Starting a business can be the start of pursuing a lifelong dream. But turning a dream into reality requires putting your ideas on paper — especially if you want to secure a small business loan from a lender.

In most cases, lenders will request prospective business owners to present a business loan proposal. This relatively straightforward document informs the lender why you believe your business would be a good investment worthy of a loan. Think of it as a pitch for why you should get the loan and how you plan to repay it.

Key Takeaways

  • A business loan proposal is a streamlined pitch to a lender that explains what you need the loan for and how you would pay it back
  • A good business loan proposal should include financial information about your business, a high-level explanation of how your business operates and a loan repayment plan
  • Business loan proposals are important documents for getting a lender to approve your loan request

Is a business loan proposal different from a business plan?

While a business plan and a business loan proposal may sound similar, they serve different goals. A business plan is more of a guide to your entire business. It takes you through the stages from start-up to operation, lays out how your company will be structured and considers your prospects and how they might affect your plans for the future.

By contrast, a business loan proposal has a simpler purpose: secure funds to start your business. This will typically be a shorter document and includes information most important to the lender, like how you plan to repay the loan in a timely manner.

Why would lenders want a business loan proposal?

Lenders typically want a business loan proposal and a business plan to better understand your business’s financial state and short-term prospects. This allows the lender to understand where your company stands in the market and how likely you are to succeed.

Lenders want to see available cash, projected revenues and other details relevant to your ability to generate profit. Lenders also want to know how much of a risk they are taking by lending you money and the likelihood that their loan will be repaid.

How to write a business loan proposal

A successful business loan proposal should be well-written and thoughtful. You will want to include essential financial documents as attachments in addition to the details about your business.

As for the format of your proposal, there are a few options, but it is best to ask the lender if there’s a preferred format. If the lender doesn’t provide guidance, you can create a document with several sections highlighting essential information for a potential lender.

1. Executive summary

Start by offering the lender information about you and your operation. Provide a brief background on yourself and an overview of your business. You can briefly explain how you want to use the funds, but keep it short as you will provide more details later on.

2. Overview of your business model

The overview should include a short history of operation, legal structure and essential details about operations, including any licensing and your company’s current revenue. You can also include information about the market that you operate in, including industry trends and details about your customer base.

3. Owner investments

Some lenders, like the SBA, require you to exhaust all other financing options before qualifying for a loan. In this section, you should show how much equity you have in your business, what you have invested or any profits. If there are other owners, lenders will also want to see what they’ve invested.

4. Loan request

Here you’ll outline the amount of money you need and how you plan to use it. Explain what you’ll purchase with the funds — like if you plan to use it for fixed assets or working capital — and how you believe it will impact the business. The loan request should also show how you determined the loan amount.

5. Loan repayment plan

The lender will want to know your plan for repaying the loan. Use this section to lay out a repayment schedule based on the loan terms. Make clear what your plan is to ensure payments are made on time and in full and how repaying the loan is likely to affect your overall cash flow. Also, explain how you would pay back the loan in case of a downturn in sales, such as cash reserves. You can include details about pledged collateral here as well.

6. Financial statements

While you’ll want to attach financial statements in full to your business loan proposal, you can provide a brief overview in this section. Provide insight into what your books look like over the last few quarters of operation, including income statements. If your business has any existing liabilities, you can also include those details here.

Additionally, you should include personal financial statements from major stakeholders in the company, usually anyone with 20 percent or more equity. These should be an overview of assets and liabilities and personal net worth for each stakeholder.

7. Income projections

In addition to past statements about your business’s operation, lenders will want to know what to expect from your business in the future. Include your projected income and cash flow statements. Include any details regarding changes you would make to your business if you fall short of projections, and provide at least one year of projections for the lender to consider.

The bottom line

Business loan proposals are important documents for business owners seeking financial support to present to a lender. They provide key details about the business as it currently operates and how a business loan would be used so that a lender can feel secure in providing funding and recouping its investment over time.

Frequently asked questions about business loan proposals

  • A business loan proposal is submitted to lenders when applying for financing. A loan proposal details the amount of funding you’re seeking, how you plan to use it and how you plan to pay it back. It will also provide the lender with information about your business and current financial situation.
  • The difference between a business plan and a business loan proposal is that a business plan seeks to establish details about how a business will be structured and grow over time, while a business loan proposal looks at how the business functions and generates its revenue over a smaller period.
  • To write a business loan proposal, you’ll need to have your personal and business financial information available as well as any other owner’s. From there, you can structure your loan proposal into sections. Each section should highlight important parts of your business and its financial history. You’ll also want to include why you’re requesting funding and how you plan to repay the loan. Business loan proposal templates are also available, which can help you get started.