By Linda McMahon, SBA Administrator
Once upon a time….
It’s the classic opening to our favorite fairy tales. As children we dream of magic potions and knights in shining armor that will provide our happily ever after. How were we to know that our own hard work, skill and determination could be far more effective?
Once upon a time, my husband and I started our business sharing a desk. As he developed our product and expanded our markets, I managed the books. When the work became too much for the two of us to handle ourselves, we hired our first employee. As our business grew, we hired another. Then another. Over decades of hard work growing our business, that company we created now has grown to a publicly traded enterprise with more than 800 employees and consumers in 180 countries worldwide.
As an entrepreneur, I have truly lived the American Dream: the classic tale of taking a risk on an idea, working hard and creating something from nothing. Don’t get me wrong – we had plenty of stumbles and challenges that provided the plot twists along the way. But it’s a story I am always proud to tell.
And as head of the U.S. Small Business Administration, my goal now is to help more people have the opportunity to live the American Dream.
Yet many aspiring entrepreneurs have no idea how to get their stories started or write their next chapters.
The SBA is here to help, with resources both online and in communities from coast to coast.
During National Small Business Week, as we celebrate the 28 million small businesses that drive our nation’s economy, we also showcase the resources and services the SBA provides to entrepreneurs at every stage, whether they are starting up, expanding or getting through a tough time.
The SBA has 68 district offices and an extensive network of resource partners across America, including Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam. The experienced professionals that staff these offices offer a core group of services that we call the “three Cs and a D” – capital access, counseling, contracts, and disaster assistance.
Many entrepreneurs need capital to start or expand their small business, combining what they have with other sources of financing. While the SBA doesn’t loan money directly to small business owners, it helps facilitate loans with a guaranty that a certain portion will be repaid. We offer counseling on starting, scaling and succeeding in business, from how to draft a business plan to how to export your product overseas. And we train small businesses on how to compete for government contracts, especially those set aside exclusively for small business owners. Finally, SBA provides a helping hand to small businesses recovering from disasters.
As I think back on my own story as a small business owner, I wonder how much easier things might have been if we’d been aware of the many valuable services SBA provides. My hope is that as more people learn about the SBA, they will have the confidence, skills and resources they need to succeed as small business owners, and we can continue to revitalize a spirit of entrepreneurship in our country.
There’s room for far more success stories in our library.
And the SBA can help more entrepreneurs write their own “happily ever after.”
Linda McMahon serves as the 25th Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration.