Editor’s note: NerdWallet’s Step by Step series gives small-business owners a behind-the-scenes look at the loan application processes of various online lenders. We show you what you can expect screen by screen as you submit your application.

Even if you’ve turned your business into a success, you may be looking for a way to scale your company, refinance debt or increase your working capital. Fundation, geared toward established businesses, is a mid-prime lender that offers term loans of $20,000 to $500,000 to businesses that have been around for two or more years.

Fundation offers one- to two-year term loans for short-term needs such as payroll, and two- to four-year term loans for more complex undertakings, including renovations. Unlike other online lenders, Fundation also requires you to have at least three employees to apply.

Our Fundation review breaks down the pros and cons of the online lender; here we get into the nitty-gritty of the application itself.

Fundation term loans at a glance

Cost of funding: 8% to 30% APR
Approval time: Can be approved same day, but average is 3-5 days
Loan amount: $20,000 to $500,000
Loan term: 1 to 4 years
Minimum qualifications:

  • Credit score:600
  • Time in business: 2 years
  • Annual revenue: $100,000

Typical Fundation borrower:

  • Credit score: 680-700
  • Time in business: 5-10 years
  • Revenue: $250,000-$750,000

Fundation loan application: Summary

Time: Online application can be completed within an hour, though you may need additional days to complete necessary underwriting calls.*
Phone calls from lender: Two*

Documents needed: Bank statements, with the potential for additional documents*

*Exceptions, details spelled out below.

1. Enter basic information

To get started, you’ll enter basic information about you and your business including:

  • Email address
  • Business name
  • Business ZIP code
  • Use of proceeds
  • Age of business
  • Annual business sales
  • Annual profit before tax

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2. Select your industry

Will Ogden, a member of the strategic partnership group at Fundation, notes that drop-down boxes typically used in online business loan applications often force borrowers into very broad buckets, even though industry specifics, such as running a full-service restaurant versus a limited-service restaurant, can affect an application.

Instead, Fundation directs users through a series of questions to help narrow down the type of industry in which they work. “Because it’s more specific,” Ogden says, “it allows us to provide some direct feedback based on industry data and statistics very early in the application process.”

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3. Review business analysis

Based on the information you provided in steps 1 and 2, you’ll now be presented with a basic business analysis, an interactive part of the application that lets you see upfront how your company may be valued and any potential risks that may affect your funding.

If you’re the owner of a high-risk business and your company isn’t profitable, the program will tell you upfront that Fundation may not be the best fit, Ogden says. This analysis helps set expectations for borrowers so they understand why they may or may not qualify for a loan.

Before you can access your business analysis, you’ll be asked to agree to the Fundation “honor code” by confirming that the information you will provide is accurate and honest.

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This page also provides detailed information about the type of business you run. Historical data from the Small Business Administration show your industry’s default rate compared with other industries, which provides more context on why your business may be considered a high risk.

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4. Explain your loan request

If you decide a loan is the right move for you and your business, you’ll next be asked to tell Fundation a little more about your request. This page includes basic questions such as the amount of the loan and your desired term length, as well as information about how much and what type of debt you have.

Even though it’s not required, you have the option of writing a little bit about your company, the loan request, and how you’ll use the money. Though you’ll likely provide the same information during conversations with your customer relationship manager (more on that later), Ogden says it’s helpful to provide that information here so Fundation has more details early in the process.

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5. Provide business and personal financial details

Next, you’ll be prompted to provide more details about your business, including its address, contact information, business type and tax ID.

At the bottom of the page, you’ll include details about the size and financial profile of your company. By including the number of employees, their benefits, and how many customers you serve, you can provide a big-picture view of your company.

On the next page, you’ll be asked to enter some more specific personal financial data, including your liquidity and household income. At this point, you’ll also agree to a credit check, which will show up as a hard inquiry on your credit report.

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Note: Fundation declined to share the final pages of the application process, saying they are proprietary.

6. Review Fundation feedback

After your information is entered, you’ll wait less than a minute as the program collects data from multiple sources, including credit bureaus. Once the process is complete, Fundation will provide you with feedback analyzing your personal and business credit.

Similar to the industry analysis provided earlier in the application process, you’ll be able to view data and risk ratings based on your personal credit history and public records history, as well as business payments, business credit and business public records history.

Again, access to this information helps borrowers understand how Fundation is analyzing their data and how it may affect the type of funding for which they qualify.

7. Review your automated offers and submit documents

At this point, you’ll be presented with a variety of options with varying term lengths and interest rates. You’ll also start submitting your closing documents.

According to Fundation, loan applications for less than $50,000 typically require you to submit only three months’ worth of bank statements, which can be uploaded securely to your dashboard — a personal landing page for each borrower — or submitted via secure connection to your bank account. For loans up to $100,000 that were started with Regions Bank (with whom Fundation partnered in the fall of 2015), you’ll likely still need to submit only bank statements.

If you’re applying for more than $50,000 (or are a Regions customer requesting more than $100,000), you’ll have to upload additional documents including at least your last-year tax return, three months of bank statements, your company’s financials, and your company’s debt schedule. These documents also can be uploaded to your dashboard or accessed by connecting bookkeeping programs such as QuickBooks or Xero to your account.

8. Chat with a customer relationship manager

Phone call from lenderThe borrower dashboard also lists the name and direct contact information for a customer relationship manager who will be your point of contact throughout the rest of the application process. That person will call you either the day you submit your application or the following business day, giving you a chance to review the details of your request.

At this point, your Fundation contact will determine whether you need to schedule a call with an underwriter. Fundation estimates about 60% of borrowers are subject to that call, especially if applying for a large sum or if a red flag comes up during the application process (such as a problem regarding credit). Your contact can help you identify red flags in your application and prepare for your call with the underwriter.

Phone call from lenderDuring the underwriting call, you’ll be able to discuss your application and clarify outstanding issues such as missed payments or financial mishaps.

9. Time to funding

a Fundation business loan: How much time?Time: One to three days after receiving your offer

Because Fundation is a direct lender, you can receive financing within days, granted your request is straightforward and requires just a bank statement. But Ogden notes that the time it takes to receive your funding typically depends on how quickly you can upload the documents and make yourself available for the underwriting call — so if you’re very motivated, you may get funding within a day; if you’re less proactive, the process could extend days or weeks.

To help expedite the process, he recommends you have a good handle on how your business has performed over the past 12 months and be prepared to answer underwriting questions about any anomalies in your finances.

To apply

If you’re interested in a term loan from Fundation, you can apply on its secure website.

Find and compare small-business loans

To compare Fundation with other lenders, NerdWallet has created a comparison tool of the best small-business loans to meet your needs and goals. We gauged lender trustworthiness, market scope and user experience, among other factors, and arranged them by categories that include your revenue and how long you’ve been in business.

Jackie Zimmermann is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: [email protected]. Twitter: @jackie_zm

To get more information about funding options and compare them for your small business, visit NerdWallet’s small-business loans page. For free, personalized answers to questions about financing your business, visit the Small Business section of NerdWallet’s Ask an Advisor page.