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United States Small Business Administration

The United States Small Business Administration (SBA) was established by an act of Congress in 1953 to help the millions of small businesses in America. It has about 100 offices around the country ready to help the small business owner.

Before the Loan

Before a small business owner goes to the SBA for a loan, he or she should call the local office of the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) or the local Small Business Development Center (SBDC). Counselors at these offices have a great range of business experience and are willing to share it free of charge. These groups work closely with the SBA, and the client does not need be a potential SBA borrower to use their services. Students and faculty of certain colleges and university business programs participate in the Small Business Institute Program, which helps business owners near the school.

SBA offices also offer counseling with the help of local businesses and professional organizations, as well as retired executives and those still active in the field, all of whom can provide guidance in their area of expertise.

Counseling from the SBA

A person who visits an SBA office in hopes of starting a small business may be asked to fill out a "Request for Counseling, Form 641," Although some SBA offices are set up to serve those who come in without an appointment, a counselor is likely to spend more time with those who have scheduled an appointment. The counselor may be able to provide a copy of the SBA’s "Starting Kit," designed for the potential business owners, and a variety of moderately -priced publications, including the "Checklist for Going into Business," "How to Buy or Sell a Business" and sample business plans for a variety of businesses.

Additionally, the SBA sponsors workshops and conferences on a variety of topics related to small business. A pre-business workshop, for example, is an excellent way to get information on beginning a business and to meet others who are attempting to do the same thing. Such a conference may also provide information about other places to go for more information, such as state and local agencies, the local chamber of commerce, and the business section of the local library.