florida

Florida Small Business Loans

Small business loans, along with additional Florida state-backed measures, are designed to drive the local economy and community's health. In this article, we’re going to shed some light on how to get the support you need for your Florida-based small business.

At a glance According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), there are approximately 2.5 million small businesses in Florida, accounting for 99.8% of all state businesses. Most small business support systems offered by the state take the form of tax relief, rather than financial loans. However, according to the latest figures, the average small business loan in Florida is $78,784. The state offers four main loan programs. Let's take a closer look.

Quick Overview of Florida Small Business Loans

Program

Administrator

Minimum Loan

Maximum Loan

Repayment Period

Special Conditions

Microfinance Guarantee 

Enterprise Florida

$50,000

$250,000

3 years

25 or fewer employees

BBLP

Various

$2,500

$100,000

5 years

Varying domiciliary rules

SSBCI

Individual lenders

$250,000

$5 million

5 years

Only for new financing

Commercial lender

TD Bank

$10,000

$1 million

5 years

One-time financing

Top 4 Florida Small Business Loan Options Explained

We’ve rounded up four of the best options for Florida small business loans.  At the end of the section, you’ll find a convenient table summarizing these options. 

1. Microfinance Guarantee Program 

This is a Florida state program that’s run by Enterprise Florida, Inc. (E.F.I.) E.F.I. doesn’t directly provide funding. Instead, it provides guarantees for loans offered by third-party lenders to eligible small businesses. This helps to improve the creditworthiness of the applicant.

The basic requirements to qualify for this support are that your company’s revenue for the last two years was less than $1.5 million, and it has 25 or fewer employees. The specific lender must still approve you, but if you are approved, Enterprise Florida will guarantee up to 50% of the loan amount.

The minimum loan amount is $50,000, and the maximum loan amount that can be guaranteed under the program is $250,000. The maximum repayment period is three years.

2. Florida Black Business Loan Program (BBLP)

An initiative of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (D.E.O.), the Florida Black Business Loan program is run by loan administrators that are certified for each fiscal year.

The purpose of the program is to remove obstacles preventing black-owned businesses from otherwise competing successfully.

In all cases, the business must be at least 51% owned by a black entrepreneur. There are some differences between them, which we’ve outlined below.

Florida A&M University Federal Credit Union

  • Provides state-wide servicing

Miami Bayside Foundation

  • Only for businesses based in Miami-Dade County
  • Special conditions for start-ups (firms less than one year old), where the business owner must provide a cash amount equal to 20% of the loan amount.

Community Fund of North Miami Dade

  • Business must be domiciled in Miami-Dade, Broward, or Palm Beach Counties
  • The owners of businesses that have been operating for less than 12 months must provide 20% capital. If the company has been running for over a year, that proportion is 10%.

Loan amounts across the three administrators range from $2,500 to $100,000, with repayment periods up to 5 years.

3. Florida SSBCI Loan Participation

The State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) is a federal scheme created as part of the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010. It aims to improve existing small business support and to create new support channels. To that end, Florida received a federal allocation of $97,662,349.

The state supports small businesses by providing loans or loan participation to third-party lenders. This support means firms that would have ordinarily been considered uncreditworthy become less of a risk to the lender.

The proportion of the loan that the SSBCI supports ranges from 5% to 50% of the loan amount. The regulations clearly state that this support is only available for new financing, not for refinancing existing credit.

Typical loan amounts range from $250,000 to $5 million, with repayment periods of up to five years.

4. TD Bank

Although TD Bank is not specific to Florida, in recent years, it’s been one of the top providers of Florida small business loans, so it’s worth considering as a commercial option if none of the state-supported programs is suitable for your company. 

The latest annual update shows that TD Bank is still the top SBA lender to small businesses in Florida, having granted 280 loans, at an average of $189,855 per loan.

Top Online Florida Small Business Loan Options

Because Florida state only offers four options for small business loans, it’s possible that none of those options will suit your company’s specific requirements.

One of the many tax relief tools available may be a good alternative, but what if none of those is a good fit either? Where do you turn?

An online loan could be the answer. There are many nationally available options, and we’ve selected four of the best to give you a good start in choosing the best one for your business. Read on to learn more about them.

