In the following article, three public-sector agencies detail the assistance they are providing to New Jersey small businesses. Together and individually, they are helping guide thousands of entrepreneurs on a path that is challenging, yet rewarding. These agencies cannot promise small business success, but their assistance means a venture can open its doors for business on sound footing.
We start this story with a segment written by Al Titone, NJ district director, US Small Business Administration, who details the agency’s many lending products. This is followed by two segments, one written by Deborah Smarth, chief operating officer and associate state director, New Jersey Small Business Development Centers, and the other by Jayne Jacobson, SCOREBergen marketing chair. Their pieces detail the vast array of counseling, consulting and training services offered by their respective organizations.
By Al Titone
Slowly but surely, the US Small Business Administration’s New Jersey district office is seeing an uptick in SBA loan approvals in 2014. Through three quarters of the agency’s Fiscal Year 2014, the period of Oct. 1, 2013 thru June 30, 2014, SBA New Jersey loan approvals are up 17 percent over Fiscal Year 2013 numbers for the same period.
During the first nine months of Fiscal Year 2014, the SBA approved 938 loans to New Jersey small business owners for $448 million, compared to 804 loans approved for $457 million during Fiscal Year 2013.
Focus on Smaller Loans
During this past year, the SBA has been focusing on smaller dollar amounts. By setting loan fees on new loans under $150,000 to zero, the SBA is getting more loans into the hands of more entrepreneurs. In New Jersey, the SBA has seen an 11 percent increase in the number of loans under $150,000, which explains the slight decrease in the total dollars the agency has approved to local small business owners during the past year.
Simplifying the Process
SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet has discussed a new lending initiative called SBA One. The program is intended to streamline the loan-application process for small-business owners. Many of the changes that will take place will be technological in nature. The plan is to bring documents and forms online, and business owners will be able to provide electronic signatures. This program will also help save banks hours of time and thousands of dollars processing 7A loan applications. This, combined with a SBA credit scoring, will hopefully make more banks interested in partnering with the SBA.
Access to Capital
Giving small businesses access to capital is one of the most effective ways to create economic growth and development throughout the state. The SBA’s primary loan program is The 7(a) Guaranty Loan program. The SBA reduces risk to lenders by guaranteeing loans made to small businesses. This enables the lenders it works with to provide financing to small businesses when funding is not otherwise available. The SBA can guarantee up to 85 percent on loans up to $150,000 and 75 percent on loans of more than $150,000. The maximum amount a small business owner can borrow is $5 million.
Under the agency’s popular SBAExpress Loan Program, small business owners may borrow up to $350,000. Features include a one day approval from SBA and the loan proceeds can be structured as either a revolving line of credit or a term loan (maximum maturity is seven years). Currently, the SBAExpress loan program accounts for 45 percent of the loans that the SBA has approved in New Jersey this year.
SBA continues to be committed to expanding access to capital for small businesses and entrepreneurs in underserved communities. Two new programs that were introduced in February of 2011, Community Advantage and Small Loan Advantage, are aimed at increasing the number of loans in these communities and providing smaller dollar amounts. In New Jersey, the SBA is fortunate to have community-based lenders like UCEDC and Regional Business Assistance Corporation participate in the Community Advantage program and are now offering a streamlined application process for SBA 7(a) loans up to $250,000.
Under the Small Loan Advantage program, commercial lenders are making loans available up to $350,000. However, the average Small Loan Advantage loan is about $150,000. The SBA is starting to see more lenders participate in this program and we are definitely seeing an increase in the use of the program.
In addition to the traditional bank guarantee loans available through the SBA, the agency offers its customers other alternatives. For long-term fixed asset financing, such as the purchasing of facilities and machinery and equipment, the SBA Certified Development 504 Loan program (CDC) is worth considering.
For small businesses in need of loans under $50,000, there is our popular MicroLoan program. In New Jersey, the agency works with three nonprofit intermediary lenders who make these loans available to small business owners in need of smaller loans. Here, it works with UCEDC and Regional Business Assistance Corporation and Cooperative Business Assistance Corporation. For an overview and additional information on SBA loan programs, visit the SBA website at www.sba.gov/finance.
