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Florida Small Business Loans

Small business loans, along with additional state-backed measures, are designed to drive the local economic development and community health. In this article, we are 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 are in the form of tax relief, as opposed to loans. However, according to the latest figures, the average size of a small business loan in the Sunshine State is $78,784.

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

TD Bank

Commercial lender

$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 

The Microfinance Guarantee Program is a Florida-state program run by Enterprise Florida, Inc. (E.F.I.). While E.F.I. doesn’t provide funding directly, it offers guarantees for loans issued by third-party lenders to eligible small businesses. By doing so, it helps to improve the creditworthiness of the applicant.

The basic requirements to qualify for this form of support include:

  • The company’s revenue for the last two years is below $1.5 million.
  • The number of employees does not exceed 25.

The specific lender must still approve your application, but, should you get 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.

There are three possible loan administrators operating under the BBLP. In all cases, the business must be at least 51% owned by a black entrepreneur, but there are some specific differences between all of them:

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. The initiative aims to improve existing small business support and to create new support channels. To complete the task, Florida has received a federal allocation of $97,662,349.

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

The SSBCI support provides 5% to 50% of the loan amount and 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

Even though TD Bank is not specific to the state of Florida, in recent years, it has become one of the top providers of Florida small business loans. As such, the bank is 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

If none of Florida's local small business loan options suits your company’s specific needs (or you don’t meet the eligibility criteria), an online loan can present a viable alternative. There are many funding solutions available nationwide, and below you will find the four top online lenders and service providers to consider for your small business financing.

1. Fundbox - Best for Lines of Credit

Fundbox is an online platform for loans and financial services that offers convenient credit and payment solutions to small businesses. As part of the loan application process with the company, you’re required to connect your firm’s checking account (and, optionally, your accounting software) to their system. This allows the underwriters to quickly extract the information they need to provide you with a fast decision and speedy financing.

If your application is approved, Fundbox will make you an offer, which will remain valid for 30 days. Once the offer is accepted, the funds will be transferred to your account as quickly as the next business day.

Fundbox Characteristics:

  • Loan amount. With Fundbox, you can borrow up to $100,000.
  • Repayment period. Repayments can be based on either a 24- or 52-week plan. 
  • APR. APR at Fundbox ranges from 10.1% to 79.8%, which is higher than traditional banks and some of the other online loan providers.
  • Origination and early repayment fees. 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. Fora Financial - Best for Merchant Cash Advances 

Fora Financial is a reputable fintech company offering short-term small business loans and merchant cash advances to enterprise owners. What sets the company apart from other online lenders is the fact that it doesn’t require collateral, nor does it look at credit scores for application approval. So, if you don’t have sufficient collateral available or your business hasn’t built up the required credit history yet, you are still welcome to apply.

Simply fill out a one-page application form, upload bank statements for the past three months, and wait for approval. Generally, you will receive the answer within 24 hours, and, should you get approved, you can expect to receive the funding within the next 72 hours.

Fora Financial Characteristics

  • Loan amount. The company provides loans between $5,000 and $500,000.
  • Repayment period. The repayment period can range between 4 and 15 months.
  • APR. Fora Financial’s APR can vary depending on the specific financial product.
  • Origination fee. The origination fee is typically up to 2.5%.

3. Ondeck - Best for Commercial Mortgages

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

The online process involves providing basic information about your business, including how long it’s been running for and its annual revenue. Once you provide answers to these questions, you will be referred to one of Ondeck’s partner lenders. In case you have any questions at this stage, you can make use of Ondeck helpline number to receive quick assistance. Following your loan application's approval, funds can be transferred to your account on the same business day.

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

Ondeck Characteristics

  • Loan amount. The maximum loan available through Ondeck is $250,000.
  • Repayment period. The maximum repayment period is 18 months, and there are daily or weekly payment options, offering a little more flexibility.
  • APR. Ondeck’s APR starts at 31%, which is a significantly higher entry point than some of its competitors. 
  • Origination fee. There’s also an origination fee of between 0% and 5%.

4. LendingClub - Best for Debt Consolidation

LendingClub 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.  The company 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, LendingClub assigns a dedicated advisor to each loan applicant.

LendingClub Characteristics: 

  • 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 Financial Resources for Small Businesses in Florida

In addition to loan financing, Florida small business grants are available for certain aspects. The state also operates its own 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

Furthermore, 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 state-based 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 for setting up, running, and growing a company

Final Words

While small business loans for Florida companies can provide valuable support in establishing and growing your company, they are only the first step in your venture’s success. 

In addition to loans from local or online lenders, you can take advantage of the vast array of support initiatives and incentives for small businesses offered by the state. 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 Florida-based small business.