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Small Business Loans

Small Business Loans in California

Sun-kissed vineyards, tech-savvy cities, and the allure of Hollywood—the Golden State is not just a land of dreams; it’s a vast playground for entrepreneurs. 

With the right small business loan, you could get the capital needed to start up, scale up, or simply keep up with California’s relentless pace of innovation. But which small business loan provider is right for you? 

Our team spent hours uncovering the best small business loans in California. So whether it’s to refurbish a beachside cafe, survive a slow season, or launch a new app that could revolutionize the digital world, these top picks could be what you need. Read on to explore the list.

What to know about California small business loans

In the Golden State, you can access various loan types—from traditional bank loans to microloans and state-guaranteed programs—each designed to support the diverse needs of California small businesses.

These loans can help you purchase equipment or inventory, hire staff, and expand operations, among other things. But what sets small business loans apart in California? 

State-run loan programs

First, the state offers several loan programs to support small business owners. 

  • California Small Business Loan Guarantee Program (SBLGP). Struggling to secure a loan due to a lack of collateral or credit history? The SBLGP guarantees a portion of the loan to help improve your chances of approval.
  • California Capital Access Program for Small Business (CalCAP). CalCAP is another program that helps small businesses struggling to get traditional financing. It provides loan portfolio insurance to lenders and potentially covers up to 100% of loan defaults.
  • Entrepreneur Loan Fund (ELF). Tailored for low-wealth entrepreneurs or those in low-wealth communities, this fund provides loans between $2,000 and $30,000. If you’re starting a small business in California or looking to grow one, you could receive credit approval within one week.
  • Disaster Assistance Loan Guarantee Program. This program can help if you’re a small business in California with up to 750 employees and have been affected by a disaster. It provides loan guarantees up to 95% or $1 million if you’ve experienced physical damage, economic injury, or need disaster relief.
  • Metal Plating Facility Loan Guarantee Program. Specifically for small businesses involved in metal or chrome plating, this program helps you meet environmental regulations by guaranteeing loans for purchasing pollution control equipment.

Small business tax incentives

Lastly, California offers various tax incentives for small businesses: 

As you shop for a loan in California, take advantage of any state-run programs you qualify for. They can provide the financial backing you need to thrive in the Golden State’s dynamic economy.

Ask the expert

Erin Kinkade


I recommend applying for apply state-based small business lenders first since they could offer benefits that traditional business lenders do not offer. After those options are exhausted, if there is a shortfall, move on to the traditional small business loans that fit your needs.

Best small business loans

If you’re a California-based business looking for funding options, below are the five best small business loans

Each specializes in distinct areas to cater to different needs of businesses, including Small Business Administration (SBA) loans, lines of credit, and the best small business loans in California for bad credit.


A personal credit score of 625 is often considered in the fair range—however, in terms of small business loans, a score under 629 is considered bad credit.

LenderBest for
Funding CircleSBA loans
BluevineLine of credit
OnDeckBad credit
New SilverHard money loans

Funding Circle: Best for SBA loans

  • Fast approval and disbursement process
  • Competitive interest rates 
  • No prepayment penalties

Funding Circle offers business term loans, SBA 7(a) loans, and business lines of credit. It’s known for its quick funding process, with the possibility of getting funds in as little as 48 hours. The business term loans are customizable, offering up to $500,000 with fixed rates and term lengths ranging from six months to seven years. 

Funding Circle’s SBA 7(a) loans offer amounts ranging from $75,000 to $5 million, with term lengths of up to seven years and interest rates as low as prime + 2.75%. Its business lines of credit provide up to $250,000 in flexible funds, available on demand with same-day funding options​​​​.

For businesses in California, Funding Circle is licensed and regulated by the state’s Department of Business Oversight, ensuring compliance with local financial service regulations. This licensing can provide an additional layer of trust for businesses considering Funding Circle for their financing needs​​.

Bluevine: Best for line of credit

  • Revolving lines of credit
  • No draw fees
  • Available credit replenishes as you pay

Bluevine provides lines of credit up to $250,000 for small businesses in California, with a straightforward online application process that can result in funding in as little as 24 hours from approval. 

