The Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of West Florida (Florida SBDC at UWF) provides business assistance — including consulting, training, and research tools — to any prospective or existing small-business owner in Northwest Florida including Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Bay, Holmes, Washington, Gulf, Calhoun, and Jackson counties.
The Florida SBDC Network is state designated as Florida’s Principal Provider of Business Assistance [§ 288.001, Fla. Stat.] and recognized as Florida’s “premier source” for business assistance. With this assistance, clients can become more successful and, in turn, contribute positively to the area’s economic growth and stability. Dozens of SBDC offices operate in Florida from Key West to Pensacola under the guidance of state universities, including the University of West Florida, and state colleges.
Why The SBDC?
More than 90% of all businesses in the United States are small. Small businesses are truly the backbone of our economy, employing more than 60% of all workers and creating 80% of all new jobs. For more stats on the importance of small business, visit the U.S. Small Business Administration website. Small business owners face some tough challenges. The primary root causes of small business failure are undercapitalization and management inexperience. If small businesses are the engine driving our economy, we can’t afford to let them stall. As a result, Congress created the Small Business Development Center program in 1980 to provide this much-needed management assistance many small businesses couldn’t afford in the private sector.
How Can The SBDC Help?
SBDC programs deliver up-to-date business management advice, training, and information to help business owners make sound decisions and to assist potential owners in starting on the right foot.
Start-up assistance begins with a menu of SBDC workshops. Practical, convenient, concise, and affordable; these group training programs cover topics from Starting a Business basics, to marketing, accounting/bookkeeping, financing, human resources, and taxes.
Business plan assistance walks start-ups and existing business owners through the process using tools and templates designed to get your plan down on paper. (Without a plan, and without a plan documented, it’s very difficult to make and achieve goals.) Review of draft business plans and feedback on the plans’ strengths and weaknesses are just one of the consulting services available in the SBDC at no charge.
Also, one of the critical issues potential and existing business owners face is financing the start up or growth of a business. Access to capital is part of the consulting process our consultants provide to our clients.
The SBDC additionally offers existing business owners: reviewing strategic business processes, methods for increasing sales and/or improving the bottom line, access to the latest information needed to succeed such as market data and financial analysis, as well as other business planning tools and specialized programs or resources; plus, proven strategies to help grow your business including government contracting services and international trade consulting.
Does The SBDC Work?
The SBDC’s performance is assessed based on the economic impact its customers achieve. Surveys consistently show businesses assisted by the SBDC outperform non-assisted businesses, creating three times more jobs and increasing sales three times faster. For every federal dollar invested in the SBDC program, nearly $60 is returned in the form of tax revenue. Not a bad return on investment! We and our counterparts carefully track our own economic impact and document success stories.