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FAQS

Who does the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) help?

The SBDC serves businesses with fewer than 500 employees, including new ventures, growing companies and mature businesses. Our primary function is to be a resource to existing businesses that need information or assistance to become more innovative and competitive, but we also have resources and tools for those starting a new business.

What kinds of assistance does an SBDC provide?

We offer free one-on-one counseling services, which enable businesses to improve and expand their companies, solve problems, improve management, develop new ideas for products or services, or investigate new business opportunities.

We help the inexperienced businessperson understand the requirements for going into business, assess business opportunities, determine financial needs and potential sources of financing, and offer guidelines on business planning and marketing.

One important aspect of SBDC assistance is that we don't actually do things for you so much as we try to equip you with information and resources to do things for yourself.

Does the SBDC provide financing?

The SBDC does not provide financing. Our assistance is technical and educational in nature.

The SBDC can help you identify what financing you may need and discuss alternative sources. We can also advise you how to improve a loan application and business plan. We work with banks and other lending agencies and organizations to assist in putting together financial projections, but the actual financing comes from outside sources. Generally, you start with the bank where you normally do business and have established accounts. You may have to apply at several lending institutions or look for alternative sources such as outside investors.

What does it cost to use the services of the SBDC?

The services of the SBDC are provided at no charge thanks to the support of the Small Business Administration and our local fiscal supporters. Fees may be collected to recover specific client-approved charges for database searches, and nominal fees are often charged for training workshops or purchases of books.

How can I get assistance from the SBDC?

There are several ways to take advantage of SBDC resources.

This website has a wealth of information to assist you and answer questions. Take some time to scroll through the pages, review the Events Schedule and visit the Small Business Administration page.

If you are starting a business, call us for a consultation and consider attending one of our business bootcamp workshops. There you will learn about the start-up process, important considerations and decisions you should make before you start, the various regulations and registrations, and the fundamentals of a business plan.

If you are already in business and would like a one-on-one consultation, contact us to set an appointment. We'll ask that you complete an intake questionnaire (LINK) We'll also suggest you bring financial information, marketing materials, etc. to our meeting to help us better understand your business.

Can the SBDC recommend the best business for me to start?

Our experience shows that successful entrepreneurs usually have a solid understanding of their new ventures. This means that they or members of their management team have operated a similar business before, or that they have unique skills and contacts that enable success.

We don't believe it is a good idea to simply pick a business from somebody's list of "Best Businesses to Start". Rather than suggest a business to you, we encourage you to evaluate your experiences, unique skills and strengths, location and what you think you'll be most happy doing.

What can I expect from a meeting with a business counselor?

The business counselor will ask pertinent questions, listen to your needs and tailor the session around your specific experience and concerns. You will leave your first meeting with a list of to dos to start you on your way!

Is there a limit on how many times I can see a business counselor?

You can see the counselor as often as you need.  If you find that you have all the information after one meeting, that's okay. But, if you need ongoing help or support, the counselor is more than happy to do that, too.

Do you provide legal assistance or advice? 

Sierra SBDC has partnered with a law firm to help you with your legal needs.

Who funds the Small Business Development Center (SBDC)?

All SBDCs are supported by a mix of federal funds from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and matching funds from local hosts and support agencies.

What is the difference between Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and Small Business Administration (SBA)?

The U.S. Small Business Administration, SBA, is a federal agency that provides aid, counsel, and disaster assistance to small businesses. They are able to fulfill their mission, in part, through the creation of the Small Business Development Centers (SBDC).

The SBDCs are nationwide and offer one-on-one, free confidential counseling, low cost workshops and reference libraries. The SBDCs are part of the nation-wide Association of Small Business Development Centers (ASBDC), which works on behalf of the SBDCs nationwide to support small businesses.

What impact has California SBDC had on the business community?

In the 2012/2013 fiscal year:
6,962 New jobs were created by small companies
3,855 Jobs were saved that were specifically slated for elimination
929 New businesses started with the help of CA SBDC
$382 million secured as new capital for small California businesses
$285 million new taxable revenue generated by CA SBDC clients

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