Monday, October 7, 2013

A Little Deeper Look at the SBA, Now That the Fed is Shutdown

You go, SBA! | Courtesy of the SBA
The U.S. Small Business Administration has been mentioned in quite a few posts here on Small Business Excellence for good reason: It can provide an immense amount of assistance to current and potential small business owners. Though the government may be shut down, the agency's website is still up (unlike others including, although it's functionality is seriously hindered. According to an informational post on the website, the information on the site "may not be up to date, the transactions submitted via the website may not be processed, and the agency may not be able to respond to inquiries until" the federal government reopens or the SBA finds another way to receive funding. So be forewarned.

Even with this warning, owners who have not given the SBA any consideration should do so. It's not likely that the SBA will be majorly affected by an agreement that ends this shutdown, especially considering the value that both major political parties see in the rebounding economy. Many experts have said in the past that small businesses may be what gives this economy and perhaps the middle class the support needed to survive and thrive. Instead of waiting until the furlough for governmental employees ends and the funding pipeline is restored, try checking out the website now and getting your feet wet. Doing so could save you time in the future--getting your gears turning early gives you an advantage if and when you finally speak to someone from the SBA.

Perhaps the most valuable portion of this federal institution is the finance program that it has in place. Direct loans from the agency do not exist; instead, financial assistance comes from third-party financiers that usually fall under the categories of community development groups, mainstream lenders, and microlending organizations. So what makes this route different? Going through the SBA means that the loan is guaranteed by the administration, thus alleviating much of the credit worries that lenders might otherwise have. A small business must apply and be approved for such loans, just like any other lending situation. In addition to this, the SBA provides a Surety Bond Guarantee Program as well as a Venture Capital Program; both can be extremely beneficial to small businesses looking to break through or simply survive for three obvious reasons: money, money, and money. Current economic situations and political policies are very relevant to this program though, so be sure to look at this section of the SBA with a wary eye.

For those uncertain of using the Internet or perhaps wanting a more personal interaction regarding the SBA, there are a number of offices that can provide just what you're looking for. Organizations like SCORE work with the SBA to provide this information in face-to-face, knowledgeable interactions. Women's Business Centers and Small Business Development Centers provide similar help. Many of these can be found in your nearest major city. In Grand Rapids, Michigan, for instance, there were seven locations willing to provide such assistance. Here are a list of the tools that the SBA provides to the many owners throughout the U.S. to help you conjure some questions for any upcoming meetings you might have with these folks.

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