SBA Kicks Off Young Entrepreneur Series

The White House and the U.S. Small Business Administration announced today the launch of the Young Entrepreneur Series (YES), which will connect young and aspiring entrepreneurs with SBA officials, local business advisors and resources to help them start or grow their own small business. 

“For our economy to thrive in the 21st century, we must set about creating the next generation of entrepreneurs,” said SBA Deputy Administrator Marie Johns.  “Young Americans need to know that starting a business is a viable alternative to going to work for somebody else.  There is a clear and urgent need to create more jobs for young Americans, and encouraging business ownership is an important way to meet that goal.” 

SBA will hold five YES forums that will reach a broad audience, including young veterans, urban and rural entrepreneurs, and others.  

Dates and locations include:

  • November 7, San Diego, Calif., Veteran Young Entrepreneurs
  • November 9, Ames, Iowa, Rural Young Entrepreneurs
  • November 17, Charlotte, N.C., Young Entrepreneurs at Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority Serving Institutions
  • November 29, Tahlequah, Okla., Native American Young Entrepreneurs
  • December  1, Milwaukee, Wis., Apprenticeship to Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship among young people remains below average and young entrepreneurs face unique challenges.  With youth unemployment twice the national average in many communities, particularly communities of color and veterans, the Obama administration recognizes a need to promote and better support the efforts of young people to create jobs for themselves and others. 

Many SBA programs, such as microloans, business counseling and training, are useful to young entrepreneurs.  The YES forums are part of a larger effort to reach out to young people and let them know the federal government has tools to help them start, grow and succeed as small business owners.  

The forums will be livestreamed at www.sba.gov/youngentrepreneurs.  Participants can also follow along on Twitter using the hashtag #SBAyes.  For more information or to watch the forums live, visit www.sba.gov/youngentrepreneurs.

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Statement from SBA Administrator Mills on new Federal ‘QuickPay’ program

WASHINGTON – SBA Administrator Mills statement on the President’s “QuickPay” announcement today to cut in half – from 30 days to 15 days – the amount of time it takes federal agencies to pay small businesses for the products and services they deliver to the federal government: 

“The thousands of small businesses that provide great products and services to the federal government have a big reason to cheer the President’s ‘QuickPay’ announcement today.  When small contractors get their money in 15 days instead of 30, it results in a permanent infusion of cash flow into their businesses.  They can put that money towards working capital, expanding their businesses, marketing their products, and creating jobs.  Their financial footing gets stronger – permanently.  With nearly $100 billion each year in federal contracts going to small businesses, cutting in half the time they get paid is a powerful way to help put America back to work now.  QuickPay is a smart and powerful boost that effectively delivers billions more dollars into the hands of small contractors so that they can do what they do best – create jobs.”

Leveling the Federal Contracting Playing Field – The New SBA Woman-Owned Small Business Program Explained

by Caron Beesley, Moderator

Congress has set goals to help woman-owned small businesses (WOSBs) gain their share of the federal contracting market.

However, without a specific set-aside contract program for WOSBs, such as those in place for small disadvantaged businesses (e.g., the 8(a) program), service-disabled veterans and historically underutilized business zones (HUBZone), WOSBs only received 4% of the $400+ billion contracts awarded annually well shy of the 5% statutory goal.

In an effort to address this shortfall and create a more level contracting playing field for women-owned small businesses, in late 2010 the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced the final rule that would implement the  WOSB program. Formally known as the Woman-Owned Small Business Federal Contract Program, the goals of the program were outlined by SBA Administrator, Karen Mills, in the agency’s press release:

Women-owned businesses are one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy…That’s why providing them with all the tools necessary to compete for and win federal contracts is so important. Federal contracts can provide women-owned small businesses with the oxygen they need to take their business to the next level.”

While the WOSB Program was formally launched by the SBA in February 2011, it wasn’t until April 2011 that the federal procurement officials were able to set-aside contracts under the program.

So what is the WOSB Program and how can you take advantage of it? Here’s what you need to know and the steps you need to take to get your business certified to participate!

What is the WOSB Program?

The WOSB Program is a win-win for WOSBs and EDWOSBs (Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Businesses) and the federal government.  WOSBs now have an opportunity to compete for and win contracts specifically set aside for WOSBs.

There are over 300 industries (PDF) (in the contracting world these are known as NAICS codes) where WOSBs and EDWOSBs have been deemed “underrepresented” or “substantially underrepresented”. Contracting officers can do a WOSB or EDWOSB set-aside contracts in these industries if:

  • There is reasonable expectation that two or more WOSBs/EDWOSBs will submit offers.
  • The anticipated award price of the contract does not exceed $6.5 million in the case of manufacturing contracts and $4 million in the case of all other contracts.
  • In the estimation of the contracting officer, the contract can be awarded at a fair and reasonable price.

Interested bidders can look on the Federal Business Opportunities web site to find federal government solicitations that may be set aside for WOSB or EDWOSBs

Are you Eligible for WOSB/EDWOSB Set-Asides?

