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Top SBA Lenders: Find the Best SBA Loans for Your Business

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

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Starting a new company or growing an existing business costs money, and you’ll probably need to borrow funds to help you along the way. Loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) are among the most popular and desirable financing options for small business owners. SBA loans typically have competitive terms and interest rates, and businesses that do not qualify for traditional business loans may be approved for SBA loans. Because these loans are in high demand, the application process can be strenuous. Before you get started on an application, we’ll help you understand the top loan options from the SBA and where to find them.

What is the SBA?

The SBA was created in 1953 to protect the interests of small-business owners and help them start and grow their entities. The SBA serves business owners in the U.S., Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam.

The SBA provides resources to guide new entrepreneurs through each step of launching a business, from making a plan to registering their businesses and managing day-to-day operations. The SBA has several funding programs to assist small-business owners in need of capital. These programs offer business loans, investment capital, disaster assistance, surety bonds and grants.

Rather than lending money directly, the SBA works with lending partners to issue loans to small businesses. These partners could include banks, community development organizations and microlending institutions. The SBA guarantees loans and reduces the risk for lenders, which makes it easier for small-business owners to be approved for financing.

To be eligible for an SBA loan, you must operate a for-profit business in the U.S. or its territories and you must have invested your own time or money into the business. The SBA also considers your business purpose, location, size, ability to repay and your personal character. You must have exhausted all other financing options before applying for SBA loans.

3 types of SBA loan programs

Three SBA programs are the 7(a) loan program, the 504 loan program and the microloan program. These loans range from small to large and can be used for a variety of business purposes. The SBA also offers export assistance loans, short-term and working capital loans. An SBA-approved lender can make sure you apply for the right loan for your business needs.

SBA loan programs at a glance

SBA Loan TypeLoan AmountTermInterest RatesFeesBest For
7(a) loanUp to $5 millionUp to 25 yearsMaximum of 12.81% for fixed-rate loans; maximum of the prime rate* plus 4.75% for variable-rate loansGuarantee fee of 0.25% to 3.75% of loan amountStartup costs, business expansion or machinery, furniture or supply purchases
504 loanUp to $5.5 million10 to 25 yearsFixed rate determined when loan is issued, though typically lower than 7(a) ratesAbout 5% of loan amount in feesReal estate or equipment purchases
MicroloanUp to $50,0006 years6.5%-9%; the average in fiscal year 2017 was 7.5%No guarantee fee, but borrowers may be charged application and origination fees up to 2% of the loanLow-income, minority, veteran and women entrepreneurs 

* Prime rate based on the current market interest rate.

7(a) loan program

The SBA’s most popular program is the 7(a) loan program. For small-business owners, 7(a) loans can cover the purchase of new property, machinery, furniture or supplies. You could also use a 7(a) loan to pay for startup costs or refinance existing debt. Before applying for a 7(a), you must be able to prove you have used all other sources of capital, including your personal assets.

The 7(a) loan program offers lower down payments and more flexibility than other financing options. Most 7(a) loans require monthly payments of combined principal and interest. Fixed-rate 7(a) loans would require the same payment each month because the interest rate would remain constant. Variable-rate 7(a) loans would require a different payment amount each month as the interest rate changes.

504/CDC loan program

The SBA’s 504 loan, also called a Certified Development Company loan, helps small-business owners expand through real estate and equipment purchases. You could use loan funds to buy land, existing buildings, long-term machinery or new facilities. But 504/CDC loans cannot be used to fund working capital or inventory, or to consolidate or refinance debt. You also cannot use the funds to invest in rental real estate.

Similar to a 7(a) loan, you must have used all other financial resources, including personal funds, before applying for a 504/CDC loan. To be eligible, your business must be worth less than $15 million and you must have a net income no higher than $5 million after taxes for the two years before applying. You must also be able to repay the loan on time using the projected cash flow of your business.

Microloan program

SBA microloans are smaller than average business loans, usually amounting to about $13,000. The SBA microloan program provides funding to nonprofit microlenders who then issue loans to women, low-income, veteran and minority business owners. Each microlender has its own lending and credit requirements, but applicants would generally be required to provide collateral, a personal guarantee and possibly complete a training program.

Microloans can be used to fund working capital, inventory purchases, furniture, machinery or equipment. You cannot use a microloan to pay off existing debt or to purchase real estate. The amount of your loan, your planned use for the funds and your business needs would determine the repayment terms on your microloan.

