SBA Loan Data and Analysis 2010-2019

  • SBA Loan Data and Analysis 2010-2019

SBA Loans Analysis and Overview

What is the SBA

The U.S. Small Business Administration, commonly referred to as the SBA, is the only cabinet-level federal agency fully dedicated to supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs from counseling to capital. Many small businesses turn to the SBA for loans, as SBA loans typically have lower rates and longer durations compared to other traditional bank loans.

SBA 7(a) Loan Program

The SBA’s most popular loan program is the 7(a) loan for small businesses. The 7(a) loan provides financial assistance for entrepreneurs starting a new business or acquiring, operating, or expanding an existing business. The loans must be approved by the SBA.

SBA Data Analysis

Fiscal Year 2010-2019 7(a)

Vetted Biz has reviewed and analyzed the SBA 7(a) loan approvals from the fiscal years  2010-2019. The records were obtained through SBA’s official website.

Over 567,734 small businesses in the U.S. were approved for the SBA 7(a) loan from 2010 to 2019. These businesses are categorized by the North American Industry Classification System, NAICS. In total, there were 1,221 NAICS classifications. 

SBA Analysis of All Businesses

Of the 567,734 businesses approved for a 7(a) loan, over 50,466 of these businesses were franchise concepts representing roughly 8.8% of approved loans, while the remaining 517,000 loans, were those issued to non-franchised businesses. There were 1,779 total NAICS classifications for all businesses and many of the NAICS categories did not accurately reflect the nature of each business. Also, many of the businesses these loans were previously issued to had different NAICS classifications for each individual loan. Therefore, the Vetted Biz analytics team recategorized these businesses by 14 industries that more accurately reflect the business nature of the concept. Listed below you can find how many loans were approved for each industry.

Total Business Industries receiving SBA 7(a) Loan Approval from 2010-2019

Industries receiving SBA 7(a) Loan Approval for Businesses from 2010-2019

Total Loans (%)

Total Loans SBA

Adjusted Total SBA 7(a) loans for businesses and industries from 2010-2019 excluding loans not disbursed (Cancelled and Commit Loan Status)

From 2010 to 2019, SBA loans for total businesses within the 7(a) loan program under the Retail Products and Services industry had the highest percentage of loans approved with a rate of 21.2%. The Food and Beverage industry came in second with 16.2% of the total loans approved and the Business Services industry in third, with 15.7% of total loans approved. The Business Services industry encompasses a wide array of businesses that provide non-financial and financial services to other businesses and companies such as marketing, consulting, logistics and staffing.

SBA Default Rate by Business Industry

Further analysis was conducted by business industry based on the loan status. The following loan status categories are listed below. Please note the most important loan statuses to understand in this analysis are ‘Paid In Full’ and ‘Charged Off’.

SBA Loan Statuses

  • Paid in Full: Loan has been repaid if full including all principal and interest payments
  • Charged Off: Loan no longer has reasonable expectation of further payment after default
    • Defaulted: Loan payment has been overdue for over 90 days
  • Commit: Loan undisbursed, also labelled as Not Funded
  • Cancelled: Loan is cancelled by borrower or occasionally by SBA if description does not follow terms of use
  • Exempt: Loan is exempt from disclosure under FOIA Exemption 4, which protects “trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person privileged or confidential.” Exempt loans also include outstanding loans. 

The best loan status reflecting financial health of the franchise is Paid in Full, as the business has already paid off the loans and all interest. In contract, the worst loan status is Charged Off, as the loan has defaulted and further collection of debt is doubtful. The SBA recognizes this as a loss and removes the account from its active accounts receivable.

Vetted Biz reviewed the 567,734 businesses that were approved for the SBA 7(a) loan from 2010-2019. Of the businesses that were not exempt, most businesses had a Paid In Full loan status, while only 3.93% of businesses were Charged Off. This breakdown demonstrates the overall strength of these small business operations despite recent economic downturns.

SBA Loan Status per Industry

Vetted Biz reclassified the 500+ NAICS industries into 14 industries for the franchises studied. Within each industry, we studied the rate of the two most important loan statuses, Paid in Full and Charged Off Rate. Below you can find the adjusted results of both for each industry with a further breakdown of how many businesses in those industries had that loan status. Adjusted results exclude loans that were “Committed” or “Cancelled” due to the fact that these loans ended before they were ever disbursed by the lender.  