You can also visit SBA New Jersey district office at:
Two Gateway Center – Suite 1501
Newark, New Jersey 07102, or call (973) 645-2434.
By Deborah Smarth
The Small Business Development Centers (NJSBDC) network, America’s SBDC New Jersey, provides comprehensive assistance to small businesses and entrepreneurs in all 21 counties. The organization’s mission focuses on small business development and successful growth, bolstering economic development in New Jersey. Its major funding partner is the US Small Business Administration (SBA). Federal funding is leveraged with state funding and other public- and private-sector grants/sponsorships to maximize services for small businesses.
The network’s 12 centers and four specialty programs (i.e. e-business, international trade, procurement and technology commercialization) are part of a national network of America’s SBDCs. There are more than 1,000 offices across the country.
The network’s experts, who have private-sector and/or business-ownership experience, provide one-on-one management consulting customized for small business clients in diverse industry sectors. Whether it’s an individual who wants to start a business and needs guidance, an existing small business, which has operational problems and needs turnaround strategies, or an established business wanting to diversify into new products/services markets, NJSBDC experts provide the guidance and specialized assistance to successfully ensure these objectives are met.
The NJSBDC network consultants help clients prepare and update their business plans and financials to ensure they have the best chance for loan approval, and in some instances, the SBDCs work with clients to identify several sources of financing to create a diversified loan package. During the post-Superstorm Sandy period, the organization helped approximately 1,000 small business clients with diverse needs including disaster assistance, business continuity planning, revitalization strategies, marketing, financing and other forms of assistance like social media.
NJSBDC comprehensive assistance includes – but is not limited to – counseling and training in business planning and strategic planning, marketing and sales strategies, restructuring operations, helping clients bring innovations from the laboratory to the marketplace, accounting and financial analysis, human resources, international trade/exporting opportunities, public/private procurement and more. As a result, the network helps small businesses around the state (employer and sole-proprietors) to increase sales. Its assistance allows small business owners to gain customers and enhance market share, execute turnaround strategies and restructure operations for maximum productivity. In short, the NJSBDC network helps companies create and retain jobs.
By Jayne Jacobson
Are you starting or growing a small business? Fortunately, you don’t have to go it alone. SCORE can help you over the rough spots and give you the tools you need to succeed.
SCORE is a national group of 13,000 working and retired seasoned business professionals who volunteer their time and expertise to provide FREE, ongoing, one-on-one, confidential mentoring and low-fee workshops to emerging and established small business owners. The organization, a resource partner of the Small Business Administration (SBA), helps more than 500,000 small business clients each year. In 2013, the eight New Jersey SCORE chapters mentored 6,675 entrepreneurs, while 3,099 people attended SCORE workshops statewide.
At the Hackensack-based SCOREBergen, Chair Lew Marchiona points out that the chapter has 40+ mentors, men and women who have either held top-level positions in major firms or owned and operated their own small-to-mid-sized companies. They have extensive industry experience and can provide practical, real-world advice about starting a business, business planning, boosting sales, building a client/customer base, marketing effectively, technology, creating and optimizing websites, dealing with financial issues, improving profitability, buying and/or selling a business, purchasing and operating a franchise and handling personnel problems.
Regularly scheduled mentoring sessions are held every Friday morning from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and Tuesday evening from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. at SCOREBergen’s Hackensack office in the Bergen County Administrative Office Building, One Bergen County Plaza. Appointments can also be arranged at other times and locations, if necessary.
To make an appointment for counseling, visit the Chapter website: bergen.score.org.
Each month SCOREBergen presents workshops designed to give entrepreneurs the in-depth knowledge they need to run a successful business. These include: “How to Really Start Your Own Business”; a “Business Plan” workshop; “QuickBooks Basic and Advanced”; and “E-mail Marketing.” Other workshops focus on improving your sales techniques, developing strong presentation skills, publishing your own e-book, “branding” your company and exporting your products.
Visit bergen.score.org/localworkshops for more information on upcoming workshops or to register and pay online.