Frequently Asked Questions

Are there grants available for small business owners or for starting a business?
Where can I get money for my business?
How can I get a loan? 
If I'm thinking of starting a business, what should I do first?
What is a business plan and why do I need one?
What are the differences in organizational structure and what legal structure should I choose?
Should I have a web page?
What does marketing involve?
What is my market potential?
I want to start a home-based business. What do I do? 
How can I find and keep qualified employees?

Does the District of Columbia Small Business Development Center Network charge for its services?


Small Business Resources On The World Wide Web

By clicking a link below you will be leaving the DC SBDC website. The DC SBDC  is not  responsible for the content of any non-DC SBDC  site.]

  • ( - helps entrepreneurs, small and growing businesses, consultants and business professionals save time and money by addressing real-world business questions and presenting practical solutions. The site offers resources including how-to articles, business forms, contracts and agreements, expert advice, blogs, business news, business directory listings, product comparisons, business guides, a small business association and more.

  • Annual Credit Report.Com ( Annual Credit is a centralized service for consumers to request annual credit reports. It was created by the nationwide     consumer credit reporting companies, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

  • ( - Small Business Answers NOW!  Ask your own business questions, or read answers to questions from other small business owners.  Answers to your business questions are provided by Jim Blasingame, the creator and host of the Small Business Advocate® Show, a weekday talk show dedicated to small business.
  • ( - AskTheLawyers .com™ is a unique online interactive legal service available to individuals and businesses. provides access to attorneys in your area who are available for an initial online or telephone consultation for no charge.

  • Better Business Bureau ( - Check out a business, find a local Better Business Bureau, and more.

  • Center for Women’s Business Research  The Center for Women’s Business Research provides data-driven knowledge that advances the economic, social and political impact of women business owners and their enterprises. This data driven knowledge provides the business imperative for embracing women business owners as customers, suppliers, community leaders, public policy influencers and role models for business leadership.

  • Corporate Turnaround ( - Corporate Turnaround [CT] is an alternative to bankruptcy for smaller businesses. CT offers a comprehensive program to pay your creditors with a budget you can afford. CT, in cooperation with the Association of Small Business Development Centers has written a free guide on managing business debt. For a copy of the guide please click here: Free Guide

    • David Stern CFO ( - Financial advice for start-up to $10 million companies. Teaches how to increase profit, cash flow, and operational efficiency using Excel and QuickBooks. The David Stern CFO blog provides information for bookkeepers and small business owners, with an emphasis on education and empowerment.

    • Dunn and Bradstreet Small Business Solutions (smallbusiness. - Critical insight and tools you need to grow and protect your small  business.

    • eBay ( - eBay is The World`s Online Marketplace®, enabling trade on a local, national and international basis. With a diverse and passionate community of individuals and small businesses, eBay offers an online platform where millions of items are traded each day.

      • ( - A portal to free export webinars under development by the U.S. Export Assistance Center in Atlanta and the University of Georgia SBDC. Visitors can register for free and view any export training seminar of interest.

      • FAMEE Foundation ( - The FAMEE Foundation (Foundation for the Advancement of Marketing Excellence in Entrepreneurs) is a small business marketing resource. This 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization has a large number of FREE marketing programs available for both entrepreneurs and small business marketing consultants. From a full small business book and workbook, to a marketing course for startups, marketing tips for the recession, to marketing plan presentation for investors, to in-depth mastery courses for more experienced entrepreneurs. Also available are a number of free marketing tools and downloads.
      • FINTEL  ( - Business Scorecard – The FINTEL Business Scorecard is designed to provide you with an easy to understand, quick and insightful snapshot of selected factors of your company's performance in comparison with your industry peers and competitors. Each Key Performance Indicator represents an important aspect of financial management including liquidity, profitability, efficiency and growth.

