How Does the SBA Define a Small Business?
Due to its mission, the SBA only guarantees loans to small businesses— but what is a “small business”? Well, according to the SBA , a small businesses have a maximum of anywhere between 250 and 1500 employees— all depending on the specific industry the business is in. Additionally, businesses have
Apply for a loan in minutes and get multiple quotes today → Get Quotes
Due to its mission, the SBA only guarantees loans to small businesses— but what is a “small business”? Well, according to the SBA, a small businesses have a maximum of anywhere between 250 and 1500 employees— all depending on the specific industry the business is in. Additionally, businesses have revenue limits that they must not exceed if they want to qualify for SBA financing. In general, companies with more than 1500 employees are not eligible for SBA loans.
Sample SBA Size Limits for Specific Industries
Below, we’ve provided the SBA’s size limits for a few major industries:
Finance and Insurance: No more than 1,500 employees, and no more than $32.5 million to $38.5 million in average annual receipts.
Construction: No more than $36.5 million in average annual receipts.
Retail Businesses: Depending on the exact niche, businesses may be limited by $7.5 million in average annual receipts, while other types of retail businesses are limited by 100 to 500 employee maximums.
Scientific, Professional, and Technical Services: No more than $7.5 million to $20.5 million in average annual receipts, or a maximum of 1,000 to 1,500 employees.
Manufacturing: Between 500 to 1,500 maximum employees, depending on specific sub-industry.
Health Care/Social Assistance: No more than, $7.5 million to $38.5 million in average annual receipts, depending on specific sub-industry.
Information: 500 to 1,500 maximum employees and maximum $7.5 million to $38.5 million, depending on the specific sub-industry/niche.
It’s important to keep in mind that the SBA has specific size standards for hundreds of industry niches, which can all be found on the SBA’s table of size standards. For example, in the manufacturing industry, chocolate production has a maximum employee limit of 1,250, while dog and cat food production has a maximum employee limit of 1,000. In comparison, roasted nut and peanut butter manufacturing has a maximum cap of only 750— so it pays to know the exact limits for the business you’re in.
What is the Small Business Administration's definition of a small business?
The Small Business Administration (SBA) defines a small business as one that is independently owned and operated, is organized for profit, and is not dominant in its field. The SBA also considers the size of the business in terms of its number of employees and/or its annual receipts. The size standards vary by industry and can be found on the SBA's website here.
What criteria does the SBA use to determine if a business is small?
The SBA uses criteria such as average annual receipts over the past three years (per IRS), number of employees, tangible net worth, average net income after taxes for the past two years, and whether the size of the applicant’s business (and its affiliates) meets the size standard for the applicant’s industry to determine if a business is small. You can find more information about size requirements for specific industries here.
What are the benefits of being classified as a small business?
Small businesses are eligible for a variety of benefits, including access to capital, entrepreneurial development, government contracting, and advocacy. The Small Business Administration (SBA) offers a wide range of loan programs and funding options, such as the 7(a) program and SBA Express loans, to help small businesses access capital. The SBA 504 loan is also available and offers important advantages and benefits for small business owners in need of financing for specific purposes.
For more information on the SBA and its loan programs, please visit https://www.sba.gov/about-sba/what-we-do.
If you would like to learn more about SBA loans and get a free SBA loan quote, please fill out the form at https://www.sba504.loans/sba-504-blog/what-is-the-small-business-administration.
What are the different types of SBA loans available to small businesses?
The Small Business Administration (SBA) offers several loan programs to meet the unique needs of small businesses. The most popular SBA loan is the SBA 7(a) loan, which is a general purpose loan that can be used for a variety of business needs. Other SBA loan programs include the SBA 504 loan, which is used for the purchase of real estate and equipment, and the SBA Microloan program, which provides small loans of up to $50,000 to start-up businesses.
The following table provides a comparison of the different types of SBA loans available:
Loan Program Purpose Maximum Loan Amount SBA 7(a) Loan General purpose loan for a variety of business needs $5 million SBA 504 Loan Purchase of real estate and equipment $5 million SBA Microloan Small loans of up to $50,000 for start-up businesses $50,000
What are the requirements for a small business to qualify for an SBA loan?
In order to qualify for an SBA loan, a small business must meet the general eligibility requirements for SBA loans, such as being in an approved industry (i.e. no gambling, lending, real estate investment, or speculation-based businesses allowed) and being a for-profit company based in the U.S.
In addition to the eligibility requirements, there are a few additional qualities which can increase your likelihood of SBA 7(a) loan approval:
- A good credit score - preferably above 680.
- A history free from recent bankruptcies, foreclosures, or tax liens.
- Having been in business for at least two years.
- The ability to provide collateral for loan requests over $25,000.
- The ability to make a down payment of 10% if your intended use of funds is to purchase a business, commercial real estate, or business-related equipment.
- Sufficient cash flow to meet your debt obligations.
- Sufficient working capital (once you subtract liabilities from assets).
- “Good character” according to the SBA (partially decided based on your track record of managing your resources and day-to-day business affairs).