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SBA assists millions of entrepreneurs to get their business off the ground

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Everyday, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and our network of partners help millions of potential and current small business owners start, grow and succeed. We can help entrepreneurs, at any stage, with access to capital through our guaranteed loan programs, counseling services and business training programs delivered through a network of resource partners, as well as assistance with exploring government contracting programs.

We help businesses and families recover from disasters with low interest rate loans, and we serve as a voice for small business in government, working to ensure rules and regulations do not unfairly affect small entities.

The SBA is your small business resource that can connect you with a network of services designed to meet your needs. Each month in this section of The Daily Transcript we hope to provide readers with the information they need to start, expand or manage a small business.

Starting your business

Starting a business can be an exciting venture offering many rewards. However, you must be prepared and you must understand the basics. Are you ready?

Is entrepreneurship for you?

In business, there are no guarantees. There is simply no way to eliminate all the risks associated with starting a small business — but you can improve your chances of success with good planning, preparation and insight.

Start by evaluating your strengths and weaknesses as a potential owner and manager of a small business. Carefully consider each of the following questions:

• Are you a self-starter? It will be entirely up to you to develop projects, organize your time, and follow through on details.

• How well do you get along with different personalities? Business owners need to develop working relationships with a variety of people, including customers, vendors, staff, bankers and professionals such as lawyers, accountants or consultants. Can you deal with a demanding client, an unreliable vendor or a cranky receptionist if your business interests demand it?

• How good are you at making decisions? Small business owners are required to make decisions constantly — often quickly, independently and under pressure.

• Do you have the physical and emotional stamina to run a business? Business ownership can be exciting, but it’s also a lot of work. Can you face six or seven 12-hour workdays every week?

• How well do you plan and organize? Research indicates that poor planning is responsible for most business failures. Good organization of financials, inventory, schedules and production can help you avoid many pitfalls.

• Is your drive strong enough? Running a business can wear you down emotionally. Some business owners burn out quickly from having to carry all the responsibility for the success of their business on their own shoulders. Strong motivation will help you survive slowdowns and periods of burnout.

• How will the business affect your family? The first few years of business startup can be hard on family life. It’s important for family members to know what to expect and for you to be able to trust that they will support you during this time. There also may be financial difficulties until the business becomes profitable, which could take months or years. You may have to adjust to a lower standard of living or put family assets at risk in the short-term.

Success in business is never automatic. It isn’t strictly based on luck — although a little never hurts. It depends primarily on the owner’s foresight and organization. Even then, of course, there are no guarantees. Starting a small business is always risky, and the chance of success is slim. According to SBA, over 50 percent of small businesses fail in the first year and 95 percent fail within the first five years.

Some reasons why small businesses fail: lack of experience, insufficient capital, location, lack of credit arrangements and even unexpected growth. These figures aren’t meant to scare you, but to prepare you for the rocky path ahead. Underestimating the difficulty of starting a business is one of the biggest obstacles entrepreneurs face.

However, success can be yours if you are patient, willing to work hard and take all the necessary steps.

On the upside, however, the advantages of business ownership far outweigh the risks. You will be your own boss. Hard work and long hours directly benefit you, rather than increasing profits for someone else. Your earning and growth potential are far greater. And a new venture is as exciting as it is risky. Running a business provides endless challenge and opportunities for learning.

The SBA provides small business counseling and training through a variety of programs and a network of resource partners, located strategically around the country.

• SCORE: Counselors to America’s Small Business — The SCORE association is a resource partner of the SBA dedicated to entrepreneurial education and the formation, growth, and success of small businesses nationwide. There are more than 10,500 SCORE volunteers in 389 chapter locations who assist small businesses with business counseling and training. SCORE also operates an active online counseling initiative, located on the Web at www.score.org.

The San Diego SCORE Chapter is comprised of over 60 active volunteers who have been successful business owners, managers and other business professionals. San Diego SCORE offers free and confidential business counseling as well as low cost workshops. SCORE’s San Diego Chapter may be contacted at:

San Diego SCORE Chapter

550 West C St., Suite 550

San Diego, CA 92101-3500

(619) 557-7272

www.score-sandiego.org

• Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) — This training resource is a cooperative effort of the private sector, the educational community and federal, state and local governments. It is SBA’s largest resource partner and an initiative that enhances economic development by providing small businesses with management and technical assistance. There are more than 1,100 SBDC lead and service centers located around the country.

