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:

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.

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.

SBA, Inc. Magazine and AT&T Join Forces to Promote Exporting by U.S. Small Businesses

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Small businesses seeking to grow their businesses and create jobs through exporting can turn to new, free educational videos created through a partnership between the U.S. Small Business Administration, Inc. Magazine and AT&T.

Through the public-private partnership, a series of video modules has been developed to inspire and encourage American small businesses to actively pursue exporting and to educate them on how to do so.

“Winning the future means supporting small businesses that want to grow and create jobs through exporting,” said SBA Administrator Karen Mills.  “SBA is very pleased to have partnered with Inc. Magazine and AT&T in the production and distribution of this video series, which will help small firms that are new to exporting or looking for new markets to sell their goods and services.”

The video series, Take Your Business Global, features five main topics that guide small businesses through the process of exporting: Getting Started in Exporting; Planning for Export success; Connecting with Foreign Buyers; Financing; and five Case Studies of successful small business exporters.

The videos begin with answers to the frequently asked question, Why Export? They feature SBA Deputy Administrator Marie Johns; U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke; U.S. Trade Representative, Ambassador Ron Kirk, and a variety of small business exporters.  Other modules feature exporting experts discussing “how-to” take your business global. The videos are posted at www.inc.com/exporting.

“Inc. is proud to work alongside the Small Business Administration and AT&T to provide entrepreneurs with a valuable resource in their efforts to expand their businesses overseas,” said Bob LaPointe, Inc. President.  “This video series will educate business owners about what to expect when they launch an international business. “We have put together experienced small business exporters as well as officials from local and national resources to provide a complete picture.  Inc. is always happy to help small businesses grow.”

“AT&T is excited to be part of this initiative and to collaborate with the SBA and Inc. magazine,” said Cathy Martine, AT&T Executive Vice President, Small Business Solutions. “We believe U.S. small businesses are engines of innovation, and strongly encourage them to grow by thinking globally and taking advantage of technology. With the emergence of online commerce and digital communications, the potential to export products and services around the world has never been greater.”

Funding for this project was jointly provided by Inc. Magazine and AT&T.  Also, Inc. Magazine created the site to host the videos; both firms will distribute DVD copies of the videos and related materials approved by SBA and promote the series in online and print advertising. 

The joint program will be launched April 8, at the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas, at the Inc. conference GROWCO, an event targeting growing small businesses.

The co-sponsorship agreements will remain in effect through August 31, 2012.

Cosponsorship Authorization # 10-7080-165. SBA’s participation in this cosponsored activity is not an endorsement of the views, opinions, products or services of any cosponsor or other person or entity. All SBA programs and services are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis.