The federal government's main conduit to help the new business owner is the Small Business Administration (SBA).
See our discussion of government financing to learn more about the specifics in obtaining an SBA loan. The following list gives a brief description of the most popular loans available from the SBA:
- 7(a) General Loan Program: this is the main type of loan that the SBA provides. A 7(a) loan is actually a guarantee of a loan provided by a commercial bank. With proper qualifications, the new or expanding business can obtain a guarantee of up to 80 percent of the amount provided by your commercial lender.
- LowDoc: this is a fairly new type of loan guarantee provided by the SBA. LowDoc is a low-documentation lending program. LowDoc is for loans up to $150,000 with SBA guarantees of up to 85 percent. If you need less than the $150,000 and an SBA guarantee, this is the way you would probably want to go. It will entail much less paperwork than a normal SBA loan guarantee.
- 504 Development Company Loan Program: this program uses public and private partnerships to finance fixed assets.
- The Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) Program: this program's purpose is to combine private capital and SBA-guaranteed loans to provide a source of venture capital for startup and growth companies.
- The Microloan Program: this program is for small loans that help entrepreneurs in inner-city and rural areas form small, often home-based enterprises.
- Export Finance: this program is designed to promote exporting, and offers specialized loan guarantees that offer working capital and longer-term financing to promote exporting.
The SBA is also the federal government's main provider of counseling to the small and new business person. Below is a list of some of the types of counseling that the SBA provides:
- Business initiatives, education, and training: the SBA provides a wide range of publications and audio-visual materials. This material is geared toward management of a small business and technical assistance.
- International trade: the SBA is available to provide guidance to a business in the export trade area, in particular to those wishing to take advantage of the new world markets in Mexico, the Pacific Rim, Canada and Europe.
- Women's business ownership: the SBA also provides training conferences specifically for women who are prospective and established business owners.
Contact your nearest SBA office by looking in the blue pages of your telephone directory under U.S. Government, try the SBA's home page, or call 1-800-827-5722.
Bureau of the Census. The Bureau of the Census information is a general term used for a wide variety of information. Most people think of the Census Bureau as just counting people living in each city. Actually this is done only every 10 years. The rest of the time, they are preparing other types of statistics that could be of use to you as a new business person.
Below are descriptions of some of the other Bureau of the Census publications that can be very useful to you in researching your new business and you might also take a look at the Census web site.
- Catalog of United States census publications: This is published monthly with quarterly and annual compiling. This catalog contains a list of all publications with appropriate descriptions.
- Census of retail trade: This is published every five years (years ending in 2 and 7) and updated monthly by the Monthly Retail Trade. This publication lists statistics for more than 100 different types of retail establishments by state, metro area, county, and community (population over 2,500). This includes information on the number of outlets, total sales, employment, and payroll.
- Census of wholesale trade: This is published every five years (years ending in 2 and 7) and updated monthly by the Monthly Wholesale Trade. This publication lists statistics for more than 150 types of wholesaler categories. The statistics include the number of establishments, payroll, warehouse space, expenses, end-of-year inventories, legal form of organization, and payroll.
- Census of selected services: This is published every five years (years ending in 2 and 7) and updated monthly by the Monthly Selected Service Receipts. This publication is similar to the Census of Retail Trade for retail service organizations such as auto repair centers and hotels. This publication does not include any information on real estate, insurance, or the professions.
- Census of manufacturers: This is published every five years (years ending in 2 and 7) and updated yearly by the Annual Survey of Manufacturers. This publication lists statistics for 450 different classes of manufacturing industries. The statistics are compiled by industry and include information on capital expenditures, value added, number of establishments, employment data, material costs, assets, rent, and inventories.
- Census of population: This is published every 10 years and updated yearly by the Current Population Report. This publication lists statistics on the population characteristics of states, counties, standard metropolitan statistical area (SMSA), and census tracts. The demographics that are reported include age, employment income, family composition, level of education, marital status, occupation, race, and sex.
- Statistical abstract of the United States: This annual publication is a source for finding current and historical statistics about various aspects of American life. The publication includes statistics on income, prices, education, population, law enforcement, environmental conditions, local government, labor force, manufacturing, and many other topics.
- State and metropolitan area data book: This is a supplement to the statistical abstract listed above. This publication provides statistics on states and metropolitan areas in the United States and on subjects such as area, housing, income, manufacturers, population, retail trade, and wholesale trade.
- County and city data book: This is published every five years as a supplement to the statistical abstract listed above. This publication provides 144 statistical items for each county and 148 items for cities with a population of 25,000 or more. The information is organized by region, division, state, and SMSA for income, banking, capital expenditures, education, employment, housing, manufacturing, population, retail and wholesale sales, and other factors.
- County business patterns: This annual publication includes a summary of statistics on the number and type (by SIC code) of business establishments as well as their employment and taxable payroll. This information is categorized by industry and county.
The above list of publications is intended to give you a working knowledge of what is available to the general public. Most larger libraries will have these publications available, and they are, of course, available online. Below is a case study using most of these publications. When you do your research, just change our information for the information that is applicable to your new business.