Frequently Asked Questions about the UW-Whitewater SBDC
How do you help businesses?
We offer a free online class for business startup, called First Step Online for people considering starting a business.
We also provide free advising services in person, over the phone and via email. In-person appointments take place as needed based upon client readiness. For startup companies, sometimes other steps need to be taken prior to meeting with a counselor, for example taking the First Step class and creating a business plan draft. Phone and email assistance is provided to help clients prepare for in-person meetings and when it is more convenient. Most often established businesses have needs better addressed in one-on-one advising sessions either in-person or by phone based upon client preference.
In addition to these free services, we offer advanced project services such as strategic planning. Click here to see more about fee-based high impact consulting projects.
What kinds of things do SBDC consultants help business owners with?
Discussions with consultants often help business owners clarify goals, improve processes, develop a plan to pursue capital for the business, interpret financial statements, look at changes taking place within the company, industry sector and market, identify and connect with resources and valuable network contacts, pursue export markets, evaluate marketing activities, find ways to connect with new and existing customers and more.
SBDC consultants connect business owners with business faculty in the College of Business and Economics for expert consultations and possible class projects to assist the business.
The SBDC can point you to resources for how to officially start a legitimate business in Wisconsin and answer questions you have along the way.
We review business plans and provide specific feedback on how to improve the plan to ensure that it serves as a realistic roadmap for your business growth and to help owners prepare to meet with lenders and/or investors.
If you're not sure how to achieve your business goals, a consultant can provide a sounding board and ideas based upon experience.
Do you write business plans?
We do not write your business plan for you. Instead, we show you how to write a business plan and coach you through the process. For more on business planning resources, click here.
Do you give out grants or loans?
The SBDC does not provide any type of funds to businesses. We do not award grants to businesses nor do we issue loans. We do help businesses prepare to meet with lenders and investors. We do this by providing business planning information and reviewing business plans. Advisers also discuss funding solutions with business owners seeking to expand their business or overcome financial challenges threatening business stability. Through these discussions, options for funding solutions often emerge and the client is encouraged to pursue them.
So where can I get a grant to help me start or grow my business?
While the government and other organizations offer highly-targeted grant programs, in general, grants are not available for most businesses. Government grants are funded by your tax dollars and, therefore, require very stringent compliance and reporting measures to ensure the money is well spent. Facts about government grants for businesses are available at the U.S. Small Business Administration website. Click here to go to that page.
How can I get money to start or grow a business?
Generally, funding for your business needs to come from you either in cash or through investments or loans that you are responsible for. If you're in a high-growth potential industry, you may be able to take advantage of local seed and venture capital programs in your area. Part of starting or growing your business involves figuring out your financials and finding sources of capital. The SBA has developed a number of financial programs for small businesses. Valuable information about business loans and grants can be found on the U.S. Small Business Administration website. Click here to go to the "Loans & Grants" SBA webpage.
Can I talk to someone about my business idea and get their opinion on it?
If you have an idea for a business that you think you might want to start, you will benefit most from taking the First Step Online class. After you complete the class, request business planning information and start writing a business plan and creating financial projections for your business. Advisers cannot know whether your idea will be successful or not simply by listening to your idea. Market research into the type of customer your business will serve must be conducted. Through your research and writing your business plan, you will determine who your ideal customer is, how to reach them and about what level of demand there is for your product or service in the market. There is no crystal ball to tell you whether you business will succeed, but by writing a business plan and conducting market research, you can get an estimate of its likelihood for success. SBDC advisers are here to educate you and assist you with finding resources for market research and business planning.