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

When you need to finance a business venture, there are several different routes you can take when it comes to funding. Some are riskier than others, and each has its benefits and challenges; you need to know the difference between SBA vs. conventional financing. Being aware of the difference will better inform your funding decisions to get the most out of your loan.

Term limits, interest rates, and loan amounts all play critical roles in the initial success of your business and are something you need to consider when applying for funding. A contract not in your favor can easily decrease the profitability of your company in the long run. Make sure you know all your options before committing to any loan contract and know the differences of conventional and SBA loans.

What Are Conventional Loans?

Conventional loans are the typical financing options for many businesses, as these loans are relatively straightforward in what they offer and their expected payments. Business owners borrow a fixed amount of money to finance their business endeavor; they must pay that back over a fixed amount of time.


Due to the transparency and reliability of conventional funding, business owners don’t have to worry about shifting interest rates or adjustable term limits. From the day you sign the papers to receive your loan to the day you pay them back, the terms of the contract remain the same. This offers a great deal of comfort and security to borrowers, as they know what they need to pay each month to uphold the contract.

Rewarded Consistency

A characteristic essential to conventional loans includes the reward for reliably paying back your loan officer. When you prove that your company can pay back exactly what you need on time, your credit score will go up. This enables business owners to apply for more funding because of their reliable history of paying back what they owe.

Prepayment Penalties

While reliability goes rewarded, there are penalties for paying back your loan too early. This is an issue with many types of conventional loans. Paying back the borrowed amount sooner than the term limit demands can have negative repercussions. Usually, this is in the form of a fine that the business owner needs to pay off, adding to the expense of the loan without any benefit to the company.

Processing Time

One of the challenges a business owner needs to face is the amount of time it takes to process a business loan application. From start to finish, it can take up to several weeks or months to secure the funding you need to establish your business. This often means putting commitments and plans on hold until you receive the necessary financing. This can complicate and strain business relationships that are time sensitive, and something that borrowers must consider along the process.


Rollover Business (ROB) loans are a popular type of conventional loan that provides the borrower with the funds they need. It is a 401k business financing option that allows business owners to tap into their 401k plan without risking collateral or dealing with an insufficient credit score. ROBs are ideal for short-term investment with the potential for long-term success.

What Are SBA Loans?

Small Business Administration (SBA) loans provide business owners with the funds they need to get their company off the ground. The concept of SBA loans is to offer a reliable way for start-ups to receive funding when other avenues of financing fail. This ensures that these businesses do not flounder before they even have a chance to succeed. The federal government operates the Small Business Administration, providing funding from independent banks to finance business owners’ endeavors.

SBA Options

There is not a singular plan for every business; there are several smaller plans based on the needs of the company. These include:

General Small Business Loans

This is the most basic program the SBA offers, offering up to five million dollars to start-ups to cover the costs of all aspects of the business. Expenses can include real estate, salaries, equipment, maintenance, or vehicles.

Disaster Loans

Companies apply for these loans to assist their recovery efforts after a natural disaster and economic injury. These usually cover the costs of damages the property sustains and enables the business to stay afloat when they cannot adequately cover the expenses themselves.


Not every company needs to take out a significantly large loan; sometimes, they only need a relatively minor amount of money to get their business endeavors going. These loans are safer to acquire and don’t have stringent terms due to the lower amount of funds.

Express Loans

When companies need money quickly to cover the costs of unexpected expenses, they can apply for express loans to get funding within 36 hours. These can immediately relieve the business of sudden financial stress without having to worry about losing productivity or capital.

Real Estate/ Equipment Loans

When a business owner has all other factors of the company covered financially, they may only need financing for property or equipment. This is a specialized loan agreement that only covers real estate concerns and tools, providing the company with a smaller loan for the more particular details of the business.

The Interest Rates and Term Limits Of Each

Because every individual loan the SBA offers is so different, there is no uniform contract for each. They all have their own particulars that business owners need to familiarize themselves with. Some, such as express loans, offer shorter limits, while disaster loans can provide lower interest rates.

A Challenge for SBA Funding

SBA loans are a “final option” for business owners when they cannot secure funding from other lenders. To apply for an SBA loan, a company needs to show that it exhausted every other reasonable avenue of funding to receive the necessary financing. This can lead to frustration when a company gets a rejection letter due to other options that are available.

The Greatest Chance Of Success

You always need to consider every option available to you when deciding on funding; this is the stage where you can make or break your endeavors. You can limit your profitability with high interest rates or set yourself up for success by negotiating better contracts. Shop around for different deals, compare the pros and cons of each, and only commit to something that benefits you and your fledgling company.

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