Top SBA lenders

Top 7(a) lenders

If you’re looking for an SBA loan, you may want to apply for a 7(a) loan, as it’s the most popular offering from the SBA. You would need to submit an application at an SBA-approved lender in your area. Here are the 10 most active SBA 7(a) lenders, per the most recent available data:

1. Live Oak Banking Co.

Approval amount: $1.27 billion
Approval count: 858

2. Wells Fargo Bank, National Association

Approval amount: $1.20 billion
Approval count: 3,898

3. The Huntington National Bank

Approval amount: $826.28 million
Approval count: 4,628

4. JPMorgan Chase Bank, National Association

Approval amount: $605.07 million
Approval count: 2,604

5. Newtek Small Business Finance Inc.

Approval amount: $559.21 million
Approval count: 767

6. Byline Bank

Approval amount: $513.65 million
Approval count: 454

7. Celtic Bank Corp.

Approval amount: $421.43 million
Approval count: 1,213

8. Compass Bank

Approval amount: $357.78 million
Approval count: 821

9. First Bank

Approval amount: $357.46 million
Approval count: 332

10. U.S. Bank, National Association

Approval amount: $351.06 million
Approval count: 2,286

Top 504/CDC lenders

If you need funding to make a large real estate or equipment purchase, a 504/CDC loan may be your best bet. Here are the 10 most active 504/CDC lenders*:

1. CDC Small Business Finance Corp.

Approval amount: $298.93 million
Approval count: 250

2. Mortgage Capital Development Corp.

Approval amount: $238.23 million
Approval count: 213

3. Empire State Certified Development Corp.

Approval amount: $213.63 million
Approval count: 204

4. Florida First Capital Finance Corp.

Approval amount: $191.69 million
Approval count: 201

5. Florida Business Development Corp.

Approval amount: $158.59 million
Approval count: 192

6. Mountain West Small Business Finance

Approval amount: $146.01 million
Approval count: 175

7. Business Finance Capital

Approval amount: $125.92 million
Approval count: 116

8. California Statewide Certified Development Corp.

Approval amount: $120.17 million
Approval count: 119

9. Small Business Growth Corp.

Approval amount: $108.23 million
Approval count: 168

10. Colorado Lending Source Ltd.

Approval amount: $98.21 million
Approval count: 114
*As of Aug. 31, 2018

The bottom line

Business owners typically covet SBA loans because they offer longer terms and lower interest rates than other term loans. Because the SBA backs the lenders issuing SBA loans, borrowers can often receive favorable conditions.

But the application process could be lengthy, and it could take 60 to 90 days before you receive funding. Application requirements could include collateral, a down payment and a minimum personal credit score of 680. The SBA also prefers profitable businesses that have been operating for at least two years and generate at least $50,000 in annual revenue.

If you’ve got the time and patience to withstand the underwriting process, an SBA loan could be a suitable option to fund your business needs. Be sure to check with an SBA-approved lender to make sure you apply for the right product to fit your business. Take into consideration the projects and purchases you plan to fund with your loan, as that would impact which financing option would be best for you.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Melissa Wylie
Melissa Wylie |

Melissa Wylie is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Melissa at [email protected]

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Accepting Cryptocurrency for Your Business

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

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If you think of yourself as an early adopter of emerging trends, you may be wondering how to accept cryptocurrency as payment for the goods and services your business sells. Accepting cryptocurrency could open an additional revenue stream for your small business and help you reach new customers, said Dennis Murphy, Ohio-based certified public accountant and principal at financial advisor firm Skoda Minotti. And some processing services are making it easy for business owners to take Bitcoins and other digital currencies as payment.

However, cryptocurrency is highly volatile, and may not be ideal for risk-averse business owners. Continue reading to determine if accepting cryptocurrency could be beneficial for your business and how to receive this type of payment.

What is cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrency is a digital exchange currency that uses cryptography to transfer value from one person to another online. It relies on what’s known as the blockchain, a public digital ledger that records all transactions anonymously in chronological order. Using a personalized digital key, anyone can add transactions to the blockchain. This technology secures the exchange of cryptocurrency.

