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.
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.