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  • 26 November 2013
  • Eric Michaels

Accessing the US Small Business Administration Resources

Though still unknown by many entrepreneurs, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is an independent government agency that dates back to 1953. Since that time of exponential growth in America's infrastructure and business community, the SBA has been in place to help small business owners grow their companies and prosper. From helping you secure company loans to informing you about local, state, and federal regulations, there is so much to learn from the SBA website and office.

Here are the key resources to explore:

Helping a business get off the ground
Whether you've decided to launch a second career or have planned forever to start your own company, there are logistics you'll have to confront. The SBA website is particularly useful in breaking down the different forms a business can take, as well as instructing you on how to navigate the regulations you'll need to comply with. For start-ups of any size, SBA.gov offers information on:

  • Formulating a business plan
  • Determining a business structure(LLC, sole proprietorship, corporation, etc.)
  • Registering your business in the community
  • Hiring employees
  • Observing workplace protocol
  • Paying taxes

The articles on the website walk you through even the most tedious topics with ease. These resources will help any business owner through this challenging period in your company's development.

Leading a company into prosperity

Once your company is successfully launched, you'll find challenges in everything from leading a larger workforce to record keeping and the issues you'll face should you decide to sell your business. Among other things, the SBA can help with:

  • Identifying your ability to lead
  • Investing further in your company
  • Setting up a human resources department
  • Formulating a succession plan
  • Establishing benefits plans to attract employees
  • Accounting for tax filings and personal records

The challenges small business owners face always go beyond the practical concerns you face. To that end, the SBA offers counseling and help with every aspect of a company's growth.

Grants and loans
Despite the terrific information resources, the U.S. Small Business Administration may earn its most respect from the financial services the agency offers. Between the grants and loans and the role the SBA plays in securing both, no entrepreneur can afford to ignore this function.

  • Small business loans:Though the SBA isn't a lender per se, the agency serves as facilitator and guarantor for business owners seeking financing. In fact, the terms of loans are set by the SBA so you will have fair policies at your disposal. The best resource available is the guarantee the SBA offers when you receive a loan through a private institution: If you have no other financing options and qualify for this type of loan, you will receive the backing of the U.S. government. The SBA also guarantees bonds and sponsors a venture capital program through private investment funds.
  • Grants:In addition to loans, the U.S. Small Business Administration facilitates applications for the coveted government grants a small business may receive. There are resources explaining how you may qualify for research grants or for local, state, and federal programs that award money to specific areas as it has been allocated through Congress. Restrictions are tight and applications face heavy competition but, as in the case of SBA loans, the agency walks small business owners through every step of the process.

Becoming a government contractor
As with investments in the U.S. dollar and Treasury bonds, contracting for the U.S. government is one of the surest ways to secure a steady client. The SBA can assist you in becoming a government contractor once your business is established. There are countless regulations involved in delivering work funded by taxpayers, but the private sector will always provide invaluable services to the government. Why shouldn't your fledgling company be one of the businesses that makes the government go?

Beyond the countless tools available on the agency website, the SBA publishes the Small Business Resource Guide annually. As far as manuals for starting a business go, this resource should be at or near the top of your list.

No matter what some critics say, it's tough to believe the government is not favorable to small businesses. Take full advantage of the SBA while you launch and grow your enterprise.

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