Want to know one of the best-kept small business secrets in America?
Every year, nearly a million entrepreneurs benefit from the free services of local Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs). These centers are federal-university partnerships that provide complimentary resources, as well as low-cost workshops, to help strengthen and grow small businesses across America.
This network of government-subsidized centers and counselors stretches across all 50 states and into the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Territories.
The goal of these SBDCs is to provide small business owners with advice and solutions for financial, marketing, production, organization, engineering and technical problems. SBDCs will also conduct feasibility studies for startups. Any business owner is eligible for SBDC services, whether that owner is beginning a business or trying to improve an existing one. The business owner brings to the table a strong vision, ambition and a willingness to work hard. Counselors provide the support, resources, and information the business owner needs to succeed.
Here’s an example of how it works. In 1994, Rhonda Adams decided to launch an Internet-based business, though at the time the World Wide Web was still burgeoning and few people knew much about it. Adams was an experienced businesswoman but she knew she needed help with this venture, so she contacted her local SBDC counselor for advice.
“She didn’t stop there,” says Adams. “She worked with my partner and me to help us think through our startup issues. Soon afterward, we launched our business. Eventually, we were profitable, we hired people and we paid taxes.”
Today, SBDCs not only provide free one-on-one business counseling but they also help entrepreneurs develop business plans, manage their accounts, market their products and deal with hiring and personnel issues. All their advising is free and confidential.
According to the Association of Small Business Development Centers, the centers have helped businesses generate $3.71 in federal and state taxes for every dollar invested in them. By helping to build and equip small businesses, Small Business Development Centers are helping to build America.
Abrams, Rhonda. “Strategies: Your tax dollars work to help small businesses.” USAToday.com. September 6, 2012.