Success doesn't come easy when you start your own business. It takes talent, drive, guts and more than a dash of plain, old luck.
It also helps to have some rock-solid partners in your corner.
As we celebrate National Small Business Week, it's important to recognize that Minnesota’s small businesses don’t go it alone (or they don't have to, anyway).
And it's only fitting that we acknowledge two key partnerships that are central to the success of small businesses statewide.
Since money talks, let’s start with that.
Without access to capital – affordable capital, and the right amount of it – most of the small businesses that are succeeding in Minnesota today would be one of two things:
So, the U.S Small Business Administration's loan programs and the network of banks and other private lenders who use them play a vital role in Minnesota’s small business success.
Over the last two federal fiscal years alone, the SBA has guaranteed 3,411 loans for more than $1.2 billion for Minnesota small businesses.
That’s life-blood capital for such business basics as:
Minnesota’s SBA District Office consistently ranks among the nation’s leaders in total loan approvals. Last year, it was seventh out of 68 offices nationwide. A remarkable track record.
Of course, the capital picture is not complete without acknowledging the tremendous contributions of the banks and private lenders who actually provide the money.
Nearly 190 different Minnesota lenders used the SBA’s 7(a) Lender Guaranty Program last year. In fact, the SBA had guaranty loans with almost every bank in Minnesota.
Besides capital, the women and men who operate small businesses need access to expertise. Managing a business is no picnic, and sometimes you need steady, objective, experienced advice and guidance.
There are plenty of great consulting services: the Minnesota Small Business Assistance Office, the Minnesota Trade Office, SBA, SCORE, the Metropolitan Economic Development Association, and WomenVenture, just to name a few, all of them doing a great service to small businesses.
But the statewide network of Small Business Development Centers deserves some special recognition.
Most every business begins as a small business. While some stay small in scale and scope, others continually grow and diversify.
No matter how businesses may grow or change, one thing remains constant: Profitability and growth depend on the ability to make sound business decisions. SBDCs provide the professional expertise and guidance that every small business owner needs to flourish in today's competitive and ever-changing business world.
Services are available to companies at all stages, pre-venture, startup, established, or expansion.
More than half of the SBDC client businesses were owned by women, 8 percent were owned by veterans, and nearly 10 percent were owned by persons of color. And every dollar invested in the SBDCs yielded a return of $5.02. Who can argue against that kind of ROI?
One of the most important things the SBDCs do is provide loan packaging services. They know what lenders want – and need – to see in a loan application to have the confidence to make business loans.
Having this kind of expert guidance through the lending process greatly improves a small business owner’s chances of getting a loan.
Last year, the SBDCs helped small businesses statewide raise more than $116 million in new business capital (including more than $33.3 million in new SBA loans). And those clients went on to create or retain more than 3,700 jobs right here in Minnesota.
Entrepreneurs. The SBA. Lenders. The SBDCs. Partnership at its best.