Financial Opportunities, Assistance for Minority-Owned Small Businesses
By Earl Gregorich
Area Manager and business consultant, SBDC, Greenville
Managing a small business can be frustrating at times and being a small minority-owned business can increase those frustrations. Resources and funding opportunities seem to be everywhere, yet getting the money you need to survive and thrive as a minority entrepreneur can still be challenging. However, there are programs out there that can help you succeed as a small minority-owned business.
Financial Management Assistance
Before you can take advantage of any funding opportunity, you must be able to produce credible financial documents that show not only how well your business is performing, but also how current economic conditions are impacting the sales, expenses and profitability of your business. In order to apply for a loan, assistance programs or grant opportunities, you must provide financial data to support your application. Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) across the state of South Carolina have no-fee consulting available to help you get your numbers in order and, in most cases, the consultants are also familiar with the funding opportunities you are seeking.
Economic Stimulus Programs
The current pandemic and economic downturn has prompted the federal government to put out several stimulus programs like the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), tax credits and unemployment for the self-employed. Funding from these programs has also resulted in local grant opportunities like the SC CARES grant and the Greenville CARES grant. If you are not taking advantage of these programs or keeping up with their continued development, you could be missing out on funding opportunities.
The most recent stimulus package includes provisions to specifically reach smaller businesses with 300 or fewer employees and expands available funding and the types of forgivable expenses. EIDL loans and advances have also been re-opened for consideration. For businesses with employees, the employee tax credit (ERTC) is now available whether or not you have obtained a PPP loan. Until recently, you had to choose between PPP and ERTC benefits. There is also a new grant available to live venue oriented businesses.
If you already have an SBA loan or are considering obtaining one, there are incentives under the new stimulus that increase caps on loan amounts and reduce fees. So, now is also a good time to assess future funding needs. Check with your local SC SBDC office, accountant or bank loan officer to see how these new programs might impact your business.
Specialized Minority Business Assistance
The SC SBDC network offers no-fee, one-on-one consulting sessions with minority business specialists, government contracting specialists, business certification specialists and a recently established HBCU programming initiative. The Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCU) Programming initiative was established in April 2020 through the CARES Act. Congress has provided additional funding to the Small Business Administration (SBA) for the SBDC networks to provide relief and resources to small minority businesses. Through this initiative, it is the ultimate goal of the SC SBDC, to establish intentional partnerships with all eight local HBCUs. These institutions include: Allen University, Benedict College, Claflin University, Clinton College, Denmark Technical College, Morris College, Vorhees College and South Carolina State University.
Also, through this initiative, SC SBDCs hope to better identify and service the challenges and needs of minority small business owners and entrepreneurs. This goal will be accomplished in part by performing various events that will assist in building the partnerships with our local HBCUs and by delivering services to help minority businesses prepare for funding, seek government contracting opportunities and obtain business certifications.
Ongoing Business Improvement Opportunities
Many of the well-known resources in the Upstate provide classes and resources to help you continuously improve your business and prepare for funding opportunities. The Greenville Chamber of Commerce and the SC SBDC office in Greenville collaborate to offer Entrepreneurial Pathways and the Minority Business Assistance programs, which focus on strengthening and growing sustainable minority owned businesses. Several other organizations like the Women’s Business Center, SCORE and the Small Business Administration offer programming throughout the year on various topics as well.
The challenges of running a small business are many. However, with a little guidance and proper financial management, you can find several avenues for funding and coaching in the Upstate.
Earl Gregorich is the area manager and business consultant at Greenville Area Small Business Development Center. The SC SBDC network provides no-fee consulting, resources and coaching combined with timely training programs and collaborative efforts within the local entrepreneurial ecosystem. Get more information at SCSBDC.com.