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It’s National Cyber Security Awareness Month - Tips for Safeguarding Your Business

By Stephen Morris, SBA Official
Published: October 19, 2012 Updated: October 19, 2012

Small businesses are becoming a larger target for criminals seeking to access sensitive data because attackers are well aware that small businesses have limited resources or personnel dedicated to information system security. In an effort to combat cyber-attacks, the Department of Homeland Security established October as National Cyber Security Awareness Month to educate the public about cyber security and to prepare the nation in the event of a cyber-incident.

Here are 9 steps your business can take to improve your cyber security:

  1. Use the FCC’s Small Biz Cyber Planner to create a cyber security plan

    The Small Biz Cyber Planner is valuable for businesses that lack the resources to hire a dedicated staff member to protect themselves from cyber threats. The tool walks users through a series of questions to determine which cyber security strategies should be included in the planning guide, and generates a customized PDF that serves as a cyber security strategy template.
     

  2. Establish cyber-security rules for  your employees

    Establish rules of behavior describing how to handle and protect personally identifiable information.  Clearly detail the penalties for violating cyber security policies.
     

  3. Protect against viruses, spyware, and other malicious code

    Install, use, and regularly update antivirus and antispyware software on every computer used in your business. Such software is readily available online from a variety of vendors.
     

  4. Educate employees about safe social media practices

    Depending on what your business does, employees might be introducing competitors to sensitive details about your firm’s internal business. Employees should be taught how to post online in a way that does not reveal any trade secrets to the public or competing businesses. This type of safe social networking can help avoid serious risks to your business.
     

  5. Manage and assess risk

    Ask yourself, “What do we have to protect? And, what would impact our business the most?” Cyber-criminals often use lesser-protected small businesses as a bridge to attack larger firms with which they have a relationship. This can make unprepared small firms a less attractive business partner in the future, blocking potentially lucrative business deals.
     

  6. Download and install software updates when they are available

    All software vendors regularly provide patches and updates to their products to correct security problems and improve functionality. Configure all software to install such updates automatically.
     

  7. Make backup copies of important business data and information

    Regularly backup the data on every computer used in your business. Critical data includes word processing documents, spreadsheets, databases, financial files, human resources files, and accounts receivable/payable files. Backup data automatically if possible, or at least weekly.
     

  8. Control physical access to computers and network components

    Prevent access or use of business computers by unauthorized individuals. Laptops can be particularly easy targets for theft, so make sure they are stored and locked up when unattended.
     

  9. Secure Wi-Fi networks

    If you have a Wi-Fi network for your home business make sure it is secure and hidden. To hide your Wi-Fi network, configure your wireless access point or router so that it does not broadcast the network name, known as the Service Set Identifier (SSID).  In addition, make sure that passwords are required for access. It is also critical to change the administrative password that was on the device when it was first purchased.

Cyber security is an ever-changing field and businesses must continually adapt to new attack methods.  Check out the National Cybersecurity Alliance’s StaySafeOnline.com or the FTC’s OnGuardOnline.gov, both of which provide information about cyber security issues.

Source: FCC's Cybersecurity Tips for Small Business

Related Resources

National Cyber Security Awareness Month at the Dept. of Homeland Security
Federal Communications Commission – Cyber Security for Small Business
Learn more about National Cyber Security Awareness Month

About the Author:

Stephen Morris

SBA Official

Stephen Morris is online media coordinator for the U.S. Small Business Administration where he manages digital outreach to the small business community.

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The Importance of Building Business Credit

By Marco Carbajo, Guest Blogger
Published: October 18, 2012

According to Wikipedia an asset can be defined as a resource controlled by an entity as a result of past events and from which future economic benefits are expected to flow to the entity.

Many startups rely on the use of personal assets to secure funding for the business. Although money is often tight during the early stages, the goal of a small business owner should be to not only increase sales revenues but to build the company’s creditworthiness.

In particular, business credit is an asset and considered an economic resource that make up the financial foundation of a company.

Here are two important questions that you should be able to answer:

What is a tangible business asset?

What is an intangible business asset?

A tangible business asset is when you purchase vehicles, real estate, computers, office furniture and other fixtures exclusively for business use.

Intangible business asset are nonphysical resources and rights that have value to a business. Some examples are copyrights, trademarks, patents, accounts receivables and you guessed it - business credit.

In this particular article we will be discussing the importance of building business credit. You don’t really hear about business credit being an asset but it is. Business credit has value to a company’s financing ability and credit capacity.

By building business credit with all the National business credit bureaus a company increases its finance capacity. This creates an asset that can be used to acquire financing for the business based on its own creditworthiness rather than that of its owners.

Here are three major benefits of building business credit:

  1. Large Credit Capacity – Businesses have 10 to 100 times greater credit capacity compared to personal credit. As a creditworthy business your company will be in a position to qualify for financing based on factors strictly related to the business. Without building business credit you will have to continue to rely on your personal credit.
  2. Increase Company Value – A creditworthy business has a powerful advantage in financing ability. Because this asset is fully transferable with the business it makes it very attractive for a potential buyer or investor.
  3. Protect Personal Credit – A business owner will be able to limit if not eliminate the use of personal credit checks since the company has its own credit ratings. This prevents a business owner from having to co-mingle personal credit, personal debts, and personal assets with his company.

Building business credit truly provides remarkable benefits for a business and gives unique financial advantages in the market place. With this asset a business can secure lines of credit, lease equipment, finance a company vehicle, and obtain business loans and credit cards without putting personal credit at risk.

Finally, it’s important to remember, the greater the business credit, the greater the worth and potential return you will receive if you choose to sell the business in the future.

 

About the author

Marco Carbajo is CEO of the Business Credit Insiders Circle (http://www.businesscreditblogger.com), a step-by-step business credit building system providing credit recovery, lines of credit, business credit cards, trade credit, and funding sources.

About the Author:

Marco Carbajo
Marco Carbajo

Guest Blogger

Marco Carbajo is a business credit expert, author, speaker, and founder of the Business Credit Insiders Circle. He is a business credit blogger for Dun and Bradstreet Credibility Corp, the SBA.gov Community, About.com and All Business.com. His articles and blog; Business Credit Blogger.com, have been featured in 'Fox Small Business','American Express Small Business', 'Business Week', 'The Washington Post', 'The New York Times', 'The San Francisco Tribune',‘Alltop’, and ‘Entrepreneur Connect’.

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8 Ways to Strengthen Your Email Marketing Offers and Calls to Action

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: October 18, 2012 Updated: October 18, 2012

Are you worried you’re not getting tangible results from your email campaigns? Wish your emails stood out more in a crowded Inbox? Email marketing is a core asset in any lead generation activity or campaign, even a good old email newsletter usually has one or more calls to action. But if you’re finding that your click-through rates are falling short, what can you do?

Here are eight tips to help you get strengthen your emails and get customer to act.

Start with a robust and engaged list

Before you do anything, stop and take a look at your email marketing list. Do your contacts want to hear from you? What’s your opt-out rate? How long has it been since you’ve refreshed your list? Check open rates (20 percent is average). If it’s low, you may have a problem. If you find that your click-throughs and conversions aren’t where they should be, freshen your list by segmenting it out. You could send an email only to those who haven’t opened your emails for a while.  Make it catchy, and try to win them back! Consider purging the unresponsive names – send them an email and ask them if they still want to hear from you and give them a clear option to opt out. Whatever you do, be creative, do the opposite of what you normally do and test the results.

Give your subject line the attention it deserves

Long gone are the days of formal subject lines laden with marketing speak. In today’s social media world, consumers are tuned in more to messages that speak directly to them. Cut the jargon and use subject lines that are clear, concise and answer the question: “What’s in it for me?” Use conversational language and address your reader as “you” or “your.” One of my personal favorites comes from the UK online clothing retailer Boden, which also operates in the U.S. Their subject lines reflect the quirky and customer-oriented nature of their brand and stand out in a crowded Inbox of discount offers. Here are three examples:

 “Don’t dilly dally. 20% off plus free shipping ends soon”

 “20% off loads of lovely styles – 1 week only”

“Your VIP SALE invitation: nab the best bits first”

Test your subject lines. Keep an eye on open rates and click-throughs and adjust your messaging strategy accordingly.

Use action-oriented words

Looking at the subject line examples above, do you notice how the limited time offer is clearly stated in the subject line? This compels readers to act now before it’s too late. If you have a special offer, make sure you clearly mention this several times – use action-oriented words in the subject line, in the body of your email and in any graphic elements. “Urgency” words like “now” and “this week only” can be far more effective than “free,” which is a red flag to SPAM filters.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Put your social media cap on and have a dialogue with your readers that motivates follow-through. Use questions in the subject line, as Boden does with its post-purchase review request: “How did we do? Review your Boden purchase today.

Be confident, but stay on brand

Be confident in the tone of your call to action language, while staying consistently on-brand. Don’t be afraid of telling your readers what’s in it for them. Boden’s “20% of loads of lovely styles – 1 week only” does this perfectly.

Use graphics to enhance calls to action

The call to action button is a great way to draw attention to your offer or call to action. Most email marketing software lets you add this option. Play around with it and pick a design that’s eye-catching without being overwhelming. Position the call to action high up, centered on the page. Use your brand colors and clear, bold text. Avoid wordiness and leave lots of white space so your call to action pops. Then test your emails. Come up with several designs and ask your staff which grabbed their attention the most.

Get your content right

Content is an area that creates most concern for small business owners. How do I try to make a sale without sounding “salesy?” How can I make my call to action compelling? There are many ways to do this, and your copy and graphics go hand-in-hand:

  • Target your content or offer to specific audiences. At the simplest level, segment your lists by existing customers versus prospects and tailor your message accordingly. Geotarget if you can (especially if you are promoting an event or in-store offer). Adapt your message to specific locations.
  • Make your offer beneficial, relevant and timely. For example, are there any newsworthy (e.g. the Presidential election, Super Bowl, etc.) or seasonal activities going on that you can spin your offer around?
  • Feature images of your product.

