Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Florida SBDC Network?
A network of over 40 SBDCs in Florida referred to as the Florida SBDC Network. The Florida SBDC Network program is administered by the Headquarters office in Pensacola. Our FSBDCs are hosted primarily by universities and colleges located throughout Florida. Each FSBDC provides professional consulting and business expertise in their area to small business owners or those who want to start a business in Florida. The Florida SBDC Network is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration, Defense Logistics Agency, State of Florida, and other public and private organizations, with the University of West Florida serving as the Network’s designated lead host institution. The purpose of the FSBDC program is to deliver, through certified professionals, consulting, training, and information to help businesses succeed and create positive impact for the Florida economy.
Does the FSBDCN or the local FSBDCs lend money?
Neither the Florida SBDC Network nor the local FSBDCs lend money. Your local FSBDC can help you locate sources of financing and help you prepare the necessary business planning documents to apply for a loan. However, you must apply through the normal application process for a loan, and you must supply all the pertinent records required. All Small Business Administration (SBA) loans and loan guarantees are handled through banks.
What services do the local FSBDCs offer?
The local FSBDCs offer everything from extensive one-on-one consulting and small group workshops to large group meetings on important business topics. Training topics cover many areas of business operations including Business Start-up, Financial and Cash Flow Analysis, Accounting and Recordkeeping, How to Export Your Products Overseas, Marketing and Sales, How to Obtain Government Contracts, and Business Planning.
Do the FSBDCs charge for services?
Consulting services are provided at no cost, however, occasionally there are minimal fees for seminars and workshops.
Does the Florida SBDC Network have a FSBDC in my area?
There are over 40 centers located throughout Florida, from Pensacola to Key West. Click here to find the FSBDC nearest you. Additional outreach is provided at approximately 70 circuit rider locations utilizing resource partners such as chambers of commerce, economic development councils, banks, etc.
I’m thinking about starting a business. How do I get started with the Florida SBDC?
Click here and follow the four step process to start your relationship with the Florida SBDC in your area. They will provide you with the most up-to-date resources for your business information needs.
Can I apply for services on-line?
Yes! Confidential on-line business consulting is available from the FSBDC in Florida. A certified business consultant from the FSBDC in your area conducts the consulting via email or video conferencing. If you are starting a new business, click here or if you are already in business, click here and follow the four step process.
Does the Florida SBDC Network sell licenses, fictitious names, etc?
The FSBDCN does not sell business licenses, documents of incorporation or fictitious names, etc. Neither the FSBDCN nor any of the FSBDCs perform any licensing function at all. The FSBDC in your area will assist you with this business function.
Where can I get loans, grants, or other financing for my business?
There are many sources for business financing including bank loans, SBA guaranteed loans, private money, and collateral money. The kind of financing most entrepreneurs seek through commercial lenders is debt financing. Most banks provide debt financing for existing and start-up businesses. SBA loans, which are guaranteed by the SBA, are made by private-sector lenders.
Grants given to business start-ups are very rare. An exception may be for high tech businesses or for businesses producing products that can be used by certain agencies or departments involved in our nation’s defense.
Workshops, consulting and publications to help you with locating and applying for financing are available from the local FSBDC in your area.
Does the FSBDC Network provide legal patent searches?
The Florida SBDCs assist with preliminary patent searches for Florida’s inventors; however, this patent search process is not designed or guaranteed to replace a full legal search. First, certified business consultants at your local FSBDC will guide you in business plan preparation and assess the market for your product idea. Then, if you determine that your idea has market potential, the FSBDC assist with a preliminary Patent Search. If the report is positive, the FSBDC will refer you to patent attorneys, agents, or inventor assistance organizations while continuing to assist with your business plan development. The patent searches focus on the patent’s abstract information. The patent database can be searched using key words and Boolean combinations.
How do I qualify for FSBDC services?
Workshops are open to any person thinking of starting a business or already in business. Consulting is available to emerging and growth businesses. Entrepreneurs who are not yet in business are strongly encouraged to follow our four step process which includes attendance at a “How to Start a Business” workshop. Existing businesses utilizing FSBDC services must be considered “small” according to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s guidelines. Although the FSBDC’s primary focus is for-profit businesses, leaders of non-profit businesses often attend applicable FSBDC workshops.
What credentials do FSBDC staff and workshop instructors have that qualify them to provide me with business management advice and training?
Our professionally certified business consultants bring a wealth of experience, education and expertise to the small business owner. Our paid consultants are required to continue their education by staying up-to-date on the latest small business trends and information. They bring local businesses access to a network of state and national experts and resources needed to compete in today’s global marketplace. Additionally, our consultants live and work in the communities in which they serve, giving them the regional knowledge and vested interest to help businesses succeed.
Will information I discuss with a FSBDC certified business consultant be kept confidential?
All information shared with the FSBDC is strictly confidential and will not be released to any party without the written approval of the small business client. Each client is asked to sign a Request for Consulting form which includes a statement that ensures this confidentiality.