To help determine your eligibility for the WOSB program you’ll need to be ask yourself a few eligibility questions:

  1. Are you a small business as defined by SBA standards for your industry? – Read “Am I a small business concern?” from the SBA to determine if you are. If you are not eligible you can still consider teaming with a small business prime contractor who is.
  2. Are you a woman-owned small business (WOSB)? – Your business must beat least 51% directly or unconditionally owned by one or more women. In addition, the management and daily business operations must be controlled by one or more women who are U.S. citizens.
  3. Does your business function within one of the over 300 industries (known as NAICS codes) for the WOSB program?
  4. Are you an economically disadvantaged woman-owned small business (EDWOSB)? You don’t have to be to qualify for the WOSB program, although you do for the EDWOSB portion. Here are the requirements:

Be a WOSB that is at least 51% owned by one or more women who are “economically disadvantaged”.  A woman is presumed economically disadvantaged if she:

      • Has a personal net worth of less than $750,000 (please note items that may be excluded)
      • Average annual income of less than  $350,000 for the three years  (please note items that may be excluded)
      • Value of total assets is less than $6 million (please note items that may be excluded)

How to Get Certified for the WOSB Program

If you meet the eligibility requirements above, you’ll then need to either self-certify or obtain third party certification (read more about the certification process here).

To ensure you can compete for these WOSB set-aside contracts as soon as possible, take the time to review all the program requirements on the SBA website and ensure your required documents are uploaded to the WOSB Program Repository. WOSBs also will need to update their status in the Central Contractor Registration (CCR) and the Online Representation and Certification Application (ORCA) to indicate to contracting officers that they are eligible to participate.

Training and Education on the WOSB Program

The SBA is engaging in a number of training and outreach activities to help small business owners understand the program – contact your local SBA Office for more information. The agency has also put together this easy-to-read handbook (PDF) for small businesses interested in learning about the WOSB Program, including eligibility requirements, federal contracting opportunities, and how the program works in general. 

Additional Resources

If you are new to the government contracting market or have questions about the process, take a look at these guides and resources on the SBA website:

SBA Small Business Outreach Tour Travels Michigan to Meet Small Business Owners

Don’t miss the first ever statewide SBA Small Business Outreach Tour! 

Are you a small business owner looking for tools to take your business to the next level?  Do you need information, contacts, and resources to start your business?  

Get connected to experts in lending, government contracting, business growth, financial management, exporting and much more! 

Get inspired by stories of successful small business owners in your region.

Get informed about what’s happening in your community from local economic development resources. 

Get to the SBA Small Business Outreach Tour! It’s FREE, and coming to a city near you!

Learn more about the SBA’s Michigan Small Business Tour

What do Apple Computer, Hershey’s, Mary Kay Cosmetics, and the Ford Motor Company have in common?

WASHINGTON – What do Apple Computer, Hershey’s, Mary Kay Cosmetics, and the Ford Motor Company have in common? These well-known corporations all started out as home-based businesses. In fact, more than half of all U.S. businesses are based out of an owner’s home.  Starting a home-based business has many rewards as well as challenges. Join chat host Boyd Wright to learn what it takes to grow a successful home-based business.

WHO:  Home-based business champion and small business owner Boyd Wright will host the July Web chat on “Growing a Home-Based Business: What You Need to Know.”  Chat participants can get valuable insight from Wright and learn more about working out of your house, starting a home-based business and managing the business within the law. Wright will answer questions on how to grow a home-based business, the benefits and the challenges.

WHAT:  SBA’s web chat series provides small business owners with an opportunity to discuss relevant business issues online with experts, industry leaders and successful entrepreneurs.  Chat participants have direct, real-time access to the web chats via questions they submit online in advance, and during the live session.  Chat participants can receive helpful tips and advice on how to grow their businesses.

WHEN:  July 28, 2011, 1 p.m. ET

Wright will answer questions for one hour.      

HOW:  Web chat participants can post questions online in advance and on July 28, join the live web chat by going online to www.sba.gov, and click on the web chat event under What’s New. 

To review archives of past web chats, visit online at http://www.sba.gov/tools/monthlywebchat/index.html

Nationwide Small Business Roundtables on Women Entrepreneurship

Washington, D.C. – Today, in recognition of the significant role that women-owned businesses play in our economy, the Office of Advocacy launched a nationwide series of roundtables on women’s entrepreneurship. These roundtables convened by Advocacy’s Regional Advocates and taking place between June 27 and June 30th will bring together federal officials, private sector representatives and women entrepreneurs to discuss the issues and challenges that women entrepreneur’s face.  Roundtables are being held in Portland, ME, New York City, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Madison WI, New Orleans, Des Moines, Denver, Los Angeles, and Spokane, WA.

“For continued economic growth women entrepreneurs must play a prominent role,” said Chief Counsel for Advocacy Winslow Sargeant.  “These roundtables will bring together women-owned businesses and entrepreneurs to provide a forum to discuss issues impacting them.”

A summary of  an upcoming Advocacy study, Gender Issues: Privately Owned and Publicly Held U.S. Firms, released in conjunction with these regional roundtables, shows that nationally, the number of women-owned businesses increased by almost 44 percent, from 5.4 million in 1997 to 7.8 million in 2007. In addition, the number of women-owned businesses grew at twice the rate of male-owned businesses from 1997 to 2007: 44 and 22 percent, respectively.  The study is based primarily on U.S. firm information from the 1997, 2002, and 2007 Survey of Business Owners (SBO), the latest and most comprehensive business datasets released by the U.S. Bureau of the Census.

According to the data, the number of women-owned businesses increased in every state, and their rate of ownership generally increased or remained the same over the decade. The rate, however, rose and then fell slightly in some states from a high in 2002. It also found that business ownership expanded in all 50 states and the District of Columbia in 1997-2007.

The Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is an independent voice for small business within the federal government.  The presidentially appointed Chief Counsel for Advocacy advances the views, concerns, and interests of small business before Congress, the White House, federal agencies, federal courts, and state policymakers. Regional advocates and an office in Washington, D.C., support the Chief Counsel’s efforts. For more information, visit http://www.sba.gov/advocacy, or call (202) 205-6533.

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 .