Declutter

Have you ever received an email that was so cluttered you couldn’t decipher what was being offered or how to take advantage of it? A truly great promotional email is one that’s light on copy (shoot for 50 words or less) with a clear message and simple call to action. Your email is a teaser piece; you want to hint at what’s offered while enticing your readers to click through for more details. This can be achieved in under 50 words with good graphics and a stand-out call to action. Don’t omit too much though. For example, if you are hosting an event, you’ll need to include dates and prices in your email.

Pick the right email software

Lastly, revisit your email software. Does your current email software let you easily build custom templates? Can you add or delete content blogs and edit graphics without having to know web coding? What about social media integration, email personalization and other features? All these can help take the pain out of creating compelling content while automating your email campaign.

Related Blogs

 

 

About the Author:

Caron_Beesley
Caron Beesley

Contributor

Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley

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Planning and Managing a Business Retirement Plan – Government eTools That Can Help

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: October 17, 2012 Updated: October 17, 2012

Are you self-employed and trying to understand your retirement savings plan options? Are you perhaps an employer who wants to offer your employees a retirement savings plan program?

There are many ways to fund a retirement plan. In some cases, employers contribute. In others, employees or both (employer and employee) contribute. If you have no employees, your options are different again. The program you choose may dictate which options are available.

Even after you’ve chosen a plan, it will take more work and diligence to maintain it. Plan requirements change and it’s your responsibility to know when they do. That’s why reviewing your retirement plan each year helps ensure it’s compliant with current tax laws. Like routine physicals, retirement plan check-ups can help you prevent problems or detect them early.

The good news for employers and the self-employed is that the government offers very useful online tools to help you choose a retirement savings plan, maintain it and even make corrections to your plan to protect participants’ benefits and keep plans in compliance with the law.

Determine the Right Retirement Savings Plan for Your Business

If you are interested in offering your employees an employer-sponsored plan, then you need to understand your options. The Department of Labor’s online Small Business Retirement Savings Advisor is a useful first stop to finding the right plan for you.

The Advisor is part of the DOL’s wider elaws Advisors program that gives both employers and employees easy-to-understand information about a number of federal employment laws. 

Simply answer a series of Yes/No questions and the Advisor will suggest retirement plans appropriate to the number of employees you have, whether you want to have a plan funded by employer, employees or both. It also offers links to the required IRS reporting forms for each plan.

Navigate Your Retirement Plan and Stay Compliant with IRS Laws

Another useful online resource for employers is the IRS Retirement Plans Navigator. This glossy tool not only helps you understand more about plan options, it also helps you manage a well-run plan – both for the benefit of your employees and in line with current federal tax law.

Giving your business retirement plan a check-up, whether it’s a 401(k), IRA, SEP, or 403(k), can also help you save time, money and paperwork, and increase tax return accuracy. Some of the common mistakes the IRS looks out for in retirement plan examinations include:

  • Not covering the proper employees
  • Not giving employees required information
  • Not depositing employee deferrals in a timely fashion
  • Not following the terms of the plan document
  • Not limiting employee deferrals and employer contributions to the proper maximum limits

These errors can have an impact on the tax benefits accrued from operating a business retirement plan and expose you to audits and penalties, so it's a good idea to continuously monitor and review your plan. The IRS Retirement Plans Navigator is an essential tool for keeping your plan compliant and includes useful plan check-ups that can help you prevent problems or detect them early. You can even make appropriate plan changes without having to notify the IRS.

Related Resources

About the Author:

Caron_Beesley
Caron Beesley

Contributor

Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley

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Do You Copy?

By Rieva Lesonsky, Guest Blogger
Published: October 16, 2012

 

We learn in grade school that it’s not right to copy others, and even as adults we know copying is usually frowned upon. But when it comes to business marketing, there’s nothing wrong with being a copycat—in fact, it’s downright good business. Looking at how your competitors market themselves can teach you what to do (and what not to do) with your own marketing strategy. Here’s how to be a successful marketing copycat.

Start by determining your major competitors, and include both big companies and small ones. Pay attention to their marketing campaigns—including print, radio, TV or cable TV, outdoor advertising and online advertising. (You may want to put someone at your business in charge of gathering and maintaining this information, since it will be an ongoing job.) Create a database or record of where each competitor is advertising, ad size, frequency and any other information you think is important. 

Next, assess the actual ads themselves. Start from a consumer or customer standpoint. If you were looking for this product or service, what would you think of this ad? Be objective; if you can’t, enlist a friend or family member to look at or listen to the ads for you.

Then assess the ads from a business standpoint. What benefits and features do the ads highlight? Do they rely on special offers and discounts, or are they touting luxury or premium products? What types of customers are they targeting (Moms? Seniors? Teens? Businesspeople? Value shoppers)?

Don’t forget social media. It’s easy to keep tabs on what the competition is doing on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest—just follow or like your competitors, then regularly check out their posts and how customers respond. You’ll get a window into exactly how successful their marketing is and what customers like to see.

Once you’ve got all this information, you’ll need to do some serious thinking. Ask yourself (and brainstorm with your team):

·         What do I like and dislike about my competitors’ ads? If something in an ad bugs you, it probably bugs potential customers, too. Conversely, if something resonates with you, it’s likely to hit home with prospects as well.

·         What tactics could I copy or learn from? Of course, you shouldn’t directly copy your competitor—and if your ads are too similar, it could even cause confusion among customers. But you can do things like advertising in the same places your competitors are or promoting similar benefits in your ads. 

·         What can I do differently to make my business stand out? Is there a media outlet your customers care about that no competitors are advertising? For instance, if you’re targeting teens, maybe you could advertise on an Internet radio service like Spotify.

·         What weaknesses do I see that could create opportunity for my business? For example, if all the competitors in your community are promoting their low prices, you could take the opposite tack and promote your personalized service, premium products or other benefit that differentiates your company and makes what you offer worth a higher price. If no one else is advertising out-of-home, but your target consumers frequently use public transportation, there’s opportunity for you to advertise on bus stops or in or near subway stations.

Of course, marketing isn’t all about ads. If possible, visit your competitors’ stores or offices (or have a trusted friend or family member do so) to get a feel for how customers are treated and other elements such as signage, window décor and employee uniforms. Ask yourself the same questions about what you like and dislike as a customer, what’s missing from the marketing, and what opportunities you see.

Once you get the hang of copycat marketing, you’ll be able to apply it outside your immediate competitors. Start paying attention to ads you like (or don’t like) for companies in your industry, even if they’re not directly competitive with yours. Create an “inspiration folder” with ads that help you generate ideas. You’ll soon find that learning from others takes your marketing to new heights.

About the Author:

Rieva Lesonsky
Rieva Lesonsky

Guest Blogger

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and President of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Follow Rieva at Twitter.com/Rieva and visit SmallBizDaily.com to sign up for her free TrendCast reports. She's been covering small business and entrepreneurial issues for more than 30 years, is the author of several books about entrepreneurship and was the editorial director of Entrepreneur magazine for over two decades

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How to Get Paid Faster With a Better Invoicing Process

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: October 15, 2012

Tired of chasing down one too many unpaid invoices?

Death and taxes may be two of life’s certainties, but if you are a business owner, then in all likelihood you can go ahead and add delinquent receivables to the list.

Unfortunately for small business owners, the wait to get paid is only getting longer. According to a 2012 Wall Street Journal survey, 64 percent of small businesses had unpaid invoices more than 60 days old while 20 percent say the problem is worsening.

The trickledown effect of unpaid invoices is particularly taxing to small business owners – impacting hiring, investments in business and product development and your ability to pay bills.

There are a number of measures you can take to prevent and deal with non-paying clients such as agreeing on payment policies and enforcing late payment fees, but perhaps one of the less obvious tactics is to optimize your invoices for faster payments. Here’s how:

Give Clients What They Need

While your invoice should always include standard information such as your billing address, date and other necessary line items, don’t forget that some clients may require additional details. Details like a contract number, purchase order, tax ID or account number all can help expedite payments. Check with new clients before invoicing them to make sure you are giving them the details they need.

It might also be a good practice to attach your work order, statement of work, contract, or other document that outlines exactly what you agreed to provide. It’s even better if these documents are signed. This will let your client’s accounts payable team know who to contact internally to get the invoice approved and paid.

Invoice Promptly

If your processes can support this, invoice as soon as the work is complete rather than waiting until the end of the month. This will help alleviate delays and ensure you have a steady stream of cash coming in throughout the month.

Invoice Online

You may already be emailing PDF invoices to clients, but another option for reducing the mailing and processing cycle is to invoice your clients online. There are many commercially available online billing systems to consider, many of which integrate online payment options too. To help determine the right platform for your small business, read Going Beyond the Spreadsheet – Automate Your Billing Process with Online Software.

Consider Online Payment Options

Avoid mailing delays and help your client process payments with ease by offering online payment options. Amazon Payments, PayPal and Intuit all offer online payment services that can help you get paid on time. Some of these also offer easy integration with your online billing system and business finance software.

Depending on your industry, you may even be able to find trade-specific online payment services. For example, my pet sitter uses a system designed exclusively for professional pet sitters. Ask around and do your research before signing up for one of these services – and of course, check that your clients are ok with processing payments online.

Related Resources

 

About the Author:

Caron_Beesley
Caron Beesley

Contributor

Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley

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New Cluster Grants Build On Successful Public-Private Partnerships

By Karen Mills, Former SBA Administrator
Published: October 12, 2012 Updated: October 16, 2012

Two years ago, SBA pioneered the federal government’s first regional cluster strategy and I’m proud to say we’ve already seen the tangible benefits of these investments:

  • Our research shows small business participation in our 10 pilot clusters increased by more than 275 percent in just one year;
  • Employment grew on average by more than 11 percent in the small businesses that participated in the 10 pilot clusters; and
  • More than two-thirds (69 percent) of small businesses that sought cluster support reported that they developed new products and services.

One of our top priorities at the SBA is to build on the success that we’ve already achieved and create these place based ecosystems across the country.  We are continuing to invest in Regional Innovation Clusters, which will help innovative small business grow faster and create jobs.  And, most recently, we joined with the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration, and the National Science Foundation to support the Advanced Manufacturing Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge.  As a result of this challenge, we formed ten new public-private partnerships with clusters across America to strengthen advanced manufacturing at the local level. 
 
