Bob Nelson: An Intro to the SBA and How to Use It as a Resource

Many entrepreneurs think that you only go to the Small Business Administration (SBA) when you want to get a loan. While the SBA is indeed a key resource for business loans — it assisted in the lending of almost $30 billion to small businesses in 2014 — the agency also works with entrepreneurs on launching and managing their companies.

FBU recently spoke with Bob Nelson, the District Director of the Massachusetts SBA, about the often underutilized agency. Nelson, who has been with the SBA for over 10 years, told FBU about the typical issues he has seen with food and beverage businesses over the years.

“What we find is that a lot of people, they enjoy cooking, they enjoy making food, but they’re not very adept at business,” he said. “And in order to be successful in business, you have know the number, the ratios, what this means, how to market. There’s so many different facets that the small business owner needs to know to be successful.– With the SBA, what we do is try to connect people with business advisors and counselors who have that same specific industry experience so that there can be a real good mentorship that takes place.”

In addition to one-on-one consulting, the SBA has made its organization more accessible to the small business owner through its online portal, which provides web training in business formation, management, financing and marketing. Courses range from more introductory topics like how to write a business plan and recruiting employees to the more advanced like cybersecurity and taking your business abroad.

FBU found the online “Analyze Your Business” tool to be one of the most useful for new entrepreneurs. It allows business owners the ability to analyze how their company performance stacks up against other competitors in the industry. They are also able to map out where competitors, customers, and suppliers are located.

Catch our interview with Nelson as he gives us an introduction to the SBA along with a discussion on what it’s like working with the SBA on FBU.  Be sure to stay tuned for the rest of Nelson’s interviews, which will focus on SBA resources for the entrepreneur and the agency’s export assistance program for those thinking about taking their products abroad.

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