Starting and Growing a Business

SBDC Counselors: Unsung Small Business Heroes

This is a tribute to America's Small Business Development Centers (ASBDC). If you are an aspiring entrepreneur or own a business, your local SBDC offers free advice for entrepreneurs. That's right free business consulting is available to you, and, trust us, SBDCs offer very high-quality business consulting services.

In America, we have no shortage of heroes.

ASBDC America Small Business Development Centers

We are kept safe by the firefighters and law enforcement officials who worked tirelessly to protect us.

Our soldiers put their lives on the line for us. Our teachers work diligently to educate our children.

Our postal workers battle through rain, sleet and snow to get the mail to us.

Our elected officials and career government employees labor to keep our world running smoothly.

Parents across America heroically raise the next generation.

Crossing guards keep children safe as they cross streets on their way to school.

Volunteers across the country spend precious personal time to work for the public good.

Each of us is heroic in some way.

In the world of small business, entrepreneurs fight heroic battles to grow their companies and bolster the economy.

With my passion for entrepreneurship and small business, these are my favorite heroes. I can listen to an entrepreneurial hero all day long, as they discuss their battles, their successes, their failures and their lessons learned along the way.

However, I recently was able to meet several unsung heroes in the small business world.

These are folks that toil on behalf of small and mid-sized businesses every day, providing them with free business advice and helping them to become successful entrepreneurs.

They are America's SBDC counselors.

I was able to meet many SBDC counselors at their Annual Conference in Chicago, and it was great to connect with so many folks that are passionate about helping small businesses.

A Big Thank You to SBDC Counselors

If you are an SBDC counselor reading this, I applaud you. Thank you so much for everything you do for entrepreneurs across the country.

It must be nice to wake up each morning knowing that you are going to be helping an aspiring business owner to overcome the many challenges of starting and growing a business. Please keep up your excellent work and know that your efforts are greatly appreciated.

If You Are Not Familiar With the SBDC Network

America's Small Business Development Center Network (ASBDC) is the federal government's largest and most successful management and technical assistance program for small businesses.

Each year, Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) provide free assistance to small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs across the country.

To reiterate, this help for entrepreneurs and small business owners is provided for free. If you are an entrepreneur, you can get free consulting services that will help you start or grow a business.

This is no-cost business consulting and low-cost group business training. Business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs who do not take advantage of this free business consulting service are missing out on a great resource.

While some SBDCs are stronger than others, the quality of SBDC consulting services is generally very high. SBDC counselors typically have been active in starting and running their own businesses prior to joining SBDC. Many of the SBDC counselors I have met have strong educations in entrepreneurship. These are folks who could easily work at top-tier consulting firms or run their own companies, but they have a strong passion for helping entrepreneurs and recognize the SBDC's unique positioning to allow them to work with and help many small business owners.

There are approximately 1,000 SBDCs in the United States, so odds are you can tap into the free help for entrepreneurs at a nearby SBDC. There are over 5,000 SBDC counselors, and they help over 1 million entrepreneurs and business owners every year.

In addition to your local SBDC counselors, the local SBDCs leverage centralized SBDC resources. For example, if you are working with a local SBDC counselor in Champaign, Illinois and the project involves gathering market research information for a new business, the local SBDC counselor can send out a request for market research to the SBDC market research hub. Within seven days, you and your local SBDC counselor will get back some excellent market research data. If you used a private market research firm to do this, it might cost you $15,000 or so. With the SBDC, it's completely free!

So what are SBDCs exactly?

SBDCs are a public-private hybrid initiative. Each SBDC is hosted at one of many leading universities, colleges, and state economic development agencies that have embraced the SBDC concept. They are funded in part through a partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). The ASBDC oversees the accreditation of the SBDCs, which is based on the Baldrige Quality criteria. Local SBDCs must be accredited by the ASBDC to receive SBA funding.

SBDC counselors have many tools to use to assist you, and they themselves receive in-depth training in many areas of small business consulting, from how to write a business plan to how to obtain funding to how to sell a family business.

SBDC program offerings are constantly evolving based on the changing needs of a dynamic small business economy. A local SBDC is able to address the unique needs of individual businesses through directed learning and one-on-one counseling.

Make no mistake. This is an excellent resource for entrepreneurs.