These ten new partnerships will be particularly important in building on the growth we have experienced in manufacturing.  Since February of 2010, the economy has added more than 500,000 manufacturing jobs.  And, we know for every new job created in the manufacturing sector, another two jobs are created in the surrounding community.  By supporting these advanced manufacturing clusters, we will spur additional job creation, strengthen the manufacturing supply chain by connecting innovative small suppliers with large companies, link research with the start-ups that can commercialize new ideas, and train workers with skills that firms need to capitalize on business opportunities. 
 
All across the Administration, we are continuing to use every lever we have available to help fuel job creation and lay the foundation for a more inclusive, resilient and competitive 21st century American economy.  By supporting our small innovative manufacturing companies and investing in place based ecosystems we are fostering the growth of the American supply chain and creating an economy built to last.

About the Author:

Karen Mills

Former SBA Administrator

Karen Gordon Mills is the Former 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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SBA Learning Center

SBA's Online Business Chat

A live Q&A session with small business experts. Submit your question before or during the chat discussion. You cannot submit question after Closing Remarks for the chat. No registration is needed for the web chat.

Expert: Ana Harvey
Business Opportunities for Young Women

Ana Harvey

Assistant Administrator, SBA’s Office of Women’s Business Ownership

Thursday, October 25, 2012 6:00 PM

As the U.S. Small Business Administration’s assistant administrator for women’s business ownership, Ana Harvey is the director of the SBA’s Office of Women’s Business Ownership. Harvey oversees the agency’s efforts to promote the growth of women-owned businesses through programs that provide business training and counseling, access to credit and capital, and multiple business and networking opportunities.

She manages a nationwide network of women's business centers that provide training and counseling to hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs in nearly every state and two U.S. territories. Her office also works with representatives in every SBA district office to oversee operations of the women’s business centers and to coordinate services for women entrepreneurs.

Before joining SBA, Harvey grew her company from a single English-to-Spanish translation agency into a full-service multilingual communications firm with 75 employees handling communications and translations in 25 languages. She was previously named president and CEO of the Greater Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, a post she held until President Obama appointed her to lead the Office of Women’s Business Ownership. Harvey holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Houston.

Are you a young woman with tons of fresh ideas for a small business, but without a clue on how to get started? Find out how one woman started her own company when she was young, and how the SBA can help you find the capital, mentoring and support needed to establish your own successful business.

Please post your question below:

Note: There is not an audio format for the online chat, and no broadcast capability. SBA moderators retain editorial control over the online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for chat participants and hosts.

Chat Transcript

From:
Patrice
Location:
Cincinnati, OH
 

Welcome to SBA’s web chat of a series this month focused on Business Opportunities for Young Women. I look forward to answering your questions and sharing SBA’s resources that should be helpful to you in starting and growing your business. I encourage you to participate in SBA’s online communities and submit your suggestions; SBA is constantly looking for ways to improve access to entrepreneurial tools and education.  Ana Harvey & Meredith Olafson

 
From:
Patrice
Location:
Cincinnati, OH
 
Question:
I will not be able to attend this online chat. Is there a way I can view it at a later time? Thank you
Reply:
Hi, Patrice. The chat log will remain posted online after today’s session at the same web address as the chat itself.
 
From:
Jessica =
Location:
Tallahassee, Florida
 
Question:
Does anyone have alot of insight on starting a business completly based online and selling no products. I have the idea of growing a forum, thus all of my money would eventually come from ads and hopefully attract investors in the near future...
Reply:
This is a great question, Jessica. To get started, here is what you need to know when starting and managing an online business: http://www.sba.gov/content/starting-online-business.
 
From:
angela stader
Location:
floyds knobs, indiana
 
Question:
I'm interested in starting a business.I was wondering about grants for women.TKS
Reply:
Thanks for your question, Angela. SBA does not provide grants for starting and expanding a business even if you are a woman. However, SBA does offers microloans for startups. Here is more information: http://www.sba.gov/content/microloan-program.
 
From:
Lilly Bogner
Location:
los angeles, California
 
Question:
I am 22 years of age and began my online retail business selling safety product for all kind of vehicles .the start is promising and need to know how to apply for SBA loan ,register my business under women owned and have government contracts as well. Thanks
Reply:
Congratulations, Lilly. In terms of loans, it depends on the loan size and what you are seeking. If you are looking for a line of credit for working capital purposes, depending on the dollar size, a business credit card can be a good tool. http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/small-business-cents/.... For information on microloans, go to http://www.sba.gov/content/microloan-programFor information about the SBA’s government contracting programs like the Women Owned Small Business Program, visit www.sba.gov/wosb.
 
From:
Solidad
Location:
Houston, Texas
 
Question:
I would like to buy a daycare that is already up and running,but don't know how to go about it. Can you help give me some understanding.Thanks Solidad
Reply:
Many entrepreneurs start out wondering where to begin. There is a lot of information out there and it can be difficult to just jump in and get started. I definitely recommend taking some courses. You can start out by taking our online training courses at www.sba.gov/training. We’d suggest getting input and advice from one of SBA's business counselors. Find a local SBA counselor near you at www.sba.gov/direct.
 
From:
Dolores Thompson
Location:
Auburn, NY
 
Question:
Hi, I have recently started my own retail business. I started in July 2012 and I was selling dresses in my driveway. I now have a store the size of a small dining room. I seemed to have made more money in my driveway but I'm in NY and thats not very realistic as we are in October. I have no flock of customers by any means and I am scared. How can I get people in my store? I'm on a flyer only budget how can I maximize exposure. I was thinking a party and by appointment ideas but I just don't know what I should do next.
Reply:
Thanks for your question, Dolores. Marketing any type of business takes time, money, and lots of preparation. You can find tips on creating your marketing plan at http://www.sba.gov/content/developing-marketing-plan. Here’s an SBA blog that will be useful to you: http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/small-business-matter...
 
From:
Nena
Location:
Pasadena, Maryland
 
Question:
I have a small real estate investment LLC. I need a small loan or line of credit to purchase a rental property. I was told that my company was too young and I needed to have done business for at least one year.1. How do I establish credit before I have started doing business? 2. Is there any program that encourages women like me to get started on a mini loan while building up business record and repertoire.
Reply:
Great question, Nena. I would look into SBA’s microloan program. You can read more about it here: http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/could-you-finance-your-start-with-mic.... The counseling that you will receive along with the microloan funding will help you to get started on a solid footing.
 
From:
Mel mouat
Location:
Brisbane, Qld
 
Question:
Hi, would love the top 5-10 best tips for getting into Business for the first time. I want to start a online women's business - selling clothing and jewelley. Have the suppliers already. Thanka Mel
Reply:
Mel, SBA has a variety of resources available to you. To get started, I recommend that you visit http://www.sba.gov/content/starting-online-business for tips on managing an online business. I would recommend that you also take a look at SBA’s 10 steps to starting a business at SBA.gov: http://www.sba.gov/content/follow-these-10-steps-starting-business.
 
From:
Eki Ighile
Location:
Burtonsville, Maryland
 
Question:
I recently registered my Accounting and Management consulting business, However I have not been able to secure a contract. How do I earn contracts with the government and private clients? Regards, Eki
Reply:
Doing business with the government requires a new set of skills. You can start by going to http://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/contracting to find what you need to get started and to secure contracts with the government. For the private sector, please visit www.wbenc.org or www.nawbo.org
 
From:
Janie Dunn
Location:
Chester, OK
 
Question:
I am interested in Homesteading, but also need to make money to get by. I have run a small farmers market for two years, have a small flock of chickens, capable of making websites, fixing computers, marketing. Looking to put it all together in a business plan I can follow and maintain. Would like to hire others, grow the vegetable production side.
Reply:
Janie, the first step for you is to assess your situation and formulate a plan. Here is what you need to know when starting a home-based business of any kind: http://www.sba.gov/content/home-based-business. I would also recommend that you visit www.sba.gov/training and take one of our online training courses on writing a business plan, marketing your business and other topics.
 
From:
Kendra Brooks Turner
Location:
Greensboro, NC
 
Question:
We started an online business in April of this year for my daughter who is 13 years old. Please provide insight as to how to grow her online business which caters more to a particular group of people. As well as how to obtain or request capital for a start up business. Thank you
Reply:
Congratulations, Kendra, on having such an entrepreneurial daughter! To get started, I would recommend that she visit http://www.sba.gov/content/young-entrepreneurs. As you guide her, you can also go to http://www.sba.gov/content/starting-online-business for tips on managing an online business. In terms of capital for a startup business, a smaller loan option can be a good opportunity. I would look into SBA’s microloan program. You can read more about it here: http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/could-you-finance-your-start-with-mic...
 
From:
Lyndsey
Location:
Hoover, AL
 
Question:
I want to grow my counseling practice into a health & wellness practice because of my increasing knowledge and training, but I don't know how to market and convince to invest in their health. How do you become a consultant/educator on your own but also find resources to make it financially possible? I know lots of people some with and some without the means but lots of desire, but I'm not sure how to create a program/plan that works.
Reply:
What a great opportunity to combine your passion with a business. I definitely recommend taking some courses. You can start out by taking our online training courses at www.sba.gov/training. You can also find tips on creating a marketing plan at http://www.sba.gov/content/developing-marketing-plan. Once you figure out the areas that you need help with, you can visit one of SBA's business counselors. Find a local counselor at www.sba.gov/direct.
 
From:
M. Faulk
Location:
Oak Park, Michigan
 
Question:
I've started a girls mentoring program. How do I get connected with resources for the expansion of my program? Ie., Marketing and funding
Reply:
I would recommend that you try to connect with our Women’s Business Center in Michigan which offers counseling and mentoring to aspiring women entrepreneurs. I’m sure that this would expand the resources that you need to grow your program.
 
From:
Yayleene
Location:
Clearwater, Florida
 
Question:
How can i stared my own business when i have no big credit experience cause i'm young ?
Reply:
Yayleene, thank you for your question. It’s great that you are thinking about how to build your credit while you are young. SBA has online tools that you may find helpful. To get started, I would visit http://www.sba.gov/content/young-entrepreneurs. I would also encourage you to visit www.mindyourownbiz.org to learn more about financial literacy for young entrepreneurs.
 
