SBA Introduces New Mobile Application for Small Business Owners and Entrepreneurs

New SBA mobile application brings enhanced access to information and resources

Smart phone users interested in starting or growing a small business can now find helpful resources at their fingertips via a new SBA mobile application from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

“Increasingly, smart phones are the vehicle through which Americans access information.  This is certainly true of many entrepreneurs and small business owners and this new application ensures they will have access to SBA’s resources and programs – literally at their fingertips,” said SBA Administrator Karen G. Mills.  “Greater mobility fits with the new user-focused SBA.gov launched recently, and is another example of the steps we are taking to do a better job of connecting entrepreneurs and small business owners with the tools to help them start or grow their businesses and create jobs.”

Developed and donated as a gift by Palo Alto Software, Inc., the SBA mobile app will make the search for extensive resources more efficient, whether users are starting a new business or taking an existing business to a new level.  The app will first be available for the Apple iPhone®, with future versions for other smart phone platforms.

“Palo Alto Software’s mission is to help small businesses succeed.  We’ve developed this mobile application for the SBA because we understand the importance of having the right tools and resources when starting or growing a business,” said Sabrina Parsons, CEO of Palo Alto Software.  “Ideas can strike entrepreneurs at any moment, and having useful resources available through mobile devices could be the impetus that begins the next big company.”

The mobile app will help users connect with SBA district office staff and SBA-affiliated counselors and mentors who can provide free, personalized small business assistance.  The user-friendly format of the app will help answer questions such as: 

  • How do I start a business? 
  • Where can I go in my area to get free help with writing a business plan? 
  • And where do I begin finding funding for my business?

The SBA mobile app also features a built-in startup cost calculator to help estimate the costs associated with getting a business off the ground, plus an SBA partner locator to help users find SBA offices, Small Business and Technology Development Centers, Women’s Business Centers and SCORE.

Users will also have mobile access to SBA video content and social media alerts to provide them with tips on the go.  This will include live updates from the SBA’s YouTube channel and from SBA’s Twitter feeds.  The free mobile app can be downloaded from the SBA’s website at www.sba.gov/content/sba-mobile-app .

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President Obama Proclaims National Small Business Week Small Businesses Helping To Put Country Back On Track

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama hailed small business owners as the backbone of the nation’s economy in his proclamation of the week of May 15-21 as National Small Business Week. The President declared them to be the embodiment of America’s promise: “the idea that if you have a good idea and are willing to work hard enough, you can succeed in our country.”

The President’s proclamation was issued before the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 48th annual observance of National Small Business Week in Washington, D.C.  (May 18-20).  The event honors outstanding entrepreneurs from across the country, and features announcement of the 2011 National Small Business Person of the Year, who is selected from among 54 small business award winners from 50 states, D.C., Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

The President’s proclamation states: “Our country started as an idea, and it took hard-working, dedicated, and visionary patriots to make it a reality.  A successful business starts much the same way—ideas realized by entrepreneurs who dream of a better world and work until they see it through.  From the family businesses that anchor Main Street to the high-tech startups that keep America on the cutting edge, small businesses are the backbone of our economy and the cornerstones of America’s promise. 

“Throughout our economic recovery, persevering small businesses have helped put our country back on track.  Countless new and saved jobs have come from small businesses who took advantage of tax relief, access to capital, and other tools in the Recovery Act, the Small Business Jobs Act, and other initiatives launched by my Administration to put Americans back to work.  To ensure the stability of our recovery, we must continue to provide new opportunities for small business owners and the next generation of entrepreneurs, who will help us out-innovate and out-build our global competitors to win the future.

“To support high-growth businesses, my Administration has launched Startup America, an initiative that will strengthen access to capital and mentoring while reducing barriers to growth for small businesses.  Entrepreneurship is essential to the strength and resilience of our economy and our way of life.  Startup America will give entrepreneurs the tools they need to build their business into the next great American company.  To encourage innovation, we released the Strategy for American Innovation, a report outlining my Administration’s plan to harness ingenuity.  This means investing in the building blocks of innovation, like education and infrastructure, while promoting market-based growth through tax credits and effective intellectual property laws.        

