In the DC area, many companies turn to the federal government as a source for business growth. As a government contract consultant, we talk to a significant number of companies each month that are just venturing out into the government space. When we met Charles Motte of the DC Small Business Development Center (DCSBDC) earlier this year at the annual Government Procurement Conference, we were interested to hear how SBDC’s help small businesses that are entering the government market.
What is an SBDC?
Charles, who serves as Director of Government Contracts and Procurement Services at the DCSBDC, started with a high-level overview, “Small Business Development Centers (SBDC’s) are SBA grant funded programs that offer small businesses no-cost counseling, no or low cost training, information and guidance on access to capital and industry research.”
As an SBA Resource Partner, these centers provide quality one-on-one counseling, training, and entrepreneurial education to emerging businesses in their respective geographic region. There are 63 colleges, universities, and state economic development agencies throughout the U.S. and U.S. territories that receive grant funding to establish SBDC’s and SBDC sub centers. In total, there are over 900 centers in the U.S. and U.S. Territories.
How Can an SBDC Help My Small Business?
Charles took the time to review the typical process for a small business seeking help at an SBDC. He explained, “If you contact an SBDC, you would typically start with an initial 1-2 hour session to gain a general overview of your business, experience, goals, and needs. The SBDC counselor will determine from the initial session what your small business needs are and what assistance is needed. If your company is looking to break into the Federal space (or State or Local), your SBDC counselor will move on to conduct a deep dive into the various areas of government contracting.”
“Your counselor will assess your understanding of the government market. Before looking at certification requirements, your goal will be to analyze how your products or services align with the needs of government agencies. Next to developing a business and capture management plan, assessing whether there is a demand for your offering in the government space is a crucial first step.”
“While your counselor may be able to assist with some preliminary research, you will receive the tools, resources, and guidelines to conduct in-depth research on your own.”
“Once you have established there is need for what you offer in a given government space, your counselor can provide guidance on developing key items, including your capabilities statement and required certification preparation. They can also help you create a strategic plan based upon your business goals.”
“Your SBDC can also refer you to other SBA Resource Partners for additional assistance, or even connect you with other SBDC clients when there is a potential synergy or opportunity for collaboration.”
Charles stressed the quality of the services provided by SBDC’s. “No cost resources are sometimes associated with a lower quality of support. However, many SBDC counselors are current and former business owners themselves or may be subject matter experts that can provide valuable guidance to small businesses.”
How to Find a Local SBDC
With over 900 SBDC’s nationwide, chances are good that an SBDC is located near you. To visit a SBDC, you must be a resident or have a business located within the state where you are seeking assistance. If your business is outside of D.C., you can visit the America’s SBDC website to find a center near you.
If you reside in D.C. or your business is located in D.C., you can call the DCSBDC at 202-806-1550. You can also visit them online at www.dcsbdc.org. While services are only available to DC residents and/or DC-based businesses, the center has informative workshops that are open to everyone.