There are thousands of types of digital currencies traded on a daily basis. Bitcoin and Ethereum are among the most popular cryptocurrency, as they have the highest value. Also among the top cryptocurrencies are XRP, Bitcoin Cash and Litecoin.

A small portion of businesses accept cryptocurrency, hovering around 1% to 3%, said Matthew May, co-founder of Atlanta-based financial firm Acuity, and most of these companies accept Bitcoin.

How it works

The value of cryptocurrency is derived from supply and demand. For instance, the more people who want to buy Bitcoin compared to how much is available determines its value. The value of cryptocurrency fluctuates to reflect both factors. Cryptocurrency can be converted into fiat currency, like U.S. dollars, or another type of cryptocurrency.

Only some cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, can be directly exchanged for USD. Others must be converted into those types of cryptocurrency before being converted into cash, May said.

Digital wallets hold cryptocurrency and record the value of coins. Wallets also verify transactions and the number of coins in storage. Cryptocurrency storage can be considered “hot” or “cold,” Murphy said. A wallet that is connected to the internet would be hot, while a storage device such as a USB drive would be considered cold.

To trade or make purchases with cryptocurrency, you’d need to keep it in a hot wallet. It’s best to move coins onto cold storage devices if you don’t plan to trade frequently to keep it safe, as online cryptocurrency storage is vulnerable to hackers, Murphy said.

Accepting Bitcoin as payment

Anyone with a cryptocurrency wallet could individually transfer Bitcoin to another person. To accept a payment, you would need to display a QR code that connects to your wallet, which the other person would scan to transfer Bitcoins to your account. You wouldn’t owe a fee for accepting cryptocurrency payments, though some wallets charge a fee for spending.

You could also accept cryptocurrency in a way that is similar to accepting credit cards and allows you to convert your coins into cash. You’d need to sign up for a payment processing system that would simplify the process of receiving cryptocurrency, May said.

BitPay

A common option for businesses is BitPay, a payment processor designed specifically for Bitcoin transactions. Businesses can accept Bitcoin payments online, via email or in person using the BitPay app, which we’ll describe in more detail, below.

Businesses that frequently make international transactions could benefit most from a service like BitPay, May said. Exchanging cryptocurrency could be a less expensive option for selling goods and services across borders, as the exchange rates for fiat currencies wouldn’t apply.

“It might be easier for somebody to get Bitcoin than the U.S. dollar,” May said. “It might be cheaper for them.”

To sign up for a BitPay merchant account, you would need to submit an application with your business name, address, industry and website, as well as a few personal details like your name and date of birth. BitPay charges a 1% fee on each transaction and allows unlimited monthly transactions. You can choose to receive payments in Bitcoin or a fiat currency of your choice, including USD, and BitPay would make the exchange for you.

Payments made through BitPay wouldn’t be subject to price volatility, and you would receive the exact amount that you charge minus BitPay’s 1% fee, regardless of the change in value of Bitcoin. For online transactions, BitPay provides payment buttons, embeddable invoices and check out services for your website.

How to use the BitPay app

If you want to accept Bitcoin payments in person, you could use the BitPay Checkout app for Android and iOS devices. When using the app, you would enter the amount owed and BitPay would generate an invoice for your customer. A QR code would appear on your device, and the customer would scan the code to access and pay the invoice from their device. Customers would pay directly from their own Bitcoin wallets.

Several cryptocurrency apps provide the same service and could integrate with your current POS system. Coinbase, Coinkite, MyEtherWallet and Sia wallets provide apps that facilitate transactions for different types of cryptocurrency. Customers could scan a QR code, manually input a code or otherwise connect with your device to pay you in cryptocurrency.

Converting cryptocurrency into cash through a service like BitPay as soon as you receive a payment would be a smart strategy if you don’t have much experience with digital currency, Murphy said. You wouldn’t have to worry about a change in value that could occur if you hold onto coins.

“That’s the best thing to do if they want the easiest compliance, easiest reporting and easiest accounting,” Murphy said.

We’ll dive into compliance and reporting in the next section.

The advantages and disadvantages of accepting cryptocurrency

ProsCons
  • Anyone can make or accept a cryptocurrency payment.

  • Lack of regulation may leave users with little recourse in case of theft.

  • You could hold onto coins as an investment.

  • You may need to pay taxes and report any gains or losses you incur. Cryptocurrency could lose value if you wait to convert to cash.

