Definition: The Small Business Administration (SBA) is an agency of the Federal Government that exists to serve, support and protect the interests of small businesses. The SBA offers educational resources to help entrepreneurs manage the complexity of growing a business.
The SBA offers service and support through four primary methods - many of which can help small businesses survive their first few years.
If a given business offers a service that the government would find useful, the Small Business Administration can help it bid for, and receive, a contract to provide that service. The government has a statutory goal of 23% of prime contracting dollars going to small businesses - which comes to about $100 billion going to small business contractors every single year. Even a small fraction of that money is enough to help many small businesses survive, making this an invaluable opportunity for any company it applies to.
Access to Capital
Small businesses tend to need money, however, and that's where the second office comes in. This part of the Small Business Administration focuses on connecting businesses with access to all levels of funding, from microtransactions to venture capital. Given the relative ease of this system, many small businesses prefer to run their initial needs through the SBA, and only begin acquiring capital on their own once they're established.
Training for Entrepreneurs
In addition to the two categories above, the Small Business Administration offers instruction for entrepreneurs, with a particular emphasis on education, training and technical assistance for new companies. Much of this development work is provided free of charge, either over the internet or face-to-face at one of the (many) SBA training locations. A few training sessions have a nominal fee, but the price is kept well within a range even brand new businesses can afford.
Advocacy for Small Businesses
While it's true that large corporations tend to have a lot of regulatory clout, small businesses are not alone - the SBA is frequently called to Congress to testify about the ways proposed legislation might affect small businesses, and it conducts significant amounts of independent research the small businesses can use to get a better sense of their current environment and how to overcome the challenges they face.
The SBA is an ideal starting place for new and yet-to-launch businesses to review their business plan and understand their options. We recommend contacting your local district office, which can explain all of the programs and services in greater detail.