Getting a small business loan is a major hurdle facing small businesses, mainly due to tight lending standards by banks. But obtaining outside financing is often necessary to start or grow a business or cover day-to-day expenses, including payroll and inventory.

Although finding, applying for and getting approved for small business loans can be difficult, the more prepared you are, the better. Here’s how to get a business loan in five steps:

  1. Pinpoint why you need the money. Ask yourself how this loan will help your business.
  2. Find the right loan. Choose a type of business loan based on your needs.
  3. Find the best lender for you. Compare options based on the cost and terms of each loan.
  4. See if you have what it takes to qualify. Gather information including your credit score and annual revenue.
  5. Get your documents ready and apply. Know what documents lenders will need from you ahead of time.