  • BitPay and other services could immediately convert cryptocurrency payments to cash.

  • Services like BitPay charge a fee to accept payments and convert currency.

Legal and tax implications

Because cryptocurrency is decentralized and transactions are considered peer to peer, Bitcoin and other coins aren’t subject to the same treatment as money in a bank, Murphy said. But you still must meet IRS requirements if you accept cryptocurrency in a business transaction.

The IRS treats cryptocurrency as property, similar to a stock, bond or other trading security that can be sold for a profit, Murphy said. Each time you sell or recieve cryptocurrency, you must report any gains or losses you generate from a cryptocurrency transaction, he said.

If you keep cryptocurrency for too long after a business transaction, you may need to report a personal gain or loss from that payment. For instance, if a customer paid you $10 in cryptocurrency for a notebook, but the currency appreciates to $15 before you convert it to dollars, you would then need to report a capital gain because the original sale was recorded as $10, Murphy said. If you converted the $10 into cash right away, you wouldn’t need to worry about recording an additional gain or loss based on market fluctuation.

“It’s best if business owners convert it into USD and don’t ever see the cryptocurrency,” Murphy said.

However, it is legal to keep a cryptocurrency payment in coin form as an investment, Murphy said. You could even convert a portion to cash and keep the rest as coin. You would just need to make sure you accurately report how much you earn or lose from that investment.

Third parties that handle digital currency transactions on behalf of businesses must issue a 1099-K form to merchants summarizing all payments. BitPay, for instance, would report the USD equivalent of your transactions to the IRS and send you a 1099-K with the same information.

You would only receive a 1099-K form detailing your transaction history if you’ve received more than $20,000 and made more than 200 transactions throughout the year. The purpose of a 1099-K is to help you make sure you accurately report your business income when filing income taxes. It would be your responsibility to report any gains or losses from cryptocurrency when you file your income taxes, Murphy said.

“It’s all voluntary,” he said. “It’s all self-reporting up to this point.”

If you fail to properly report income received through cryptocurrency transactions, you could face an audit or more extreme penalties. You could be subject to criminal charges such as tax evasion or filing a false tax return, which could result in three-to-five years of prison time and a fine up to $250,000.

The federal government in the U.S. does not recognize cryptocurrency as legal tender, but cryptocurrency exchange is regulated at the state level, although at varying degrees. While some states have not issued any guidance regarding digital currency, others require businesses to obtain special licenses to handle Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency. Check your local laws or consult an attorney to ensure you remain compliant when accepting digital currency.

Is cryptocurrency right for your business?

The main factor to consider before accepting Bitcoin or other digital coins is whether your customers or clients want to make payments with cryptocurrency, May said.

“If you’re an early adopter, you’re probably already in,” May said. “If customers aren’t asking for it, I wouldn’t worry about it right now.”

If you do have customers ready to pay with digital currency, it wouldn’t hurt to set up an account with a service like BitPay, Murphy said. You may find it’s more affordable than accepting credit cards. BitPay charges a 1% fee, while major networks like MasterCard, Visa, Discover and American Express charge average credit card processing fees of 2% or more.

“For those businesses looking for ways to reduce payment processing fees, it’s good for that,” Murphy said. “Just make sure it’s done securely.”

Payment processors like BitPay reduce risk for business owners accepting Bitcoin, as it can immediately convert payments to cash. If you don’t hold onto coins for personal investment, you wouldn’t need to worry about a change in the value of the currency or reporting capital gains or losses when filing taxes.

Cryptocurrency is far from becoming a replacement for standard currency, May said, so business owners shouldn’t feel pressured to accept Bitcoin or other coins as payment. But digital currency could become mainstream in the near future, he said. It may be worthwhile to learn more about how cryptocurrency could potentially benefit your business.

“Think about how little cash you carry around versus ten years ago,” May said. “I think it’s coming – it’s just a matter of when.”

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Melissa Wylie
Melissa Wylie |

Melissa Wylie is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Melissa at [email protected]

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How You Could Win an SBA Small Business Week Award

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

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Each year in May, the U.S. Small Business Administration hosts National Small Business Week, and the federal agency honors outstanding small business owners across the country as part of the event. Past winners of SBA Small Business Week Awards include the owners of Ben and Jerry’s, Chobani, Callaway Golf, Dogfish Head and Tom’s of Maine.

