tee. Or, if they’re not bankable in their current
form, we can get them into our counseling
operation and either get them bankable or
help them redo their business plan so that
they can move forward in a viable way.
CC | If you could give one piece of advice to
small-business owners, what would it be?
KM | Right now the best advice is to have a
plan. If you’ve got a great idea and a great
interest in going into business, or you have a
business and you want to grow it to the next
level, the most important thing is to work
through a real business plan. And we can help
you do that. That’s what our counselors, Small
Business Development Centers, Women’s
Business Centers and SCORE [Service Corps
of Retired Executives] are there to help you
do. And, it’s for free.
If you have a plan and long-term counseling help, our data shows you will have better
sales, profits and more longevity.
SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION
(SBA) administrator Karen Mills talks
about her agency providing the tools
small businesses need to grow. Simply
put, they are the three Cs: capital,
counseling and contracts.
The SBA does not make loans.
Instead, they partner with lenders,
organizations and institutions, guaranteeing that the loan will be repaid.
Other financial programs include:
• The Surety Bond Guarantee
(SBG) program, which helps small-business contractors who can’t obtain
surety bonds through regular commercial channels
• The Small Business Investment
Company (SBIC) program, a public-private investment partnership through
which the SBA provides venture capital
to small businesses
• Disaster loans for businesses
that have been damaged or destroyed
in a declared disaster area and micro-loans of up to $35,000 for businesses
So the high-growth and the Main Street
businesses support each other.
that’s where we come in. We give support and
loan guarantees right now at a very substantial rate to just get that lender lending. And
we’ve had a lot of success.
CC | In the past year or so has the office
been flooded with calls for help or guidance?
KM | Yes, our counseling is up over 7 percent and our loan volume is up 80 percent
from a year ago. And we are above the levels
we were in 2008. So we are really filling a gap
in the small-business lending marketplace
In addition, 1,200 banks that had not
made an SBA loan since the credit crunch
started are back lending to small businesses in
this last year.
CC | What would you say to a business
owner who’s gone to several banks and been
turned down for a loan?
KM | We can help small businesses find a
bank that is lending that can use our guaran-
CC | The SBA has always had critics. What
are you doing to assuage them?
KM | Two issues have plagued the SBA. The
first is paperwork. We have decided to attack
that issue head-on and have put together a
council we call the simplicity council to see if
we can improve the experience for both the
borrower and the banks. We’ve already made
some progress, but we have more opportunities. I think we’re going to be able to use online
tools, which we already do, and other information to connect an interested borrower,
give them better direct access to lenders,
counselors and federal government contracts
in their community. The information is there,
and we’re pulling together the tools to improve
that direct access.
The second thing that people are concerned about is whether or not we are providing enough oversight in some of our programs
so we have no fraud, waste and abuse. We
have taken a very aggressive approach in both
our government contracting and lending programs. These are programs for small businesses, not for big businesses pretending to be