1. Fundbox

As part of the loan application process with Fundbox, you’re required to connect your firm’s checking account (and, optionally, your accounting software) to their system. This allows them to quickly get the information they need to provide a fast decision. 

If your application is approved, they make you an offer which is valid for 30 days. Once you accept the offer, funds can be transferred as quickly as the next business day.

Up to $100,000 can be borrowed, with repayments based on either a 24 or 52-week plan.

APR at Fundbox ranges from 10.1% to 79.8%, which is higher than traditional banks and some of the other online loan providers. There’s no origination fee and no early repayment fees. You won’t be punished if your business is successful enough to pay off the loan early.

2. Ondeck

Ondeck offers a wide variety of secured and unsecured loans, including options for specific industries, as well as SBA loans.

The online process involves providing basic information about your business: how long it’s been running and its annual revenue. Once you’ve answered these questions, you’re referred to one of their partner lenders. They also provide an Ondeck helpline number in case you have any questions at this stage.

Although creditors and lenders are not legally obliged to report anything to credit agencies, Ondeck does. So, this is a great way to start building (or improving) your credit rating – especially for a new business with little or no credit history.

Following your loan application's approval, funds can be transferred on the same business day.

The maximum loan available through Ondeck is $250,000 and the maximum repayment period is 18 months. There are daily or weekly payment options, offering a little more flexibility.

Ondeck’s APR starts at 31%, which is a significantly higher entry point than some of their competitors. There’s also an origination fee of between 0% and 5%.

3. Lending Club

Lending Club believes that the success of small businesses is fundamental to the well-being and development of the local community, so it has a quite different approach from most other online lenders. 

It focuses on small business owners that are disproportionately refused loans from mainstream lenders. Specifically, they reach out to small businesses owned by women and minorities.

They do this by establishing relationships with community partners such as black or Hispanic Chambers of Commerce and other minority organizations. They also cater to firms in industries that are generally considered high-risk. 

With the same ‘hands-on’ ethos, Lending Club assigns a dedicated advisor to each loan applicant.

Loans are available up to $500,000 with repayment periods up to 5 years.

Lending Club’s APR ranges from 5.99% to 35.89%. There’s also an origination fee of between 1% and 6% to account for.

Additional Florida Small Business Financial Resources

In Florida, small business grants are available for certain aspects, and the state operates a Venture Capital Program. This program can be accessed in one of two forms:

  • A venture capital fund run by the state that invests directly in businesses
  • A fund of funds that that invests in venture capital funds, which in turn invest in businesses

Indirect financial support comes from a large number of state tax relief measures that are available to Florida-based companies.

According to Enterprise Florida, a public-private partnership for stimulating business growth in the state, there are 20 categories of sales and use tax exemptions available to businesses.

Other Resources for Florida Small Businesses

While direct financial support for small businesses is relatively limited, the state is extremely active in supporting and promoting firms that are based in the state. These activities include:

  • Engaging with educational establishments to create relevant courses
  • Providing training to business owners and their workforces
  • Rural business development
  • International promotion of Florida’s businesses through international fairs
  • Provision of their Research & Data Center, which is useful in setting up, running, and growing a company

How to Prepare for a Florida Small Business Loan

Small business loan requirements in Florida are county-specific, but there are steps you can take to prepare, which will help with the application process. 

  • Register your business in Florida
  • Establish or improve your firm’s credit score by taking small loans and paying them back promptly
  • Reach out to state support programs to see what you do and don’t need to cover in any loan amount
  • Have your personal and business tax returns available. Lenders usually want to see the last three years’ worth
  • Prepare your company’s financial statement, including the profit & loss statement, cash flow statement, and balance sheet

The Bottom Line

Florida small business loans are only the first step in your company’s success. The state has a vast array of support initiatives and incentives for small businesses.

Even if you operate in an industry that’s unattractive to major lenders, or you belong to a demographic that usually struggles to acquire loans, it’s still possible to get the financing you need for your small business.

Whether it’s a state-backed loan or a nationally available loan, there are options that can help get your business off the ground. You should also consider online lenders, which can be more expensive but can also provide easier access to loans.