From:
Renee Gonzalez
Location:
New Orleans, LA
 
Question:
Is it possible for an aspiring small business woman in the startup phase to receive assistance financially despite horrible personal credit? I already have my EIN number, but am always forced to use my social security number to apply for a small amount of credit.
Reply:
The first priority is rebuilding your personal credit. There is not a quick fix, and it will take time. Here are some tips on the do’s and do not’s of building your credit. http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/guest-blogs/industry-word/building-pe... . Lenders do consider your credit, but please keep in mind there are several other factors the bank will consider while applying for a loan, such as capacity, capital, character and repayment ability. SBA has business counselors around the country who can help you prepare your loan application and work with on potential options. A list of counselors can be found at www.sba.gov/direct.
 
From:
Shutonda Orr
Location:
Silver Creek, Ga
 
Question:
I've been a company Truck driver for 9 yrs. My goal for my 10th yr is to be an Owner/Operator of my own trucking company. I would like to know what I need to do to get my business started.
Reply:
Shutonda, you have a tremendous advantage since you have deep knowledge of the industry you’d like to get into. I would check out 10 steps to starting a business at SBA.gov: http://www.sba.gov/content/follow-these-10-steps-starting-business. And if you are getting ready to write a business plan you should take our online course on writing a business plan: http://www.sba.gov/content/starting-business#. It is a great place to start.
 
From:
Sharmegan Kearson
Location:
Albany, GA
 
Question:
I want to start off by saying thank you for taking the time to be apart of something I feel in my heart is soo great, the fact you are reaching out and helping young business minded women like myself I truly appreciate!!!! I have been wanted to open my own business for sometime I am a master cosmetologist and I want to open a eyelash extension salon. I've been reading info on the sba site but I don't know where to turn or what opportunities are out there to help me achieve my dream. I would love more info on what is available and how to put my business plan in order everything to owning a business! Thank you!
Reply:
Thank you, Sharmegan! SBA has a wide range of resources and programs to help you start, manage and grow your business. I’d first visit http://www.sba.gov/content/young-entrepreneurs. Also check out our blog on how to succeed as a young entrepreneur. http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/small-business-matter...
 
From:
Jermesia Wright
Location:
Tampa,, FL
 
Question:
Hi, I would like to start a nail salon and mini spa. I just don't know where to begin. How can I find out if my area is in a good location? Or if it's over saturated this type of business.
Reply:
Great question, Jermesia. Gauging your competition is a key component to start a business. Some information on selecting a location for your business can be found here: http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/small-business-matter.... Also check out SizeUp, an online tool to help you manage and grow your business by benchmarking it against competitors, mapping your customers, competitors and suppliers, and locating the best places to advertise. Visit http://www.sba.gov/sizeup.
 
From:
Stephanie Grimaldi
Location:
Chadd Ford, PA
 
Question:
What avenues are available for someone like myself who has already gotten a new business up and running but is looking for funds/capital to buy out the private investors who gave her the start up funding. We are having a very difficult time getting any funding from banks and unfortunately only have 2 more years to obtain the funding necessary to buy out the investors. Would you have any suggestions as to where we could look for funding.
Reply:
An SBA counselor in your area is a great resource who can help you connect with the local area lending community (http://www.sba.gov/content/find-local-sba-office). Also, you may want to check out the Women Accessing Capital program that is run through Women in Public Policy (http://www.womenaccessingcapital.com/programs-powered-by-wipp).
 
From:
Bianca White
Location:
Old Orchard Beach, Maine
 
Question:
My name is Bianca White and I am 22 years. My question is how can I get a loan to start a business with no job or collateral?
Reply:
A good place to start is to develop a business plan: http://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/starting-managing-busin.... The best next step for you would then be to reach out to your small business counselor in your area: http://www.wbcmaine.org/
 
From:
Tiffany Janibagian
Location:
Kent, WA
 
Question:
I want to create several businesses, all that could be home-based. How can the SBA help me achieve this goal?
Reply:
Here is what you need to know when starting a home-based business of any kind: http://www.sba.gov/content/home-based-business.
 
From:
Saayeedah Williams
Location:
woodbridge, Virginia
 
Question:
I am a 22 year old young mother of 2 and I want to start my own small business in Head Hunting but I have NO CLUE on to how to actually write up my business plan. I know what my objection is but I just do not know how to put it all together. How can I create a business plan?
Reply:
The SBA offers great advice for pulling together a business plan. You can find video tutorials as well as a great deal of information at http://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/starting-managing-busin.... In addition, there are business counselors who can provide in-person advice on the appropriate business plan. To find a counselor in your area, go to http://www.sba.gov/sba-direct
 
From:
Y. Chantz Harris
Location:
Brooklyn, New York
 
Question:
I'm very interested in starting my own small business, however I also work full time for a government agency and attend college twice a week. Not a lot of extra time, how do I obtain all of the pertinent and effective training and counseling that I need to open and thrive successfully with my small business. What are the key things that I should focus on.
Reply:
Technology is on your side. You can take some on-line trainings. SBA offers many online resources for start-ups. Go to www.sba.gov/training and there will be a list of resources you can review to get started. You should also refer to SBA’s 10 steps to starting a business: http://www.sba.gov/content/follow-these-10-steps-starting-business.
 
From:
Tanya Grant
Location:
Brooklyn, New york
 
Question:
What would be the first most important step to take as a entrepreneur trying to start a business.
Reply:
Great question, Tanya. I would try to find a good mentor. SBA offers free business mentors through our resource partners like SCORE, Small Business Development Centers and Women's Business Centers. Find one near you by entering your zip code here: http://www.sba.gov/sba-direct. And you can also visit our blog at http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/business-law-advisor/...
 
From:
Susan Lasiter
Location:
Colorado Springs, Colorado
 
Question:
I just started my small business on 2 Oct 2012. My business is to provide technical training and support in database management for the Air Force Civil Engineers. I received a 30% VA disability after serving for 23 years in the Air Force. I wanted to know how I can get classified as a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Business and a Womand Owned Business? What are the required paper works and to whom do I have to submit the requirements in order to get the SDVOB & WOB logo? Thanks.
Reply:
Susan, thanks for bringing up the topic of registering your business. This can sometimes be an area of confusion for business owners. While this hasn’t always been the case, there is currently no formal government registration process for women, minority, or veteran-owned businesses that differ from the normal registration process all businesses follow. In the past, the government monitored registration processes for certain business types, including women-owned. However, being a woman-owned small business can be relevant when contracting with the federal and state governments. You can learn more about these certifications here: http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/business-law-advisor/...
 
From:
Patrice
Location:
Cincinnati, OH
 

Thank you for participating in today's web chat. Please remember that SBA has many resources that can help you start and grow your business. If there is one thing you leave today with, please make sure you use these resources.  And then more importantly, set up an appointment with an SBA business counselor. Find a local counselor at www.sba.gov/direct. Or visit us at http://www.sba.gov/content/young-entrepreneurs

 

SBA Learning Center

SBA's Online Business Chat

A live Q&A session with small business experts. Submit your question before or during the chat discussion. You cannot submit question after Closing Remarks for the chat. No registration is needed for the web chat.

Expert: John Shoraka
Contracting with the Federal Government

John Shoraka

Associate Administrator, Office of Government Contracting and Business Development

Tuesday, October 16, 2012 7:00 PM

A. John Shoraka currently serves as the Associate Administrator of Government Contracting and Business Development at the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).  His team supports thousands of small businesses every year as they compete for over $500 billion in federal prime contracts and billions more in subcontracts.  In his current role, Mr. Shoraka is responsible for overseeing the umbrella office with jurisdiction over the Agency’s offices of Size Standards, HUBZone, Government Contracting, and Business Development/8(a).

With a background in business development, international trade, government contracting, and management, Mr. Shoraka works on behalf of small businesses and entrepreneurs across the region as they turn to the SBA for the tools they need to start, grow, succeed, and create jobs.

Prior to his current role, Mr. Shoraka served as Regional Administrator for the SBA. As Regional Administrator for Region 3, Mr. Shoraka was responsible for the delivery and management of SBA’s small business programs, financial assistance, and business development program initiatives throughout the region.

In addition, Mr. Shoraka served as adjunct faculty at Catholic University of America where he taught courses in international business and management science.        Mr. Shoraka holds a B.S. from the University of Maryland, College Park and an MBA from George Washington University.

Federal contracting opportunities for women have expanded, and now's a good time to take the steps towards doing business with the government. Learn how during this web chat with experts from the SBA.

Please post your question below:

Note: There is not an audio format for the online chat, and no broadcast capability. SBA moderators retain editorial control over the online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for chat participants and hosts.

Chat Transcript

 
From:
Kasha Davis
Location:
, Florida
 

 

Hello – I’m John Shoraka, Associate Administrator for Government Contracting and Business Development. My department is responsible for overseeing the 8(a) Business Development Program, the HUBZone Program, the Woman Owned Small Business Federal Contract Program, and Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business contracting opportunities. We are also responsible for helping federal agencies meet the 23% goal for small business spend. I look forward to answering as many questions as I can!
 
From:
Kasha Davis
Location:
, Florida
 
Question:
I have a Cleaning Service business. I have been trying for over 1 year to obtain Government contracts. I have been unsuccessful. I have not put in an actual bid. The main reason my company does not have the experience yet in the industry I am in. And in the RFP's mostly ask for experience. Can you tell me what I need to do? Thanks
Reply:
Hi Kasha – Thank you for your question. I would suggest starting with looking for subcontracting opportunities with what are known as “prime” contractors. Prime contractors are firms that are doing business directly with a federal agency that operate in your industry. You can work with them to do a small piece of a larger contract, and that’s a great way to build your experience. You can find more information regarding subcontracting here: http://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/contracting/contracting...
 
