For small businesses across America, 2020 was one of the most challenging years in history. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) continues to stand ready to support small businesses impacted by the pandemic with educational resources and financial relief. The SBA also has your back if you are thinking about starting a business in 2021. Here are four things you can do to get your business off the ground:
- Write a business plan. To succeed in business, you need a business plan. Your first draft might contain a few gaps depending on how early you are in the planning stages. For instance, do you know where your business will be based, or whether demand exists in your geographic area (especially in the current economy)? As your business plan evolves, it will help you lay the groundwork to answer these questions and potentially help you secure funding. For ideas on how to structure your business plan and tips on what to include, take our free online How to Write a Business Plan course.
- Consider funding sources. It is essential to know how you will fund your business, but it can feel challenging to wade through various funding options. Learn about funding types – from crowdsourcing and venture capital – on our website. If you’re creditworthy but don’t qualify for conventional financing, SBA-backed loans are a good option. If you can’t obtain a business loan with reasonable rates and terms, contact your local SBA Lender to see if you are eligible for SBA programs. SBA works with participating lenders to reduce their risk, increasing the likelihood your loan will be approved with the terms that work best for you. The guarantee is conditional on the lender following SBA program requirements. Just like with any other loan, you make your loan payments directly to your lender in accordance with your terms. You can get started securing an SBA-guaranteed loan by using Lender Match, SBA’s free online referral program that connects small businesses with more than 800 participating SBA-approved lenders.
- Create a marketing plan. Once you are gearing up to launch, you need a marketing plan in place to get prospective customers buzzing about your products or services. SBA offers an online Marketing 101 training course that will guide you through the process of identifying a target market, conducting market research, and establishing a marketing plan. The course also covers the basics of social media marketing. Make sure to include online tactics like social media as digital marketing increases due to the pandemic.
- Get an expert second opinion. As you are navigating the startup process in this new economy, turn to experts for help. SBA resource partners offer free business mentoring, counseling, and training remotely via phone, email, and video chat. Connect with a local SBA resource partners here.
Regardless of what comes your way during your journey as a small business owner, SBA is here to help with resources at every stage of your business.