With the support of its partners, the SBDC remains the nation's premier program providing management assistance and education to America's entrepreneurs.

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Conversation Board

Do you agree that SBDCs are an excellent resource for small business owners and people who are starting a new business? If you've used the SBDC's free business consulting services, please let us know how it worked out for you below. If you are just learning about the SBDC and decide to talk to them, please come back later and post how it went for you. Thanks! We welcome all comments, tips, suggestions or questions.

  • james lilly posted on 9/17/2008
    james lilly
    I am an SBDC counselor. I can't thank you enough for the kind words. I enjoy the work I do and have never considered myself a hero. You have made my year by this article. Thank you again.
  • Gloria Glowacki posted on 9/17/2008
    Gloria Glowacki
    Thank you so much for article. We do the work of assisting small business owners because it is exactly what we love to do. We are committed, trained and dedicated to the small business community that we serve. It is a pleasure to see small businesses succeed and know that we had a hand in it.
  • Lorna Baez posted on 9/17/2008
    Lorna Baez
    Thanks for the article. We are enthusiastic to continue helping out small businesses. We appreciate your kind words.
  • Sue Pitts posted on 9/17/2008
    Sue Pitts
    Thank you for the outstanding article. I posted a link to your article on my blog so that I could share it with my readers. Thanks again!
  • Carole Hart posted on 9/17/2008
    Carole Hart
    Thank you for the time you took in writing this article.It's great to have a job where we get the opportunity to give back every day.Our clients are the real heros.Thanks again for the recognition you've shown us.
  • Stephanie Burroughs posted on 9/17/2008
    Stephanie Burroughs
    Thank you for applauding, promoting and recognizing the Small Business Development Centers; the counselors and staff. Our purpose is our passion and we are thankful to play a part in growing successful small businesses.
  • J. K. Johnson posted on 9/17/2008
    J. K. Johnson
    Coming from the "market research hub", it continues to be a pleasure to serve over 36,000 businesses throughout the US and its territories for 10 years. Our group is dedicated to provide SBDC advisors with useful information for their business clients. The US economy may teter a bit, but the small businesses keep America running!
  • Debra Hamilton Farley posted on 9/17/2008
    Debra Hamilton Farley
    I want to "Thank You" for taking the time to write this article. We, SBDC Counselors, share a sincere love for what we do to assist others in reaching their respective goals. Thanks A Million!
  • Joe Lam, Sr. Cetified Business Advisor, TX State Univ - SBDC posted on 9/17/2008
    Joe Lam, Sr. Cetified Business Advisor, TX State Univ - SBDC
    Thank you for the accolades. I could not have said it better myself. The SBDC network is a wonderful resource for America's small businesses. Your points are well taken; the SBDCs have many highly qualified business advisors / counselors that are passionate, fully engaged, and 100% committed to providing the assistance and guidance to the many hard working small business owners throughout our communities. We have a vital and pivotal role in facilitating economic success in our communities, one business client at a time. When the resultant effects are rolled-up collectively across the land, the economic impact speaks volume. The total impact however goes way beyond mere just dollars and cents. It's the quintessential America's success story. I am both humbled and honored to contribute to my clients' success. It's real. It hits home. Thank you again for your support. Keep the story alive. Wishing you continued success.... Joe Lam Texas State University - SBDC
  • Shannon Tyson posted on 9/24/2008
    Shannon Tyson
    Wow, thank you! What a great article. As a business consultant for an SBDC in Pennsylvania, I have never considered myself a hero. However, I do consider myself very, very fortunate...waking every morning wanting to go to work. I believe many people wake up dreading the day ahead. I love what I do. I love teaching people, helping them bring their dreams to fruition. It doesn't get much better than that!
  • Liz Perry YC SBDC QuickBooks Consultant posted on 2/12/2009
    Liz Perry YC SBDC QuickBooks Consultant
    The pleasure of getting results is double sided with our Business Community here in Sutter, Yuba, Colusa and Lake County of Northern California. When a business owner lights up with enthusiasm at the ideas and concepts that they now understand and are able to conduct efficient business operations due to SBDC Consultants...priceless!! Our Director Ken Freeman gives us the consultants proper guidance to give our clients TOP IDEAS!! Thank you, Liz Perry, YC SBDC QB Consultant

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