Understanding ROI (Return on Investment) from SBA free resources
As a small business owner, return on investment (ROI) for me means how much time, effort and/or money I direct towards a specific task before I make money at it.
Below are the results of my meetings with organizations that fall under the Small Business Administration (SBA). One of the “top 10” things to do to grow your business is to connect with SBA resources.
These resources include:
- local Small Business Administration offices and personnel
- S.C.O.R.E. (an SBA resource partner) – Counselors to Small Business
- S.B.D.C. (an SBA partner) – Small Business Development Center
- F.L.W.B.C. (an SBA partner) – Florida Women’s Business Center
- Mentor Protégé program
- 8a Business Development program
Each of these programs claims to have a mission to support for small businesses. Their services usually include business development and growth services, counseling, matchmaking, etc.
Just to clarify, the SBA does not provide loans to any businesses, small or otherwise.
They guarantee loans. Ok – I get that. But their 2015 budget exceeded $710 million dollars. Why do they need so much money to guarantee loans????
SBA has been routinely criticized on various occasions for mishandling of funds. While you might be able to argue statistics, there is consistent evidence that taxpayers have shouldered the burden of billions of dollars in “guaranteed” loans that were not paid back. There is also some evidence that the SBA given at least some portion of these loans to enterprises that do not meet the expectation or criteria for small business.
Here’s what I experienced with these organizations:
- Local SBA outreach director – I contacted the SBA regarding an agreement between my local Chamber of Commerce and SBA to develop businesses. I was advised by this director that the SBA “can’t help private businesses” and that “the SBA should be disbanded”.
- I attended a local S.C.O.R.E. event for small business help. Each of the S.C.O.R.E. volunteers used their speaking time to talk about themselves. After each one of the volunteers had spoken, the session ended, and you had to make an appointment to follow up with one of the them individually.
- I spoke to a several employees at various S.B.D.C. centers. There is a metric for each of these agencies that requires an in person visit in order for the metric to be satisfied. This seems to be the ONLY metric that these agencies can or seem to be interested in satisfying. How can people who are employees of a huge government agency provide guidance and assistance to an entrepreneur? In my opinion – they can’t. They can only give you a checklist of URL’s to visit.
- I attended several events from the local F.L.W.B.C and again, I was assigned a list of tasks to be completed. I submitted all the tasks assigned to me and returned this to the center representative, as per their request. The most common response I’ve received from numerous emails and telephone call follow ups? NONE.
- An interesting component of the Mentor-Protégé program is that YOU must find a Mentor. So, I blindly reached out to several companies but they told me they weren’t taking on any protégé’s at that time. One of them was Booz Hamilton, a very famous government contractor
- The 8a program is a certification for socially and economically disadvantaged small businesses. The 8a program does not consider women to be a disadvantaged group on it’s own. Contrary to all the statistics, the SBA has not updated their eligibility criteria to included woman owned businesses with specialties in technology fields. “Exceptions” are only granted with “proof of disadvantage”. I was told that very few of these “exceptions” are granted so I didn’t submit anything. If you have some time, review the list of companies that are currently holding 8(a) Stars contracts – very interesting.
In my case, the ROI score for SBA programs is 0.
I will never get back the time, effort or energy I spent with SBA, but I want to give as objective a review of these services as I can – hence the zero.
Today’s favorite: http://www.idenhub.com/whyus.html