SBA offers hand to small businesses

POULSBO — Often one of the hardest parts of starting a new business is securing enough money to get off the ground.

That’s why the Greater Poulsbo Chamber of Commerce is teaming up with the Small Business Administration, Kitsap Business Assistance Center and Key Bank for a seminar on small business financing at 1 p.m. May 3 at the Warren G. Harding Lodge on 3rd Avenue in Poulsbo.

“For general purposes we define small businesses as those of less than 100 employees and less than $3.5 million in annual receipts,” said SBA spokeswoman Carol Andersen.

Because of that definition, chamber executive director Stuart Leidner said the seminar is a great opportunity for nearly all businesses in the North End.

“A 100 employee business in our community is a nice sized one,” he said. “This benefits not only the individual business owner, but a variety of businesses as well.”

The SBA normally visits Kitsap County twice a year, and its officials know that Poulsbo and Silverdale are experiencing tremendous amounts of economic growth, Andersen said.

“A lot of the companies are focused on government contracts, but there are a lot of retail and service businesses we want to help too,” she said.

One of the most difficult aspects of starting a new business is competently dealing with the myriad of financial issues and developing a relationship with a bank, she said.

“What we’re really good at is following through with additional training,” Anderson said. “A small business owner doesn’t know what they don’t know yet.”

It takes time to educate owners on topics such as developing marketing strategies and cash flow analyses that are needed to secure financing from a bank, she said.

“We serve as the guarantor,” she said. “What we do is help a small business owner develop a relationship with a banker on their own.”

Many times banks won’t give a small business owner a loan unless the SBA is involved, Andereson said.

“It does help them get their foot in the door, and hopefully down the road they will have easier access to lines of credit without getting a loan,” she said.

While the SBA’s mission is to help nurture small businesses, Andersen said the ultimate objective is see clients work directly with lenders without any assistance from the SBA.

“If a small business owner can get a loan without our assistance, that’s wonderful,” Andersen said.

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