Tech Talks: How SBA Entrepreneurial Development Programs Have Evolved with Technology
WASHINGTON - Today, Members of the House Committee on Small Business Subcommittee on Health and Technology heard from a panel of entrepreneurial experts on the technological evolution of the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Entrepreneurial Development Programs. Many of these programs have adapted their curricula to reflect the increased reliance on technology small businesses must utilize in order to be more competitive in the market.
“As technology has continued to advance, businesses of all sizes have adopted various forms of technology as a way to increase efficiency and decrease costs,” said Subcommittee Chairwoman Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen (R-AS). “And as this reliance on technology has become more prevalent, more and more small businesses have found that an increased use of these technological tools is necessary to allow their businesses to compete and succeed in the market.”
A Changing Economy Calls for New Strategies
SBA has a range of entrepreneurial development programs throughout the country to help small business owners navigate the complexities of opening their own shop. They include the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE), Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), Women’s Business Centers (WBCs), and Veterans Business Outreach Centers (VBOCs).
“The advent of the internet, email, and cell phones more than a decade ago ensured that all businesses would need to change. I am proud to say that WBCs have adopted new technology for the betterment of the entrepreneurs that rely on us,” said Marsha Bailey, Founder and CEO of Women’s Economic Ventures in Santa Barbara, CA. “Technology allowing for distance-learning fills a gap in needs in rural areas in particular, where in-person services are simply not an option. Some WBCs have established computer labs, both stationary and mobile, which are particularly important for rural areas where access to broadband is not always available.”
“Customers are driving the demand for digital interactions. Among recent Microsoft survey respondents, an equal number wanted in-person and digital experiences including website, email and social media,” added Scott R. Daugherty, Assistant Vice Chancellor and Executive Director of the North Carolina Small Business Technology Development Center in Raleigh, NC. “As companies move toward digital engagement, clients become accustomed to the fast response and it becomes an expectation.”
“Technology is not new to SCORE, but its constant evolution presents a powerful opportunity for SCORE to continue to serve our clients when and how they want to be served. For this reason, SCORE has successfully integrated technology into every aspect of our business practices,” said Bridget Weston Pollack, Vice President of Marketing and Communications with the SCORE Association in Herndon, VA. “In addition to technology-focused mentoring, SCORE regularly develops and shares the best and most current technology resources and educational materials via our website and distribution channels.”
“VBOCs primary mission is to conduct entrepreneurial development training dealing specifically with the key issues of self-employment, meaning owning and succeeding in a business of their own,” said Brent Peacock, Director at the Veterans Business Outreach Center at Gulf Coast State College in Panama City, FL. “Thanks to the rapid pace of technology an online learning, we can Skype, use webinars, and employ online resources to help dozens of clients in a day. Technology has made a significant impact on our productivity and effectiveness as a government funded entity.”