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Business resources offer different services

September 11, 2010|By BOB POOR
  • Bob Poor
,

Q: Our little business is about a year old, holding its own so far, but in need of some effective business planning to help us prepare for real growth. We hear mention of the SBA, SBDC and SCORE as suitable resources for us. Can you help us better understand their similarities and differences so that we can make our best choice for assistance?

A: Excellent question. Here's a brief overview of the services and support offered, and not offered, by these three essential government-sponsored small-business support organizations.

o

Small Business Administration (SBA)



The SBA probably is best known for the loan guarantee programs it provides to small-business owners in partnership with banks and lending institutions. However, this federal agency also operates local offices nationwide that provide free or low-cost advice and counseling on a variety of small business issues.

While local SBA offices can help guide you through available SBA loan options and the application process, you must work through your local bank for an SBA loan.

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For more information on finding and working with your local SBA office, go to http://www.sba.gov.

o SCORE-Counselors to America's Small Business

SCORE (previously known as Service Corps of Retired Executives), a resource associate of the SBA, is a national network of volunteer active and retired business executives and owners who provide free and confidential counseling, mentoring, advice and low-cost business seminars and workshops to business startups and owners. SCORE does not provide small-business financing or legal advice.

Hagerstown's SCORE chapter is comprised of 20-plus men and women with different areas of business expertise, all of whom are available to work as counselors or co-counselors.

The national SCORE chapter operates a resource-rich website (www.score.org) that includes how-to guides, as well as online counseling and training.

For more information, call the Hagerstown SCORE chapter at 301-766-2043 or go to http://www.scorehagerstown.org.

o Small Business Development Centers (SBDC)

The centers are sponsored by the SBA and provide management assistance to small-business owners in the form of one-on-one counseling, training seminars, assistance with SBA loans and technical assistance. Local full-time employees and volunteers are active in promoting entrepreneurial success in their communities.

As with SCORE, SBDC offices do not provide financing or legal advice.

For more information, call 301-687-1080 or go to http://www.westernmdsbdc.org.




Special note: Go to http://www.scorehagerstown.org for details on SCORE's next "How to Really Start Your Own Business" seminar that begins on Thursday, Oct. 7, at Hagerstown Community College.

Robert A. "Bob" Poor is a local small-business owner/operator. He is a small-business counselor and a regular contributor to the Ask SCORE column. Questions may be e-mailed to him at r.poor@myactv.net">r.poor@myactv.net or sent by mail in care of The Herald-Mail, P.O. Box 439, Hagerstown, MD 21741, ATTN: Ask SCORE column.

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