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U.S. Small Business Administration
http://www.sba.gov
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) dedicates its energy and resources to providing support to small businesses and small business owners across the nation. SBA helps businesses across the country through what we call the "3 C's" of service:

  • Capital – SBA works in collaboration with about 5,000 banks to provide SBA loans to deserving small businesses.
  • Contracts – SBA works to ensure that 23% of federal contract dollars are set aside for small businesses.
  • Counseling – Approximately 14,000 SBA-affiliated counselors are available to provide guidance to small businesses.
On behalf of small businesses, the SBA website provides additional links to:

Advocacy – The voice of small business on Capitol Hill since it was created in 1976, the SBA’s Office of Advocacy works to protect, strengthen and represent the interests of the nation’s small businesses within the federal government.

Ombudsman – If excessive fines, penalties, or unfair regulatory enforcement by federal agencies are problems for your small business, you have a voice in Washington, D.C., through SBA’s Office of the National Ombudsman.

Inspector General – The SBA’s Office of the Inspector General conducts audits, investigations and other reviews to deter and detect waste, fraud and abuse in SBA programs and operations and to promote agency efficiency and effectiveness.

SBA Programs – Small business is America’s most powerful engine of opportunity and economic growth. That’s where the SBA comes in. The SBA offers a variety of programs and support services to help you navigate the issues you face with your initial applications and resources to help after you open for business.

SBA Small Business Planner
http://www.sbaonline.sba.gov/smallbusinessplanner/
The U.S. Small Business Administration offers a Small Business Planner at this site that includes information and resources that will help small businesses at any stage of the business lifecycle.

Plan Your Business – This site provides guidance on the tools and resources necessary to write a winning business plan. From sample plans to a business plan primer, these steps will get you started on this very important activity. Once your business is up and running, you’ll need to regularly review and update your plan to manage growth.

Start Your Business – Starting a business requires you to complete a number of steps and make some key decisions. Within your overall plan, you’ll need to select a location, decide on a business structure, and obtain the necessary licenses and permits. In addition, determining which financing options will meet your short-term needs and long-term goals is crucial. Within this section, information on these topics is provided along with guidance on buying an existing business, copyright and trademark issues, and getting support from an outside expert.

Manage Your Business – Successful business management requires specific management skills in addition to knowledge of key business practices. Within this section you’ll learn about leadership traits, decision-making skills, and how to manage your employees. A host of important topics of interest are included, such as: marketing basics, setting prices, filing your business taxes, legal considerations, forecasting for future growth, and financing options.

Getting Out – Getting out of your business may not be important to you at this point. However, planning your exit strategy often involves more than just closing down. This section suggests practical options such as selling your business or transferring ownership. In the event that you decide it is time to close your business, you’ll learn about liquidation, filing bankruptcy and reviewing the IRS guide on shutting down.

© Copyright AFCEA Hampton Roads Chapter 2014