From 2010 to 2019, SBA loans within the Healthcare Services industry had the highest Paid In Full rate and lowest Charged Off rate. Although many prospective small business owners first explore investment opportunities in the Food and Beverage industry, it is advisable to also explore other industries with strong SBA loan performance, such as Healthcare Services, to see how those concepts compare. The Healthcare Services industry is largely dominated by urgent care centers, medical staffing companies, and senior care centers.

At the same time, some industries have a wider gap between businesses that are doing well and those that are not. In other words, taking more risk can lead to more reward. For
example, the Retail Products and Services industry has one of the highest Paid In Full rates, but it also has a high Charged Off rate. On the other hand, industries that have lower Paid In Full rates such as the Real Estate and Travel and Hospitality industries, also have lower Charged Off rates.

When prospective small business owners are exploring what is the best business for them to invest in, it is also important to understand the industry a business is in. Reviewing the SBA 7(a) loans is just one of many different factors to consider when analyzing the success of small business industries.

Paid in Full Rate

Charged Off Rate (%)

Paid in Full to Charged Off Ratios

Loan Success Rate

From 2010 to 2019, SBA loans within the Real Estate industry
had the highest Paid In Full to Charged Off ratio, where for every 21 loans
that were paid off in full, one of them charged off. Similarly, the Travel and
Hospitality industry which encompasses tourism agencies and lodging facilities,
also had a relatively high ratio where for every 17 loans that were paid off in
full, one of them charged off.

Beyond the Real Estate and Travel and Hospitality
industries, most industries had a Paid In Full to Charged Off Ratio of around
11 loans that were Paid In Full, to one that was then Charged Off.
Additionally, the Retail Products and Services and Food and Beverage industries
had the lowest ratio, where for approximately every 8 and a half loans that
were Paid In Full, 1 other was eventually Charged Off.

When prospective business owners are studying the best
industries to invest in, beyond looking at separate numbers and loan statuses
in general, it is important to understand how the industry functions as a
whole. That said, the Paid In Full to Charged Off ratio allows for an extensive
insight into how industries and their SBA loans in general are doing that are
helpful in guiding the investor on the best businesses to consider investing

Investing in Franchised vs. Non-Franchised Concepts

A further factor to consider when investing in a small business that is SBA eligible is whether the business is a franchise concept or not.  A recent study carried out by Vetted Biz found that businesses Paid In Full to Charged Off ratios varied considerably according to whether a business was structured as a franchise or a non-franchise. An example of this discrepancy can be found with the Fitness Center industries category, where for every 8 and a half non-franchised fitness centers loans that were paid off in full, one woud Charge Off.  This ratio increased to 13:1 when the fitness center concept was structured as a franchise. This shows that when interested in investing in a specific industry, it is important to consider the chances of success and how they vary according to how the business is structured.

At the same time, it is also important to consider industries where this number does not vary greatly regardless of the structure of the concept. That is the case for the Travel and Hospitality industry where the Paid In Full to Charged Off ratios remained amongst the top 3, out of all of the industry categories, for both franchised and non-franchised concepts.

Further details on how franchised and non-franchised concepts performed within each industry can be found published on Vetted Biz where an in-depth analysis on either business structure and their industry performance has been conducted.

Limitations and Future Research

Of these small businesses, 46% had an Exempt loan status. Therefore, most of these businesses were not able to disclose whether they had Paid In Full, Cancelled, or Charged Off. Although additional information on what a loan’s exempt status encompasses can be found on a separate page, this nevertheless limits an accurate analysis of SBA business success overall. 


In the FOIA 7(a) Report, most businesses from the same concept were labelled with many different NAICS classifications. For example, Subway, the franchise with the most units in the U.S., had four different NAICS classifications. Vetted Biz cleaned the data for this report to ensure the same business concept is categorized in the same industry.


Furthermore, some industries like Home Services and Education Programs only had a few hundred businesses with loan approvals compared to most industries that had a few thousand. Therefore, one or two businesses in smaller industries that had a Charged Off loan status would have a greater impact on the Charged Off Rate.