Mubarakah Ibrahim was named the 2019 Connecticut Home-Based Business of the Year. Ibrahim is the owner of Mmm Pies and Gourmet Dessert in New Haven, Connecticut where she sells homemade bean pies to local retailers, including a nearby Whole Foods. A bean pie is a traditional African-American dessert made from mashed navy beans, with a texture similar to sweet potato pie, Ibrahim said.

While the contest doesn’t come with a cash prize, it does mean major bragging rights for businesses that win in their state or at the national level. Continue reading to craft your winning nomination for your own SBA Small Business Week Award.

Ibrahim, a longtime health fitness trainer, started the business in 2016 shortly after making her first bean pie. One afternoon, Ibrahim had a craving for the treat she used to enjoy as a child in Brooklyn, New York, but realized there were no businesses in New Haven that sold bean pies. Ibrahim tweaked recipes she found online until satisfying her craving, sharing her bean pie journey with her social media followers.

“I found there was a demand for it,” she said.

Ibrahim now bakes pies in a rented commercial kitchen, but the business is officially based at her home address. She was nominated for the award by the Women’s Business Development Council in Connecticut; “it made me feel my efforts are paying off,” she said about her win.

What is National Small Business Week?

The SBA has recognized the efforts of entrepreneurs and small business owners for more than 50 years.

During National Small Business Week, the SBA hosts a free two-day virtual conference consisting of online workshops and networking. Business owners can participate in all webinars or choose topics that are of interest.

“National Small Business Week is not only an opportunity for us to recognize small business owners and those who champion the cause, but it’s also a learning opportunity,” SBA Georgia District Director Terri Denison said.

The SBA also hosts a hackathon in partnership with Visa. The event encourages entrepreneurs to spend a weekend brainstorming to solve business challenges. The theme of 2019’s hackathon was disaster relief.

To add a social media component, the SBA facilitates a Twitter chat about starting and growing small businesses. Anyone can join the conversation using the hashtag #SmallBusinessWeek.

National awards are given out at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., while SBA District Offices in each state host their own events to recognize local winners.

Next, we’ll discuss the various awards available to small business owners.

How to win an SBA Small Business Week Award

A number of national honors are awarded to business owners and supporters each year. These include:

  • Small Business Person of the Year
  • Small Business Exporter of the Year
  • Phoenix Award for Small Business Disaster Recovery
  • Phoenix Award for Outstanding Contributions to Disaster Recovery – Public Official
  • Phoenix Award for Outstanding Contributions to Disaster Recovery – Volunteer
  • Federal Procurement Award – Small Business Prime Contractor of the Year Award
  • Federal Procurement Award – Small Business Subcontractor of the Year Award
  • Federal Procurement Award – Dwight D. Eisenhower Award for Excellence
  • 8(a) Business Development Program Graduate of the Year Award
  • Small Business Development Center Excellence and Innovation Award
  • Veterans Business Outreach Center Excellence in Service Award
  • Women’s Business Center of the Year Excellence Award
  • Jody C. Raskind Lender of the Year
  • Small Business Investment Company of the Year

Each award has its own nomination form and requirements. For example, the 8(a) Business Development Program award is given to a business that has participated in the program designed for disadvantaged businesses. You can find the downloadable forms here.

The awards vary slightly at the state level, and some states may have more or fewer categories than others. In Connecticut, where Ibrahim won Home-Based Business of the Year, the available awards are:

  • Small Business Person of the Year
  • Minority-Owned Business of the Year
  • Women-Owned Business of the Year
  • Exporter of the Year
  • Jeffrey Butland Family Owned Business
  • Manufacturer of the Year
  • Veteran Owned Business
  • Microenterprise
  • Home Based Business
  • Women’s Business Center of the Year

In Georgia, the awards are similar, with the addition of awards like Rural-Owned Small Business of the Year, Young Entrepreneur of the Year and Second-Chance Hiring Champion. There are even some given to small business supporters, like Small Business Media Advocate and Women in Business Champion.

“That’s to recognize individuals who may or may not be business owners who support and advocate on behalf of small businesses,” Denison said.

Nominations typically open during late summer or fall, Denison said, although nomination forms for the 2020 awards are not yet available. Eligibility is not limited to businesses that have received financing or other support from the SBA — any business owner could be nominated.

