An Uncle You Want to Do Business With
by Maria Contreras-Sweet, SBA Administrator
- Created: April 11, 2014, 11:53 am
- Updated: April 11, 2014, 11:53 am
At the SBA, one of our core objectives is to provide access to capital, but that’s not the end of our commitment to America’s small business owners. It’s the beginning.
We know small businesses need reliable lending to grow, but we also know it’s important to provide entrepreneurs with information about business fundamentals, regulatory compliance, how to access government contracts and how to network your way into new opportunities and new customers.
While I’m only on Day 5 in my new role as SBA Administrator, it’s already abundantly clear to me that the work of our Office of Entrepreneurial Development is vital. By working with our partners to provide technical assistance, counseling, training, and mentoring, we are providing game-changing advice to help small businesses grow their profits and their payrolls.
I’ll never forget a meeting I had with the head of a public utilities agency back in California years ago. He had worked with a program very much like our Emerging Leaders initiative, which helps underserved businesses grow their companies and compete for public contracts. This executive told me that he had a strong preference to contract with companies whose leaders had been through programs like ours.
He said emerging leaders “get it.” They are more sophisticated. They speak the language of business. They know how to run sound operations and how to problem-solve. He said these small businesses are, plain and simple, better partners.
On Thursday, I attended the kickoff of our Baltimore Emerging Leaders class. The national statistics for small business owners who’ve gone through the SBA’s Emerging Leaders program are remarkable: two out of three leaders have increased their revenue; three out of four have hired new employees; and nearly half have secured government contracts.
The United States government buys more than $400 billion worth of goods and services every year, making Uncle Sam the largest buyer in the world. That’s an uncle you want to do business with.
Three months ago, SBA did a focus group with our Baltimore alums who took this class in previous years. We asked them how many of them are "8a certified," meaning they are underserved businesses that are preferred partners for sole-source federal contracts. Three out of four possess this certification.
To date, 2,000 business executives have gone through our Emerging Leaders program, and they have secured more than $1 billion in contracts and accessed $73 million in new financing. Emerging Leaders is a program that can open lucrative doors for America’s small businesses. It’s why I went to Capitol Hill on Wednesday – my second full day on the job – to make the case to the Senate Small Business Committee for a $15 million appropriation to fund Entrepreneurial Education in the coming fiscal year.
A wise man once said, “A lot of people have gone further than they thought they could because someone else thought they could.” At the SBA, taking care of business is our business, and it has been for 61 years. That means we’re committed to ensuring that our small business owners have the tools to compete in the federal procurement arena and realize their full potential.
About the Author
Maria Contreras-Sweet is the Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration. The SBA helps both Main Street and high-growth small businesses get access to capital, counseling, federal contracts, disaster assistance and more.
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