A Road Map for Success
Tap into public sector programs.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) does not lend money directly to small business owners, but it does set guidelines for loans made by its partnering lenders, community development organizations and micro-lending institutions. SBA-guaranteed loans generally have rates and fees that are comparable to non-guaranteed loans and typically feature lower down payments, flexible overhead requirements and, in some cases, no collateral requirements. In addition, some SBA-guaranteed loans come with continued support to help recipients start and run their businesses.
Applications for SBA loans are treated like any other commercial loan application: Demonstrated ability to pay the money back is the primary consideration for acceptance in the program, and the decision to approve or disapprove a loan application rests with the lending institution, not with SBA.
For information on loan types, eligibility requirements, lending sources and other concerns, visit the the Florida SBDC office nearest you.
Florida-Based Financial Support Programs facilitated by Enterprise Florida Inc. (EFI) to match qualifying businesses with lenders that can provide financial assistance and lines of credit include:
- Small Business Loan Support Program Consisting of EFI’s State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) and Microfinance Guarantee programs, the Small Business Loan Support Program helps small businesses obtain loan approvals and leverage private capital for use in startup costs, working capital, business procurement, franchise fees, equipment, inventory or the purchase of owner-occupied commercial real estate. The program provides necessary security, in the form of a partial guarantee, and as a result, participating lenders feel comfortable approving a loan or line of credit.
- Venture Capital Program The EFI-sponsored Florida Opportunity Fund provides venture capital for startup and early-stage businesses. State Venture Capital Programs typically take one of two forms: a state-run venture capital fund (which may include other private investors) that invests directly in businesses; or a fund of funds that invests in other venture capital funds which, in turn, invest in individual businesses. Factors such as resources and available talent help determine the appropriate vehicle.
For additional information on these programs, visit enterpriseflorida.com/small-business/
Spectrum Signs & Graphics, Jacksonville
Growing up in Germany, Franziska Scone never dreamed of owning her own business, let alone in America. But in 2016, she and her husband Joseph, an Army veteran, bought Spectrum Signs & Graphics. Scone was to run the business and, knowing that she would need a lot of information to do so, she turned to the Florida SBDC at the University of North Florida. Consultant Kaitlyn Saavedra helped her connect with the right people and programs. Scone learned about her firm’s financial health, stability and growth potential, found an insurance agent and an accountant, mastered QuickBooks and improved her company’s website, Google rankings and social media. As a result, Scone and her husband enjoyed better business operations overall.
Attract a private investor.
Venture capital firms or private individuals called “angels” may be willing to invest in your business if they see high potential. Venture capital firms are typically controlled by banks, insurance companies and large corporations; angels, on the other hand, are usually wealthy individuals looking to support “hot” ideas and untapped investment opportunities. In return for backing your business, either entity will expect some level of control and/or a percentage of future profits. Since these types of investors typically take risks only on people and products they truly believe in, you will need to approach them with uber-confidence and a written business plan that is heavy on “wow.”
Seek targeted financing.
Your unique race, ethnicity and/or gender may well open doors to targeted funding and educational opportunities. And while there are no funding opportunities specifically set aside for veterans, there is plenty of information available to help entrepreneurial-minded vets transition to civilian life as business owners.
Obtain a grant.
Almost no federal grant money is available to launch for-profit small businesses. However, some businesses engaged in scientific R&D may qualify for federal grants under the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs if their projects meet federal objectives and have a high potential for commercialization. For details, visit SBIR.gov. For information about grants available through state and local programs and nonprofit organizations in Florida, visit floridagrantwatch.com.