It caters to applicants with a minimum credit score of 625 and requires businesses to have been operational for at least a year. Bluevine’s services include fast access to funds, multiple term lengths for different financing needs, and a low minimum credit score requirement, making it a viable option for businesses looking for quick and flexible financing solutions.

OnDeck: Best small business loans in California for bad credit 

  • Accepts credit scores as low as 625
  • Offers term loans and lines of credit
  • Lending decisions are made quickly

OnDeck offers small business loans, including term loans and lines of credit, with a fast and easy application process. Its term loans are available from $5,000 to $250,000, with up to 24 month repayment terms. Lines of credit range from $6,000 to $100,000, with flexible repayment terms of 12, 18, or 24 months​​​​.

OnDeck is known for its quick funding, with the possibility of same-day funding for term loans up to $100,000. Lines of credit can also fund instantly, offering California businesses quick access to the capital they need​​​​. Its minimum credit score requirement is 625 for term loans and lines of credit. 

You can use OnDeck loans for various purposes, including inventory purchases, payroll coverage, expansion, renovations, marketing campaigns, stabilizing cash flow, equipment upgrades, hiring more employees, and consolidating business debt​​​​. 

OnDeck is a strong option for small businesses needing fast financing, especially for those who may not qualify for traditional bank loans due to credit score requirements or the need for quick access to funds.

Kapitus: Best for customization

  • Wide variety of loan types for diverse needs
  • Fast application process
  • Flexible repayment options

Kapitus offers various business loans for businesses in California that need different financing needs. Its product range includes revenue-based financing, equipment financing, SBA loans, lines of credit, invoice factoring, and more, catering to various industries and financial requirements. 

Approval times can be as quick as four hours, with funding potentially available within 24 hours for some loan products. Kapitus charges a flat factor rate for working capital loans instead of an interest rate, which can vary based on the loan amount, credit profile, and business financials​​​​.

Qualification criteria for Kapitus loans vary depending on the product. Working capital loans generally require a minimum credit score of 625, and other loans require a slightly higher score. Businesses must have been operational for at least two years and meet certain annual or monthly revenue thresholds​​.

New Silver: Best for hard money loans

  • Specializes in real estate financing
  • Offers short-term loans backed by property
  • Quick closings

New Silver provides a range of real estate investment loans, including hard money loans for fix-and-flip, fix-to-rent, ground-up construction, and rental properties. 

New Silver caters to various cities across California, ensuring a broad coverage for potential borrowers looking for quick and efficient financing options. 

Its services are designed for real estate investors who value speed, efficiency, and transparency in their financing needs.

Types of small business loans in California

You have several types of small business loans at your disposal in California. Reviewing these options can help you find the right fit for your business.

  • Traditional bank loans. These are standard loans from banks or credit unions, offering various terms and interest rates. They typically require good credit and may take longer to process, but they offer competitive rates for qualified borrowers.
  • SBA loans. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) partners with lenders to provide loans with lower down payments and longer repayment terms. In California, SBA 7(a) and 504 loan programs are excellent for real estate, equipment, or working capital.
  • Microloans. For smaller funding needs, microloans are perfect. Non-profit organizations typically offer them, and they can be easier to qualify for than traditional bank loans—even with a less established credit history.
  • Online loans. Small business loans from online lenders may be the way to go if you need quick access to capital. They offer various loan products with a faster application process—though often at higher interest rates.

California also boasts niche loan products tailored to its major industries. For instance:

  • Farm loans. Given California’s vast agricultural sector, there are loans specifically designed for farming businesses to help with land, equipment, and operational costs.
  • Climate tech loans. This loan is for businesses that are developing new technologies aimed at combating climate change. The goal is to provide these businesses with the capital needed to grow and bring their climate-positive products and services to market.
  • Entertainment industry loans. With Hollywood in your backyard, specialized financing exists for production companies, filmmakers, and other creative ventures typical to California’s entertainment industry.

