Starting a business can be daunting. Successful businesses typically spend significant time raising capital, doing market research, and developing a business plan before launching their new company. Careful preparation isn’t a guarantee you’ll succeed, but it will improve your chances enormously. Take stock of your resources and be ready to dive into the challenges you’ll encounter.
As the backbone of the country’s economy, small businesses have access to a plethora of exclusive public programs. In this two-part series, we will explore federal resources such as the Small Business Administration and U.S. Chamber of Commerce, what their purpose is, and exactly what they can do for small business owners.
The Small Business Administration (SBA) was established in 1953 to advise and assist entrepreneurs who want to start and/or grow their small business.
The SBA can provide your business with access to capital in the form of R&D and management grants, or sustainable loans up to $5 million dollars and as low as $50,000 dollars. SBA-administered loans offer unique benefits such as lower down payments and flexible down payments, combined with competitive rates and sustained counseling. Aside from direct loans and grants, the SBA can connect small businesses with private debt and equity investors in the form of SBICs, SBA licensed and regulated investment companies. They can also provide you access to capital that will help your business through unprecedented times, such as COVID-19 relief grants and disaster loans.
Furthermore, the SBA provides low-cost counseling to assist in market research and planning to help launch a small business, and further counseling in basic management to keep it afloat.
Finally, it serves to connect small businesses with federal government contracts, reserving 23% of federal contracting dollars for small businesses alone. About 10% of total federal contracting dollars go specifically to registered small, disadvantaged businesses (those businesses which are majority-owned by a socially or economically disadvantaged person or group), which the SBA serves to protect. Additional small business protected by the SBA include women-owned business and veteran-owned business.
Another federal resource available for small businesses to use is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Part of the Chamber of Commerce’s responsibility is to strengthen the U.S. economy by providing small businesses with advising on the creation of strategies regarding legislative, regulatory, and international initiatives. The Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Council gets small businesses involved in positively impacting policy to forward their interests.
The Chamber of Commerce also supports several initiatives which support small businesses in unique ways. Examples include:
- Save Small Business Initiative
The Save Small Business Initiative provides small businesses with financial assistance, guidance counseling, and educational resources to help recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
CO is a website designed by the Chamber of Commerce. Functionally a newsletter, the website provides regular insights, advice, and updates from industry leaders and noteworthy entrepreneurs meant to give small business owners useful ideas on how to grow as a professional and take their operations to the next level.
- Quarterly Small Business Index
Developed by the Chamber of Commerce and presented by MetLife, the Quarterly Small Business Index highlights trends, data, developments relevant to the small business sector and the subsequent perspectives of those impacted by them.
In the next part of this two-part series, we will explore the variety of State resources available to small businesses.
Kenton, Will (2021). “Small Business Administration” [Article]. Investopedia. Available at: https://www.investopedia.com/terms/s/small-business-administration.asp [Accessed Apr 20, 2022]
“What Is The Small Business Administration?” [Article]. CDC Loans. Available at: https://cdcloans.com/what-is-the-sba/ [Accessed Apr 20, 2022]
“Funding Programs” [Webpage]. U.S. Small Business Administration. Available at: https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs [Accessed Apr 20, 2022]
“Federal Contracting” [Webpage]. U.S. Small Business Administration. Available at: https://www.sba.gov/federal-contracting [Accessed Apr 20, 2022]
“Small Business Council” [Webpage]. U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Available at: https://www.uschamber.com/program/policy/small-business-policy/small-business-council [Accessed Apr 20, 2022]
“Small Businesses” [Webpage]. U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Available at: https://www.uschamber.com/work/small-businesses [Accessed Apr 20, 2022]
“Save Small Business Initiative” [Webpage]. U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Available at: https://www.uschamber.com/major-initiative/save-small-business-initiative [Accessed Apr 20, 2022]
“CO” [Webpage]. U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Available at: https://www.uschamber.com/co/ [Accessed Apr 20, 2022] “Small Business Index” [Webpage]. U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Available at: https://www.uschamber.com/sbindex/ [Accessed Apr 20, 2022]