Only about half of businesses will make it to their fifth year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 49.3% of businesses that opened in March 2013 closed by March 2018.
Many small business owners face tight budgets, limited staff, and a lack of resources. They’re expected to do it all, from creating business plans to understanding employment law. It’s no wonder that so many small businesses struggle to stay afloat.
Luckily, America’s small businesses have an advocate in the nation’s network of Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs). SBDCs are accessible to first-time business owners and established business owners who are struggling to expand. Find an SBDC near you, and read on for five ways SBDCs can help you start, run, and maintain your business.
1. SBDCs offer long-term assistance
An SBDC’s core service is long-term technical and business planning assistance for small business owners. They offer one-on-one, confidential, and free consultations.
For business owners, the pressure to do everything is on their shoulders. Luckily, these consultations can help bridge the gaps in a business owner’s knowledge. Not sure how to file business taxes? Confused about funding options? SBDC counselors can answer all those questions.
SBDC counselors bring a wealth of experience to their positions. They can also connect you with other professional business advisors. Small business owners can learn all about how to craft and future-proof their business plans and so much more.
2. SBDCs can do customized market research
SBDC counselors can conduct market research for business owners. They can help business owners identify their markets and locate competitors.
Market research is a crucial part of starting and running a business. But it isn’t something you can do or learn in a day. Without the necessary background on how to perform market research, many business owners may find themselves missing out on huge target markets.
SBDC counselors can help you organize studies and perform research, and teach you the fundamentals of marketing for your small business. The best part is your SBDC counselor can tailor all the information to your business needs.
3. SBDCs offer networking opportunities
SBDC counselors can introduce you to other small business owners. Counselors work with hundreds of small businesses every year. Tapping into that network can be invaluable. Some SBDCs will even host group training classes taught by SBDC staff and industry professionals.
Networking with other small business owners and professionals in your area can be a huge benefit. You’ll find additional resources that others like you have used. You can even get references for potential employees or partners in the area. And you’ll open yourself up to a wider pool of potential employees and customers.
As your reputation within your community grows, so will your business. The more you become involved and visible in your community, the more it’ll benefit your business.
4. SBDCs advocate for small businesses in your community
SBDCs can serve as crucial community advocates. SBDCs operate in conjunction with local governments and your local SBA district office. They rely on public, academic, and private sectors to provide resources and funding to sustain their programs. Having this connection allows them to coordinate resources across your state and plug into local politics that might affect small businesses.
SBDCs can adjust their available services based on community needs, local trends, or client requests. These resources can also assist with things like disaster relief assistance for small businesses. Your local SBDC chapter is plugged into your small business community, focused on growing and improving the local economy.
5. SBDCs focus on positive returns on investments
SBDCs focus on results, which helps them get funding from local sources. Their results match their overarching goals to:
- Drive economic growth in the community.
- Increase access to capital for small businesses.
- Help establish new businesses in the community.
- Promote the growth of jobs and sales for small businesses.
The professionals and counselors who work within SBDCs are evaluating their impact on small businesses constantly. As they track their progress, they can illustrate how their programs are providing a positive return on investment to their funding sources. In turn, the community, stakeholders, and small business owners all experience the impact. SBDCs help power prosperity in their local communities.
About Small Business Development Centers
SBDCs receive funding from universities, colleges, state economic development agencies, and private partners. They also receive partial funding through a partnership with the Small Business Administration (SBA). Over 1,000 local centers exist across the nation have been serving small business owners for nearly 40 years.
SBDCs are a crucial resource for small businesses. They aim to be a small business owner’s primary source of technical and managerial assistance. Their mission is to promote growth, innovation, productivity, and revenue to small businesses by improving their business administration.