What types of business issues do you help with?

The SBDC helps with a variety of business issues from basic startup questions to assisting with financing issues, preparing business plans and marketing assistance. We do not provide specific legal or tax advice, but we can provide you with information to help you make a decision or provide referral sources if further help is required.

Are your services free?


I am starting a new business, but I'm not sure what steps I should take. What would you suggest?

We first recommend you attend an On BASE Business Startup Seminar. These monthly workshops are offered at no cost and cover all the basic startup issues like forms of ownership, business plans, resources and financing options.

I heard there is grant money available for startup/women/minority/etc. businesses. How do I get this?

This is an urban myth type question. While there are thousands of grant programs across the country, most are NOT targeted toward for-profit businesses. Careful research may reveal small, isolated opportunities in specific markets. However, as a general rule, grant dollars are not available to help start a small business. The federal website for grant programs is or you may want to visit your local library for a copy of The Grants Guide. In addition, the Morley Library in Painesville has a Grant Resource Center.

Most of the materials we have reviewed that folks bought for $300-$500 contain nothing more than our contact information and forms and documents already available for free on the SBA's website. Be wary of these seminars and remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

How do I finance my startup business?

Most businesses are financed out of a combination of owner's equity (owner's investment) and loans/investments from friends, family and business associates. Commercial lending is also an option. However, banks normally make loans to businesses with operating histories. Attend one of our On BASE startup training classes to review other financing options. You can also check out the SBA's website for more information on small business loans.

How can I get an SBA loan?

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) programs are designed to encourage commercial lenders to make loans directly to business owners and entrepreneurs. The SBA does not make direct loans. Contact us for assistance. Our staff of highly-trained business advisors offer FREE counseling to help you with your specific business needs.

What defintes a "Small Business" according to the SBA?

The U.S. SBA Office of Advocacy generally defines a small business as an independent business having fewer than 500 employees.

How important is my credit score when I am seeking a commercial loan?

A borrower's credit score is very critical to the approval of a commercial loan. While there are occasional exceptions, most lenders want a credit score of 650 or better for a commercial loan. In addition, a recent bankruptcy (last seven years) is almost always a stumbling block.

Do I have to have experience in the business I am considering in order to have a reasonable chance of success?

Not to dwell on negatives, but there is a high failure rate for startup businesses. Your odds of success are going to be much greater if you are taking on risks that you understand as opposed to risks you do not understand. If you are going to need a loan to get your business started, most lenders will strongly prefer that you are experienced in the new business.

Who are the most important key advisors for my business?

Key advisors should be knowledgeable about small business issues in general and about your specific type of business in particular. Over the long haul, you will benefit the most from a good accountant, a good attorney, a good insurance agent and a good banker. You should also include one of our SBDC counselors.

If there is one item I should focus on to make my odds of success the greatest, what should it be?

Entrepreneurs and business owners who understand and are dedicated to good planning are usually among the most successful. Be prepared to dedicate many hours to build the success of your business. Your business plan should be your guide along the journey to success.

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