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The Rio Grande Valley is full of ideas, energy, and entrepreneurship. A lot of the time, some of these ideas aren’t realized because of the lack of education in funding options available to budding entrepreneurs.

There are also business owners whose energy and passion fades away because of high startup costs that eat away at their pockets. This causes them to doubt themselves and think twice about their venture. As it is, being a small business owner is stressful and full of risks, but there are resources available to help alleviate the financial risk involved. Enter the Small Business Administration.

I should start off by telling you what the Small Business Administration (SBA) is and what it does. It’s a government agency that helps provide support to small businesses and entrepreneurs in the form of counseling and loans. An SBA loan is a loan offered to small business owners by a local bank or lending institution that have partnered up with the SBA. A certain portion of these loans are backed, or guaranteed by, the SBA in case the borrower defaults on the loan.

SBA Loan vs. Conventional Loan: What’s the Difference?

There’s not much of a difference between a conventional loan and an SBA loan when it comes to credit. Both loans require the borrower to meet certain credit requirements; that’s just the nature of seeking credit. Where they may differ is the flexibility in collateral needed, as well as the length of repayment. In a conventional loan, banks have certain requirements that borrowers must meet (i.e. credit, collateral, cashflow, etc.) before they loan someone money, because if the borrower defaults, the bank loses out. However, with an SBA Loan, these requirements loosen up a bit. Why? Because they are guaranteed not to lose as much money, since the SBA is backing up, or taking on financial responsibility of a certain portion of the loan.

Different Types of Loans

Not all business owners are in the same phase of their business, or in the same industry, so the SBA offers different types of loans. The most basic is the 7(a) Loan Program which borrowers must apply for through a participating lender. This loan is for anyone starting up their business or looking to expand their operation. There are also loans that help small business owners that have been affected in disaster areas; these types of loans help endure losses that businesses attain through things like tornadoes, hurricanes, and floods. Another popular loan is the 504 Loan Program, which is meant to purchase fixed assets, such as buildings, machinery, or renovations for used buildings.

What do I need to apply?

Like any other loan, there is a loan process. The process for SBA loans is much quicker through a preferred lender of the SBA. Some things a preferred lender requires are:

•    Background and Financial Statement
•    Profit & Loss Statement
•    Projected Financial Statements
•    Ownership and Affiliations
•    Business Certificate /License
•    Loan Application History
•    Income Tax Returns
•    Resume
•    Business Overview and History
•    Business Lease

Want to know who can help you with your business venture? Click here to see what the SBA has to offer.

Click here to download the list of SBA Preferred Lenders in the Rio Grande Valley!

Editor’s Note: The above guest column is presented in association with Grindstone Coworking, a shared office community in Edinburg for mobile workers, small businesses, and corporate refugees. The Rio Grande Guardian will be featuring small businesses and entrepreneurs that work out of Grindstone in the coming weeks and months.