“My best advice is get advice.” #SFSBW2016 Interview: U.S. Small Business Administration
#SFSBW2016 asked our business resources to share insights, best practices, and examples of how they help small business owners flourish. Today we hear from Mark Quinn, District Director, US Small Business Administration in San Francisco
What is your organizations mission?
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) was created in 1953 as an independent agency of the federal government to aid, counsel, assist and protect the interests of small business concerns, to preserve free competitive enterprise and to maintain and strengthen the overall economy of our nation.
What are your organizations recent accomplishments that demonstrate how you have helped the small business community?
The SBA has many local accomplishments. Over 120 banks, credit unions and community lenders participated in various SBA loan programs. Annually, the San Francisco District Office cohosts over 1,000 training events for over 50,000 Bay Area small businesses or prospective businesses from SBA resource partners.
What tools and resources has your organization created to help small businesses tap into new opportunities to reach new customers, increase their revenue, and grow their business?
SBA recently released a new online tool for small business owners looking for access to capital, SBA LINC (https://www.sba.gov/tools/linc). LINC (Leveraging Information and Networks to access Capital) is an online referral tool to connect small business borrowers with participating SBA Lenders. Prospective borrowers complete a short online questionnaire. The responses to that questionnaire are forwarded to participating SBA Lenders that operate within the small business’ county. If lenders are interested in the referral, the lender and prospective borrower’s contact information will be exchanged.
San Francisco has been experiencing quite the transformation. What is your organization doing to attract and support new and younger small business owners? What resources do you offer to entrepreneurs and small businesses to get started?
SBA works with its resource partners in San Francisco like SCORE, SBDC, and Women’s Business Centers to offer free one on one counseling and free and low cost classes for people thinking about starting a business. These technical assistance providers can offer help in writing a business plan and making projections.
San Francisco is known for its diverse culture. How does your organization ensure that the small businesses that make this city unique are able to stay in San Francisco?
SBA offers a variety of services and programs to help businesses be successful, but the programs that are probably of most use in helping small businesses stay in San Francisco are those that provide financing for commercial real estate. Buying your place of business is really the only insurance against a hot and volatile real estate market. Both the 504 Certified Development Company (CDC) and 7(a) loan program use an SBA guaranty to provide real estate loans for owner-occupied commercial real estate. Helping unique businesses buy their home keeps main street San Francisco diverse.
What words of advice or wisdom would you like to share with small business owners?
My best advice is get advice. Take advantage of the broad network of resource partners in the Bay Area. Most of it is free, some of it is low cost. Between the SBA and our various partners, there are over 1,000 classes offered every year. We are lucky to be in San Francisco where the network is so robust.
Hear from other small businesses that have used The SBA to tap into new opportunities and grow their businesses.
Vetted Small Business Success Stories Can Be Found Here: https://www.sba.gov/offices/district/ca/san-francisco/success-stories
Some of the SF based companies include: Equator coffee, The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen, Leftovers Consignment, and Casa Bonampak
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