      • Hill Small Biz Library ( - In partnership with the ASBDC, the James J. Hill Reference Library offers SBDC clients information programs designed for small business and tight budgets. The non-profit, private, Hill Library is the nation's premier source for practical business information and is dedicated to ensuring equal access to the best information.

      • IBISWorld ( - Information from IBISWorld, a leader in gathering and applying business data to help your higher-level business planning.

      • JumpUp ( - A website that helps small business owners successfully start and run a business by connecting them to one another.

      • ( - The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and the U.S. Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration's (ITA) public-private partnership focused on leveraging best practices in entrepreneurial leadership to advance economic growth around the world.  The goal of this partnership is to assist all nations in developing the environment to allow entrepreneurs to organize and operate a business venture, create wealth, and employ people.

      • National Restaurant Association ( - Founded in 1919, the National Restaurant Association is the leading business association for the restaurant industry. Together with the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, the Association`s mission is to represent, educate and promote a rapidly growing industry that is comprised of 900,000 restaurant and foodservice outlets employing 12.2 million people.

      • Public Entity Risk Institute (PERI) ( - An extensive collection of risk management publications, programs and tools, including a Resource Library organized by topic, audience, and type of resource.

      • Riviera Finance ( - With offices nationwide, Riviera Finance provides early-stage accounts receivable financing to small companies in need of cash flow.  Riviera's non-recourse factoring program includes full protection against bad debt, and complete receivables management services.  Since 1969, Riviera Finance has funded over 20,000 small companies.

      • SBA On Line Training Network  (  - The SBA Small Business Training Network (SBTN) is a virtual campus offering online courses, publications and other forms of tchnical assistance. Courses are self-paced and take about 30 minutes to complete. A brief on line registration is required.
      • SBA Small Business Resource Magazine ( - A guide to starting and expanding your business. Every guide is published with information and resource listings specific to your state. You will find information on local regulations, government loans, training and assistance, and busihess advocacy.

      • Winmark Business Solutions ( - Winmark Business Solutions is the web’s premier free, online resource for small businesses.  With over 6000 pages of articles, information, tools, checklists, calculators, expert advice, discounted third party offers and free access to WBS PeerSphere’s, WBS online is the one stop shop for your small business needs.


          • WBENC  The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), founded in 1997, is the largest third-party certifier of businesses owned controlled, and operated by women in the United States. WBENC, a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit, partners with 14 Regional Partner Organizations to provide its national standard of certification to women-owned businesses throughout the country. WBENC is also the nation’s leading advocate of women-owned businesses as suppliers to America’s corporations.
        The Forms & Agreements portion of BitLaw provides access to forms and example contracts relating to intellectual property and the Internet.

         Bizjournals is the new media division of American City Business Journals, the nation`s largest publisher of metropolitan business newspapers. It operates the Web sites for each of the                  company`s 41 print business journals and recently has launched its first Web-only local business news and information site for Los Angeles. The company plans to launch Web-only operations in additional markets.
        BizPlanIt is a professional business plan consulting firm that helps companies develop investor-grade business plans to move down the road towards a successful capital or strategic transaction. We guide our clients through the creation of top-notch business plans, financial projections, selling memorandums, investor presentations and other supporting materials to powerfully present their company.
        The central hub of a network of small business sites, Smallbusinesstown is committed to developing and publishing usable, educational and inspirational media to help entrepreneurs succeed at business.
        Instant access to useful financial ratios, business statistics & benchmarks, effective and understandable online analysis of businesses & industries.
    We exist to help you, to teach you, and to provide solutions that build and grow your business. We believe that:
        - You are the most capable person to plan, build, and grow your business. - Business planning and strategy isn`t rocket science; we all just need to learn together. - Planning and running a business can be a lot of fun... really!    You can be successful doing it. contains the largest single collection of free sample business plans online. In addition to that, it has helpful tools and know-how for managing your business. includes practical advice on planning, interactive tools, and a panel of experts who have answered more than 1,400 questions from people like you.  This site offers a tremendous amount of content in an encylopedia format of all subjects relevant to small business development. ,,id=154825,00.html

