If you've got a young company in need of financing -- or a more established business requiring longer-term financing than your lender will consider -- your best bet is to find an institution that specializes in loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration. Last year the SBA guaranteed more than $4 billion in loans to small companies, and a big share of those loans was originated by some 700 lenders scattered around the country that qualify as either certified or preferred lenders. For a list of the biggest SBA lenders in your area, contact the nearest SBA district office. Surprisingly, some of the most active SBA lenders (see table) aren't banks but financial companies, including ITT and (soon) AT&T.

-- Bruce G. Posner

Number of Loans Amount of Loans (in millions)
Money Store Investment, Sacramento, Calif. 668 $253.1
Allied Lending, Washington, D.C. 500 $15
Government FundingCALBIDCO, Los Angeles 202 $74.4
ITT Small BusinessFinance, St. Louis 158 $51.3
Gulf American SBLC, Panama City, Fla. 106 $40.5
First Capital/Heller, San Francisco 101 $33.7

Source: The National Book of Lists , Local Knowledge Publishing, San Ramon, Calif., 1992.