The big bad United Stated Government. Most people are afraid to approach the government for help with anything no less asking them to give you money. Payday loans and cash advances are convenient but nobody thinks of approaching the government for such loans. We are so used to giving them money that we forget that we have the right to get that money back as long as it attempting to solve a societal problem. When you start a business, you create jobs, pay taxes and spurn economic development. All things your local, state and federal government love to hear.
I have been in the industry for quite awhile and have learned what to do and not do. Some of these are common sense but I have seen countless people make these mistakes. But, before we get to that, let me give you some general areas within the government to find money or technical assistance for your business:
Small Business Administration- www.sba.gov
County/City Economic Development Office- most counties and cities across the country have one. Each area has different programs so be sure to widen your search because you will find that programs are different from area to area. Don’t limit just to your hometown because you are doing yourself a disservice.
Local Non-Profit Economic Development Office- normally can be found on county and city economic development office websites.
Rural Business Service- if your business will be located in a rural area.
State Economic Development Office
Minority Business Development
Small Business Development Centers- provides management assistance to current and prospective small business owners.
Industry Specific Resources- Exporting, have an invention or transportation related service your bag? Check out the Federal Government resources.
Now, this is where people shoot themselves in the foot. Don’t go to the government asking for a handout or expect them to do just hand you a check. The government in most cases do not directly loan you money. They work with lending institutions as an intermediary and guarantee loans. Most individual business owners either lack the collateral or sufficient experience to walk into a bank and qualify for a loan so the government when asked, steps in and acts as a guaranture.
The government in most cases does not give grants to for profit businesses. It is not unheard of but it is rare. Tax subsidies and credits are far more common. Assistance in hiring employees and training them, funds to fix up your building, the location of your business and if you are women or minority will all get you lower out of pocket costs to get the job done from start to finish.
Be cordial, professional and go into each and ever meeting prepared. Have a professional business plan and PowerPoint presentation ready to show and practice your pitch. Remember, you are the one with the passion for your business and the individuals that you will be speaking to talk to number of people within a given day looking for help. You need to stand out above all and believe me when I say there are a lot of individuals that go into the government that are not prepared. Happy hunting!