Advocacy is an independent voice for small business within the federal government and is the watchdog for the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA). Advocacy advances the views and concerns of small business before Congress, the White House, the federal agencies, the federal courts and state policy makers.
Office of Advocacy
Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships
SBA’s Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships works to build strong relationships with both secular and faith-based nonprofit organizations to encourage entrepreneurship, support economic growth and promote prosperity for all Americans.
Office of Field Operations
The Office of Field Operations is the organizational unit of the Small Business Administration (SBA) that is primarily responsible for the direct execution of the Agency’s products and services for America’s small businesses, representing the critical link between the small businesses and the SBA policy makers. Field Operations is a critical part of the Agency’s responsibility to ensure stewardship and accountability over taxpayer dollars through prudent financial management and oversight.
Office of Hearings & Appeals
The Office of Hearings and Appeals' mission is to provide an independent, quasi-judicial appeal of certain SBA program decisions.
Office of the National Ombudsman
The National Ombudsman's mission is to assist small businesses when they experience excessive or unfair federal regulatory enforcement actions, such as repetitive audits or investigations, excessive fines, penalties, threats, retaliation or other unfair enforcement action by a federal agency.
Office of Credit Risk Management
The Office of Credit Risk Management's mission is to maximize the efficiency of SBA’s lending programs by effectively managing program credit risk, monitoring lender performance, and enforcing lending program requirements.
Office of Small Business Development Centers
The Mission of the Office of Small Business Development Centers is to promote entrepreneurship, small business growth and the US economy by providing the critical funding, oversight and support needed by the nationwide network of Small Business Development Centers.
About Office of Small Business Development Centers
The U.S Small Business Administration (SBA) administers the Small Business Development Center Program to provide management assistance to current and prospective small business owners. SBDCs offer one-stop assistance to individuals and small businesses by providing a wide variety of information and guidance in central and easily accessible branch locations.
The program is a cooperative effort of the private sector, the educational community and federal, state and local governments. It enhances economic development by providing small businesses with management and technical assistance.
There are now 63 Lead Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) -- one in every state (Texas has four, California has six), the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands -- with a network of more than 900 service locations. In each state there is a lead organization which sponsors the SBDC and manages the program. The lead organization coordinates program services offered to small businesses through a network of subcenters and satellite locations in each state. Subcenters are located at colleges, universities, community colleges, vocational schools, chambers of commerce and economic development corporations.
SBDC assistance is tailored to the local community and the needs of individual clients. Each center develops services in cooperation with local SBA district offices to ensure statewide coordination with other available resources.
Each center has a director, staff members, volunteers and part-time personnel. Qualified individuals recruited from professional and trade associations, the legal and banking community, academia, chambers of commerce and SCORE (the Service Corps of Retired Executives) are among those who donate their services. SBDCs also use paid consultants, consulting engineers and testing laboratories from the private sector to help clients who need specialized expertise.
The SBA provides 50 percent or less of the operating funds for each state SBDC; one or more sponsors provide the rest. These matching fund contributions are provided by state legislatures, private sector foundations and grants, state and local chambers of commerce, state- chartered economic development corporations, public and private universities, vocational and technical schools, community colleges, etc. Increasingly, sponsors contributions exceed the minimum 50 percent matching share.
What the Program Does:
The SBDC Program is designed to deliver up-to-date counseling, training and technical assistance in all aspects of small business management. SBDC services include, but are not limited to, assisting small businesses with financial, marketing, production, organization, engineering and technical problems and feasibility studies. Special SBDC programs and economic development activities include international trade assistance, technical assistance, procurement assistance, venture capital formation and rural development. The SBDCs also make special efforts to reach minority members of socially and economically disadvantaged groups, veterans, women and the disabled. Assistance is provided to both current or potential small business owners. They also provide assistance to small businesses applying for Small Business Innovation and Research (SBIR) grants from federal agencies.
Assistance from an SBDC is available to anyone interested in beginning a small business for the first time or improving or expanding an existing small business, who cannot afford the services of a private consultant.
Additional Information :
In addition to the SBDC Program, the SBA has a variety of other programs and services available. They include training and educational programs, advisory services, publications, financial programs and contract assistance. The agency also offers specialized programs for women business owners, minorities, veterans, international trade and rural development.
The SBA has offices located throughout the country. For the one nearest you, consult the telephone directory under "U.S. Government", or call the Small Business Answer Desk at 1-800-8-ASK-SBA or (202) 205-7064 (fax). For the hearing impaired, the TDD number is (202) 205-7333.
In many ways, the success of your business depends on your marketing abilities. A successful marketing plan includes the following components:
Packaging and labeling
Investing in a good marketing plan will generate excellent returns.
However, there's more to a winning marketing plan or advertising campaign than a profitable product or service. Unfair, untruthful or purposely deceptive advertising can result in costly penalties. The resources below provide information on how you can legally advertise your small business:
Learn how to avoid making false and misleading statements
How to comply with labeling laws for consumer products.
Specific rules for advertising and selling products over the Internet.
Learn the rules for advertising specific products; everything from alcohol to 900 numbers.
Rules for marketing and advertising over the phone.
Learn the rules for making environmental or "green" claims in advertising.
Tools and resources to help you market and advertise your business.
Resources to help you learn about your customers as well as competitors.
Doing Research for Purchasing a Business
Once you've found a business that you would like to buy, it's important to conduct a thorough, objective investigation. Look into every aspect of the business, verifying whether the owner's stated reasons for selling are legitimate and double-check every detail for accuracy. The following list includes important information you want to include when researching the business you want to buy.
Letter of Intent
A Letter of Intent usually creates a non-binding offer to purchase the business and is usually needed in order for the seller to provide sensitive information about the business. The Letter of Intent should spell out:
The proposed price
Terms of the purchase
Conditions for the sale of the business
The document should also state that either side may revise the terms or quit the proposed deal for any reason until a binding contract is executed.
Often required by the seller, a confidentiality agreement indicates that you won't use the information about the seller's business for any purpose other than making the decision to buy.
Contracts and Leases
It's important to discover all the obligations that the business is subject to, including property leases and equipment leases if there are any. In the case where there is a current lease for the location of the business, be aware that you may have to work with the current landlord to assume any existing lease on the business premises or negotiate a new lease. If you acquire an existing lease from another lessee, you may have to pay the previous lessee for the privilege. The cost of acquiring your lease may be amortized over the remaining term of the lease.
To learn about leases, see Leasing Commercial Space.
Examine the financial statements from the business for at least the past three to five years. Also make sure that the statements are accompanied by an audit letter from a reputable CPA firm. Don't accept a simple financial review by the business itself.
Review the business's tax returns from the past three to five years. This will help you determine the profitability of the business as well as whether any tax liability is outstanding.
Numerous documents should be checked during your investigation. They include:
Real and personal property documents
Payroll, benefits, and employee pension/profit sharing info
Certification by federal, state or local agencies
List of owners
Buying an existing business is a big decision and hiring professional help is always a good decision for such an important time in your life. A qualified attorney should be enlisted to help review the legal and organizational documents of the business you are planning to purchase. An accountant can help with a thorough evaluation of the financial condition of the business.
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