National Small Business Week 2019 kicks off on May 5th. It’s a special week celebrating small businesses and everything that they give to the country’s economy. Small businesses employ more than half of all Americans, with 2 out of every 3 new jobs created each year created by small businesses. But they can’t keep going without some help, like loans, grants, federal contracts - and National Small Business Week.
What Happens at National Small Business Week?
National Small Business Week includes hackathons and small business awards ceremonies, online articles and videos for small business owners. There’s also a two-day virtual small business conference. This gives you the chance to learn from experts in your industry, and share tips with other small business owners.
National Small Business Week is one of the many projects offered by the SBA - the Small Business Administration.
What is the SBA?
Small businesses make a big impact, but it’s not always easy to be a small business owner. That’s why the SBA was set up, back in 1953, to help and protect small businesses in the US. Here are some of the things the SBA has to offer small businesses:
- Financial assistance programs for your business.
- A task force to cut down on unnecessary regulation and make life simpler for small business owners.
- Free education and training for entrepreneurs and business executives. It provides tools and skills to grow your business.
- Special events to encourage Americans to shop at small businesses.
SBA Funding Programs
Every small business is different. They come in different sizes, work in different ways, and carry different levels of risk. That’s why Next Insurance provides tailored insurance for your business needs. It’s also why there are many different SBA funding programs to help your business grow.
The SBA works together with banks and other lenders to help you get business loans more easily. It doesn’t lend money itself, but it does partner with lenders to repay the loan if your business fails. That lowers the risk for the lender and makes it more likely that they’ll agree to your loan request.
SBA loans usually need a lower down payment and have more flexible terms than standard business loans. Rates and fees stay about the same. Some SBA loans don’t ask you for any collateral.
SBA Investment Capital
If you need business capital, the SBA helps you find someone to invest in your business. The SBA licenses and regulates Small Business Investment Companies (SBICs), which either buy equity in your company, or give you a business loan. The SBA matches the investor’s money, giving $2 for every $1 from the investor.
- SBIC loans are usually between $250,000 and $10 million, with an interest rate of 9% - 16%.
- SBIC equity investments are from $100,000 to $5 million.
- You might get a combination of loans and equity. In that case, loan rates are between 10% and 14%, and funding ranges from $250,000 to $10 million.
- SBIC investments usually last for 3 years.
SBA Surety Bonds
If you bid for some contracts, you’ll need to provide a surety bond. This is a guarantee that you’ll complete the work. The SBA guarantees some surety bonds, helping small businesses to qualify for surety bonds and win their contract. The SBA guarantees surety bonds for bid, payment, performance, and ancillary work.
The SBA works with a few different funds to provide SBA grants to small businesses. These include:
- SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) for businesses that carry out scientific research and development
- STTR (Small Business Technology Transfer) for technology research and development
- STEP (State Trade Expansion Program) for small businesses that want to export products
How to Qualify for SBA Funding Programs
Each SBA funding program has different qualification requirements. You’ll need to check what’s needed for each one. In general, you’ll qualify as a small business if your average annual revenue is under the SBA maximum. For example, electricians and electrical contractors need to make less than $15,000,000 per year.
How to Apply for Federal Work Contracts
Landing a federal work contract is a big event for a small business, and the SBA is there to help make it happen.
The SBA Contracting Guide helps you prepare your business and find contracting opportunities in your industry. It shares tips and tricks to win contracts.
Contracting Assistance Programs provide business development advice and help. There are special programs for women-owned businesses, service-disabled veteran-owned businesses, small businesses that deal in natural resources, and more.
The SBA also offers counseling and help to all small businesses that want to win federal contracts.
SBA Disaster Assistance
Even though you have general liability insurance, it’s not designed to cover damage from a natural disaster. That’s why it’s good to know that the SBA offers disaster assistance funding. It’s for businesses, renters, or homeowners in areas where the government has declared a disaster, like a hurricane, an earthquake, or wildfires.
SBA disaster assistance is a low-interest loan to keep your business going and replace damaged equipment or property. You can use it for:
- Real estate
- Personal property
- Machinery, equipment, and inventory
- Paying your ongoing business operating costs
The Benefits of National Small Business Week
National Small Business Week fits in to the many ways that the SBA supports small businesses. You’ll find special advice on getting more funding to help grow your small business. This includes step by step guidance on preparing your requests for funding, and ideas for where to turn to get more money.
In the middle of National Small Business Week, you can take part in National Small Business Week Twitter Chat, using the hashtag #SmallBusinessWeek. This is a special event scheduled for 3pm ET on May 9th, on Twitter. The SBA and industry experts will answer questions and share tips and tricks for growing your business.
Why Don’t Small Businesses Take Advantage of Federal Programs?
Although the SBA has so many ways to help small businesses, all too many business owners don’t take advantage of the opportunities. What is it that stops small businesses from using federal business programs?
Often, many small business owners don’t know about the possibilities. National Small Business Week is a great chance for everyone to hear about the SBA’s programs.
Small business owners who do know that these programs exist, might not know how to apply. Life as a small business owner is very, very busy. Months can pass by without finding the time to read up about the SBA and other federal business programs.
Small Businesses Deserve All the Help They can Get
Small businesses deserve all the help they can get. If you’re interested in the SBA’s small business programs, the best thing is to register with the SBA so that you’ll stay in the loop. All you need to do is create a username and password, and accept the conditions of use. National Small Business Week is here to help you grow your business, so why not seize the moment.