Frequently Asked Questions

About the SBTDC

Financing Assistance

Business Management Assistance

About the SBTDC

How does SBTDC work with business clients?

The SBTDC provides in-depth management counseling and education services designed to help business owners make better decisions in achieving their business goals. Unlike consultants who work FOR businesses, SBTDC counselors are experienced and knowledgeable advisors that work WITH businesses, providing information, guidance, and feedback to entrepreneurs. The efforts of SBTDC professional staff are supplemented by the engagement of students and faculty from all University of North Carolina system campuses and a number of private universities and colleges.

Our basic counseling services are provided without charge, as the SBTDC is funded in part by federal and state tax dollars. Additional services, including management education and in-depth marketing research, are provided on a cost-recovery basis.

Why are your offices located on college campuses?

The SBTDC is affiliated and partially funded by the campuses of the University of North Carolina. By leveraging resources and facilities of the University, we are in a position to provide state-of-the-art business counseling.

Can the SBTDC help me with government contracts? Do I need to be certified? Registered?

Contact the SBTDC’s Government Contracting Assistance Program (GCAP) for help in obtaining contracts by providing comprehensive assistance in selling products and services to local, state and federal government entities.

I am interested in selling internationally. Can you help my company?

Yes. The SBTDC’s International Business Development (IBD) unit assists small and mid-sized businesses with exporting. Our IBD specialists are highly trained, Certified Global Business Professionals (CGBP) with extensive experience in international business development. Our goal is to provide export-related guidance and assistance to small and mid-sized businesses – enhancing their export success.

Where is the closest SBTDC office?

The SBTDC maintains 16 offices across the state, affiliated with campuses of the University of North Carolina.


Financing Assistance

Does the SBTDC have money to lend?

The SBTDC does not have money to lend. Our assistance is technical and educational in nature. We work with banks and other lending agencies and organizations to assist in putting together financial projections, but the actual financing comes from outside sources. We suggest that you start with the bank where you normally do business and have established accounts. You may have to apply at several lending institutions or look for alternative sources such as outside investors.

What about grants for my business?

Contrary to popular belief (and late-night infomercials), there are very few grants given to business start-ups. In most cases, non-profit organizations are the most likely candidates to receive grants. In the case of businesses involved in developing innovative, research-based products of interest to the federal government, there may be grants available. Grant information can be found at your local library in the business section.

How do I determine how much money I need to borrow?

Every business is different—some types of businesses have higher start-up costs than others. If you have a business plan in place, you will have some idea of how much money you will need to get started and what your cash flow situation will be. If you need help understanding the financial aspects of a business, our counselors can help. Click here to request an appointment for counseling.

That is dependent on many factors, including the bank you are dealing with. Some of the other factors that lenders will look at when considering a loan are:

  1. Your business idea, usually explained in a business plan
  2. Collateral
  3. Down payment (also known as ‘equity’ in an ongoing business)
  4. Your credit history and personal financial net worth
  5. Your management ability
  6. Your ability to repay the debt
  7. Conditions of the economy and/or market area

I’ve heard about research grants from the government. How can I apply?

SBTDC has counselors familiar with the process of applying for SBIR, STTR grants and other funding options for companies involved in development of innovative, research-based products of interest to the federal government. Click here to see what the SBTDC can do for you.

I have been in business for a long time, but my sales are falling. Can someone help me find out what’s wrong?

Our experienced counselors can give you objective, knowledgeable opinions as to why they believe your business is in its current state. They use the latest tools available, such as ProfitCents to analyze your situation and help you improve your bottom line. Click here to request an appointment for counseling.

My business is busier than ever, but my cash-flow is terrible!

SBTDC counselors have access to Profit Cents, a program that produces financial reports and projections, to help you optimize your financial decisions. Click here to request an appointment for counseling.


Business Management Assistance

Do I need any business licenses?

You may need permits or licenses for some types of businesses. For more information, visit the NC business licenses website.

I have an idea for a new business. What can the SBTDC do to help me get it off the ground?

Before you quit your job or print business cards, ask yourself these questions: Do you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur? Are you a risk-taker? Do you have a grasp of basic financial and marketing principles? Can you support yourself and your family during the early stages of the venture? Are you experienced in your chosen field? If the answer to any of these questions is ‘no’, you may want to take a hard look at your situation before proceeding. If most of your answers are ‘yes,’ then get as much information as you can on the feasibility of your idea and on the real experience of starting and managing a business. You can do this by: going to the library to access business publications and data; taking seminars and workshops; consulting with people who are already in your industry; and seeking advice from professional counselors like those at the SBTDC. See our Business Start-up Guide.

What are the differences in organizational structure and what legal structure should I choose?

The structure you choose depends on your personal situation. Consult an attorney before deciding on the appropriate business entity for your company. See the North Carolina Secretary of State’s website for more information.

What is a business plan and do I need one?

A business plan serves as your guide to what should or will probably happen to your business. It can also help you stay on track with your goals and objectives. If you are looking for outside investors, you will need to have a coherent and feasible business plan. You may be willing to risk your own money on a new venture based on instinct, but outsiders will want to see how their money will be spent so that they can calculate their return on investment.

The SBTDC’s Needs Assessment survey found that companies that had a business plan from the start or that currently have a business plan grow faster than firms that don’t.

How long should my business plan be?

A good plan does not have to be as big as a book, nor does writing it have to be a long, drawn out process. The writing of the plan is an educational process in which you learn about your business and how you expect it to operate. It should reflect your goals, objectives, priorities, and management style. Click here for some examples of business plans.

How long will it take to write my business plan?

There is no hard and fast rule as to how long it will take you to create your business plan. It depends on the industry you are in, your familiarity with that industry, and your time commitment to writing it.

I have been working on a business plan for my company. Can someone critique it for me?

Set up an appointment and you can bring your business plan into our office. One of our experienced business counselors will work with you to craft the most effective plan possible. Click here request an appointment for counseling.

What can you do for an established business?

The SBTDC provides an array of services for established businesses including counseling in business planning; marketing and promotion; financial analysis; and accounting and strategic planning. Click here to request an appointment for counseling.

Can the SBTDC help my company with management issues?

The SBTDC has carefully researched and developed educational products to fit the increasingly complex needs of today’s small to medium-sized companies. Our tailored educational programs focus on change management, strategic positioning, and leadership development. Click here to learn more.

Can you connect me with summer interns or MBA teams for special projects?

The SBTDC works with our partner universities and professors to match your company with graduate students to work on special projects, internships and independent study projects to benefit your business. In some cases, there will be costs associated with an internship. There are usually more companies than interns, so you may be put on a waiting list. Call your local office to discuss if you would benefit from the efforts of an internship or work-study project.