply. Many ask to see financial projections, a business plan and your credit report.

Next, follow your lender’s instructions to complete the application. Most have online applications, but you may also need to speak with a loan specialist first to make sure your business is a good fit. Once you’ve spoken with someone and confirm you and your business are eligible, follow the instructions on the application. And if you run into any trouble, don’t be afraid to reach out to customer service for help.

Not quite a startup? Compare other business loan options

Updated April 10th, 2020
Name Product Filter Values Min. Amount Max. Amount Requirements
BlueVine
$5,000
$5,000,000
6+ months in business, $10,000 in monthly revenue, 600+ personal credit score.
Get approved for a business loan in as little as 5 minutes. Applications won't affect your credit score.
Lendio
$500
$5,000,000
Operate a business in the US or Canada, have a business bank account and have a personal credit score of 675+.
Submit one simple application to potentially get offers from a network of over 75 legit business lenders.
Seek Business Capital
$5,000
$500,000
Personal credit of 680+, no bankruptcies in the last 4 years.
Startups and newer businesses could qualify for loans and credit cards with a custom financing package.
Become Business Loan Marketplace
$5,000
$500,000
12+ months in business and $10,000+ monthly revenue
Compare loan offers from top lenders using this marketplace. It’s free & won’t affect your credit.
loading

Compare up to 4 providers

Bottom line

Funding your startup can help increase profits, but it can be risky and expensive. Steer clear of startup loans until you have a well-thought-out business plan in place — even the best ideas require careful implementation. And remember that there are plenty of options at every stage of the business process, so read our guide to business loans for an overview of how funding your startup works.

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4 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    FaratziAugust 1, 2017

    How much i can borrow from a private lender… until what amount he can give me… with my house property as a collateral…. and where i can find private lenders that give big amounts of money for bussiness and for buying my instruments, an amount of 1.000.000 million….. with my house property as a collateral?? I want to find a real one because there are a lot of frauds… I am waiting for your urgent response… Thank you!

    • Default Gravatar
      DanielleAugust 2, 2017

      Hi Faratzi,

      Thank you for contacting finder. We are a comparison website and general information service, we’re more than happy to offer general advice.

      The answers would depend on the lender that you are going to choose. You may refer to this page for options that may suit your needs. You may review and compare the offers available on the table. Once you have selected one, you may proceed by clicking the green “Go to Site” button.

      I hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Danielle

  2. Default Gravatar
    LaurelJuly 13, 2017

    Currently I am on employed but intend to start my own online business as an affiliate marketer through a well established training program called Aspire. I have absolutely no personal funds to use to pay for their training program which costs $2000. Although they cannot guarantee instant income, their average affiliates start making $8000 per month in the first 90 days. Also, my credit rating is approximately 560 right now. Where can I possibly get a $2-3,000 start up business loan to start my business?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      HaroldJuly 16, 2017Staff

      Hi Laurel,

      Thank you for your inquiry.

      Many business lenders require that your business has been established for at least six months and that it’s meeting certain revenue minimums. There are some lenders who may consider your business plan and personal credit profile in lieu of business experience to evaluate your loan application and asses risks. Learn more about startup loans to see how you can get a business loan in the early stages. You could also get a personal loan to start a new business.

      I hope this information has helped.

      Cheers,
      Harold

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