Ask the Business Counselor

As a small business owner, you have questions – a lot of them. Tom has answers. Ask your questions here and learn why so many small businesses trust Tom as their advisor.

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Q: I am a woman-owned small business, should I get a certification?

A: The SBA recently instituted a Federal Woman-Owned Small Business certification to increase the amount of spending the federal government makes with such businesses. The application is free, but the process can be daunting. American Small Businesses can assist with the application.

The program is designed to provide “set aside” contracts in 83 different categories. Those contracts are set aside for competition only for woman-owned businesses or awarded directly as sole source contracts.

The possibilities are limitless for a business that desires to seek Federal contracts.

There is also a certifying organization for private sector businesses that allows corporations to meet their Corporate Social Responsibility goals. WBENC (Women’s Business Enterprise National Council) provides woman-owned businesses with private sector certification for a fee.

 

Q: I heard it is impossible to get small business loans these days – do you have any suggestions?

A: True, it is much more difficult to get business financing these days, and specifically with larger enterprise banks and those subject to federal regulation. However, there are plenty of community banks, and even credit unions, that desire to make loans to small businesses.

In Ohio there are three such organizations that also lend support to the American Small Business Centers in the way of education and workshops. Huntington Bank is a regional bank and the number two small business lender in the US, and Huntington seeks opportunities to find small businesses to finance. National Bank & Trust is committed to making small business loans; and so is Cooperative Business Services, a conglomeration of Credit Unions that seek small businesses to finance.

Your credit score is considered, but with the above lenders, and others, they are more interested in the businesses ability and propensity to grow and pay back the loan.

One other consideration is that the lenders are more likely to consider the loan when the small business is involved in an organization offering counseling and support, like the American Small Business Centers.