Once a rather staid, inflexible organization, the Small Business Administration (SBA) has emerged in recent decades as the number one source of small business financing. Along with the well-known SBA loan programs, the Small Business Administration offers additional help to smaller companies in the U.S.
The SBA has become a much more responsive and flexible organization in recent years. They have modernized and streamlined their operations. Recently, focus groups in three U.S. cities (Baltimore, Richmond and Washington, D.C.) offered feedback leading to changes in the highly regarded SBA website and their social media efforts.
With over 800,000 visitors per month, the U.S. Small Business Administration website is a primary information conduit for small business owners and entrepreneurs from all industries. While their award-winning website is noted for its clarity and navigation features, the focus groups advised that many visitors remain unaware of the resources SBA offers.
The Small Business Administration is installing new communication ideas, highlighting how its programs and services will help smaller companies succeed in today’s economy. Utilizing new outreach programs, including improvements to their website, e-mail campaigns and higher use of social media, the SBA is making entrepreneurs aware of the many ways they help businesses, in addition to their loan programs. Their disaster assistance programs, grants and help for businesses wishing to sell to the federal government can be just as important as their loan guarantees.
With increased loan guarantee levels (up to 90 percent versus their former 85 percent maximum), the SBA is becoming more popular with lenders as well as business owners. As a result, while timely loan decisions are now normal, lenders and others seeking certification face delayed application decisions. The Small Business Administration is aware of the issue and is installing new initiatives to accelerate the certification process.
With economic and natural disasters taking center stage in recent years, SBA disaster recovery programs, including low-interest loans to homeowners, renters, private non-profits and all types of small businesses, are becoming life-saving offerings for thousands of people and organizations.
The U.S. Small Business Administration also has a new focus on helping small businesses develop global presences, with new resources for export solutions and information on how to sell globally. Their popular resources for women entrepreneurs, while not brand new, are expanding, while helping more female-owned businesses succeed.
To apply for funding for your small business, use the form on the right to begin the application process.