By BECKY GILLETTE
The Small Business Administration in Mississippi is continuing to see a lot of interest in starting new businesses in the state, and is working with resource partners to give people the planning help they need to turn a business dream into success.
SBA Mississippi District Director Janita R. Stewart said they are contacted daily by people wanting information on starting a new business or help in getting assistance to grow an existing business in order to propel it to the next level.
“Our resource partners experience the same thing,” Stewart said. “Last federal fiscal year 2016, SBA in Mississippi in conjunction with our resource partners counseled and trained a total of about 15,000 small businesses and entrepreneurs in Mississippi. These individuals and businesses received vital information to get the ball rolling on their new business ventures and to accelerate the ball for those already in existence.”
Stewart is also proud that in fiscal 2016, SBA set new small business lending records providing more 70,000 loans to small businesses throughout the country to the tune of nearly $28.9 billion, which supported 694,000 jobs.
“In Mississippi, working with our in-and out-of-state bank and non-bank lenders and Certified Development Companies, 464 loans were approved for $147.2 million creating and retaining 3,846 jobs to Mississippians,” Stewart said. “Interestingly, the majority of these loans (58 percent, or 265) went to start-ups.”
Failing to plan appropriately is certainly a common mistake for business startups.
“Venturing out and starting a business is risky, but insight, preparation and good planning can really go a long way toward mitigating risk and improving your chances to succeed,” Stewart said. “A detailed written, sometimes comprehensive, business plan is the tool that provides the roadmap to where you are now, where you want to go, and how you plan to get there.”
Although reasons for small business failures vary by business sectors, the most recent SBA statistical data available indicates the most common reasons small business failures occur are the following: Lack of experience, insufficient capital, poor location, poor inventory management, over-investment in fixed assets, poor credit arrangements, personal use of business funds, unexpected growth, competition and low sales.
SBA Mississippi District Deputy Director Gary Reed said there are many workshops, seminars and other opportunities to get the information small business owners need.
“These sessions are put on by the SBA district and branch offices, as well as our resource partner organizations,” Reed said. “Regular workshops focusing on our premier 8(a) Business Development Program, HUBZone and other certifications, as well as the federal government contracting programs SBA is responsible for overseeing are conducted on a monthly basis by our SBA Mississippi District Office.”
In addition, they added a training opportunity in February, kicking off a new series of workshops called “Brown Bag Lunch Talk” where they invite entrepreneurs, start-ups and existing small businesses to sign up for sessions scheduled the fourth Thursday of each month.
“People are encouraged to grab their lunch and join us in the SBA 10th Floor Training and Conference Room in Regions Plaza, 210 E. Capitol Street, Suite 1000, Jackson,” Reed said. “We will have an open discussion on the concept of starting, financing and growing your business. We’ll entertain questions such as: Where do I find free and confidential counseling? What are the steps I need to take to start and grow my business? Where do I find that much-needed capital? How can my business obtain contracts from the federal government?”
Reed said a lot of help is also offered by SBA’s resources partners including
SCORE – America’s Counselors, the Veterans Business Outreach Center, the Women Business Center and the network of Small Business Development Centers (SBDC).
“These organizations provide free and confidential counseling, training, management and technical assistance to startups and existing small businesses,” Reed said. “They can assist with business plan development, understanding financial statements, cash flow, marketing, advertising, etc., and they offer a host of seminars and workshops on these important subject matters and more.
One example is the SBA Mississippi Meet the Lenders in the Pine Belt – Small Business Borrower – Lender Match-Making Event” set for Tuesday, April 4, 2017 from 9:00 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Jackie Dole Sherrill Community Center in Hattiesburg.
“We’re engaging a host of SBA bank and non-bank lending institutions, about 20– 25 of them, as well as relevant resource partners who’ll be on hand, and small businesses seeking financing may just be able to find it there at this event,” Reed said. “Small businesses will be able to sit down face-to-face with various lenders to pitch their business plan and seek the financing they need to start or grow their business. We’ve held similar events in Pearl and Tupelo and now will come to the Pine Belt area with expectations to reach out to the Delta area later in the fiscal year.”
For further information about programs for small business, please visit www.sba.gov/ms, www.score.org, www.vboc.msstate.edu, www.wbcmississippi.org, and www.mssbdc.org. For more information about the Brown Bag Lunch Talk, call 601-965-4378 or go to this registration link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/brown-bag-lunch-talk-tickets-31694196194.
For more information about SBDC programs, see https://clients.mssbdc.org/events.aspx. For the lending workshop in Hattiesburg, to register for this event, please visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/mississippi-meet-the-lenders-in-the-pinebelt-tickets-32270266235 or call the SBA Mississippi District Office.