Resources Equal Success for Your Business
August 24, 2017
By Eduardo Landeros
One of my very first jobs after college was working for the San Diego County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (SDCHCC).
As a nonprofit organization, the SDCHCC ‘s purpose is to assist businesses in different areas such as procurement opportunities, access to capital, workshops, and more. It was in this organization that I found an entire new world of resources for new and existing businesses.
I learned that if someone needs information on how to start a business or operate one more efficiently there are dozens of programs that can help you succeed.
A great resource is the Small Business Administration (SBA), which I see as the father of a lot of these business assistance programs.
The SBA is a public agency whose sole mission is to help small businesses. As a government entity, the SBA is able to help business owners on a national level and can help cover three concepts commonly known as the 3 Cs: contracting, counseling, and capital.
When it comes to contracting, the SBA invests millions of dollars in various programs across the U.S. to help business owners learn and have access to procurement opportunities.
Like any other business, government agencies and public entities also purchase a lot of things and hire many outside contractors to help them operate. Government agencies, school districts, and municipalities buy office supplies, furniture, materials, and computers, among other things, and also hire plumbers, painters, contractors, to mention a few.
The good news is that there are special programs out there that set aside millions of dollars in contracts and direct them specifically to small and disadvantaged businesses. A “small” business is defined by basic metrics, but disadvantaged businesses are those that are owned by minority, women, veteran or service-disabled; or those that are located in low to moderate income areas across the U.S.
To help you navigate the world of procurement and certifications needed to obtain public contracts, there are assistance centers across the U.S. known as Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs), sponsored in part by the SBA, that provide educational workshops and one-on-one counseling to help business owners identify opportunities and get certifications to be able to bid for some of these contracts.
A local PTAC is located at Southwestern College’s National City campus. There are also other private nonprofit organizations that aid businesses looking for such resources, such as the San Diego Council for Supplier Diversity, that work with large private companies and also help minority owned businesses obtain contracts with these entities.
If anybody is looking for business consulting services, there are Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) across the nation, also partly sponsored by the SBA, that assist business owners with various topics such as marketing, business plan development, loan assistance, accounting etc.
They are a great resource that provides educational workshops and entrepreneurship programs to guide business owners through the many challenges they face. They also offer one-on-one counseling and pair business owners with expert counselors. There are two centers in San Diego County: one at Southwestern College’s National City campus and another one at Mira Costa College in Carlsbad.
Another counseling center available to business owners is the local chapter of SCORE in San Diego. SCORE, also sponsored by the SBA, provides business counseling services to small business owners in general. The majority of SCORE consultants are retired executives who are willing to share their experience in the industry. They also offer many workshops and programs designed to help business owners. Their office is at the SBA’s headquarters in downtown San Diego.
Capital is a big initiative for the SBA and there are also many organizations that help business owners navigate the world of business loans. A common misconception is to think that the SBA lends directly to business owners but instead they partner with third party lenders such as banks, credit unions or alternative lenders to guarantee a portion of a loan. CDC Small Business Finance (CDCSBF) is a perfect example of an organization thinking outside the box and helping small businesses with capital.
CDCSBF is a San Diego nonprofit alternative lender that works very closely with the SBA. They are flexible and usually lend directly to business owners that have not been able to get a loan with a bank or credit union. A lot of these businesses are startup ventures or existing businesses that are looking to expand and some have even had credit issues in the past. CDCSBF also offers one-on-one assistance and is a great resource for these small businesses. Accion San Diego is another alternative lender in San Diego and although they do not work with SBA, they also have programs that help startup businesses and will consider challenging credit requests.
The most beautiful aspect of all of this is that most of these services are free to the public, with exceptions of a few workshops that have a minimal cost. But in general, this is our tax dollars at work.
Moreover, like the SBA and its partners there are also many other organizations out there willing to help and assist business owners. The Small Business Law Center from the Thomas Jefferson School of Law is also a good resource if you are looking for legal advice and there are many out there, you just have to look for them.
A good entrepreneur will seek help and find resources like these to succeed in business.