False Hope: Is The SBA A Dead End?
When my business partner and I first decided to start our own business we spent months fine-tuning our business plan. As soon as we finished, I was eager to go to the SBA office to have a counselor review our plan. I called for two weeks straight and finally got an opportunity to meet with an SBA counselor.
At the SBA office, I spent over an hour sharing my ideas, my passion, and my business goals with someone who I thought could point me in the right direction. The SBA adviser shared my enthusiasm and promised to comb through my plan, to reach out to potential lenders about possible loan options for me, and to call me back within a week. I never heard from him again. No returned calls, no emails, nothing. That was definitely not what I expected from the SBA.
Entrepreneurs are the soldiers in this economic battle… we need real resources to win this war.
Shortly thereafter, I met with a loan officer at a local bank, who told me the best way to get a business loan was to go through the SBA. At that point, I realized that the guidance and financial support I was looking for, was just smoke and mirrors. I concluded at that time, that the system was not created to help entrepreneurs in the startup phase.
My partner and I decided to start our business as lean as possible. We self-funded our startup expenses, bought shelves full of business books to read, and pressed forward the best way we knew how. Although we made it through with our bootstrapping approach, I often reflect on how much farther along our business would be if we didn’t have to take baby steps– due to our limited funding and lack of guidance in our early days. We, like entrepreneurs across the United States, would love to be able to hire more employees and do our part to contribute to the economic well-being of our communities. Unfortunately, with so many financial burdens placed on small business owners, we are forced to be a lot more conservative than our entrepreneurial spirits would like to be.
Whenever I hear another entrepreneur ask, “Where is the help for small businesses…” my heart goes out to them, because I fear it’s just a matter of time before they realize that the “help” they are looking for doesn’t really exist. As I think about my own SBA experience, I can’t help but wonder why better assistance isn’t offered to entrepreneurs. Why is the SBA such a dead end for so many small business owners in America?
Perhaps it is time to stop wasting entrepreneurs’ time, and start providing real support for our growing businesses. Entrepreneurs are the soldiers in this economic battle… we need real resources to win this war.