Get help starting your own small business

Posted at 10:28 AM, May 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-03 17:33:15-04
Hillsborough County will host a series of free activities for small business owners and budding entrepreneurs in conjunction with National Small Business Week, which is celebrated May 1 to 7.
Local experts will provide resources, share tips, and answer questions for potential or existing entrepreneurs looking to take their businesses to the next level.
The activities, many provided by the Florida SBDC at Hillsborough County, will be hosted at Hillsborough County’s Entrepreneur Collaborative Center (ECC), 2101 E. Palm Ave. in Tampa.
Wednesday, entrepreneurs learned about what it takes to get a small business loan. Richard Woodbury, who is launching House of Woodbury, a music and talent recruitment business, was anxious about going to apply for a small business loan.
"I said you know what, they would never approve me," he said.
But that was until he started attending these seminars.
Instructors from the U.S. Small Business Administration told him first and foremost, he and any other owners of the business must have good credit to secure a small business loan.
"You want to be personally bankable because they will check your personal credit," said Robert Chavarria, senior area manager of the U.S. Small Business Administration's South Florida office.
He also said lenders will want to see a detailed business plan including the product or service you plan on selling, a list of all owners and their resumes, financial statements, plus how you plan to pay the loan back.
While it's a lot of work, Chavarria said it can really pay off. 
"People are entrepreneurial," he said. "They want to be their own boss."
A full list of activities is available below and on the ECC Events Calendar online. All activities are open to the public and provided at no cost.
Registration may be required for some activities. Register online or call 813-204-9267 for additional details.
Tuesday, May 3, 2016
How to Apply for an SBA Loan: 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. 
• Learn how to apply for a business loan, what lenders look for, and how they rate your loan application.
Speed Consulting: 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. 
• No matter what type of business you are in, have your questions answered one-on-one by financial, legal, procurement, insurance, and cyber security experts. 
Wednesday, May 4, 2016
1 Million Cups Tampa: 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. 
• Every week, entrepreneurs present their startup companies and learn how their communities can help their businesses to flourish.
Reference USA: 10:30 a.m. to noon 
• Bring your own device and learn how to use this powerful database, available both in Tampa-Hillsborough County libraries and remotely using a library card, to gather competitive business intelligence.
Thursday, May 5, 2016
Smart Start Your Business: 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. 
• This workshop provides general information on mandatory licenses, legal entities, zoning issues, marketing, grant availability, and financing options.
Meet the Funders Finance Fair: 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. 
• Learn from lenders and credit counseling experts about small business loan products and how to qualify for them. 
Friday, May 6, 2016
Ask an Expert: 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. 
• Connect with a local business expert, who will answer your questions and provide tools and tips to help you organize, grow, and increase profits for your business.