Ask the experts

Ask an expert: SBA offers wealth of resources

From staff reportsJanuary 7, 2013 

  • Need advice? Do you need expert help on a small business issue? If so, let us know. Email Shop Talk Editor Jessaca Giglio at jmgiglio@newsobserver.com.

Cassius Butts, region IV administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration, is responsible for delivering SBA programs in eight states, including North Carolina. Butts spoke with Shop Talk reporter Virginia Bridges about how to get the most from the SBA’s services and products. Content has been edited.

•  Don’t start or run a small business alone. The SBA (sba.gov) has several resource partners that offer support for getting started, such as SCORE (score.org) and partners and retired executives who will help entrepreneurs start and develop their business.

One of the most important things for small business owners to consider is finances.

The SBA’s Small Business Development Centers provide services such as developing business plans, manufacturing assistance and financial packages. Small Business Development Centers also offer information on tracking expenses and planning where money should best be spent.

Small Business Centers at community colleges across the state work with the SBA, but aren’t directly affiliated with the administration, said Mike Ernandes, an SBA spokesperson.

The SBA has a district office in Charlotte and satellite offices in Cary, Asheville and Wilmington.

•  SBA loan products can assist with working capital, such as loans for special services, supporting economic development and veterans. SBA also offers micro-loans.

•  Procurement Technical Assistance Centers provide assistance to businesses looking to sell products and services to federal, state and local governments.

It’s possible for small business owners to do business with the federal government. The United States buys more than $400 billion of goods and services every year, making it the largest buyer in the world. President Barack Obama is looking to double the amount of exporting by the year 2014 compared to 2009.

•  Nowadays, social media is huge. Networking online and offline is a low-cost way to market. Social media conferences and training programs are available through the SBA.

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