1. What is a Small Business Development Center (SBDC)?

Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) help entrepreneurs start and grow their small businesses through professional, confidential advising, as well as classes and workshops.

SBDCs can help you with your business plan and access to funding. They also offer resources for market research and consulting on how to efficiently scale operations as your business grows. There are SBDCs in every state, and each year, they provide more than a million hours of business consulting.

2. What’s it like to visit my local SBDC?

SBDC advisors can meet with you in person or via Zoom.  The first meeting is usually about one hour long.  We ask what your questions are and what your goals are.  Next we educate you and come up with strategic action steps for you.

3. What kind of resources are available at my SBDC?

Confidential business advising, workshops, and classes. Each SBDC offers slightly different services.  The Laurel Ridge SBDC has free and confidential business advising, business management classes, and entrepreneurial workshops. We offer education on a range of topics, like how to use QuickBooks or how to get a loan, or figuring out if you need to create an LLC.

4. Is it just for new businesses, or can they help my existing company?

An SBDC can help whether you’re just starting out, or you’ve been up and running for years. The  Laurel Ridge SBDC’s audience is roughly 60 percent existing companies, and 40 percent brand new small businesses—though exact breakdown varies from time to time.

5.  How SBDCs help brand new small businesses?

A startup is going to have radically different needs than an existing business. When our SBDC team works with a new small business, we often help the client develop the loan package, prepare financial projections,  tighten their focus and develop a clear concept of what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, and how they’re going to do it.

Beyond helping people get starting with a writing a business plan, SBDC advisors also can help new businesses identify their target markets and the size of those markets, as well as how to scale their businesses. They can also help startups think through things like how to grow and when to hire their first employee.

6. How SBDCs help existing businesses?

Existing businesses often come to the SBDC looking for some expert insights on how to be more efficient as they grow. SBDC advisors can help brainstorm strategies and address problem areas, like how to lean up your manufacturing processes, how to get a line of credit, or a loan to expand their business.

7. What about creating a business plan for a loan or investment?

An SBDC can help both new and existing businesses figure out how to access loans, investment, and other sources of funding.

When businesses need help getting a loan or accessing startup capital, the issue tends to lie in the company’s business planning. Sometimes entrepreneurs and owners find themselves being turned down for loans or investment—but not understanding why. Usually, they need to revisit their sales forecast, their cash flow (and whether they’re getting paid on time), or some other element of their financial plan.

SBDC advisors can help with this. They often assist clients in creating successful presentations for banks or investors. They know what funders are looking for in a business plan and pitch presentation, and they can teach clients how to “speak banker.”