4 New SBA Online Tools That Can Take Your Small Business to New Levels
by Caron_Beesley, Community Moderator
- Created: November 29, 2012, 7:08 am
- Updated: December 4, 2012, 11:59 am
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.”
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