From:
Kamlesh Aggarwal
Location:
MUSKOGEE, Oklahoma
 
Question:
How do I started with contracting with the Federal Government? Could someone guide me? Kamlesh Aggarwal Broker/Owner (918)260-5286 Sooner Realty Properties,LLC kamlesh912@gmail.com www.SoonerRealtyProperties.com www
Reply:
Hi Kamlesh – A great way to get started with understanding opportunities with the federal government is to visit your local SBA District Office and local SBA resource partners. You can find these resources by inputting your zip code here (www.sba.gov/sba-direct). Our office has also recently launched the SBA Government Contracting Classroom (GC Classroom) to help support small businesses interested in federal contracting. Located at www.sba.gov/gcclassroom, you can find online training modules around Government Contracting 101, primers for the HUBZone and WOSB Programs, and other resources. We are constantly updating with new modules, so check back often!
 
From:
Marvelyn Brown
Location:
Dayton, OH
 
Question:
I have a small business and I would love to obtain a contract with the government. However the process seems complicated. What are the first steps to becoming certified as a women and/or minority owned business? Is certification a requirement to do business with the government or can any business get a contract?
Reply:
Hello Marvelyn – Certification is not a requirement to do business with the federal government. However, if your company meets the requirements to be considered a small business, a woman-owned business, or a minority-owned business (or all three), these statuses can provide your company an advantage in the government procurement process. To check your size status, please visit www.sba.gov/size. To learn more about socioeconomic self-certifications or certifications, you may also visit http://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/contracting/working-wit... And finally, if you are interested in doing businesss with the government, you must register as a vendor in the System for Award Management (SAM) at www.sam.gov
 
From:
Annmarie Hatfield
Location:
Austin, TX
 
Question:
We are a Women Owned Small Business and need direction on how to register for the WOSB certification. Thanks!
Reply:
Hello AnnMarie – There is a lot of interest in Woman Owned Small Business opportunities, based on the questions we are receiving! You are specifically referring to the Woman Owned Small Business Federal Contract Program. This Program allows set aside contracts for WOSBs that fall into 83 NAICS codes that were identified as underrepresented or significantly underrepresented in the federal supply chain. If you learn that your company does not fall under the 83 NAICS codes of the program – do not worry. Your company is still eligible to do business with the government, just not through the WOSB Federal Contract Program. To learn if your company’s codes are part of the program and the steps to take to register as a WOSB, please visit: www.sba.gov/wosb
 
From:
Alex
Location:
,
 
Question:
Does the SBA intend to make EDWOSB and/or WOSB a preferred and often procured set-aside such as HUBZone or SDVOSB?
Reply:
Hi Alex – The Small Business JOBS Act of 2010 reiterated the concept of “parity” across SBA small business contracting programs. In other words, contracting officers are to view HUBZone, 8(a), SDVOSB, and WOSB set aside options equally. The main reason you are seeing fewer set asides for WOSB firms at this time is the vehicle is just 18 months old. As contracting officers gain more experience using the WOSB set aside vehicle, its usage will increase. We’ve already seen significant increases from the first year into the second year, so stay tuned!
 
From:
Shohida
Location:
Brooklyn, New York
 
Question:
Were can I find the financial aid for business ? I just bought the restaurant business , passed the inspection. And to open it I need some money. I need your advice.
Reply:
Hi Shohida - Great question! Last week, SBA's Office of Capital Access hosted a webchat just like this one that addressed business financing and resources available. You can see the transcript of the chat at: http://web.sba.gov/livemeeting/public/dsp_meeting_view.cfm?meetngid=184
 
From:
Anne Marie Logan
Location:
Indialantic, FL
 
Question:
As a one-person consulting firm seeking to do business with the Fed Gov, what is the best way to pursue opportunities as a subcontractor or a teaming partner? Most RFP's are looking for a larger effort than could be performed by a single person corporation - how do you get a piece of that work - do you have to wait until the contract is awarded and then pursue something with the awardee or is it possible to position yourself to get a piece of the work before the contract is awarded? Is it possible to bid on something directly without being able to perform the entire package? Thank you
Reply:
For some small businesses, subcontracting to a prime vendor is a great way to get your foot in the door of government contracting. As a sub, you can provide goods or services that support a larger procurement that you wouldn’t be able to execute on your own. And it’s a great way to gain valuable experience. Here are some valuable resources for small businesses looking for subcontracting opportunities: 1) Contact your local Commercial Market Representative - http://www.sba.gov/content/government-contracting-field-staff-directory 2)SUB-Net Database. SUB-Net is a listing of subcontracting solicitation and opportunities posted by large prime contractors and other non-federal agencies. http://web.sba.gov/subnet/search/index.cfm 3) It’s also important to attend matchmaking events that are hosted by federal agencies. At www.osdbu.gov, you can find links to the Offices of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization websites and the events they are hosting.
 
From:
Susan Mastria
Location:
E. Wareham, Massachusetts
 
Question:
Please explain Capability Statements. I've listened to several webinars and attended a few procurement events. Some say you should have a 5-page Capability Statement (Core Competencies, Past Performance, Differentiators, and Company Data - 5 separate pages) and others suggest a one-page Capability Statement comprised of the above 5 topics with the back page listing past performance. What is your take on a solid Capability Statement?
Reply:
Great question, Susan. You ask a question we hear a lot. The most important thing about a Capability Statement is that is comprehensive. A strong Capabilities Statement outlining management and technical expertise will have four components, regardless of length: specific capabilities and skills; past performance history, with specific projects; awards and commendations; and resumes of key management. The key piece of advice is to know your client as well as possible in order to tailor the statement to the clients’ needs.
 
From:
Jasmine Siemon
Location:
Gaithersburg, MD
 
Question:
I have registered with Sam.gov and do not understand how to navigate it. How does Sam.gov help with goverment contracts?
Reply:
Hi Jasmine. Great question. The System for Award Management (SAM) is combining federal procurement systems and the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance into one new system. The overarching benefits of SAM include streamlined and integrated processes, elimination of data redundancies, and reduced costs while providing improved capability. As a small business looking to do business with the government, you must register in SAM to be recognized as a potential vendor. There are training modules available at https://www.sam.gov/portal/public/SAM/?portal:componentId=57fe9a6b-c4e1-...
 
From:
Dana
Location:
Greer, SC
 
Question:
1. What is the very first step to take after legally starting a small business in order to begin the journey of finding Gov't contract work? 2. Will a transcript of the entire session be available afterwards?
Reply:
Hello Dana – first, congratulations on the launch of your business! With your company at such an early stage, we would recommend that you reach out to your local SBA District Office to access counseling resources. Your District Office can connect you to SCORE Counselors, who are volunteer counselors with business expertise that can help you identify the best next steps to take. Alternatively, the District Office may connect you with Resource Partners that provide trainings and other support services to startup businesses. And of course, District Office staff have lots of experience with helping business owners take their next step forward. To find local assistance near you, please visit: http://www.sba.gov/local-assistance?ms=tid56 Also, this chat will be available as an archived chat at this webpage after the live session has ended.
 
From:
iqbal rashid
Location:
San Marcos, California
 
Question:
what is the best way to pursue 8a set aside sole source opportunity
Reply:
Hello Iqbal – The 8(a) BD program is a self-marketing program. The best way to pursue sole source opportunities is by meeting with the Agency Small Business Specialist to introduce your company and its capabilities, build relationships, and to better understand the needs of the Agency. When you identify a potential contract you should meet with or contact your Business Opportunity Specialist (BOS) at your local district office to request assistance. The BOS can submit a requirements letter to the Agency requesting that the contract be set-aside on your behalf, based on your ability to perform the required work. Your BOS can also issue search letters to Federal Agencies in an effort to identify contract opportunities for your firm. You should work closely with your BOS throughout your program term.
 
From:
rebecca
Location:
,
 
Question:
where are federal contracting opportunities advertised?
Reply:
Hi Rebecca – Many federal contracting opportunities are listed at Fed Biz Ops (www.fbo.gov). Additionally, many agencies release what is known as a procurement or acquisition forecast. These forecasts indicate which products and services the agency plans to buy over the coming months. Our Government Contracting 101 and Business Opportunities modules in our GC Classroom have additional details on how to find contracting opportunities. The modules are located at www.sba.gov/gcclassroom.
 
From:
Linda DeGraffenreid
Location:
Gaithersburg, Maryland
 
Question:
Please describe the advantages and/or disadvantages of pursuing 8(a) status, particularly for a sole-proprietor who does not want to
Reply:
Hi Linda – The full name of the 8(a) Program is the 8(a) Business Development Program, and its primary intention is to help socially and economically disadvantaged individuals grow their businesses. It does so by offering technical and support assistance to firms to create business plans and make progress against those plans. It also offers mentorship arrangements with more established firms to help protégé firms grow. Also, 8(a) firms have the opportunity to pursue set-aside and sole-source contracts for 8(a) firms. These benefits help companies that want to expand their companies. If you are not interested in expanding your firm, I would suggest working with a SCORE counselor or an SBA Resource Partner to create a business plan and business model that helps your company sustain at the level you desire. To find those resources locally, please visit: http://www.sba.gov/local-assistance?ms=tid56
 
From:
TINA DAVIS
Location:
SEMMES, ALABAMA
 
Question:
How do I get started with an 8A construction/development business?
Reply:
Tina – That’s a great question, and SBA has just launched a new Training Series to help you get started. The Pre 8(a) Business Development Training Series was just announced a few weeks ago. This training series helps potential 8(a) firms understand the program, its requirements, and how to get ready to join the program. It’s available at the GC Classroom - www.sba.gov/gcclassroom
 
From:
Mary Beth Charlet
Location:
Morehead, Kentucky
 
Question:
Are there government contracts for tutoring?
Reply:
Mary Beth – The government purchases a wide variety of goods and services. A good place to start to understand the opportunities for your company is to first identify your company’s North American Industrial Classification System codes (NAICS codes). NAICS codes are the primary way government agencies identify the products and services they buy. You can find the codes applicable to your company here: http://www.census.gov/eos/www/naics/ Once you have your NAICS codes, you can visit the Federal Business Opportunities page (www.fbo.gov) to see which government agencies are buying in those codes. Thanks for your question!
 