“The National Export Initiative is working to open markets to American businesses and support small exporters, who increase American competitiveness abroad and create good jobs here at home.  We continue to create opportunity for businesses in underserved communities through new lending initiatives, expanded access to counseling and technical assistance. We are also working to provide small businesses more opportunities to compete for Federal contracts. This gives Federal agencies access to some of our country’s best products and services while helping these businesses grow and employ community members.  Through these and other initiatives, we are supporting the entrepreneurs and small businesses that provide work for half of American workers and create two out of every three new jobs.

“Small businesses embody the promise of America: that if you have a good idea and are willing to work hard enough, you can succeed in our country.  This week, we honor and celebrate the individuals whose inspiration and efforts keep America strong.” 

 Full text of the President’s National Small Business Week proclamation .

National Small Business Week 2011 will be highlighted with two-and-a-half days of events in Washington, D.C., at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, where more than 100 outstanding business owners from across the country will be recognized.  In addition to the State Small Business Persons of the Year, men and women involved in disaster recovery, government contracting, small business champions as well as SBA partners in financial and entrepreneurial development will be honored.

Under the National Small Business Week 2011 theme of “Empowering Entrepreneurs,” featured speakers include Senator Jack Reed (D – Rhode Island); Senator Mary Landrieu (D – Louisiana); Valerie B. Jarrett, Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama; Steve Case, Co-Founder of AOL and Chair of Start-Up America Partnership; Cathy Hughes, Founder and Chairperson of Radio One, and Chair of SBA’s Council on Underserved Communities; SBA Administrator Karen Mills and SBA Deputy Administrator Marie Johns.

A complete agenda for the event is posted at www.NationalSmallBusinessWeek.com. Also featured are a series of executive panel forums on Strategies for High Growth, Exporting and Social Media.  The public can “attend” Small Business Week events virtually, via the SBA’s streaming video

Small Business Week 2011 cosponsors include: Association of Small Business Development Companies, AT&T, AVAYA, CareerBuilder, Dun & Bradstreet, Google, International Franchise Association, Intuit, Lockheed Martin, Microsoft, National Association of Development Companies,  National Association of Government Guaranteed Lenders, National Association of Small Business Investment Companies, National Association for the Self-Employed, National Small Business Association, Nomadic Display, Northrop Grumman, Office Depot, Raytheon, Sam’s Club, SCORE, The Neat Company, Verio, Visa, the Wall Street Journal, and Women Impacting Public Policy.

$1 Million Business Plan Contest Returns to Michigan

One of the world’s richest business plan competitions is coming back to Michigan this fall.

The Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition, supported through the collaborative efforts of the founders, the Business Accelerator Network for Southeast Michigan and the New Economy Initiative of Southeast Michigan and the premier sponsors, Business Leaders for Michigan and the University Research Corridor, will return Nov. 16 and 17.

Cash winnings, plus in-kind awards of services, staffing and software valued at more than $1 million will be awarded to top entrepreneurial businesses that make a commitment to locate and grow in Michigan. The Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition includes a competition for college students with innovative business ideas.

CLICK HERE for more information.

Do You Have What it Takes to be a Business Owner?

A frequent question we at Strategic Growth Concepts receive from small business owners, or potential small business owners is “How do I know if I can do this?  Do I have what it takes to own my own business?”.  And we have a lot of answers that we give in response that take into account their particular situation, and many tools that we use to help someone evaluate their potential success as small business owners.  However, I recently came across a list developed by Anne Mueller for American Express Open Forum entitled, ’10 Signs You Shouldn’t be a Small Business Owner’ that really caught my attention. 

When I clicked on the link I expected to see the usual, “make sure you have money to survive, make sure you’ve written a business plan, and make sure you have a survival ‘plan b'”, but that’s not what I found.  Instead I found an insightful list of items designed to help you take an in-depth look at yourself and your situation to determine if you have any chance of being successful as a business owner. It required the reader to be completely honest with himself/herself.

As any business owner (successful or otherwise) and any business consultant can tell you, owning a business of any size (even if its only you) is hard, really hard.  It requires sacrifice, and self-discipline, hard work, focus, and the ability to be many things to many people – most of which you have no idea how to be – and many times you have to be them all at once. So being a business owner is definitely not for everyone, and it is certainly a good idea to evaluate yourself and your personal situation honestly before taking the step of becoming one.  In our opinion, this article “10 Signs You Shouldn’t Be a Small Business Owner” is a must-read to help you make that decision, and it’s going into our ‘toolbox’ for use with our own clients.  We recommend you read it as well.