The SBA Has A Mission: The 3 Cs

Hello from Washington D.C., where I am covering National Small Business Week.  Earlier today I attended the keynote address of SBA Administrator Karen Mills (pictured below giving the keynote).

Karen Mills, Administrator of SBAOne of the most impressive parts of her talk was the description of the SBA’s mission for small businesses — she called it the “3 Cs.”

Now, if you’re an Internet entrepreneur, you may be thinking you know the 3 Cs.  Back in 1999, Michael Dell, the founder of Dell Computer, defined the  3 Cs of e-commerce as:  “content, community and commerce.”

But that’s not what it means when it comes to the SBA.  The 3 Cs refers to the Small Business Administration’s mission to provide small businesses with:

  • Capital
  • Contracts
  • Counseling

I don’t think this description is a departure from what the SBA has been doing.  What is different is that the SBA seems to be getting better at articulating  its mission.  It used to be tough to figure out what the SBA did.  Now the message now is cogent and clearer.

So how is the SBA doing on each of the 3 Cs when it comes to mainstreet small businesses?  Here’s what Administrator Mills reported:


SBA loan volume has now surpassed pre-credit-crunch levels.


With the support of the Vice President the SBA has reached out to small businesses all across the nation, with matchmaking events and other activities that drove $8 Billion (29% of Recovery Act funds) into the hands of small businesses.

There’s also renewed emphasis o women-owned businesses:  emphasis on getting more contracts to women.


Many small businesses are being impacted by the Gulf Coast oil spill.  Yesterday the SBA opened a Disaster Center in Louisiana to help small businesses (such as fishermen and charter boat operators).

The SBA is on the ground for 40 disaster areas today, simultaneously (because as Administrator Mills says, “We stay.”).

The SBA has descreased disaster loan processing times dramatically.  They used to take around 60 days.  Today there is 7 days’  turn-around time for home loans and 14 days for business disaster loans.

As for the future, the SBA has a number of goals and initiatives.

“Small businesses are still struggling in part because they don’t have the capital they need,” said Mills.

The Administration is working in Congress on a targeted jobs plan bill for small businesses. Includes a provision for a $30 Billion lending fund for community banks.  This fund will provide money to community banks at rates as lows as 1%, conditioned upon the banks doing more lending to small businesses.

The Administration is also wants to raise loan limits for small businesses permanently, to $5 Million for 7(a) and 504 SBA loans, and $50,000 for microloans.

For a list of related articles see Coverage of National Small Business Week.

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Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder, CEO and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses.

8 Reactions
  1. Anita,
    Thank you for that update..

    Maybe you can corner someone from the SBA, and ask them if they plan on helping start-ups (franchises) get off the ground.

    (If I was there, you know I would handle that responsibility)

    Thank you.

    The Franchise King

  2. Anita,
    I’m really glad to read your summary here. I’ve been a fan of the SBA and used them years ago, but haven’t always found them relevant to many small biz out there. Your notes are encouraging and I’m reading the tweets with interest.

  3. This is indeed good news for small business. Her focus is in the right area. Thanks for the report.

  4. Kim @ Money and Risk


    Thanks for being there covering. I noticed that the main complaints of business owners was lending. However, nothing is addressed about the issues that bank regulations and SBA lending guidelines haven’t changed (I have to take time and review the latest SOP). It’s really a case of businesses not understanding how lending works. If you are not profitable, you’re not going to get loans. Nothing is going to change that. No amount of money thrown at the problem will change that either.

    There are two other issues that no one is talking about. Banks are still precarious with their loan loss reserves. Libor has been climbing continuously for the last few months and banks aren’t even lending to each other. If regulators relax lending standards, that’s not going to help the banks recover.

    Also, the SBA is dealing with massive losses coming down the pipe due to how they’re handling the workouts. This is actual taxpayer money that could be used to pump back into the program. How much of the proposed $30B will be used to pay all those losses instead of new loans.

  5. Thanks for this coverage of the National Small Business Week and Conference. I really enjoyed Karen Hill’s talk about the three C’s. Additionally, I’ll be looking forward to your webcast tomorrow.

    It’s an exciting (and equally scary) time for small businesses, it’s nice to see the emphasis on the counseling aspect being brought to the forefront in this talk.

    Again, many thanks. All the points coming out so far this week are definitely “food for thought” for all small business owners.

    The Microsoft SMB Outreach Team