What is a business plan and why do I need one?

Failing to plan = planning to fail: A business plan precisely defines your business, identifies your goals and serves as your firm’s resume. Its basic components include a current and pro forma balance sheet, an income statement and a cash flow analysis. It helps you to allocate resources properly, handle unforeseen complications, and make the right decisions. Because it provides specific and organized information about your company and how you will repay any borrowed money, a good business plan is a crucial part of any loan package. Additionally, it can tell your sales personnel, suppliers and others about your operations and goals. The consultants at the Illinois Small Business Development Center can help you make a business plan that is specific to your needs. Call us at 309 762 3999 ext 62243 to schedule an appointment.


What is the cost of advice from the Small Business Development Center?

Our counseling services are FREE of charge. We do offer some specialized workshops such as QuickBooks and Microsoft software training for a nominal fee.


How do I apply for an SBA loan?

Technically, the SBA doesn’t loan money. You will need to find a bank willing to apply to the SBA for a guaranteed loan.


My credit score is not good. Can I get a small business loan?

Possibly, it makes it more difficult with a low credit score. However, there are ways to get the capital needed, like a co-signer, guarantor, etc.


How much money do I need to get started?

When you have taken care of your building and equipment needs, you also must have enough money available to cover operating expenses for at least a year. These expenses include your salary as the owner and money to repay your loans. One of the leading causes of business failure is insufficient start-up capital. Consequently, you should work closely with your accountant to estimate your cash flow needs


What do I have to do to get a loan?

Initially, the lender will ask three questions:

How will you use the loan?

How much do you need to borrow?

How will you repay the loan?

When you apply for the loan, you must provide projected financial statements and a cohesive, clear business plan which supplies the name of the firm, location, production facilities, legal structure and business goals. A clear description of your experience and management capabilities, as well as the expertise of other key personnel, will also be needed. And, you must have good credit. If you don’t have good credit, start now with a plan on how to repair your credit. Good credit is an essential for any entrepreneur.


Can I start my business with grants?

Grants are rare and are not a typical source of funding for small businesses. There are no SBA grants, and almost no other grants, which are available to start or expand a business. Two exceptions are the Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR) and the Small Business Technology Transfer Program (STTR). Don't get your hopes up, however. These programs are highly competitive, merit-based awards for serious Research and Development activities. The SBA does maintain a list of links to grants, but few if any of them would apply to a typical small business.


Do I have to make an appointment to visit the SBDC?
Yes, appointments are required in order to ensure an advisor is able to assist at a convenient time for you. Depending on your location we will also meet you at a location convenient for you.


How much time should I allow for my appointment with an advisor?
Please allow an hour for your initial visit with your advisor.


Does the SBDC work with existing business owners?

Yes. The SBDC works with existing business owners by offering counseling in various areas from financing capital expansion to developing a company web site. The SBDC also sponsors a series of seminars designed to educate business owners on various topics.


Is what I share with the SBDC at WIU confidential?

Yes. The SBDC program operates under ethical practices similar to your attorney or your accountant. Any information you share with us is held in strict confidence to the extent permitted by applicable law.


Are there grants available to help me start my business?

Grant Accountability and Transparencey (GATA)

GATA Grantee Portal: https://grants.illinois.gov/portal

GATA Grantee Portal New User Guide: https://www2.illinois.gov/sites/GATA/Documents/Resource%20Library/GATA%20New%20User%20Guide.pdf

GATU Resource Site: https://gata.illinois.gov/

Catalog of State Financial Assistance (CFSA): https://gata.illinois.gov/grants/cfsa.html

DCEO Current Grant Opportunities: https://dceo.illinois.gov/aboutdceo/grantopportunities/grants.html

The SBA does NOT provide grants for starting and expanding a business. More information regarding grants can be found here https://www.sba.gov/content/facts-about-government-grants.


Who refers people to your services?

We received referrals from a wide variety of organizations: Loan Officers, Chambers of Commerce, Economic Development Departments, and most importantly, OUR CLIENTS! If you know of a small business that could use our services, just send them our way.


How is the Illinois SBDC at Western Illinois University funded?

The IL SBDC at WIU is funded through a cooperative agreement with the Small Business Administration (SBA), the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), and Western Illinois University (WIU).