The SBA and its resource partners provide crucial training and advice.
When people start their own businesses, they’re usually very accomplished in their particular field, whether they bake cupcakes, repair plumbing or manage a client’s accounting.
But running a business is a skill, too. New entrepreneurs don’t always know how to put together financial reports, hire great employees or develop marketing plans. Sometimes, they don’t even know what they don’t know.
Thankfully, the U.S. Small Business Administration works with a network of resource organizations that provide free or low-cost training and counseling. In doing so, they help entrepreneurs achieve larger revenues and avoid enterprise-killing mistakes.
Kansas City happens to be home to several of these groups. Here’s a brief rundown of who they are, what they do and how to reach them.
Small Business Development Centers (SBDC)
Small business owners can receive one-on-one counseling and advice from trained consultants at an SBA-supported SBDC. The centers also regularly host free or low-cost classes on business planning, accounting and other topics. According to the SBA, about 40 percent of longtime SBDC clients experience stronger sales and profits.
The immediate Kansas City metro is home to two SBDCs: one at Johnson County Community College and one at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. The University of Central Missouri’s center is based in Warrensburg, but it also schedules workshops at the UCM Summit Center in Lee’s Summit. // info.umkc.edu/sbtdc or www.jccc.edu/ksbdc
Women’s Business Center (WBC)
Based in Fairway, the local Women’s Business Center provides a range of services, including FastTrac courses, business counseling, peer-to-peer roundtables and more.
The WBC has expertise in working with microenterprises, the smallest of small businesses, and can help entrepreneurs secure microloans of $500 to $50,000 to grow their companies. The center also coaches business owners on how they can improve their credit, so they can receive funding from traditional lenders.
The WBC is part of OneKC for Women, an alliance of resource organizations that also includes the Women’s Capital Connection. The WCC’s angel investors have provided capital for some of the region’s fastest-growing women-led companies. // www.kansaswbc.com
SCORE—originally known as the Service Corps of Retired Executives—pairs fledgling entrepreneurs with more seasoned business leaders. The local chapter of SCORE is based at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, but it hosts workshops around the metro area. It might be best known for its “Simple Steps for Starting Your Business” classes, which lay out the basics that aspiring entrepreneurs need to address. // kansascity.score.org
Veterans Business Resource Center
This center is part of the SBA’s network of Veterans Business Outreach Centers, which provide counseling and training to veterans and active-duty military, as well as reservists and those serving in the National Guard. The VBRC is headquartered in St. Louis, but it maintains a presence in Kansas City at the SBA’s district office downtown. // www.vetbiz.com