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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:

Thank you for making available these useful tools for those who want to start a new business ;-)
All tools are great, but I prefer "Business plan tool" the most. As this is the main and most important stage in business life and SBA is really facilitating business owners by providing them help and guide in business planning and projection.
I agree with that !!
Hello, Thanks for the article Caron. I would like to suggest another online tool that can promote SMBs: online website builders. The net is full with easy, friendly and affordable website builders (I'd recommend exai.com if you're new in this).. all you need to do is google it and you will have your own website in minutes :)
First I want to thank you for the advice and information you choose to share with us, and secondly must say it is very important to take care of everything you mentioned above in 4 points if we want to grow our business.
Building a business plan is one of the most difficult aspects of doing and running business. Thanks for insights on this topic. It was very helpful.
@caronbeesley I must concur! "time is money" and time one of, if not the most important asset a business person could have; it's simply none refundable but greatly measurable. I'm new to this community but having worked in the corporate world for some years I must admit that there are some really successful businesses with an awfully outdated business plan. I will give the new tools a spin and see how it goes. Thanks for providing =)
Thanks for the nice and informative post. I personally feel that building a business plan is one of the most difficult aspects of doing and running business. Definitely the tools you provided in this short but informative post would be of great help. Thanks again.

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