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Uncle Sam Can Help You Find Opportunity in Today’s Economy

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Whether your small business is feeling the economic pinch or not, it’s hard to avoid the bleakness and fear mongering that proliferates the news, the Web, and the streets of our country.


The goal for any business is to ride out the storm and plan for eventual economic recovery. In fact, riding out the storm—or, just plain old planning ahead—is an essential part of any entrepreneur’s tool kit. Still, preparing for the better times while in the midst of a recession can seem daunting, particularly from a financial perspective.


Whether you are upping the marketing ante to keep your brand visible, growing your business through acquisition, or building your skill base, you will need capital. For the disciplined optimists among you there is financial help available, not least of all from the U.S Government.


Helping Main Street
The Small Business Administration (SBA) has put together a one-stop-shop Web portal, Helping Main Street, that has a whole host of host of funding, training, and mentoring resources to help small businesses navigate the credit crunch and prepare for recovery.


Here are three areas in which the SBA can help you plan for an economic rebound:


1. Funding: Freeing Up Capital for Small Businesses
The SBA recently announced that it has enhanced its loan programs to help the agency’s lending partners (i.e. banks) increase access to capital for small businesses. With a new alternative base interest rate and improved flexibility in loan pool structures, the SBA hopes to re-energize the lenders and ease small business access to capital.


If you want to take advantage of these enhancements, refer to the SBA’s online training guide for a quick finance primer to determine which SBA loan program is right for you. You can also learn more about available small business loans and grants here.


2. Small Business In-Person Assistance
Navigating available loan options can be made easier just by talking to someone who knows their stuff. This is where free in-person training, counseling and advice from one of many nationwide SBA District Offices can come in handy. Alternatively you can seek out the services of SBA local resource partners who specialize in business counseling for small and women-owned businesses.


3. Online Training
If you need help preparing a loan package or putting a new marketing plan in place there are lots of government online training resources that can help you implement these growth strategies. From videos, to podcasts, to at-your-own-pace courses, you can also view lessons learned from other small business entrepreneurs with these online video case studies.


Other excellent resources are Entrepreneurship.gov and SCORE, which offer online tools, events and free mentoring for small business owners.


Finding new opportunity in a time of economic crisis is no easy feat. As blogger Thomas Nelson writes in his “Ten Benefits of a Recession” post, recession can be brutal, but if you channel your mental focus you can find the benefits.


His musings on recession have an analogy in the process of natural selection, i.e. the tough times thin out the competition and make entrepreneurs more creative and resourceful, among other things.


So now is the time to put on your armor and channel that tough inner-entrepreneurial spirit. Keep knocking on doors, trimming the fat, and looking for smart, targeted ways to invest your capital that will keep you in the game for the long haul.


Be the lion not the dodo.


Business.gov helps small businesses understand their legal requirements, and locate government services supporting the nation’s small business community. It is an official site of the U.S. Government. For resources specific to microbusinesses and home business owners, check out the Business.gov blog on Sparkplugging.

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