Winners are selected based on the nomination packet that’s submitted, Denison said. In Georgia, a three-person committee reviews each nomination and chooses who best meets the criteria for each award, she said. Small business owners may nominate themselves, but most are nominated by others. A consulting firm, chamber of commerce member, lender or Small Business Development Center that the business owner has worked with are typical nominators, she said.

The Women’s Business Development Council in Connecticut was familiar with Ibrahim’s business because she previously attended WBDC workshops and sought help managing her operation.

“I needed help with the financials more than anything,” Ibrahim said. “I got a lot of benefit from consulting with them.”

Making an impression when working with business consultants, as Ibrahim did, could boost your chances of being nominated for an SBA award, Denison said. Your community impact or personal experience could also increase your odds of winning.

“If the owners have gone through difficulties on their entrepreneurial journey and have managed to overcome them and managed to be successful, that always makes for an interesting story,” Denison said.

Whether you’re nominating yourself or another business owner, the SBA provides these tips for submitting a winning nomination form:

1. Aim to win an award that best suits your business. Rather than going for Business Person of the Year, the SBA’s signature award, you could try your luck in more niche categories, like exporting or disaster recovery.
2. Make sure the entire nomination package is complete. All packages must include a completed background form for the nominee; the nomination form, including information about the business, like address and financial history; and a photo of the nominee. Certain awards may require additional information.
3. Brag about the business. The nomination package should highlight reasons why you’re among the best in your industry and how you plan to further your success.
4. Describe contributions to the community. Explain how you give back to your community, whether it’s through monetary donations or volunteered time.

Ibrahim was aware the WBDC nominated her for an SBA award because they asked her to provide some information for the nomination form, she said. After her local SBA District Office notified her that she won, representatives visited her commercial kitchen to see the business in person, Ibrahim said.

Each SBA District Office hosts its own awards ceremony. The Connecticut SBA District Office recognized Ibrahim and the other award winners during a luncheon in May, while in Georgia, the local SBA office also organizes an annual luncheon to honor award winners, Denison said.

Other national contests

You may want to consider entering your business into additional national contests or award programs, some of which offer prize money. Here are a few to check out:

  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce Dream Big Awards: For community-focused businesses with fewer than 250 employees and less than $20 million in gross revenue; $25,000 prize available. The Chamber will name 2019 winners in October.
  • FedEx Small Business Grant Contest: Eligible small business must have fewer than 99 employees and at least six months in operation; a grand prize of $50,000 plus $7,500 in FedEx services is available. FedEx will begin accepting applications in early 2020.
  • EY Entrepreneur of the Year: Regional programs recognize top local entrepreneurs; national honorees are also named. Nominations for the 2020 Ernst & Young contest open in December.
  • Grant programs: Federal and private grant programs offer no-strings-attached funding to qualifying businesses.

Benefits of winning an SBA award

Receiving a National Small Business Week Award from the SBA could increase your company’s visibility. For example, the Georgia SBA District Office sends out a press release each year announcing the winners, which could lead to additional media opportunities, according to Denison.

Attending the awards ceremony could also be a valuable networking opportunity, noted Denison. You could connect with other award winners, as well as members of your local business community. A number of SBA lenders usually attend the luncheon in Georgia, she added.

Ibrahim made useful connections through the SBA committee that selected her for the award. During the visit to her bakery, Ibrahim told the committee about her plans to ship bean pies to customers outside New Haven. However, she couldn’t find a shipping solution that made financial sense for her and for customers.

“They would literally have to pay for $500 worth of pie to make it affordable,” she said. “That’s my biggest dilemma now.”

The SBA committee referred Ibrahim to a company that could ship smaller orders of pies for a less expensive price, Ibrahim said, which wouldn’t have happened if not for the SBA award; she currently ships throughout the state of Connecticut.

“It did connect me with resources and put me on other people’s radar,” she said.

The Home-Based Business of the Year award didn’t come with a monetary prize, but Ibrahim said she felt validated receiving the honor. Although her business has many fans in her community, it’s often challenging to get her bean pies in stores.

“It can be very disappointing when you call and ask someone to carry your product and the answer is ‘no.’ Because the answer hasn’t always been ‘yes,’” she said. “Getting the award gave me the encouragement to keep going.”

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Melissa Wylie
Melissa Wylie |

Melissa Wylie is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Melissa at [email protected]