5 Ways the LGBT Business Builder can Help Grow Your Small Business

| By Andy DiAntonio
The LGBT Business Builder, the historic new partnership between NGLCC and the U.S. Small Business Administration, is a powerful tool to strengthen the LGBT Business Community at both the local and national level. 
At the signing event at NGLCC headquarters in Washington, D.C. SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet noted that the LGBT Business Builder is " about ensuring that entrepreneurs who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender have the support they need to excel. I'm here because we cannot separate the fight for civil rights from the fight for market rights and economic empowerment. " Justin Nelson, president and co-founder, NGLCC remarked, “At its heart, America is a country that builds things, especially businesses. …This program will ensure that [LGBT citizens] understand the value of becoming an LGBT-certified business and all the SBA resources that are available to them.” 
"At its heart, America is a country that builds things, especially businesses"
In keeping with NGLCC’s mission, the LGBT Business Builder is intended to both further the LGBT movement and economically empower individual LGBT entrepreneurs. In regards to that goal Sam McClure, Vice President of Affiliate Relations & External Affairs, had this to say, “The information and resources from SBA District Offices are a wonderful complement to the [Certified LGBTBE® status] and membership in Local Affiliate Chambers. This triad of resources will support the growth of every certified LGBTBE and reinforce the strong connectivity of the LGBT Business Community. “

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Here are 5 ways the LGBT Business Builder can help grow your small business.

1). Information about Certified LGBTBE® status:
Members of Team NGLCC will be on hand at LGBT Business Builder events to help potential entrepreneurs certify as Certified LGBT Business Enterprises (Certified LGBTBE®). While the certification process isn’t hard, having a trained member of Team NGLCC available makes the process that much easier. By becoming a Certified LGBTBE®, businesses are able to build relationships with America's leading corporations, generate prospective business and clients, and collectively team with each other for contracting opportunities. As corporate America becomes more inclusive and further diversifies its supply chain, certification offers the opportunity for LGBT-owned businesses to differentiate themselves from their competitors and access strategic growth opportunities. 
2). Learn to Leverage your Certified LGBTBE® status:
Let’s face it, the goal of becoming a Certified LGBTBE® is to grow your business! And that’s where the LGBT Business Builder comes in. These programs are intended to help entrepreneurs leverage their certification to secure lucrative procurement contracts. The LGBT Business Builder provides a forum for business opportunities.
3). Connecting you to SBA District Offices:
The U.S. Small Business Administration isn’t just located in Washington, D.C. Over 70 district offices exist across the nation, from Alaska to Florida and everywhere in between. Each state has at least one district office, and some states like California and Texas have half-a-dozen or more. What does this mean for LGBT small business owners? It means convenient access to a dedicated team that wants to work for you. SBA district office staff knows the local economic and regulatory landscape and can help you grow your business.
4).  Access to Capital:
Part of SBA’s mission is to provide access to capital for small businesses.  SBA offers a variety of loan programs for specific purposes, everything from loans for equipment modernization to short-term seasonal financing. Take some time to study the loan programs and see if you qualify to participate at https://www.sba.gov/loanprograms.
5). Participation in Small Business Development Centers:
Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) provide assistance to small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs throughout the United States.  These centers offer small business owners a variety of services, from free business consulting to low-cost business training. SBDCs help entrepreneurs realize the dream of business ownership and help existing businesses remain competitive in a complex, ever-changing global marketplace. SBDCs are hosted by leading universities and state economic development agencies, and funded in part through a partnership with SBA.