From the SBA website:
“The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) was created in 1953 as an independent agency of the federal government to aid, counsel, assist and protect the interests of small business concerns, to preserve free competitive enterprise and to maintain and strengthen the overall economy of our nation.”
Good stuff. If you are thinking of starting a franchise, or for that matter, any type of small business, there are a multitude of free tools that the SBA has for you to use. Here are some of them (from the SBA website):
1. Small Business Planner
This section of the website starts off by providing a list of questions to get you thinking about entrepreneurship, and what starting a business of your own would entail. There is also a long list of characteristics that successful entrepreneurs seem to have in common. There is an assessment tool that helps you decide if you really are ready to start a business of your own.
2. Starting Your Business
This area of the SBA website starts off by suggesting that you find a mentor, that can help you with all of the necessary steps to small business ownership. One such mentoring group is the Service Corps Of Retired Executives (SCORE). This is a non-profit resource “partner” with the SBA, but is not a U.S. Government agency. There are almost 400 SCORE offices around the country that provide free counseling to future small business owners. Former executives and business owners provide one on one counseling to prospective small business owners on a completely volunteer basis.
Next, a comprehensive section on financing, including how to get start-up capital, business cost estimation, break-even analysis, and much more. (Much!)
Other headings in this section include How to buy a business, how to buy a franchise, naming your business, deciding on a business structure, protecting your ideas, information on what business licenses to obtain, choosing a location, and even an area that discusses leasing your business equipment.
3. Managing Your Business
This section begins with the management side, and includes everything from essential leadership elements needed to have a successful business operation, to setting up a proper business meeting, delegating duties, how to network in the community, setting up business round tables, and business ethics practices. If you would like to learn about how business and technology go hand in hand, there is even a section on just that topic.
4. Exit Strategies
How many people think about how they will exit the business they are thinking about starting? An exit strategy is an important part of setting up a start-up business, because it will impact the way you will grow and run it. This part of the SBA website is focused on teaching you ways to get the most value out of your company when and if you decide to sell it. Recommendation’s include getting the right legal help when you make the decision to sell. Some folks wait until they have a potential buyer. Also discussed are business valuations, working with CPA’s, releases and announcement of a pending sale, and several other important steps to be taken.
5. Tool Section
This part of the SBA website has many tools that you can use at no charge. There is “Library and Resources” section, which has subheadings such as laws and regulations, statistics, publications, a glossary of business terms, and even some success stories thrown in. Finally, you can view videos, listen to podcasts, engage in monthly chats, and download a plethora of business forms for your start-up.
As you can see, the SBA of today, is not the SBA of 1953. The SBA has gone Web 2.0. Like us.
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About the Author: Joel Libava is President and Life Changer of Franchise Selection Specialists. He blogs at The Franchise King Blog.
Do you know if you have similar organizations as SBA in other countries?
All the Best,
P.S. I will come back to our our email conversation regarding the future franchising plan.
The free online courses look like a very valuable resource also. A great way to prepare for everything involved in owning your own business. Thank you for pointing us here, there is tons of good info to use.
Thank you for your nice comment.
Between the two of us, we can probably Google EU Small Business Resources, and have a little race to get your answer…
In Australia the national and state governments have similar resources for small business and are quite helpful.
Nice overview, Joel.
The SBA website has improved over the years, I am glad to see. Overall, I have been pretty impressed with the U.S. government’s Web outreach.
I interviewed the staff at the SBA once about their websites, and they told me that they maintained both the SBA website and also Business.gov. Both are definitely good resources — free of course — that I highly recommend checking out. Here is where I wrote about Business.gov last year, in case anyone is interested:
Hi Martin, in many ways the SBA has been a role model in government support of the small business segment.
However, more and more countries are adopting the SBA model and developing their own government agencies to support small biz. The U.K., Canada and as Susan Oakes points out above, Australia, are countries I happen to know are actively supporting this segment. I’m not sure if they provide precisely the same services as the U.S. agency, but they are there to support small businesses.
Great blog on the SBA! They have indeed made major improvement to the website and
the tools they are offering.Nevertheless,I have been told by several of my small business owners clients that while they offer a very worthwhile option to the private sector lenders,the SBA can only be what it really is:a federal agency.There is no “sense of urgency” in dealing with them,which for a hard pressed small business owner can be very very frustrating,then there is the unending forms to fill and finally the wait to hear if you have been approved,usually much later then a private lender .I realize that the private sector efficiency comes at a price but my clients tell me they came to me specifically because they could not afford the waiting time and the bureaucracy!
You make some valid points. The US Government does not makes things easy, but if one is willing to take advantage of some of the FREE resources offered by the SBA, they will be better prepared as entrepreneurs.
I am always surprised at how little is known about the SBA and its services.
I consult with entrepreneurs and they are always surprised at the breadth of what is available for free from SBA.
The SBA does great work, but someone really needs to help them with their marketing.
John Bradley Jackson
Author: First, Best, or Different
Anita & Joel: Thanks for the information. I hope we could keep the entrepreneurial spirit going, all around the world!
The SBA in Washington, DC is currently using “vOfficeware” internally which is a web-based IT solution which helps small businesses streamline all of their tedious processes. This program was actually created by my friend Kunal and the SBA liked it so much that not only are they using it themselves – they’re allowing him to speak at their annual conference in Chicago!
For those that are looking to start small businesses, vOfficeware is a hidden gem that is unbelievably easy to use and makes your business run that much more efficiently.
Kunal, who is now working for the Department of Defense in DC (as a computer scientist) recently launched this web based program to assist entrepreneurs in streamlining their business processes. His goal is to make it simple for small business owners to efficiently run their business with little overhead.
Check out the websites at:
All of these sites are intuitive business solutions. Invoicing, expense tracking, and document management can be done securely over the web. The mundane business processes become streamlined and the systems have built in capabilities to export to a more conventional format like Excel or PDF.
So if you know anyone that is looking to start up a small business – please pass along the word about vOfficeware as I’m sure they will greatly benefit from these tools.
Anita- I would love to hear what you think about this!
Great article. Great business help by the SBA. We have given advice to several of our clients to utilize the resources of the SBA. The Small Business Administration offers so many great resources especially for small businesses or start-ups.