From:
Deborah DeLeo
Location:
Cocoa Beach, Florida
 
Question:
When is it expected that we will see more EDWOSB or WOSB set aside opportunities?
Reply:
Deborah – Another great question about our new Woman Owned Small Business Federal Contract Program! As you may know, the program was only just implemented in April of 2011. In preparation for that implementation, and since, we have been working to train contracting officers and small business specialists in the federal acquisition workforce about the opportunities available to them to set aside contracts for women owned small businesses. From year one to year two, we’ve seen significant growth in the number of contracts set aside to woman owned small businesses, and we expect to see that growth continue into FY13.
 
From:
Linda DeGraffenreid
Location:
Gaithersburg, Maryland
 
Question:
I have just begun to notice a few Federal government requirements on fedbizopps.gov that have been set aside for women-owned businesses. What goals (percentage) has the government established for ensuring that women-owned businesses receive a fair share of Federal contracts through this set-aside program, and how is SBA working to ensure that contracting officials and program staff use this set-aside program?
Reply:
Hi Linda – You are correct that there is a requirement for government agencies to award business to Woman Owned Small Businesses. Federal agencies are held to a statutory goal of 5% of small business eligible dollars being awarded to woman owned small businesses. As mentioned earlier, the WOSB Federal Contract Program allows set asides for WOSBs in 83 NAICS codes. This program was intended to be a vehicle to assist agencies in meeting their 5% goal. SBA is educating federal agency personnel about the program and holds agencies accountable via the SBA Scorecard. To see the results of FY11’s scorecard process, please visit: http://www.sba.gov/content/small-business-procurement-goaling-scorecards
 
From:
Victoria Allen
Location:
Austin, Texas
 
Question:
Thank you for taking my question. I formed my LLC this past summer, to establish myself as an independent consultant in the field of INTELLIGENCE ANALYSIS. Since then I have acquired my EIN, DUNS, and CAGE code. I've also self-certified as an EDWOSB (via SAM.gov). To my knowledge I now have all of the prerequisites to being a government contractor. I'm poised to leap, and need guidance to find where my niche RFPs & RFIs can be found. My question, then: Specific to my business focus, intelligence analysis and border security, what are my next few steps?
Reply:
Hi Victoria – it sounds like you have taken many of the necessary steps on the path to obtaining a government contract! For next steps, I would recommend researching various federal agencies to identify which of them purchases your goods and services. You can do so at Fed Biz Ops (www.fbo.gov). Additionally, I would suggest you start building relationships with the Office of Small Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBUs) at those agencies to begin to identify potential opportunities. You can learn more information about OSDBUs at www.osdbu.gov. Building your network of relationships will help you find potential opportunities to pursue.
 
From:
Alex
Location:
,
 
Question:
As a woman-owned business participating in the 8a program, is my company automatically certified EDWOSB?
Reply:
Hi Alex – This is a great question, because it’s important to remember that having multiple certifications can help differentiate your company from its competition. As an 8(a) firm, you are not automatically certified as an EDWOSB. To demonstrate EDWOSB status, you must provide a copy of the SBA 8(a) certification along with the EDWOSB Certification Form and other required documents to the WOSB Program Repository. You can learn more about the documentation requirements and appropriate regulations at www.sba.gov/wosb
 
From:
Imju Byon
Location:
Palo Alto, CA
 
Question:
About WOSB, can you explain about 'having been in business for 2 yr' requirement? Thanks,
Reply:
Hi Imju - To qualify for the WOSB Federal Contract Program, you’ll need to have managerial experience of the extent and complexity required to manage and to control the company’s day to day operations as well as its long-term strategy. There is no requirement for your company to have been in business for 2 years.
 
From:
Denise DeJoseph
Location:
Honolulu, HI
 
Question:
Is there a potential disadvantage to registering as a EDWOSB vs. a WOSB? Judging from the WOSB Guidelines (p.5), there appears to be more opportunity associated with the WOSB designation, because the
Reply:
Hello Denise - It is in your best interest to qualify for as many programs as possible. This will increase the number of opportunities for you to bid on that may be set aside for various small business and socioeconomic categories. A company can be both a WOSB and an EDWOSB at the same time because an EDWOSB is, by definition, also a WOSB. As a result, those that qualify for EDWOSB designation have the benefit of pursuing both EDWOSB and WOSB set-aside contracts.
 
From:
Ladi March
Location:
Jacksonville, FL
 
Question:
Does a WOSB that is relatively new (within the first two years of establishment) have a realistic shot at landing a contracting opportunity with the federal government or does a relationship have to be established first via a partnership with a more experienced firm?
Reply:
Hello Ladi – It’s hard to tell if a relatively new company has a chance at winning business with the government directly. It depends greatly on your industry, your track record, your growth, and your references. However, an excellent way to improve your track record, growth, and references is by teaming with a more experienced firm, and it’s a great way to break into the government contracting space. I would suggest attending matchmaking and networking sessions hosted by federal agencies, which as referenced earlier, can be found at www.osdbu.gov.
 
From:
Saron Johnson
Location:
Gary, In
 
Question:
Thank you for taking my question, I want to know if there is a physical document(certification/certificate) that we should receive for proof of a being a certified WOSB.And how do we tap into the set-asides just for us.
Reply:
Hi Sharon - The SBA does not issue a formal certificate for the WOSB Federal Contract Program. You may, in good faith, claim WOSB/EDWOSB status after uploading all pertinent documents to the General Login System (GLS). Your status will be verified by the contracting officer when you become the apparent awardee of a contract. Set aside opportunities are announced on a federal procurement website called Federal Business Opportunities (www.fbo.gov). You can search for WOSB or EDWOSB or both using the search engine on this website.
 
From:
Sherry Fluke
Location:
Lemoyne, PA
 
Question:
What is the process for an established S-Corp business go from a non-WBE to Woman Owned Status to be able to take advantage of set asides? How long does this process take and what is the cost of certification?
Reply:
Hi Sherry – To take advantage of the set asides designated for Woman Owned Small Businesses, the products or services offered by your company must fall into the 83 NAICS codes covered by the program. You may self-certify, which is free, or may get certified by a third-party certifier, some of which charge a fee for the certification. To see the list of steps for self-certification as well as a listing of third party certifiers, please visit: www.sba.gov/wosb
 
From:
Maura Staten
Location:
Huntsville, Alabama
 
Question:
What is the most sought after NAICS code for government set asides for women owned busineses today?
Reply:
Hi Maura - The federal database of all procurement activity is the Federal Procurement Data System (www.FPDS.gov). Although it is a fairly complex system to navigate, there are reports available that provide indications of previous purchasing activity by industry code for each agency.
 
From:
Kasha Davis
Location:
, Florida
 

 

I appreciate everyone taking the time to participate in our chat today. Should you have additional questions, please don’t hesitate to contact your local SBA district office and www.sba.gov. Have a great day!

 

SBA Learning Center

SBA's Online Business Chat

A live Q&A session with small business experts. Submit your question before or during the chat discussion. You cannot submit question after Closing Remarks for the chat. No registration is needed for the web chat.

Expert: Pravina Raghavan
Finding Capital to Start your Small Business

Pravina Raghavan

District Director, SBA's New York District Office

Thursday, October 11, 2012 8:00 PM

Pravina Raghaven is the District Director for the SBA’s New York District Office.  She has more than 15 years of experience in providing advisory services to businesses in the start-up, growth, expansion and maturity phases of development.  In that time, she completed over 100 Mergers and Acquisitions transactions and has advised companies on strategy, marketing, sales development, capital raising, mergers and acquisitions, divestures, outsourcing, joint ventures and partnerships, and international development. 

Prior to joining the SBA, Pravina was a Vice President with MTV and BET Networks in Content Distribution and Marketing where she was responsible for contract negotiations and marketing for 23 channels. Previously, she was a small business owner of a strategic advisory firm that assisted companies in their quest for growth.

Prior to owning her own business, Pravina was the Business Development Director for Misys PLC, one of the largest banking software companies in the world. She was also an associate at an investment bank, Broadview International, in London. Prior to Broadview, Pravina worked for seven years at AT&T in several finance and management roles, including her last five years as M&A Director for Europe.

Pravina has an MBA in Finance from Seton Hall University and a BS in Finance from the Pennsylvania State University. She has worked in over 15 countries around the world and is familiar with five languages.

Pravina is also a board member of Seton Hall University School of Entrepreneurship and a member of the International Executive Resource Group (IERG), National Association of Minorities in Communications (NAMIC), The Penn State Alumni Association, Women’s Bond Club of New York (WBC), Women in Telecommunications and Cable (WICT), and Venture Association of New Jersey (VANJ).

Looking for information on how to get the money to start your small business? Join Pravina Raghavan from SBA's New York District Office, for tips on various resources.

Please post your question below:

Note: There is not an audio format for the online chat, and no broadcast capability. SBA moderators retain editorial control over the online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for chat participants and hosts.

Chat Transcript

 

From:
KIm
Location:
Kent, WA
 

 

Hello- this is Pravina Raghavan, SBA New York District Director. I am honored to be here today with you. Unfortunately Jeanne Hulit had a scheduling conflict and can’t make it, but I am pleased to welcome you in honor of Women’s Small Business Month. Today is SBA’s second web chat session for a series focused on seeking access to capital for your small business. I look forward to answering your questions and sharing SBA’s resources and programs.
 
From:
KIm
Location:
Kent, WA
 
Question:
I would like to know if you have bad personal credit and do not really have any business credit started because you are new...how do you get grants/loans (especially for a minority woman)? 2-HOw do you get approved for a loan if you have nothing to start with. 3-Which loan place(s) are best to get qualified with low rates?
Reply:
Thanks for your question, Kim. Generally speaking, your personal credit can have an impact on your ability to get a loan when you don’t have any business credit. If you have bad personal credit, try to get that corrected. It will take time, so the faster you can get on track the faster it will become better. A good resource SBA has for potential minority owned business can be found here: http://www.sba.gov/sba-direct/article/3553
 
From:
Halisha Anderson
Location:
Everett, WA
 
Question:
What are some tips or suggestions you can offer as it pertains to finding the right fit (grants, loans) for your capital needs?
Reply:
Halisha, taking time to determine what the best grant or loan you need for your business is incredibly important. The option you choose should be based on a variety of factors, but SBA has business counselors around the country who can help and online resources where you can learn more about the nuances of SBA programs and search for what may be the right fit for you. Just click here: http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/small-business-matter...
 
