Local Resources Explained – Women’s Business Centers, Export Centers, Veteran Business Outreach Centers, Procurement Technical Assistance Centers
by kmurray, Community Moderator
- Created: April 2, 2014, 7:56 am
- Updated: April 2, 2014, 7:58 am
You know from our blog post SBA, SCORE, and SBDCs Explained – 3 Essential Local Resources for Small Business Owners that there are a number of resources available to help your business succeed.
There are also a few resources available to specific small-business audiences such as women, veterans and those interested in guidance about exporting or government contracting.
1. Women’s Business Centers (WBCs)
Women's Business Centers (WBCs) provide counseling, training and networking opportunities for women across the United States and its territories. With a network of nearly 100 educational centers, women around the country can receive tailored assistance to help them start and grow their small businesses. WBCs seek to "level the playing field" for women entrepreneurs, who still face unique obstacles in the business world.
Offerings vary by location, but you can expect to come into a WBC and get help with questions about developing a business plan; financing and funding sources; certifying your business; bookkeeping; and more.
SBA’s Office of Women’s Business Ownership (OWBO) oversees the WBC network, which provides entrepreneurs (especially women who are economically or socially disadvantaged) comprehensive training and counseling on a variety of topics – and in several languages.
2. Export Assistance Centers
Export Assistance Centers are customized for small business owners and entrepreneurs interested in taking their business global. There are a number of unique challenges you’ll face in the business of exporting, but rest assured that there’s help tailored for your needs!
Staffed with professionals from SBA, Department of Commerce, Export-Import Bank and other public and private organizations, Export Assistance Centers can help you with a variety of topics:
- Trade Counseling: planning and strategy; legal and regulatory issues; documentation and product requirements; trade problems; trade finance and insurance
- Business Matchmaking: contact lists and identifying potential partners; trade missions; trade shows; in-country promotions
- Market Intelligence: country and industry reports; customized market research; background reports; trade data and analysis; commercial diplomacy
Some Export Assistance Centers even have SBA representatives who are available to help you with all of your SBA export financing needs.
3. Veteran Business Outreach Centers (VBOCs)
If you’re a veteran interested in entering the business world from the military word, then consider the services available from your local Veterans Business Outreach Center. One of sixteen centers available can assist you with business topics that are unique to you and questions you may have as you enter into your business ventures. So, what can you expect?
- Pre-Business Plan Workshops: You’ll have the chance to work directly with a business counselor during entrepreneurial development workshops.
- Concept Assessments: You’ll get help gauging your entrepreneurial needs and requirements.
- Business Plan Preparations: Important to all business owners is a business plan, so you’ll get help developing and maintaining a business plan.
- Comprehensive Feasibility Analysis: Following the preparation of your business plan, a VBOC will help you identify and analyze its strengths and weaknesses. You’ll use the analysis results to revise the strategic planning portion of the business plan, with the ultimate goal being to increase the likelihood of success.
- Entrepreneurial Training and Counseling: Working with other SBA resource partners, VBOCs conduct entrepreneurial training and counseling sessions specifically for service-disabled veteran entrepreneurs.
- Mentorship: When needed, VBOCs conduct on-site visits to ensure you’re following your business plan. Additionally, VBOCs review monthly financial statements to determine if you should change your business plan to achieve targeted goals.
- Other Business Developmental Related Services: VBOCs also provide assistance and training in topics such as exporting, franchising, marketing, accounting and more.
As you can see, these extensive services can go a long way to help you on your way to success with a career in small-business ownership. Another great benefit of visiting a VBOC is the chance to meet other entrepreneurs like yourself – the opportunity to network and exchange experiences with folks going down a similar path can also be tremendously valuable.
4. Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs)
If you’d like to go into business with some of the biggest customers around – the government – then you’ll probably benefit greatly from visiting a Procurement Technical Assistance Center. They provide local, in-person counseling and training services (either for free or at a nominal cost) to enable you to succeed with government contracting. Here are some questions you can expect to answer when you visit a PTAC:
- Is my business ready for government contracting? It’s not the simplest task to pursue government contracts, and can be especially challenging for your company if you don’t have the resources to handle a contract. A PTAC representative can sit with you one-on-one and determine if your business is ready, and help position you for success.
- Where do I register? There are numerous databases to register with to get involved with the government marketplace, including the Department of Defense’s Central Contractor Registration (CCR), GSA Schedules, and other government vendor sites. A PTAC representative can help you determine where and how to register.
- Is my business eligible for any small business certifications? Did you know that some government contracts are set aside for businesses with special certifications? Examples include woman-owned, small disadvantaged businesses and HUBZone businesses. A PTAC representative can help you obtain these certifications if you’re eligible.
- What about contract opportunities? A PTAC representative can look into past contracts to see what types of contracts have been awarded to businesses like yours. This will give you a good idea about the overall business landscape and potential competition. A PTAC can also help you identify and bid on a contract, and if you are awarded the contract, measure your performance and help with contract audits.
So regardless of who you are and what kind of business you’re starting – or the type of business you’d like to do – SBA and its resources partners are here to guide you along the way. You don’t have to go it alone. These and others are available to help you start up, succeed and grow
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