Tuesday, December 21, 2010

SBA Unveils New Website, Launches SBA Direct -- a Tool Delivering Personalized and Targeted Resources

As part of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s mission to ensure that small-business owners and entrepreneurs have access to accurate, timely and helpful information, SBA Administrator Karen Mills [pictured] today unveiled a newly redesigned SBA website.

The new site also features the launch of SBA Direct, a dynamic new Web tool with a variety of personalization features that will help small businesses start up, succeed and grow.

"With the launch of the new SBA.gov," said Mills, "we have reached a significant milestone in how the agency has evolved in using interactive Web tools, social media and blogs to engage with, and better meet, the needs of small-business owners.

"While the SBA website has traditionally been an information-rich site, we wanted to make it easier for small-business owners to navigate. With the new and improved SBA.gov, business owners can access the answers they need -- specific to their business profile -- in an instant. It truly presents the face of the future of SBA."

While the site features a variety of enhancements -- including a full redesign, new content and improved navigation -- the centerpiece is a dynamic new Web tool called SBA Direct.

SBA Direct allows visitors to personalize their browsing experience according to their business type, geography and needs. SBA Direct then delivers relevant and targeted information on all aspects of running a business; e.g., steps involved in getting started, business growth strategies, how to stay compliant with current laws and regulations.

SBA Direct also provides information on the available SBA programs that can help businesses succeed -- such as financial assistance; exporting and government contracting opportunities; and counseling and training.

"Transforming the SBA into a proactive, responsive and 'customer-centric' organization that better serves the needs of the nation’s more than 29 million small businesses is an exciting, yet enormous, effort," said Mills.

"We’ve made significant progress," Mills added. "The new SBA.gov is just one example among many -- including record growth capital financing, expedited loan approvals and the acceleration of disaster assistance resources and funds -- of how SBA has, and will continue, to support the growth of small businesses and job creation.”

Other new features to the website include:
* SBA’s small-business search that improves the accuracy and relevancy of search results -- saving time and frustration.
* Improved navigation that gives users one-click access to the information they need. Combined with the personalization features of SBA Direct, users no longer have to mine through pages of information to find answers.
* Integration of Business.gov content -- including a variety of guides and tools that collate information from across government agencies to help business owners comply with laws and regulations, and take advantage of government programs.
* Interactive, location-based maps that allow users to quickly find small-business resources in their area -- including local SBA offices, plus other sources of training and support.
* User-rated content gives visitors to the site-direct control in determining the most useful and relevant information to feature by small-business topic.

SBA’s commitment to using Web services to provide small businesses with greater access to the pool of government resources available began in 2006 with the launch of the award-winning Business.gov website; later, with the Business.gov Community initiative in 2009 [the first government-sponsored online community built specifically for small businesses]; and, more recently, with SBA’s own social-media presence on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

The new SBA.gov built on these achievements and best practices as a driver for its transformation. The project is also a flagship for the agency’s Open Government Plan, with the goal of building an online presence for SBA that is transparent, participatory and collaborative.

GoodBiz113's Take
SBA's new website is a vast improvement! It's far more user-friendly and visually appealing, and provides a wealth of at-a-glance links and info for small-business owners who are often too time-pressed to do much of anything besides focus on growing or launching their enterprises.

Once again, Administrator Mills and her team have delivered on their promise to actually help current and would-be small-biz owners easily navigate funding, contracting and counseling opportunities. Oh, and the unprecedented, "one-stop-shopping" transparency re agencywide staff contacts, Recovery Act-funded opportunities, congressional testimonies, etc., is also appreciated.

Kudos to all involved in effectively designing and developing this valuable resource. It epitomizes form and function for the small-business community and our stakeholders.

See for yourself. Take the two-and-a-half-minute tour of SBA's new website here.

SOURCE: U.S. Small Business Administration

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