From:
jackie
Location:
,
 
Question:
My personnal credit is not so good. But the business credit is a-1 how do i go about proving the business credit, so i can get a loan or line of credit through the business, to help grow my business and get it back on track?
Reply:
That’s a great question, Jackie. Many business owners use credit to finance their companies, but using personal credit cards for business is a risky approach since you assume total liability, and if your company is sued or fails you risk losing personal assets and good credit ratings as well. One way you can limit that personal liability and build your business’ credit it is by incorporating your business and filing for a federal tax ID number. By incorporating, your company is treated as a separate being with its own tax registration.
 
From:
Shakira Tucker
Location:
Indianapolis, Indiana
 
Question:
What funding/grants are available for African American women trying to start their own business?
Reply:
Great question, Shakira. Though federal and state government agencies do not provide consideration specifically for minorities starting a business, there are a number of low-interest loan programs that help individuals obtain startup financing, and minorities are 3-5 times more likely to qualify for SBA programs than standard loan programs. SBA and the Minority Business Development Agency can also help you learn more about starting your business, putting together your business plan, and applying for loans. You can follow the following linke to learn more: http://www.mbda.gov/
 
From:
Kathy Smith
Location:
Owings Mills, Maryland
 
Question:
Where do I find or get the capital to start my business?
Reply:
Good question, Kathy. Historically women have not had equal access to capital and financial markets, but this dynamic is changing. One of the best things you can do is to educate yourself about potential funding sources as you look to start your business. An SBA counselor in your area is a great resource who can walk you through the potential options (http://www.sba.gov/content/find-local-sba-office). Also, you may want to check out the Women Accessing Capital program that is run through Women in Public Policy (http://www.womenaccessingcapital.com/programs-powered-by-wipp).
 
From:
Katie Boucher
Location:
Indianapolis, IN
 
Question:
As a young business woman starting out, what options for finding financing and investors would you suggest? I would like to start my business by next April and have good credit from student loans, car loan, and credit card but I am guessing I do not have enough credit history.
Reply:
Hi, Katie. Credit history is one of the factors lenders will take into account when processing your loan application, though not the only factor. Regarding funding, you should check out this blog from SBA about how you can find outside funding sources and expand your access to capital: http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/small-business-cents/...
 
From:
Leena Dalal
Location:
Fountain Valley, California
 
Question:
I am intrested in registring my company as women owned. Also, looking for funding to grow. Have all licensing to run the company. Please recommend some resources Thanks
Reply:
Leena, thanks for bringing up the topic of registering your business. This can sometimes be an area of confusion for business owners. While this hasn’t always been the case, there is currently no formal government registration process for women, minority, or veteran-owned businesses that differ from the normal registration process all businesses follow. In the past, the government monitored registration processes for certain business types, including women-owned. However, being a woman-owned small business can be relevant when contracting with the federal and state governments. You can learn more about these certifications here: http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/business-law-advisor/...
 
From:
Lu Ann Petitt
Location:
Fletcher, NC
 
Question:
We would like to buy rental properties. We opened an LLC. How do we fund it? Is it better to get a small business loan or get a mortgage for the properties? Are there grants available? I have been very ill for 6 1/2 years and unable to work. My husband works and we have excellent credit. We are looking towards the future and real estate prices are so low right now that we really want to take this opportunity to start a business. Thank you! We appreciate any advice you can give us!
Reply:
Lu Ann, having good credit is always good and can help during the loan process. The best thing you can probably do is sit down with an SBA counselor to discuss your specific finances and how that will affect what the right fit is in terms of financing your LLC. Here is a link to our North Carolina District Office: http://www.sba.gov/about-offices-content/2/3127
 
From:
Beth Johnson
Location:
Bethel, Ohio
 
Question:
I have operated a puppy rescue for the last four years and have vetted and re-homed 485 puppies that were going to be euthanized in eastern Ohio county kill shelters. I was bootstrapping and spent nearly $10,000.00 of my own money so far - now cash flow is a problem and I need donations from private foundations and/or corporate funding. I don't have the $500.00 to file for my 501(c)(3) tax status so I am looking for a 501(c)(3)organization with a mission similar to mine to gain
Reply:
Beth, that’s a great cause you’re working for. The following blog from SBA walks you through all the steps you’ll need in order file for your 501(c)(3) status and start fundraising: http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/small-business-matter... I hope this helps!
 
From:
Anuraga
Location:
Alpharetta, Georgia
 
Question:
Hi, How to approach government department for grants? My business is related to renewable energy (Solar energy). I am into business from past 2 months. I need guidance on how to approach for grants and projects. Thanks Mrs. Anuraga
Reply:
Great question, Anuraga. SBA has a great program called the SBIR which looks at providing grants for small business who provide advanced technology solutions. It sounds like your company would be a great fit. More information can be found at www.sbir.gov.
 
From:
Pam Adams
Location:
Albuquerque, New Mexico
 
Question:
I am interested in having a food truck here in Albuquerque, but I have no idea where to begin. I have menus I have a logo I am polling to see if I am viable. (I believe I am) but how do I even begin to get funding. Is a business plan the only way to go?
Reply:
Pam, a business plan is essential to getting funding from lenders. They will want to see that your business has the potential to be profitable and sustainable, among other factors they consider. An SBA counselor could be a great resource to help you put that plan together.
 
From:
BJ
Location:
Houston, TX
 
Question:
Are there federal grants available to build housing for the elderly?
Reply:
The SBA does not administer grants, however, there is a very resourceful federal website you may want to visit: www.grants.gov.
 
From:
Tori
Location:
Detroit, MI
 
Question:
I would like to start a nonprofit for job training and job placement. Where do I begging?
Reply:
Hi Tori - please do not beg. The following blog from SBA walks you through all the steps you’ll need in order file for your 501(c)(3) status and start fundraising: http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/small-business-matter...
 
From:
Dianne Hoskins
Location:
Healdsburg, California
 
Question:
I am doing research for a new business that I am starting which coinsides with my current business of 15 years, DH Custom Sewing. It will be a sewing cafe which will be a community learning center as well as a design studio and have machines to rent for those who do not have the space to sew in their homes. My next step is to find a source of capital to get it launched. I have locations identified in Healdsburg. Can you guide me to capital resources?
Reply:
Dianne, it sounds like you have a good start in your plans. There are a number of sources for funding that you can explore, and the right choice will really depend on your individual circumstances. An SBA counselor in your area can help you assess your best options, but here is a link with more information about SBA programs geared towards women business owners: http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/small-business-cents/...
 
From:
Diana Cavender
Location:
Lebanon, TN
 
Question:
I am passionate about opening a maternity store in Lebanon, TN (other than big box stores, i.e., Walmart, JC Penney, Target there aren't any). My business plan is complete. I am thinking of going to a local bank as opposed to a national bank for a business loan. Thoughts/advice? Thank you, D
Reply:
Diana, there certainly are differences between local credit unions and banks, and selecting the best choice for you should be based on your needs as a business owner. On one hand, banks offer a wide range of services and are more accessible to customers on a larger scale. They are for-profit institutions that are owned by shareholders and designed to generate profit. On the other hand, credit unions typically have fewer branches and tighter access to their services than banks. They are not-for-profit and owned by their members and formed to supply credit to those members, who also serve as the credit union’s customers. Another difference between the two is the fee structure. Examining the importance of these differences will help drive your decision.
 
From:
Marguerite
Location:
, Vermont
 
Question:
I have good credit and a full-time job, but my personal income is only $10.50 an hour. I've had an SBA Loan about 10 years ago with collateral. But I do not have collateral now. What are the income requirements to qualify for an SBA Loan?
Reply:
Income is only one of the factors lenders will take into account when processing your loan application, and not the only factor. There are several other factors the bank will consider while applying for a loan, such as Character and repayment ability. SBA has business counselors around the country who can help you prepare your loan application and work with on potential options. A list of counselors can be found at www.sba.gov
 
From:
Gigi Willetts
Location:
Camden, South Carolina
 
Question:
What are the qualifications for getting capital for a small business?
Reply:
Thanks for your question, Gigi. Lenders generally look at a number of factors when assessing loan applications; some financial, some non-financial. They can be best summarized into 5 C’s: character, credit, cash flow, capacity, and collateral.
 
From:
Julie Lewis
Location:
Memphis, TN
 
Question:
Hi, Jeanne, thanks for taking my question. Our business has been functioning for almost 5 years, but in order to grow past the
Reply:
Julie, first, SBA loans are for for-profit business and we do small amounts. It sounds like the SBA 504 Loan Program might be a great fit for you and your small business. The loans are originated through a Certified Development Company, 10 percent is needed down and the loans are approved up to $5 Million. You can find more information by visiting http://www.sba.gov/content/cdc504-loan-program.
 
From:
MARCOEnterprises
Location:
Dallas, TEXAS
 
Question:
Funding for small businesses that have federal contracts?
Reply:
Thanks for that question. The CAPLines program is an excellent source for funding contracts. You can find more information by visiting http://www.sba.gov/content/caplines.
 
From:
Ty
Location:
Charleston, South Carolina
 
Question:
I would like to start a for profit gourmet line of goods. I'm starting this as a sole proprietorship. I have the business plan prepared. Is there a way to receive start up funding, with poor credit, and no collateral? I am a minority female.
Reply:
Thanks Ty. The best next step for you would be to reach out to your small business counselor. To find your nearest small business resource and get started, go to www.sba.gov/sba-direct.
 
From:
Diane
Location:
Benton, AR
 
Question:
I am opening a bakery in an old historic area of of a great small town. I have leased an old building that I love and the owner gave me permission to do whatever I would like on the inside at my expense. I have been working on the building so much that I have dipped into the funds needed for equipment needed. I need $3000.00 for a good used oven and a three compartment sink, how could I obtain a small loan to get these items needed?
Reply:
Thanks Diane for your great question. The Small Loan Advantage program, or SLA 2.0, would be a great resource to explore for your situation. These programs offer streamlined application processes for SBA 7(a) loans and is designed to encourage SBA lenders to make lower-dollar loans to benefit businesses. You can learn more about SLA at www.sba.gov/advantage.
 