Ask the expert

Erin Kinkade


When choosing a lender, start by creating a spreadsheet or list to identify at least three lenders that fit your needs based on industry served, loan amounts, terms, etc. Make sure the lender is reputable, and make a list of pros and cons for each. Then, contact each lender and make note of the customer service or how you felt communicating with it—sometimes good chemistry and “good feeling” about a lender’s generosity may be the company you want to use. 

How to choose the right California small business loan

Choosing the right small business loan in California means aligning your financing with your long-term business goals. Here’s what to consider: 

  1. Assess your needs. Begin by asking yourself what you need the loan for. Is it for immediate cash flow, purchasing equipment, or expansion? Your purpose will guide the loan type that’s best for you, whether it’s a microloan for small, short-term needs or an SBA loan for a significant, long-term investment.
  2. Consider loan terms. Look at the repayment period and interest rates. Short-term loans can be quicker to fund but often come with higher rates. Longer-term loans have lower monthly payments, but you’ll pay more interest over time.
  3. Evaluate lender fit. Not all lenders are created equal. Some may specialize in certain industries or loan types. Find a lender that understands your business sector and has experience lending to businesses like yours.
  4. Review lender reputation. Research potential lenders thoroughly. Check their reputations and customer feedback. A lender with a solid track record of supporting small businesses will likely be a more reliable partner.
  5. Align with goals. Think about how the loan will serve your business in the long run. Will it help you grow and become more profitable? Ensure the loan you choose doesn’t just solve a short-term issue but also fits into your overall business strategy.
  6. Read the fine print. Before committing, understand all the terms and conditions. Look out for any additional fees or prepayment penalties.

Take the time to consider your options and choose wisely—your business’s success depends on it.

How to get a small business loan

Getting a small business loan in California requires some preparation. Here’s how to navigate the process: 

  • Check your financial health. To qualify for most small business loans, you’ll need a good credit score and a track record of revenue. Lenders use these to gauge your ability to repay the loan. Once you know these numbers, you can search for the right lender.
  • Find the right lender. Knowing your credit score and revenue can help you find a lender that’s likely to approve you. Once you’ve found a lender you want to go with, it’s time to apply. 
  • Gather your documents. You’ll likely need financial statements, tax returns, legal documents like your business license, and possibly collateral. Be ready to present a detailed business plan that outlines your business’s goals, strategy, and financial projections.
  • Wait for a credit check. Although you can get a business loan with no credit check, most lenders will assess your personal and business credit scores as part of the process. The better your credit, the better your loan terms will likely be.
  • Get approved. The approval process can take anywhere from one business day to several months depending on which loan type and lender you choose. 
  • Avoid pitfalls. Common mistakes include incomplete applications, outdated financial information, and not having a clear purpose for the loan. Ensure all your documents are current and thoroughly detail how the loan will be used.


In California, you can turn to organizations such as SCORE or Small Business Development Centers for free or low-cost business advice. They can assist with fine-tuning your business plan, preparing your loan application, and offering guidance on managing cash flow.

Alternatives to small business loans for Californians

If you cannot get a traditional small business loan in California, don’t worry—there are other financing options out there.

  • Grants. Unlike loans, you don’t repay grants. They’re often competitive but are worth exploring—especially if your business is in research, innovation, or serves a social cause. Watch for state and local grants, as well as those specific to your industry.
  • Crowdfunding. Crowdfunding platforms allow you to raise funds from many people online. This is a great way to not only finance your business but also to validate your product or service in the market.
  • Angel investors. These individuals provide capital for startups, usually in exchange for ownership equity. This could be a viable option if your business has high growth potential.
  • Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs). If you’re struggling to secure a loan from traditional banks, CDFIs are your allies. They offer financial services, loans, and advice to businesses in underserved and distressed communities.
  • Credit unions. As member-owned financial cooperatives, credit unions often provide more personalized service and may have more flexible lending standards than large banks. They’re a good option if you’re looking for a community-focused lender.

The right alternative funding source can help you get your California business or take it to the next level. But each of these alternatives comes with its own set of requirements. Consider what makes the most sense for your business and your financial situation.