From the Small Business Administration Blog, Small Business Matters. KMurray, moderator
Finding Expert Business Advice & Resources for Hispanic Entrepreneurs
Are you getting ready to launch your business, but in need of some expert guidance? Or could you use some insight about how to manage and grow your existing small business?
There are plenty of self-proclaimed professionals out there who will clamor to help you achieve your goals – but at a cost. So don’t get scammed – rely on SBA’s trustworthy resource partners who counsel, mentor and train small business owners and entrepreneurs either for free or at a low cost. And in honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month coming up, take note of the resources available that are aimed specifically toward supporting Hispanic business growth.
1. Small Business Administration (SBA) District Offices
SBA’s district offices can be found across the country. They provide free or low-cost advice and counseling on a variety of small business issues, including guidance on SBA loan options, the application process and small-business-friendly banks.
Local offices also provide regular in-person and online training and workshops on a variety of topics including government contracting opportunities; disaster preparedness; assistance for veterans and minorities; the SBA loan process and more.
And if you’re rebuilding your business following a federally declared disaster, there’s specialized help available. Through SBA’s disaster field offices, you can receive counseling and guidance with the disaster loan assistance process.
What Not to Expect: SBA local offices don’t help you process any loan paperwork, because you must work through your bank for an SBA loan. Keep in mind that the SBA itself doesn’t provide direct loans; your lender will submit your loan package to the SBA for approval. SBA offices also don’t provide grants for start-ups or for-profit businesses. Learn more about the SBA loan process and other financing options.
Find your SBA District Office now.
2. SCORE – Counselors to America’s Small Business
The SCORE Association (previously known as Service Corps of Retired Executives) is a nonprofit network of retired business executives, leaders and volunteers who provide free and confidential counseling, mentoring and advice to small business owners nationwide.
Sponsored by the SBA, SCORE has more than 358 chapters with 13,000 + volunteers who share their expertise throughin-person and online mentoring. SCORE counselors often have a specific area of expertise for all stages of business – whether you’re starting, growing or exiting. While your primary counselor will be your main point of contact, he or she can help identify and introduce you to other specialists – from accounting and marketing to management and technology.
In addition, the SCORE website is chockful of great resources, including how-to guides and tools, online workshops and more. You’ll also find a listing of its local branches that operate in-person workshops.
What Not to Expect: SCORE volunteers don’t provide small business financing or legal advice. Depending on the nature of your business concerns, you may be better served by a lawyer.
Find SCORE locations near you.
3. Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs)
Also sponsored by the SBA, Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) are partnerships primarily between the government and colleges or universities that provide educational services to small business owners and entrepreneurs. They offer technical assistance through confidential one-on-one counseling, training seminars, assistance with SBA loans, business plan guidance and more.
SBDC professionals can help you at any stage of the business process and are attuned to specialized business needs, including those of veterans, women, youth and other minority groups. In addition to free counseling and other low-cost training and services, several SBDCs (funding permitting) also operate resource centers that provide free use of PCs, business software and access to advice from counselors and a library of business publications.
What Not to Expect: As with SCORE, SBDCs don’t provide financing or legal advice. (But many SBDCs have local partnerships with legal service providers and law offices that may provide free consultations to SBDC referrals.) In addition, not all of the services SBDCs are free, but may come at a low cost.
Find your nearest SBDC.
4. Additional Resources for Hispanic Entrepreneurs
The United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) actively promotes the economic growth and development of Hispanic entrepreneurs across the country, representing the interests of more 3 million Hispanic-owned businesses nationwide. It can connect you with over 200 local chapters, which help provide technical assistance to Hispanic business associations and entrepreneurs. Find alocal chapter near you.
As an agency within the US Department of Commerce, the Minority Business Development Agency provides technical assistance and access to capital, contracting opportunities and markets for small businesses owned and operated by minority populations. With a network of more than 40 business centers and a wide range of domestic and international strategic partners, the MBDA can help you access the resources you need to help your business succeed.