Frequently Asked Questions

images_faqFrom how to create a business plan to acquiring business loans, here are common questions our Business Advisors get before and during advisory sessions.

Q: How do I meet with a SBDC Business Advisor?

All meetings with SBDC Business Advisors are by appointment. If you plan to start a new business, we highly recommend that you take a “Start a Business” workshop prior to meeting with an Advisor. This seminar is offered at our center or at one of our partner locations. When you are ready to schedule your appointment, simply complete the “request an appointment” section of this website.

Q: What can I expect when I meet with an SBDC Business Advisor?

A typical initial or follow-up meeting lasts between one – two hours and is scheduled in advance. The initial meeting is important because it affords the SBDC Business Advisor the opportunity to obtain background information about your existing or proposed business, make specific recommendations and also develop a plan of action in terms of what will be required to meet your expectations. Follow up meetings allow the Advisor to review and monitor the progress on recommendations and the plan of action developed during the initial meeting. Before each meeting it is helpful to write down a list of concerns you want to discuss and goals that you hope to achieve. In some cases, you may have to provide your Advisor with information in advance. There is generally no time limit in terms of time spent with an Advisor, but it is equally important that you schedule your meeting based on need. You will also have an opportunity to provide feedback about your SBDC experience.

Q: I’m already in business. Can the Tarrant SBDC help me?

Yes. The Tarrant SBDC provides many services that can help existing businesses cope with growing pains, expand to new markets and plan for the future. Confidential consultations are available to small business owners covering all the basic business functions including business planning, loan proposals, marketing, financial analysis, bookkeeping and industry research. Our center offers QuickBooks classes directed at helping businesses grow and improve their bottom line at every stage of the growth process. The Tarrant SBDC also partners with other small business providers that offer classes including SCORE and the Business Assistance Center.

Q: Is what I share with the Tarrant SBDC confidential?

Yes. The SBDC program operates under ethical practices similar to your attorney or your accountant. Any information you share with us is held in strict confidence to the extent permitted by applicable law.

Q: How much does the Tarrant SBDC charge for its services?

The Tarrant SBDC provides confidential one-on-one business consulting at no charge. Some services, such as classes, may have a nominal fee.

Q: How often can a client meet with a Business Advisor?

There is no limit to the number of times that an Advisor can meet with a client provided that the meetings are productive. Some of our client engagements are short term and others span many years.

Q: I haven’t started a business, but I’d like to. What should I do first?

One of the best things you can do if you are unsure about how to start a business, or what is needed, is to attend our “Start a Business” workshop. This workshop is scheduled frequently and offered at our main center or through one of our partners. View our Training Calendar for Times and Locations.

Q: Do I have to attend a seminar offered by the SBDC before I can receive an individual consulting session?

No, however, attending one of our free seminars is highly recommended if you have never run a small business before. The seminars provide basic information and will answer many of your preliminary questions. After attending the seminars, if you have more specific questions, our Business Advisors are more than happy to meet with you and answer those questions on an individual basis.

Q: How do I finance my start-up business?

There are many different ways to finance a start-up. However, most businesses are financed out of a combination of owner’s equity (owner’s investment) and a commercial loan. For example, when an entrepreneur is seeking a commercial loan, a reasonable expectation is that the lending bank would expect at least 20 percent equity investment from the entrepreneur. Our Business Advisors can help you determine the best ways to finance your business based on your specific circumstances.

Q: Can you help me obtain a loan?

Yes, our team of Business Advisors is well versed on the multiple lending options available and will be happy to guide you through the process. We cannot advocate to a lender on your behalf; however, our Advisors can help you determine project feasibility, understand lender loan criteria and develop a well thought-out business plan and financial projections. We can then link you with the appropriate funding sources for your needs.

Q: How can I get an SBA loan?

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has several programs designed to encourage commercial lenders to make loans directly to business owners and entrepreneurs . The SBDC and SBA do not make direct loans. However, our staff of highly-trained Business Advisors is well versed on SBA loans requirements as well as requirements for commercial loans and other sources of capital. Let us help walk you through the process of obtaining funding and link you with appropriate sources of capital for your business. Visit the SBA’s website for more information on guaranteed loan programs.

Q: Are there grants available to help me start my business?

The SBA does NOT provide grants for starting and expanding a business. More information regarding grants can be found on the SBA website.

Q: Will the Tarrant SBDC write my business plan for me?

No. The SBDC will pair you with an experienced Business Advisor who will guide on how to write a business plan. This guidance may take the form of introducing you to the business plan structure, projecting cash flow and capital requirements, or developing a marketing strategy, and is customized to your particular needs. You will work one-on-one with a Business Advisor to get your business off the ground and for as long as it takes you to accomplish your goals.

Q: How long does it take to complete a business plan?

It depends on the complexity of your business and the time you have to dedicate to conducting the research and writing the plan. A plan generally takes between 20 to 40 hours to prepare; however this does not include the time you invest in research. Your Business Advisor will assist you with all stages of preparing your written business plan including market research.

Q: Why should you use our services?

There are multiple programs and services out there that can help you with your small business. However, there are important attributes of the SBDC network that set us apart:

  • The expertise of our staff. The Tarrant SBDC team is comprised of paid professionals who are experts in the specialty fields they counsel and teach. The team is made up of individuals who have been CPAs, financial advisors, research specialists, as well as having expertise in marketing in sales. Furthermore, our Business Advisors receive regular training on the latest tools and resources available to small business owners. Many of our Advisors have owned one or more businesses.
  • Our Network. Even with our highly trained team, we cannot be experts in every conceivable area of assistance that might be needed by your business. Therefore, we work closely with our large network of federal, state and local agencies, local businesses and industry experts to help fill the gaps. Our Advisors will gladly introduce you to the right person that can give you the help you need. Put our well established network to work for you!
  • Market and Industry Research. Our SBDC has access to a number of large industry and market research databases that can help you better understand the trends and developments that shape your business environment. Our staff can create detailed reports and provide you the tools needed to take advantage of a constantly changing business environment.
  • Long-term Focus. We want to see your business succeed in the long term. We work with clients at every stage of their business and will keep working with you as long as the meetings are beneficial.
  • Cost. It’s free! You can’t find a better deal!

Q: Who refers people to your services?

We receive referrals from a wide variety of organizations: Loan officers, Chambers of Commerce, Economic Development Departments, and most importantly, our clients. If you know of a small business that could use our services, just send them our way.

Q: How is the Tarrant SBDC funded?

The Tarrant SBDC is funded through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration, the State of Texas and Tarrant County College.