Government agencies generally do not make loans directly to business owners. The government provides a guaranty to banks and lenders for money lent to small businesses. This guaranty is a promise to pay a portion of the loan back to the bank in case a business owner defaults on the loan. A guaranty reduces the lender's risk, which allows the lender to make loans to business owners who do not qualify for traditional loans.
So, the first place to start looking for a loan is with your local commercial bank or lending institution. The lender will have all the forms you'll need to apply for a government-backed loan, and will work with the government on the application process.
You should also look to your state and local government agencies and local non-profits. Some of these organizations make loans directly to businesses, which means you won't need to go through a bank.
There are hundreds of government loans available for small businesses. Each loan program has unique application and eligibility requirements, however, most lenders ask for the same information for you. Before you apply for a loan, you should get some basic documentation together that will go into just about any loan package.
To learn about loan programs for which you might qualify, visit our Loans and Grants Search Tool or these resources:
Search for Loans & Grants to find financing for your small business
Loan programs for women and minority owned businesses are generally provided by non-profits and state agencies. Use the Loans and Grants Search Tool to find information on loan programs for businesses in your area.
Visit the Finance, Money & Taxes Community Forum to get answers to your questions, and discuss financing issues with other small business owners and industry experts.