Welcome to the Alphabet Soup of Government Business Assistance!
If there’s one thing we can be confident in when it comes to government, it’s their love for acronyms. There are a slew of government funded agencies and programs out there today – DoED, USDA, EPA, OSHA, and so on. They cover a wide variety of purposes from education to agriculture to – you guessed it – small business!
Navigating through this alphabet soup of government business assistance can be challenging. Even industry experts such as ourselves can be challenged to use the right acronym when discussing these programs. To help keep them all straight, here are a few of the key players you should know about:
- SBA | The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is a government agency aimed at guiding, assisting, and protecting small businesses all around the country. They are the parent agency and main contributor to many other small business assistance programs, such as Small Business Investment Companies (SBIC). One of the SBA’s best known endeavors is to help businesses grow by increasing their access to funding through loans, grants, and government contracting.
- SBDC | Small Business Development Centers are a network of agencies which provide free business counseling to small business owners. Partially funded by the SBA, they have nearly 1,000 locations across the country. Through their counseling and training programs, SBDC counselors can help you write a business plan, access capital, create a marketing strategy, and make sure that you are compliant with regulations.
- SCORE | SCORE is another agency which offers free business counseling. SCORE focuses on connecting small business owners with volunteer mentors in their local business network. These mentors are often current or retired entrepreneurs who have the experience and know-how to successfully start and grow a business.
- APTAC | With over 300 offices, the Association of Procurement Technical Assistance Center helps small business owners build professional networks in the government marketplace. Through their counseling programs, PTACs can guide you through the process of government contracting from becoming a registered provider to placing bids.
- EDC | Economic Development Centers are locally based agencies dedicated to improving economic outlook of their immediate community. This is done by building business networks, creating new jobs, and attracting new businesses to the area. They may be independent non-profits or state-run organizations and so their names (and acronyms) vary from region to region. However, they are generally referred to as EDCs.
- ONO | Despite making up 55% of the U.S. jobs, it can often seem like small business owners have no voice when it comes to government regulations. To help with this problem the SBA has created the Office of National Ombudsman. This group of entrepreneurs volunteer their time to help ensure that small business owners are treated fairly when it comes to regulatory enforcement of federal laws.
You can connect with all of these agencies and the thousands of other in the BUZGate Free Help database. Choosing to become self-employed is a major decision. Fortunately, you don’t have to do it alone thanks to these programs.