        Idea Cafe offers a mix of small business profiles, how-to articles and other news-you-can-use features.
        Start and run a small business without losing your shirt, your sleep, or your sanity!
        Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation`s - "The Entrepeneur`s trusted guide to high growth."
        The Franchise Registry will help SBA and its participating lenders make consistent eligibility decisions, speed access to SBA financial assistance, streamline processing and recognize industry-specific factors during the loan review process. The Registry enables lenders and SBA local offices to verify a franchise system’s lending eligibility through the Internet.
        FranNet`s large group of franchise experts specialize in helping you learn about the many choices available and how to select the RIGHT ONE for you! was founded by Entrepreneur and NFL Hall of Famer, Fran Tarkenton. Having started 12 businesses since his football playing days, Fran has always had a passion for small business. After selling his international software company in 1994, Fran decided to pursue his desire of helping entrepreneurs, like himself, gain access to the tools and information they need to grow and compete in the new economy. The result was the Fran Tarkenton Small Business NETwork, founded in 1996. Once the organization started using the Internet as a primary delivery tool, the name was changed to
        Hoover`s, Inc., delivers comprehensive company, industry, and market intelligence that drives business growth. Our database of 14 million companies, with in-depth coverage of 42,000 of the world`s top business enterprises, is at the core of our business tools and services that customers find vital to their business operations. has more than 100 free tools that are available to members. From sample policies and agreements to worksheets and checklists, has tools to help you in every area of your business.
        Thousands of pages of information and tools to help you start, run and grow a successful small business.

        Here you`ll find ready-to-use business tools to help you get the job done faster and easier, including:
        - Model business documents. Sample letters, contracts, forms, and policies ready for you to customize — from a Sample Independent Contractor Agreement to a Job Application Form.
        - Financial spreadsheet templates. Help for managing your business finances, from balancing your checkbook to creating your own financial statements. Just plug in your numbers.
        - Checklists. Information you need at a glance, from whether you qualify for the home office write-off to the right things to do and say during an employee termination interview.
        - Official Government Forms. A selection of the forms and publications most commonly used by small business owners when filing taxes with the IRS or contracting with the federal government.
        Search the largest online database of commercial real estate For Sale and For Lease. Search for Land, Office, Retail, Industrial, Apartments, Hotels and other types of property.
        Celebrating our 20th year in business, Melissa Data, the Data Superstore, helps companies manage and optimize their contact data. We provide solutions for address and phone validation, postal presorting, data enhancements and sales leads. Choose from more than 100 products and services to fit any budget or need. (also known as the Business Resource Center), developed by Entrepreneurs for Entrepreneurs, provides a wealth of useful articles, business tips, insight, a free Intranet and other material to help small businesses grow - all for FREE on the World Wide Web.
        Nolo is the nation’s leading provider of do-it-yourself legal solutions for consumers and small businesses. Our goal is to help people handle their own everyday legal matters -- or learn enough about them to make working with a lawyer a more satisfying experience.
        Since 1971, Nolo has offered affordable, plain-English books, forms and software on a wide range of legal issues, including wills, estate planning, retirement, elder care, personal finance, taxes, housing, real estate, divorce and child custody. We also offer materials on human resources, employment, intellectual property, and starting and running a small business.

