When it comes to resources available to small businesses, the first thing to know is what defines a small business. If you own a business with fewer than 500 employees, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) considers you a small business owner, which opens the door to an array of resources designed specifically for owners like you.
Most small businesses are owned by one- or two-person teams, and if you fall into this category, you know how rewarding it is to live out your specific vision—and how difficult it can be to compete and thrive. After all, only about two-thirds of small businesses survive their first two years. But Needham Bank is here to help you every step of the way, whether you need help starting, managing or growing your business or startup. Access these valuable online resources available for small business owners in Massachusetts.
Start with the Small Business Administration
Startups and existing businesses can greatly benefit from services offered by the SBA, which started in 1953 as an independent agency of the federal government to help small businesses succeed. Today, the SBA’s website offers a wealth of resources for small business owners, including online learning center courses, a business guide planning center and multiple funding programs.
Although the SBA doesn’t directly lend to businesses, it creates guidelines that allow entrepreneurs to access funding by guaranteeing the loans in case of default, which reduces the risk to many local SBA lenders. SBA loans also have lower down payment requirements, flexible overhead requirements and help business owners prepare their loan packages to increase the success rate.
Get free business advice from SCORE
Over the last 50 years, SCORE has served small businesses around the country by providing free business mentoring and education. A non-profit partner of the Small Business Administration, SCORE has helped more than 10 million business owners launch, manage and grow their companies. SCORE also offers on-demand courses, workshops, webinars and a helpful library of resources for entrepreneurs.
Visit Small Business Development Centers in Massachusetts
Another partner of the SBA, the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center Network offers small businesses free consulting and low-cost training. With more than three decades of experience helping more than one million companies across the country, the MSBDC offers small businesses support in the following areas:
- Business plan development
- Lending and financing assistance
- Exporting, importing and manufacturing support
- Market research
- Healthcare advice
- Disaster recovery help
Explore the Center for Women & Enterprise
More than 12 million businesses across the nation—4 in 10—are now owned by women, according to the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council. While the number of women-owned businesses has grown exponentially over the past several decades, up from 402,000 in 1972, female founders still only receive a small fraction of the nation’s equity capital.
A recent study from FitSmallBusiness found Massachusetts to be one of the most challenging areas for female entrepreneurs to succeed. With several branches across the state, the Center for Women & Enterprise helps level the playing field for women in business through its SBA-funded Women’s Business Centers.
Find a local Women’s Business Center for access to trainings, education and business resources.
Support for veteran business owners
Veterans Business Outreach Centers (VBOCs) support military veterans, spouses, National Guard and Reserve members in starting, buying and growing their businesses. VBOCs offer a variety of services throughout Massachusetts and New England, including business planning workshops, mentorships and trainings, counseling services, businesses assessments and more.
The Department of Veterans Affairs also offers a variety of resources to support veteran-owned businesses.
- Find a local Veterans Business Outreach Center
- Learn how to get listed as a veteran in the federal procurement system
- Resources for minority business owners
There are more than eight million minority-owned businesses in the country. Several resources are available for minorities looking to start or grow their companies in Massachusetts. The Minority Business Development Agency works to connect minority business owners with contracts and financing, while advocating within the government to promote issues central to minority entrepreneurs. The agency offers a variety of programs, including grant competitions, a research library and local business centers.
The SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Program helps disadvantaged minorities qualify for government contracts and compete in the marketplace. The SBA also assists minority owners with registering their businesses with non-government companies and certification agencies.
Needham Bank is here to help
Managing a small business in Massachusetts can be both rewarding and challenging. Whether you want to start your own business or you’ve already launched, Needham Bank can provide guidance to help you access funding and support. To speak with a local business banking expert, contact us today.