From:
MaryAnn O'Neill
Location:
Hyde Park, Ma
 
Question:
How to Submit the right business plan for a loan
Reply:
Thanks MaryAnn. The SBA offers great advice for pulling together a business plan. You can find video tutorials as well as a great deal of information at http://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/starting-managing-busin.... In addition, the are business counselors who can provide in-person advice on the appropriate business plan. To find a counselor, go to www.sba.gov.
 
From:
Claudia Pinzon
Location:
Miami, Florida
 
Question:
Can government help us to find out how can we export to Latin american countries? And how to find a financial support for this operation? Thank you, Claudia
Reply:
Claudia, that’s a fantastic question. A U.S. Export Assistance Center is located in Miami and can assist you in this topic. You can find information for your local center here: http://www.sba.gov/content/us-export-assistance-centers
 
From:
Willae Ivory
Location:
,
 
Question:
If you are just starting a business, having no start up funds available and being unemployed, how do you obtain capital to begin a business?
Reply:
Hi Willae The best next step for you would be to reach out to your small business counselor. To find your nearest small business resource and get started, go to www.sba.gov/sba-direct. They can help guide you on setting up a business plan and figuring out sources of funding for your new business.
 
From:
April Campbell
Location:
,
 
Question:
We have an energy efficient business and have developed us a system that we can use in any business format and are interested in teaming with other women owned business to see how we can help each other here is our system (OUR SYSTEM) 1. Have the Retailer or any large agency agree to buy x amount of material or services from us. 2. Have the Manufacturer give me a PO for the cost of the supplies 3. Fill out the paper work so the Retailer or large agency cuts the Check to the Factoring Company 4. Fill out the Paper work so the Factoring Company agrees to pay the PO Financing Company and US once the Invoice is Approved 5. The PO Financing Company pays the Manufacturer 6. The Material gets delivered to the Retailer or agency and we do the work or just supply the material 7. The retailer approves the invoice for the amount of X(X = the total amount of the invoice) 8. This information goes to the Factoring Company 9. The Factoring Company cuts a check to the PO Financing Company and US for 80% of X ( The PO Financing Company gets the Cost of the Supplies they Bought plus 7% for there Cut this is usually 40% of the total value of of the invoice but can vary depending on the work to be done and the material needed) ( WE get the remaining 40% ) 10. 30 to 60 days later when the Retailers check is given to the Factoring Company they take 5% of of the total value of the invoice for there troubles and the Factoring Company gives US another check for 15% of the total value of the contract) This is the system I devised over a 3 year time frame. So my question is how do I take this system and grow it to a national then Global Scale . And Possabilly team with other women owned businesses. As you can see with this I am not limited finically by any means the only thing I need is a Major Company who wants to purchase something
Reply:
Thanks for your question, April. A great start with you might be to sit down with a business consultant at the nearest Small Business Development Center. You can get in touch with your local counselor by doing a local search for offices in your area at http://www.sba.gov/local-assistance.
 
From:
Kelly Campbell
Location:
Charlotte, North Carolina
 
Question:
Can you talk about Federal Grants?
Reply:
Hi Kelly - The SBA does not administer grants, however, there is a very resourceful federal website you may want to visit: www.grants.gov.
 
From:
Dora Church
Location:
Lomita, CA
 
Question:
Is a franchise loan easier to get financing?
Reply:
Hello Dora- Franchise options vary, but they often provide a great opportunity. The SBA has a wealth of information on franchises at http://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/starting-managing-busin...
 
From:
Elvira Grant
Location:
Sevierville and Townsend, Tennessee
 
Question:
I am about to open my own cafe in a growing tourist area. I have 7 years in experience of running a restaurant with 275 seating capacity. I have borrowed part at the bank for my construction loan, since I couldnt find an existing place suitable for my needs in the area. I am just 3-4 weeks away from openning, which means i will be able to turn the construction loan into a mortgage. Should I stay with the same bank or try to find better rates at other places, and what places should I look into?
Reply:
Great question Elvira! Banks are competitive, so we typically suggest you start with the bank you currently use and also shop around to make sure the rates you receive are competitive. For a complete listing of nearby SBA lenders, please visit your local SBA district website and you can also visit one of our business counselors who can with the application process both resources can be found at www.sba.gov.
 
From:
Sesula
Location:
PagoPago, American Samo
 
Question:
This may be out of your area, but maybe you can inspire or shine some lights in what's available in my territory. Does American Samoa have any SBA programs for women owned businesses funded by the federal government? Or how can i go about advocating for these opportunities for my women business owners community?
Reply:
Thanks for your question Sesula. We do have SBA offices in the American Samoa area, which you find here: http://www.sba.gov/local-assistance/AS/local-resources. Contact ones of those offices listed to get in touch with someone who can talk to you more about the opportunities available for women’s small business owners.
 
From:
Ms. E. Salak
Location:
Hillsboro, OR
 
Question:
I am starting an online service business that has very littlle start-up cost however, the main need for funding would be directed toward advertising . I need to get the word out for this much needed service. Is there a particular way to get this sort of help in funding ?
Reply:
Please work with SCORE or a nearby Small Business Development Center or Women’s Business Center. They should be able to assist you in seeking necessary funding options and also provide guidance on alternative methods of advertising. You can find the nearest locations at www.sba.gov.
 
From:
Pam Aborio
Location:
Island Pond, Vt.
 
Question:
I am not only a women but a disabled soon to be 65 year old woman. Are there grants available for someone in my position.
Reply:
Hi Pam - The SBA does not administer grants, however, there is a very resourceful federal website you may want to visit: www.grants.gov.
 
From:
Bonnie Martelon
Location:
Parker, CO
 
Question:
My credit is not great, but I need a small amount of money to grow my housekeeping business? Who/how do I find this money and where?
Reply:
Hi Bonnie- a great option for you might be to look into the SBA’s Microloan Program- this might be a great option for you. You can find more information at http://www.sba.gov/content/microloan-program.
 
From:
Amy Gordon
Location:
Los Angeles, CA
 
Question:
I do not qualify for an SBA loan or bank loan and I am in need of seed money to start the patent process. I have a very unique and patentable bath and body product idea and have a prototype of the unique packaging. I have considered crowdfunding websites, but fear that the idea could be copied or knocked off before I can get it protected. What are the risk factors involved with seeking money through crowdfunding websites?
Reply:
Amy this is a great question. SBA has a great blog about crowdfunding and its advantages: http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/guest-blogs/industry-word/crowdfundin.... Also, SBIC, which are venture capitalist funded by the SBA maybe another source of financing. You can find more information about that program at http://www.sba.gov/content/sbic-program-0.
 
From:
Alyssa Pfennig
Location:
Indianapolis, IN
 
Question:
Are there restrictions on what you can use capital raised for depending on the source? Where do you find more information?
Reply:
Alyssa- if you are referencing capital derived from an SBA-backed loan, there are limitations on what the funds can be used for. For a listing of these uses (for example a 7a Loan), please visit http://www.sba.gov/content/use-7a-loan-proceeds.
 
From:
Tee
Location:
,
 
Question:
Where can someone that have a score of 600 from past financial hardships such as a divorce get small business financing from?
Reply:
Hi Tee - Credit scores are looked at by SBA lenders, but please keep in mind there are several other factors the bank will consider while applying for a loan, such as Character and repayment ability. SBA has business counselors around the country who can help you prepare your loan application and work with on potential options. A list of counselors can be found at www.sba.gov.
 
From:
Mattia Oram
Location:
Ryan, IA
 
Question:
I am starting a woman owned repossession business in a very small community. I have never started a business and we are in need of working capital. We have all of the equipment necessary to start the company running. Does the fact that the industry I am working in is mostly male dominated provide any benefits when applying for loans or grants? This industry does not seem to fall under any of the industry categories that the SBA lists regularly so it is difficult to gather information.
Reply:
SBA-backed loans are made available to everyone. We encourage you to contact your local SBA District office to discuss options that might be a good fit for you and your business. The IA District can be located through www.sba.gov/IA.
 
From:
Selene Santos
Location:
Simpsonville, SC
 
Question:
Banks are not lending money. How do you find private investors?
Reply:
Selene- As the national economy recovers, banks are lending more. It maybe that you need to work with a business counselor to discuss financing options and you can find a counselor at www.sba.gov. In addition, the SBA’s SBIC Program might be a good program to look into. Find more info at http://www.sba.gov/about-offices-content/1/2890.
 
From:
Melvia Rouse
Location:
KIngsland, Ga
 
Question:
How I should I present my business to investors? Where can I find investors? My business is child-care based but relatively different because it will be located in a shopping center.
Reply:
Great question Melvia. Investors can be located through different venues, but a great place to start would be with the Small Business Development Center. You can locate your nearest GA SBDC at http://www.georgiasbdc.org/
 
From:
Angela Whitfield
Location:
Cleveland, Ohio
 
Question:
I am trying to find capital to start a business. I have 3 ideas and I am trying to narrow down to 1, at least for now. I want a transportation business, nail salon or a beauty supply store. Would the start up capital be different for each of them? Do you have to have money on hand to start? Do you have to have good credit to get the capital?
Reply:
Hi Angela - I would suggest speaking with a business counselor whoc can help you narrow down your options and find ways to finance your enterprise. Bookstrapping is a great option for business. Another resource is www.sba.gov. You can research different business types, business plans and utilize a start-up calculator.
 
From:
KIm
Location:
Kent, WA
 

 

It is now time for us to close the web chat session. Thank you so much for joining me and I hope the topics and answers we have addressed can assist you in starting or growing your small business. If we weren’t able to get to your question, please remember that SBA has many resources to help you learn about financing your business. To learn more you can seek out your local SBA offices to assist you in information regarding accessing capital.
 
SBA supported counseling and training makes a difference: Those who receive counseling and training are more likely to start a business, their businesses are more likely to survive over the ensuing years, and they are better prepared to seek financing and to plan effectively for future business growth.
 
Thanks again everyone. I had a great time answering questions and wish the best of luck to our women-owned small businesses!

 

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