00:00 Pravina Raghavan: My name is Pravina Raghavan. I'm the District Director for the New York District Office for the United States Small Business Administration. And really what we do is we're a Federal Agency here to help businesses grow as well as to help them start up.
How does the SBA help entrepreneurs?
00:17 Raghavan: So, we have five major programs that look at giving access to capital to small business owners, getting them into government contracting, as well as really counseling and giving them free advice. And my job is to first publicize the Agency. It's amazing how many people don't know we exist and we exist for free. And also to make sure that I give the knowledge base of what we do to entrepreneurs.
Times are tough right now, are people finding the money they need?
00:41 Raghavan: Actually yes. So I have a good success story when it comes to finding money. Last year I did about 483 million dollars worth of loans just here in the southern part of New York. This year we did 789 million, so I'm up by 63%, so yeah it is possible. I just think people need to be prepared and I think going back to fundamentals is what everybody's now learning. I think there are money... It's money out there and banks are willing to lend, but you got to be back to the fundamentals to get it.
What can be done to make it easier to get a loan?
01:10 Raghavan: First thing everybody talks about is a business plan. I tell business owners all the time, "It's really your road map on how a business is going to go, but also how do you plan to pay back those funds?" Because everybody wants to know, even if you borrow money from your friend, how are you going to pay it back? So that business plans talk about your purpose, your passion, but also here's the roadmap of how we're going to pay back the money. And also how do we plan to use the proceeds. And then really looking at your income taxes, looking at your credit scores, and understanding really where your personal financial history may be at risk. So if you have a bad credit score rating, explain it.
How can someone with poor credit get a small business loan?
01:47 Raghavan: So, I would actually look at microlending and their SBA approved microlenders. I always tell people the reason to look for that SBA tag is we curb the interest rates they can charge you. So it's the government program. We're not going to be charging 22%, we charge 6% to 10%. And also if you can't... If that doesn't work for you and there is really no one else you can alternative is to really look at what it is to "bootstrap". For example, I'm a former entrepreneur and I used to bootstrap my company and people look at that and go well what does that mean? It means really looking if I get this client how much money do I need to expend? Do I have that money? Can I get some investors or family or friends to help me out, get that, repay them, and start really building that history? And I would really start working with a counselor, a business counselor, who can help you go from a microlending level or even a bootstrapping to eventually get yourself ready to be a bankable person. You know from three years is a big difference and in three years you could turn around that business to make sure it gets bankable.