City, SBA offer small-business help

Published 9:23 pm Monday, September 21, 2009

They can be sobering statistics for those who are thinking of leaving an employer to start a small business of their own: Nearly one-third of small businesses fail before their second anniversary. And half of them close their doors before their fifth year.

After years of collecting such data, the United States Small Business Administration has learned a lot about what makes some new business thrive while others collapse under the pressures that are so prevalent during the first months and years of operation.

On Tuesdays in October, SBA officials will team up once again with the Suffolk Economic Development Department to share some of those lessons.

Email newsletter signup

The “Start and Grow Your Suffolk Business” seminar series begins Oct 6 and will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. each Tuesday of the month, with a focus on different topics each week.

This is the fourth or fifth such series in Suffolk, according to Kevin Hughes, the city’s economic development manager, who said some topics change from one series to another.

But some of those topics — like Business Plan Development (Oct. 13) — stay pretty constant because of their value to business owners.

“Obviously, there are some that are very important for every business,” he explained.

Hughes’ department and the SBA consider a solid business plan to be foundational to the success of a new or growing business. In fact, it’s almost impossible to get a loan for a new business without one.

Even so, Hughes said, “You see a lot of startups … who haven’t even done a business plan.”

The two-hour seminar Oct. 13 will cover some of the techniques for writing a winning business plan. It will be led by Jim Carroll of the Small Business Development Center, which specializes in helping small businesses get off the ground.

“It’s a great resource for small businesses, really, at any stage,” Hughes said of the SBDC.

The information that Carroll and other presenters will provide participants is a benefit of the series, Hughes said, but the access to resources like the SBDC is even better.

“Knowing that an organization of people is out there — a lot of them free — that can assist” small business owners can make a huge difference, he said. “The best thing is that we’re able to get those resources in front of people.”

Past seminars have attracted 15 to 25 participants at a time, Hughes said, and they range from the merely curious to the already-established small business owner looking to broaden his awareness of the help that’s available.

“They range from the dreamer to folks who are already up and running,” he said.

Those who would like to participate in the programs are encouraged to call in advance so that organizers can ensure they have enough materials. But Hughes said even walk-ins will be welcome.

The following seminar topics are planned:

4Oct. 6: Do you know how to read and respond to an opportunity with the federal government? This presentation will provide a section-by-section understanding as to what the government asks for in a solicitation. Insights on how to prepare a response to the proposal will be shared.

4Oct. 13: Business Plan Development. Learn about some of the techniques to writing a winning business plan.

4Oct. 20: Pricing to win federal contracts. A follow-up to the first session, focusing on the financial requirements that come along with the pursuit of federal contracts, from the preparation of a cost submission to having the necessary financial resources to invoicing requirements.

4Oct. 27: Finance. Hear what the bank is looking for and the things that impact your loan package. There will be an overview of the Small Business Administration Loan Guaranty Program.

For more information, contact Kevin Hughes at 514-4043 or at