SBA Massachusetts Newsletter | December 2015

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December 2015

Happy Holidays From SBA Massachusetts!

U.S. Small Business Administration - Massachusetts District Office


December is National Write a Business Plan Month 


On Friday December 4th, the Enterprise Center at Salem State University held a workshop titled, "How to Write a Competition-Level Business Plan" to help launch the 2016 North of Boston Business Plan Competition.  


The workshop was facilitated by Margaret Somer of Massachusetts Small Business Development Center and supported by Abby Grant, Senior Programs Manager for the Enterprise Center (pictured above) - who shared strategies and techniques to produce a winning business plan to help prospective applicants get a quick start on the field of competitors.  (continued below)

Send Holiday Cheer by Nominating a Business TODAY!


We need your help to honor Massachusetts Small Businesses for the 2016 National Small Business Week Awards

Nominations should be sent to us by January 1st; completed packages are due January 11 at 3:00 p.m. EST either in the portal or at the Massachusetts District Office.

Award categories include:

• 2016 National Small Business Person of the Year
• Exporter of the Year
• The Jeffrey Butland Family-Owned Business Award
• Women-Owned Small Business Award
• Veteran-Owned Small Business Award
• Minority-Owned Small Business Award
• Microenterprise of the Year
• Manufacturer of the Year
• Financial Services Champion

To nominate an individual or entity for these awards, just fill out the nomination form here and email it back. That's it!  If there are any questions, please contact Michele Meade at


InnovateHER 2016: Innovating for Women Business Challenge - Regional Results


Earlier this year, the Massachusetts SBA hosted InnovateHER pitch challenges for the 2016 national competition.  As a result of the local challenges, these companies elevated above the rest: 

Joelle Fontaine of I AM KREYOL 
I AM KRÉYOL is a company that encompasses all things fashion; with a ladies clothing line (Kreyol), and styling services for magazines and music artists.

Jayanthi Narasimhan of WatchRX 
WatchRx is building an All-in-one watch dedicated to help your aging parents take their medication on time.

Laurel Wilder of Wonder Crew
Wonder Crew introduces dolls to boys that come friendship and adventure ready. Emotional intelligence and empathy are key ingredients to happiness and life success. Toys have the power to impact child development. Currently toys that encourage connection and kindness are only marketed to girls -- sending the message to many boys that this kind of play is not for them. Wonder Crew is here to change this! 


Writing a Competition-Level Business Plan  (con't)

Some Tips for WINNING!

  • Follow Competition Instructions and business plan outline (if they offer one) to a T! Don't disqualify yourself, by submitting your package even 1 minute after the deadline!
  • Follow Formatting Requirements - including number of pages for plan, financials and other requirements! Judges need to review every submission package under the same criteria for fairness. 
  • Best business plans do not have to be too long.  Keep it clear, concise and to the point.
  • Clearly identify your competition and competitive advantage. Switch your thinking to the customer's point of view and shopping habits. For example, if you're starting an ice cream shop, you're not only competing with the local supermarket - but also the the local CVS. 
  • It's important to research and identify your target market as well as your overall industry.  Resources such as the Kirstein Business Library at the Boston Public Library, U.S. Census Bureau and SBA's SizeUp Tool can be helpful.
  • Know your numbers inside-out, everything in your company is tied to numbers!  For example, your Marketing Campaign - What will it cost you?  How much do you think it will bring in?
  • Perfect your pitch with a 1-minute video.  Break it up into four 15-second segments. Have four key topics and write down 2 sentences about each. 


2015 Massachusetts Export Expo


On Friday, December 11th – SBA Massachusetts Office participated in the Massachusetts Export Center’s Annual Export Expo; a forum for exporters to connect with a wide variety of export resources available in Massachusetts while learning about issues that impact their day-to-day export operations. Exhibitors included law firms, banks, freight forwarders, consulting firms, translation firms, customs and compliance automated solutions providers, and various government and non-profit organizations serving the export community.   

In case you missed it, visit the MA Export Center Expo page with a complete listing of sponsors and exhibitors from the event. 

> Massachusetts Export Expo

Massachusetts State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) Grant Program

The STEP Program is intended to help offset international business development and related marketing costs for small businesses. 

This year's grant application period runs from November 2 ,2015 to January 4, 2016 at 5pm.

Grants under the STEP Program will be capped at $8,500 per business to reimburse for costs associated with projects, activities or services undertaken during the period October 1, 2015 to September 30, 2016. Each grant recipient will be required to provide a match to cover at least a portion of the total approved cost for any project, activity or service (the "Match"). New-to-export firms (exporting 3 years or less with export sales at 10% or less of total sales) have a 25% match requirement and all other firms have a 40% match requirement.

The STEP Program is intended to help offset international business development and related marketing costs for small businesses. 

> Apply Now

2016 North of Boston Business Plan Competition Timeline

  • Wednesday, January 20, 2016
    Competition Training Session #2, taught by Margaret Somer, Small Business Development Center.
    8:30 – 10:30 a.m. at the Enterprise Center.
  • Wednesday, February 24, 2016
    Application Packets Due by 12:00PM – NO Exceptions
  • Friday, March 11, 2016
    Semi-Finalists Announced
  • March 14-18, 2016
    Semi-Finalist Presentation Coaching Sessions
  • Wednesday, March 23, 2016
    Judges Interview Semi-Finalists
  • Thursday, March 24, 2016
    Finalists Announced
  • March 25 – April 8, 2016
    Finalists’ Presentation Coaching Sessions
  • Monday, April 11, 2016
    Competition Finale! Finalists present to judges at Grand Finale between 3:00 – 6:00 p.m. at the Recital Hall located on the Central Campus at SSU.


On December 14th, District Director Bob Nelson participated in an event hosted by the Korean Consulate General in Boston - "3rd Forum on Creative Economy: Vitalizing Business Opportunities for Korean-American Entrepreneurs: Challenges and Opportunities".  Pictured above is Bob with Consul General Ohm Song-jun.    


On December 9th - SBA Massachusetts held a "Reverse Matchmaker" at the district office to connect small businesses with procurement representatives.  Each firm had 5 to 10 minutes to present their company to a group of Contracting and Small Business Specialists from federal agencies and large prime contractors. For more information about contracting programs, feel free to reach out to David Polatin


On December 10th - Massachusetts Lending Specialists, Carlos Hernandez (left) and Ili Spahiu (right) conducting a training, “SBA Loan Programs Demystified”, to a group of Berkshire county lenders at the Berkshire Regional SBDC center.  If you would like to inquire about our lending team visiting or to schedule a training, please contact Nadine Boone


Winter Webinar Series

We are excited to announce a NEW webinar series will be delivered in 2016! Please be on the look out for the series of topics in the next Education Calendar.

Some of the topics include: 

-myRA®: Helping Your Employees Start Saving for Retirement 
-Marketing to the Government Buyer
-How Employers Can Prepare for the Increase in Minimum Wage
-Understanding RFPs
-Federal Contracting Basics
-Capture Management