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From feasibility studies to financial services, there are several ways for small business owners to obtain support from a Small Business Development Center. — Getty Images/kate_sept2004

Small business owners can use all the support they can get. Luckily, there are small business development centers (SBDCs) to help foster small business growth and development. They offer resources and consulting to help assist local entrepreneurs. Here's everything you need to know about small business development centers, including how to find one in your area.

What is a small business development center (SBDC)?

SBDCs are administered by the United States Small Business Administration (SBA) to help provide tools, resources and information for small businesses and startups to set them up on the path to success. There are 62 lead SBDCs, with at least one in every U.S. state and territory, and six in California and four in Texas. They provide businesses with financial, marketing, production, organization, engineering and technical assistance offer little to no cost. They also provide assistance for businesses that are applying for grants from federal agencies.

[Read: 7 SBA Programs Every Small Business Should Know About]

What can SBDCs do for small business owners?

Because they are tailored to their local communities, SBDCs have a variety of resources for small businesses depending on your location, industry and needs. Here are some of the most common resources that SBDCs have to offer:

Financial services

Small business taxes and financial administration can be incredibly complex, especially for first-time business owners. SBDCs can help entrepreneurs organize their taxes and recommend CPAs and financial services to help him straighten out their tax situation.

[Read: What Is a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI)?]

If you're starting a business for the first time or are new to the small business sphere, you are eligible for assistance from SBDCs.

Healthcare guidance

When starting a new business, owners may not know whether they are obligated to provide their employees with health benefits or how to insure themselves. SBDCs provide guidelines as to what the state and federal requirements are and how to obtain those resources for themselves and their employees.

Hiring

If you're looking to build out your team, SBDCs partner with recruiters and other services to help connect small businesses with perfect team members. They can help find you qualified candidates that fit your company culture and workflow. SBDCs also can help schedule interviews and provide you with interview techniques so you can be sure that you're hiring the right person.

Employee training

SBDCs often provide training for the betterment of small business employees. These can range from technical or software training to management development. The type of training depends on the need, so it's helpful to be in contact with your SBDC so they know the demand of their constituents.

Feasibility studies

For entrepreneurs who are unsure about their new endeavor, the SBDC can help them create a feasibility study. This is an analysis of all the factors that can go into starting a new business, such as economical, technical, legal and industry analytics. The study provides insight for the entrepreneur with crucial information as to how to proceed and run their new business.

Who is eligible for assistance from SBDCs?

If you're starting a business for the first time or are new to the small business sphere, you are eligible for assistance from SBDCs. Any existing small business owner who is looking to grow their business and cannot afford private consulting services is also eligible for services from SBDCs. In most cases, the SBDC you're working with will review your eligibility when you first reach out.

[Read: 22 Grants, Loans and Programs to Benefit Your Small Business]

How to find your SBDC

In addition to the 62 SBDCs, there are over 900 service locations across the country. To find one that’s closeted to you, simply provide your state and/or zip code on this website or the SBA’s main site and sort by proximity.

Once you find the SBDC closest to you, you can visit their site and see what services they provide. You can request consultation typically by answering a brief survey and then someone from the SBDC team will review responses and reach out and contact you for a discovery call. During this call, you’ll discuss your priorities and plan of actions and how the SBDC can be of service to you. They'll set you up with the tools you need so you can start implementing your action plan.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published March 02, 2021