If you are a small business owner, you have to check out the SC Small Business Administration and the many services and resources that they offer. Their website is a great place to access info about starting/running/growing your business. You can also learn how become a federal contractor or export your product to other countries. They also provide access to different federal loan programs, as well as microloans. To learn more about the SBA we spoke with Business Opportunity Specialist, Angela Brewer.
1. Could you please tell us a little bit about your small business background and how you came to be a part of the SBA?
I’m a Service-Disabled Veteran having served 23 years in the Army and Army Reserve. My background is HR. After retiring, I started with the SC Small and Minority Business Contracting and Certification (SMBCC) as intern through VA Vocational Rehab. During one of their annual match-making events, I was introduced to a member of the SC Small Business Administration (SBA). I interned for 6 months and was hired at the end of my internship. I have been certified by SBA HQ to do federal contract training and must maintain my certification every two years.
2. What services does the SBA offer and is everything still done virtually? What services are free and which ones are not?
SBA offers Access to Capital; we do not do direct lending, but we back loans. All our loan programs are through a bank. We offer certification for contractors to do federal contract work; we offer counseling, although SBA do not do direct counseling, we have resource partners sponsored by SBA (Columbia College’s Women Business Center, SCORE, Veteran Business Outreach Center and the SC Small Business Development Center); the only time SBA does direct lending is during natural disasters or pandemics.
We are still working virtually, but we are able do in-person events.
3. What is the is the most important thing to take into consideration before starting a small business?
Business Structure and Business Foundation. A lot of businesses think they want to start a business and that is that. No, you must properly lay a good foundation which includes business bank accounts, registering your business with the IRS, understanding how you want to structure your business and creating a business plan.
4. Are there certain types of businesses to stay away from because of current supply chain issues?
If you are passionate about your “hobby”, it is a business. Do not let anyone discourage you from pursuing your dream. I would not say there is a particular business or industry I would stay away from. But some things maybe slow to arrive than others. I know in the construction industry; it’s taking longer to get supplies.
5. Are there places to get small business financing that don’t require perfect credit?
For SBA, we have microloans. You don’t have to have an 820 credit score to get assistance. With the micro lenders under SBA programs, they work with borrowers to get their credit to where it needs to be
6. How much money do you have to have saved up before starting a small business?
Can some businesses be started on a shoestring?
I would recommend doing an accountability of what supplies or items you would need to operate your business. Do an estimate of the monthly cost for at least six months. If you are looking to purchase a storefront or Lease, I would include that also in the amount saved. Each value varies according to what you do.
7. What is the biggest mistake people make when starting a small business?
Not getting professional assistance. SBA offer free resources to anyone looking to start grow or expand your business. At some point you may outgrow those resources, but they are there to assist you.
8. What is the best way to contact you about utilizing SBA services?