Q&A: SBA Offers Advice For Starting A Business

SBAThe challenging economy isn?t enough of a reason to hold off on your dream of starting a business.

If anything, startups will help push the economy to a stronger recovery, according to Marie Johns, deputy administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

?Small businesses are truly the pathway to job creation in our country,? said Johns, adding that it?s never been easier to start a company, thanks to today?s technology.

Johns recently visited Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte as part of the SBA?s national Young Entrepreneur Series. The tour features panel discussions and advice from entrepreneurs on starting a business.

The tour also promotes what the SBA and federal government can do to help ? from providing microloans to new businesses to counseling through local offices.

Nearly two out of three jobs created in the country come from small businesses, Johns said. And half the people working today work for a small business or in their own company.

And entrepreneurship is booming. Among those employed in North Carolina, an estimated one of five is a business owner, according to the Small Business and Technology Development Center, a resource for N.C. businesses.

?I know there are many ideas in this auditorium,? Johns told students and local entrepreneurs attending the session. ?We want to see your great ideas become great businesses.?

Johns shared some thoughts with McClatchy Newspapers on how young entrepreneurs-in-the-making can get started. Her comments are edited for clarity:

On whether this is really a good time to start a business, given the shaky economy:

It?s always a good time to step out on a great idea and start a business. Yes, the economy is still in recovery mode. But as history has shown, those are often some of the times when some of the most iconic businesses have been formed.

And every business starts as a small business. So with this economy, with people sometimes losing jobs through no fault of their own, people who have great skills, great resources, that?s the time for them to think about starting their own business, building on their own brand and doing their own thing. Yes, it?s a great time to start a small business. The tools are there, the economy needs the jobs, so it?s a great combination.

On whether higher education is necessary to becoming an entrepreneur:

We were excited about coming to Johnson C. Smith University. The university has a focus on entrepreneurship. We (also) have a relationship with the Department of Labor and the apprenticeship-to-entrepreneurship path. So for those young people who aren?t in a four-year institution, who are being trained for the skilled trades, whether it?s carpentry or cosmetology, they too are small businesses in the making. We want to make sure they understand the steps to starting a small business, so in case they come out of their training and want to hang out their shingle, they?re ready to do that.

On tips she?d offer to young people thinking about starting a business:

I want young people, entrepreneurs of all ages, to come to the Small Business Administration. Often times, when you talk to people thinking about starting a small business, they ask about funding. How do I get a loan? Do I need a loan? I always advise them maybe so, or maybe not. But what you do need is the advice of a business counselor.

The Small Business Administration is a perfect partner in that regard. We have a network of small business development centers ? where a person can get advice on legal counseling, how to develop a marketing strategy, how to put that business plan together, any kind of information that a small business may need as it relates to their product or their service. The business counseling is either free or at a very minimal cost. I encourage folks to go to the SBA website, www.sba.gov, to find out about resources in your area.

We want to support your dream to start a new business.

Source: MCT Information Services