        Office Depot Small Business Handbook
        Office Depot Small Business Handbook - Everything you need to know to run your business, from equity to employees.
        QuickMBA is an online knowledge resource for business administration. Our goal is to help you to quickly find the business knowledge you need, when you need it, wherever you may be. Topics are presented as frameworks and summaries in the various subjects of business administration, as taught in the world`s top MBA programs.
        Since 1995, Refdesk is a free and family-friendly web site that indexes and reviews quality, credible, and current web-based resources.
        This site is designed, created, and published by a group of young professionals. We put together our skills and knowledge to publish this site to help out other young people or inexperienced business people with good ideas and the desire to start their own business. This web site distributes basic information on legal, financial, and management issues that commonly affect (or afflict!) people who are just starting up their businesses.
        Search ThomasNet, the most comprehensive resource for industrial information. Go straight to the source of product, company information, CAD drawings and more...
        Use the information in the CCH Small Business Guide to answer your business, tax, and legal questions and to get practical tips that will help you work smarter, save money, and stay in compliance with the law. Try out some of the business tools and see how you can get the job done easier and save significant time and dollars in the process. And keep up to date on the latest news and trends that affect small business.
        The Federal Office of Management and Budget defines and names industries and establishes a structure (SIC Codes) for relating industries to one another. SIC Codes are frequently used to identify industries in census data, financial data, market reports and many other applications useful to those doing market research. Knowing the code(s) will be very helpful to you at later stages in this process.
        America's No. 1 website dedicated to the success of your new venture. Welcome Business USA offers you a wealth of resources - how-to articles, FREE business counseling and special discounts and offers from featured vendors - to assist you with dealing with the various issues you will face in navigating your business towards success.
        Keep an eye on a number of aspects to financial health, investing and progress.
        Zoomerang is the premium global online survey software that businesses, organizations and individuals use to create professional, customized surveys.
        This SBA site is a complete guide to the many relevant issues of starting and growing a small business.
        My Own Business, Inc., is a nonprofit organization committed to helping you succeed. Our team of business experts have unselfishly contributed their experience and knowledge to help you succeed in business. Their wisdom has been generously offered without any compensation.
        The Wall Street Journal offers this site, showing businesses for sale, franchises, business opportunities and many other articles and resources relevant to small business development.
        This site is the gateway for women owned businesses selling to the Federal Government.
        This extensive and straight-forward guide describes all of the aspects of starting your own business.

        SmallBizU is for those individuals seeking thought-leadership. Designed specially for entrepreneurs and small businesses, this online university seeks to instill a formal business intelligence--the capacity to solve problems, meet challenges, and create valued products. SmallBizU teaches the 3Ms:  Money, Marketing, and Management.  We do this through a no-frills, utilitarian curriculum that provides small businesses with real world tools and information. Fom new ventures, to business managers, to entrepreneurs, to master level classes, we have a range of courses across all functional areas of small business.  Large corporations have their own training departments--now you have your own just-in-time desktop university with SmallBizU.

        Designed to provide tools for small business owners to survive and to thrive in today's economy.
        Designed to reach small or large audiences. Also social media includes web-based and mobile technologies used to turn communication into interactive dialogue between organizations, communities and individuals.
  This site offers a tremendous amount of content in an encylopedia format of all subjects relevant to small business development. 
        Designed to provide leadership and solutions to new and existing business owners through tools, systems and consultation in order to deliver the funding they need to survive and to thrive in today's market.

        Business and Market Research Resources    The official Business Link to the U.S. Government Bureau of the Census – extensive statistical data to regional statistical data - Demographic articles
 –American consumer surveys –Statistics on e-commerce –Internet statistics

          – Prospect lists, company research, industry reports
 –Find non-U.S. importers and buyers seeking U.S. sources of supply



         Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Planning  for Your Business

        Disaster Planning Can Reduce Time to Recovery and Expense.

        Major disasters, such as earthquakes and large-scale power outages, are rare. Smaller disasters, such as server failure, burst pipes and fires however happen every day. Companies often prepare for the worst but forget the everyday challenges, which can be just as crippling.

        When disaster strikes, having a plan and being able to put it into immediate action can mean the difference between staying open to service the needs of your customers and community or shutting down for a few days.

        Following a disaster, statistics show ninety percent of companies fail within a year unless they can resume operations within five days. Having a plan can ensure that you’re back in business quickly and able to provide products and services to your community.

        Additional Resources

        Updated 5/17/2012 4:49:05 PM