Starting a small business is expensive. Almost every small business owner faces startup expenses, whether you’re a solopreneur needing a laptop or a construction company purchasing a lot full of heavy machinery. Inventory and equipment must be bought, employees or contractors must be paid, and rent comes due every month.

What’s harder, outside funding is often difficult to access when your company is young, but in need of capital. Startup business loans are a great way to bridge this funding gap—and even if you have a suboptimal credit score, there are forms of financing you can probably still access.

Best startup business loans for bad credit in 2024.*

The following list highlights lenders from our selection of best business loans that offer minimum credit requirements of 650 or below and a minimum time in business requirement of six months or less.*

Lender/Funder* Loan/FInancing Type Minimum Time in Business Minimum Credit Score Time to Funds (After Approval)
ClickLease Equipment Financing Any 520 As soon as same day
Gillman-Bagley Invoice Factoring 3 months N/A As soon as next day
Eagle Business Funding Invoice Factoring None N/A 48 hours
Credibly Business Cash Advance 6 months 550 48 hours
Expansion Capital Group Business Cash Advance 6 months 550 Within 24 hours
Good Funding Business Cash Advance 3 months 575 Same day
Fundbox Line of Credit 6 months 650 Same day

Small business loan options for startups with bad credit.

If you’re starting a business with a lower credit score, there are several loan routes you can take. 

SBA loans

While the SBA 7(a) and SBA 504 loan programs were created for established businesses, the SBA does offer two startup loans.

1. Microloans

The Small Business Administration’s (SBA) microloan program is designed specifically to assist small businesses, start-ups, and nonprofit child care centers. This program offers loans up to $50,000, with the average loan being around $13,000. The funds can be used for various purposes including working capital, inventory, supplies, and machinery or equipment. However, microloans cannot be used to pay off existing debts or purchase real estate.

To qualify for an SBA Microloan, the borrower must meet certain criteria:

  • Credit history – The borrower’s credit history is reviewed. While there isn’t a minimum credit score requirement, a good credit history can improve the chances of approval.
  • Collateral – Depending on the loan amount, the borrower may have to provide collateral to secure the loan.

Remember, the SBA doesn’t provide the loan itself, but instead, it works with approved intermediary lenders to offer these loans.

2. Community Advantage Loans

The Community Advantage (CA) program (now under the SBA 7(a) program) is another offering by the SBA, aimed at promoting economic growth in underserved markets. Community Advantage loans can provide up to $350,000 in funding. These funds can be used for a range of business activities, including startup costs, expansion of an existing business, and working capital.

To qualify for a Community Advantage loan, certain criteria must be met:

  • Credit history – Similar to the SBA Microloan, the borrower’s credit history is assessed. While no specific minimum credit score is set, borrowers with a good credit history typically have a higher chance of approval.
  • Collateral – Depending on the loan amount, collateral might be required to secure the loan. The specifics regarding collateral are determined on a case-by-case basis.
  • Location – The business must be located in an approved underserved market, which typically includes low-to-moderate income areas, Empowerment Zones, and Enterprise Communities.

Remember, as with the SBA Microloan program, the SBA does not provide the loan directly. Instead, it works with approved lenders to provide Community Advantage loans.

Online lenders

In the realm of bad credit business loans, online lenders often emerge as a viable option for startups. These lenders provide a variety of financing options, many of which are designed with lenient credit requirements, specifically catering to business owners with bad credit. While online lenders also offer SBA loans and term loans with more stringent credit requirements, they also offer alternative forms of financing.

Business Lines of Credit

Many online lenders provide business lines of credit that allow businesses to draw funds up to a maximum limit as needed. Similar to a credit card, you only pay interest on the amount you use, making it a flexible financing option.

Invoice Financing

Online lenders often offer invoice financing, allowing businesses to borrow against their outstanding invoices. This can provide immediate cash flow while waiting for customers to pay.

Business Cash Advances

A business cash advance, sometimes called a merchant cash advance, is an upfront sum of cash in exchange for a slice of future sales. This can be a beneficial option for businesses with strong sales but poor credit.

Equipment Financing

Equipment financing is offered in the form of a term loan or equipment lease for the purchase of qualified equipment. Since the equipment serves as partial collateral for the loan, equipment funders often have less stringent credit score requirements.

CDFIs

Community Development Financial Institutions, or CDFIs, are private financial entities that are primarily dedicated to delivering responsible, affordable lending to aid low-income, low-wealth, and other disadvantaged communities. CDFIs play a significant role in generating economic growth and opportunity in some of the nation’s most distressed communities. They can offer an array of financial products and services, including business loans, to help underserved communities join the economic mainstream.

CDFIs are found across the United States, and you can locate one near you by visiting the CDFI Fund’s Award Database. This database provides information about CDFIs that have received financial awards or recognition from the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

In terms of requirements to work with CDFIs to get a business loan, it varies across different institutions. However, typical requirements may include a business plan, financial projections, personal and business credit history, and collateral. Some CDFIs may also require that the business operates in a specific geographic area or serves a particular community. It’s recommended to directly contact a CDFI for their specific lending criteria and application process.

Alternate forms of financing

In addition to a small business loan, there are alternate forms of financing that can be explored if you have a lower credit score.

Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter or Indiegogo allow you to raise capital through small contributions from a large number of people. This form of financing is often used by startups looking to launch new products or services, and it also offers an opportunity to validate your business idea in the market.

Venture capital

Venture capitalists invest in startups with high growth potential in exchange for equity in the company. These investments are high-risk but can provide substantial funds for your business, with the bonus of gaining experienced partners who can offer strategic advice.

Grants

Business grants are sums of money awarded by government departments, foundations, trusts, and corporations to help businesses get started or grow. The great advantage of a grant is that it doesn’t need to be repaid. On the downside, competition can be intense, and the application process can be time-consuming.

Business credit cards

You will need a credit score of at least 650 to qualify for a business credit card, but if you meet that minimum requirement, a business credit card is a great way to bolster your credit even further while covering smaller, short-term expenses.

Personal loan

In some circumstances, you may qualify for a personal loan with a poor credit score. While this may not be the most ideal option, it could provide you with the funds you need to get your business off the ground. Just make sure to carefully consider the terms and interest rates before making a decision.

*Disclaimer:. The information provided is accurate at the time of the initial publishing of the page (February 5, 2024). While Lendio strives to maintain this information to ensure that it is up to date, this information may be different than what you see in other contexts, including when visiting the financial information, a different service provider, or a specific product’s site. All information provided in this page is presented to you without warranty. When evaluating offers, please review the financial institution’s terms and conditions, relevant policies, contractual agreements and other applicable information. Please note that the ranges provided here are not pre-qualified offers and may be greater or less than the ranges provided based on information contained in your business financing application. Lendio may receive compensation from the financial institutions evaluated on this page in the event that you receive business financing through that financial institution.

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