The Small Business Development Center Network for San Diego and Imperial Counties delivers individual counseling, business management training and technical support services to small business enterprises through three service centers and a lead center. Each service center provides training tailored to the needs of their local community and has access to a network of professional consultants offering expertise in a variety of business specialties. The Small Business Development Center program has three service centers:

Imperial Valley SBDC

301 North Imperial Ave.

Suite B

El Centro, CA 92243 (760) 312-9800 www.ivsbdc.org

North County SBDC

1823 Mission St.

Oceanside, CA 92054

(760) 795-8740

www.sandiegosmallbiz.com

Small Business Development

and International Trade Center

Southwestern College

900 Otay Lakes Road

Building 1600

Chula Vista, CA 91910

(619) 482-6391

www.sbditc.org

• Women’s Business Centers (WBCs) — Women’s Business Centers represent a national network of more than 80 educational centers designed to assist women start and grow small businesses. WBCs operate with the mission to level the playing field for women entrepreneurs, who still face unique obstacles in the world of business.

In Southern California, the Women’s Business Center of California (WBCC) located at National University, educates, mentors and cultivates entrepreneurial women of socially and economically diverse backgrounds for business success. The WBCC provides the tools to create self-sufficiency and prosperity. Major areas of emphasis include emerging businesses, established business expansion and technology training. The Women’s Business Center of California may be contacted at:

Women’s Business Center of California

National University

4121 Camino Del Rio South, #24

San Diego, CA 92108-4103

(619) 563-7118

www.wbcc.natuniv.edu

Small business success

One such entrepreneur that launched a business and has utilized the services of one of our resource partners, the Small Business Development Center, is Jeff Turner.

Turner, a resident of Oceanside, founded Salsa King Co. Inc., in 2001 to make and sell his special brand of salsa, El Jefe’s Salsa. El Jefe’s Salsa is a non-chunky, Southwestern style salsa with a unique consistency that is offered in four different “temperatures” — mild, medium, hot and inferno.

In a few short years, sales of El Jefe’s Salsa have increased substantially. Distribution of the product, which started with one small specialty store, now includes over 200 stores and markets in Southern California, including Ralph’s grocery stores. Turner began his venture through a twist of fate that changed his life.

It all began with a work-related injury and back surgery that followed. Doctors advised Turner to not return to his profession since he had a much greater chance of re-injuring himself, causing more permanent damage.

Based on his doctor’s advice, his love for making a tantalizing, non-chunky salsa, and encouragement from family and friends, he decided to start his own business.

For the past five years he has been perfecting his salsa so it’s tantalizing to the taste buds and comes in a non-chunky consistency that stays on the chips.

Turner has found that there is no market in Southern California that has an authentic red salsa (refrigerated) with the flavor and consistency that El Jefe’s offers.

Recruiting his family, they began delivering samples to business colleagues, church members and many of their friends. Whenever invited to a party, he was always requested to bring El Jefe’s salsa. In fact, Turner’s sister, Jennifer Robertson, is vice president of business development and has been instrumental in helping the company grow.

El Jefe’s Salsa has been entered in local street fairs and salsa competitions that paid off with some first place awards, including 1st Place People’s Choice in August of 2001 at the San Clemente Fiesta, as well as “Best Salsa” at the Cinco de Mayo Street Festival in Vista.

Locals just can’t seem to get enough of it and keep asking for more! To help market his salsa, Turner sells T-Shirts embroidered with “El Jefe’s Salsa,” on-line at www.salsa-king.com. On the Web site, visitors will also find recipes using El Jefe’s Salsa, locations where the salsa can be purchased throughout the county, a history of Salsa King Co. Inc., as well as frequently asked questions.

Recently, the company has taken advantage of the services offered by the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in North County, hosted by Mira Costa College. The company sought the assistance of the SBDC to help them with marketing, financing and getting involved in selling to the government. The SBDC provided assistance through counseling services provided to clients, like Salsa King, at no cost.

How has the SBDC been able to help Salsa King?

“The SBDC has given us useful tools and guidance in marketing, financing and going after government opportunities,” Turner said. “We’ve been able to meet with consultants who have given us good information about doing business with the government and how to access government contacts within the military. We’ve received ideas and information from the SBDC ... and then we’ve acted on the information. Salsa King Co., Inc., credits part of their success to the assistance they received from the Small Business Development Center.”

To find out more about the SBDC in North County, visit their Web site at www.sandiegosmallbiz.com. The Small Business Development Center program is a cooperative effort of the private sector, the educational community and federal, state and local governments. It enhances economic development by providing small businesses with management and technical assistance.

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