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4 New SBA Online Tools That Can Take Your Small Business to New Levels

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4 New SBA Online Tools That Can Take Your Small Business to New Levels

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: November 29, 2012 Updated: December 4, 2012

The old adage “time is money” is perhaps one of the most pertinent statements that you can apply to small business owners. Whether you’re starting a business or managing a growing one, entrepreneurs and business owners wear many hats and have many questions:

  • What laws and regulations apply to my business?
  • How do I start to write a business plan?
  • Where can I get help with X, Y and Z?

Many of us invariably turn to our networks and the Internet to find answers. But how can you trust that the information you are getting is truly applicable to your business and, let’s face it, even accurate?

As part of its mission to help business owners start, succeed and grow, SBA, through the SBA.gov website has developed numerous online tools and guides to help small businesses get information and answers they need quickly and efficiently. For example, these 10 Steps to Starting a Business and these 10 Steps to Hiring your First Employee guides are essential reading. SBA Direct is another useful tool that personalizes business owners’ experience on the SBA.gov website. Then there are the Licenses and Permits Search Tool and the Loans and Grants Search Tool.

New Online Tools to Help Business Owners Plan, Manage and Grow

Over the past couple of months, SBA has expanded its capacity and selection of tools and information business owners need by developing a whole range of new online features! Check them out:

1. Get to Know Your Market and Competition Better with the SizeUp Tool

Want to know how your business stacks up against the competition? Where your potential competitors are located? Where the best places are to advertise your business? These are all critical inputs for your business plan and can also help back up any financing applications.

Now with the new SizeUp tool you can crunch millions of data points and get customizable reports and statistics about your business and its competition. Just enter your industry, city, state and other details. SizeUp then runs various reports and provides maps and data related to your competition, suppliers and customers. It also highlights potential advertising opportunities.

2. Build a Business Plan Tool

Business planning can seem a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be that way. To help you plan and steer your business, this new “Build a Business Plan” tool guides you through the process of creating a basic, downloadable business plan. The great thing about it is you can build a plan in smaller chunks of time, save your progress and return at your leisure.

To use the tool, simply log into SBA.gov (registration is free, sign up here) and enter information into a template for each section of the business plan including, market analysis, company description and financial projections. The tool is secure and confidential and will keep your plan on record for up to six months. You can also save, download or email the plan at any time.

3. Size Standards Tool –Find Out Fast if You Qualify for Government Contracts

In order to be eligible to sell to the government and compete for small business “set-aside” contracts, business owners had to rummage through various rules and matrices to find out if their business is truly “small” according to SBA size standards. Now, with this new Size Standards Tool, you can follow three simple steps to cut through the guesswork and quickly find out if you qualify for government contracting opportunities. SBA also offers other resources including government contracting training courses, and guides to help you register as a contractor.

4. Events Calendar – Locate Business Training and Seminars

SBA and its partners, including Small Business Development Centers, Women’s Business Centers, and SCORE, hold hundreds of small business training seminars and workshops across the country. Until now, there was no single repository for these events. Now, with SBA’s Events Calendar, you can quickly find and sign up for training. Enter a date range and/or zip code to locate events in your area. Results are filtered by topic such as “starting a business,” “managing a business,” “business planning,” and “financing a business.”

Tell us what you think about the new tools below. You can also Tweet @SBAgov or post your feedback on the SBA Facebook page.

 

About the Author:

Caron Beesley

Contributor

Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley

Comments:

This infomation is really helpful, but can't be applied to my country (Indonesia), because its too much bureaucracy that we encountered, even for a small business. and i hope oneday we can be like you country (USA). thanks again for the infomation.
most of the tools are great but I did notice that the SizeUp tool has some bugs. You have to start typing your industry slowly, when you see your industry show up below your search field, highlight it and select it. You cannot simply type in an industry and hit enter, it will not work. Same goes for the city.. Unfortunately you guys don't have my city which baffles me, "Honolulu" a very large metropolitan city and it's not even available, bummer...
as said Dwight Eisenhower, "The plan is useless. But planning is essential." Great performance will not be successful without careful planning. Thank you Caron it's really nice tips.
Thanks for reaching out about your recently moved comment on the SBA.gov Community. You'll note in the Rules of Conduct that to maintain quality of discussions, contributions that do not provide a substantive purpose or relevance will be removed. If you have additional commentary related to the discussion topic or blog post, you're welcome to post that along with your original comment. Thank you for your understanding and for joining us on the SBA.gov Community.
Making a business plan is my weak point, thank you for providing this tool and relevant information! ;-)
Totaly agree with that
Simply, admirable what you have done here. It is pleasing to look you express from the heart and your clarity on this significant content can be easily looked. Remarkable post and will look forward to your future update.
Better business needs a better thinking and an execution plan to achieve the desired goal and reach the mission and vision of the organization. So as delineated by you, the points are quite fruitful in that respect. Thanks
I love the SizeUp tool. What a great way to find out about the competition in your industry.
Thats good synopsis that you just discussed here. That would really be helpful for any beginner. I also believe that building a better corporate image is the thing one can do once one has entered into this field and in this the corporate promotional products plays a crucial role. Any way thanks a lot for your input. I will look forward to hear more from you. Thanks

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