How can I get assistance from the SBDC?
There are several ways to take advantage of SBDC resources.
This website has a wealth of information to assist you and answer questions. Take some time to scroll through the pages, review the Events Schedule, visit the Small Business Administration pages and other links you find here.
If you are starting a business, we ask that you begin by attending one of our “Start Smart” workshops. There you will learn about the start-up process, important considerations and decisions you should make before you start, the various regulations and registrations, and the fundamentals of a business plan.
If you are already in business and would like a one-on-one consultation, contact us to set an appointment. We’ll ask that you complete a Request for Counseling and Pre-Counseling Questionnaire. We’ll also suggest you bring financial information, marketing materials, etc. to our meeting to help us better understand your business.
Isn’t the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) only for starting a small business?
While the SBDC certainly has information helpful to those starting a business, our primary function is to be a resource to existing businesses that need information or assistance to become more innovative and competitive.
What kinds of assistance does an SBDC provide?
We offer information or advice to help business owners expand their businesses, solve business problems or improve management, develop new ideas for products or services, or investigate new business opportunities.
We help the inexperienced businessperson understand the requirements for going into business, assess business opportunities, determine financial needs and potential sources of financing, and offer guidelines on business planning and marketing.
One important aspect of SBDC assistance is that we don’t do things for you so much as we try to equip you with information and resources to do things for yourself.
Does the SBDC provide financing?
The SBDC does not provide financing. Our assistance is technical and educational in nature.
The SBDC can help you identify what financing you may need and discuss alternative sources. We can also advise you how to improve a loan application and business plan. We work with banks and other lending agencies and organizations to assist in putting together financial projections, but the actual financing comes from outside sources. Generally, you start with the bank where you normally do business and have established accounts. You may have to apply at several lending institutions or look for alternative sources such as outside investors.
What does it cost to use the services of the SBDC?
The services of the SBDC are provided at no charge thanks to the support of the Small Business Administration and our local hosts. Fees may be collected to recover specific client-approved charges for database searches, and nominal fees are often charged for training workshops or purchases of books.
How does the Virginia SBDC assist veteran business owners?
In addition to counseling and training, the SBDC can assist veteran business owners with the SBA Pre-Qualification loan program for veterans.
Veteran business owners are also eligible to apply for the Veteran Small Business of the Year Award presented annually to a Virginia Veteran. The award recognizes Veterans who have made a significant contribution to Virginia’s economy through their involvement in small business. The Shenandoah Valley SBDC nominated two of the first three recipients of this honor. The award is placed on permanent display at the Virginia War Memorial in Richmond. Contact us for more information about SBA Pre-Qualification loans or the award process.
Can the SBDC recommend the best business for me to start?
Our experience shows that successful entrepreneurs usually have a solid understanding of their new ventures. This means that they or members of their management team have operated a similar business before, or that they have unique skills and contacts that enable success.
We don’t believe it is a good idea to simply pick a business from somebody’s list of “Best Businesses to Start”. Rather than suggest a business to you, we will encourage you to evaluate your experiences, unique skills and strengths, your family support structure and what you think you’ll be most happy doing for the rest of your life.
Who funds the Small Business Development Center (SBDC)?
All SBDCs are supported by a mix of federal funds from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and matching funds from local hosts and support agencies. The Shenandoah Valley SBDC is supported by our host, James Madison University, and several local supporters.