FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
VALDOSTA STATE UNIVERSITY
SMALL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT CENTER
What does the SBDC do?
The SBDC assists existing and prospective business owners to start or grow a business by offering a wide variety of training, providing one-on-one consulting, conducting economic development related market research, and providing technical assistance. The SBDC also offers expertise in international trade and specialty programs and consulting for minority entrepreneurs. Working with a SBDC consultant improves chances for success. For more information, contact your local SBDC.
How do I meet with a SBDC consultant?
All meetings with SBDC consultants are by appointment. If you plan to start a new business, we highly recommend that you take a SBDC pre-business planning class prior to meeting with a consultant. (click on reference for a list of classes. We also recommend completing our Business Development Questionnaire prior to your first meeting with a SBDC consultant (see page 23 of our Business Basics Start-up guide.) The questionnaire will help the consultant understand your business idea and how far along you are in the planning process. If you are already in business, contact your local SBDC to schedule an appointment with a consultant.
What can I expect when I meet with a SBDC consultant?
Most initial and follow up meetings generally last between one and two hours and are usually scheduled in advance. The initial meeting is important because it affords the SBDC consultant the opportunity to obtain background information about your existing or proposed business, make specific recommendations and also develop a plan of action in terms of what will be required to meet your expectations. Follow up meetings allow consultants to review and monitor the progress on recommendations and the plan of action developed during the initial meeting. Before each meeting it would be helpful to write down a list of concerns you want to discuss and goals that you hope to achieve. In some cases you may have to provide your consultant with information in advance. There is generally no time limit in terms of time spent with a consultant but it is equally important that you schedule your meeting based on need. You will also have an opportunity to provide feedback about your SBDC experience.
How is the SBDC funded?
The SBDC is a state and federal partnership program. The University of Georgia ystem provides approximately two-thirds of our funding and the US Small Business Administration one-third.
Are the SBDC and SBA the same thing?
No. The SBDC receives a portion of its funding from the US Small Business Administration and works closely with the agency in its delivery of services. For more information about the SBA, visit their web site at www.sba.gov.
I'm already in business. Can the SBDC help me?
Yes. The SBDC provides many services that can help existing businesses cope with growing pains, expand to new markets and plan for the future. Confidential consultations are available to small business owners covering all the basic business funtions including business planning, loan proposals, marketing, financial analysis, recordkeeping and procurement Other special services available through our local offices include mystery shopping, website critique, Business Health Check and the facilitation of strategic planning sessions. Our local offices offer a myriad of training classes directed at helping businesses grow and improve their bottom line at every stage of the growth process, including the nationally recognized FastTrac (R) program developed by the Kauffman Foundation and the award-winning Entrepreneurial Development Certification Program (EDCP.) Another national offering available through the SBDC is PeerSpectives (R), a series of executive roundtable, peer-support and training groups, developed by the Edward Lowe Foundation. Specialized services are also available through our International Trade Center, Applied Research Division, Minority Business Development Division, and the statewide conference for Georgia Women Entrepreneurs (GWEN).
I have a nonprofit business. Can the SBDC help me?
No. Because the SBDC Network is an economic development arm of the state of Georgia and relies on tax-supported state appropriations, it is mandated to work only with for-profit companies. For information on assistance for nonprofit companies, contact the Nonprofit Resource Center in Atlanta at 404-688-4845.
Does the SBDC offer classes for entrepreneurs?
The SBDC offers a wide variety of training programs to help educate and inform entrepreneurs at all stages of business development. The Entrepreneurial Development Certification Program (EDCP) is an award-winning series of classes designed for the new business owner. The SBDC offers FastTrac and PeerSpectives, round table discussions for the experienced business owner. ExportGA is a program offered to those businesses who are ready to expand into international markets. Additionally, the SBDC offers online classes through SmallBizU. For a comprehensive list of all classes, visit our state office web site at www.georgiasbdc.org.
Is what I share with the SBDC confidential?
Yes. The SBDC program operates under ethical practices similar to your attorney or your accountant. Any information you share with us is held in strict confidence to the extent permitted by applicable law.
Expertise for Entrepreneurs!
A Member of the Georgia SBDC Network