The Alamo City invests in its small business community through a myriad of nonprofits and organizations designed to give local entrepreneurs the tools to succeed.
If asked to sum up 2020 in a single word, the word may well be "unprecedented." Despite one of history's worst economic downturns due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, business startups increased by 24% in the United States. Spurred by creativity and innovation, entrepreneurs leaned into challenging circumstances to identify and answer market demands.
In Texas, 2021 data indicates there are 3.0 million small businesses across the state and account for 99.8 percent of the state's companies. In short, Texas is a mecca for entrepreneurs. A recent ranking by Alliance Virtual Offices found that The City of San Antonio, in particular, is leading the way for entrepreneurship and small businesses in Texas. The Alamo City was named a top-14 entrepreneurial destination in the US due to the programs and resources available to budding entrepreneurs.
Starting a Small Business in San Antonio
According to Richard Sifuentes, Director of the Small Business Development Center at the University of Texas at San Antonio, a vital part of the formula for starting a small business comes from research.
"Something that is so very important and critical to starting any business is to understand your 'value proposition.' In other words, how is your service or product of value to your client or customer? What pain are you taking away, or how are you benefiting them? How does your product or service make life easier for them? If you can figure this out and articulate it well to your target market, then you increase your chances for success," Sifuentes said. "Your value proposition is what differentiates you and sets you apart from your competitors. It tells your customer to go to you to meet their needs or solve their problems."
Small Business Resources in San Antonio
In a competitive field like San Antonio, new business owners and startups should leverage the programs and resources to help get their company off the ground.
UTSA Small Business Development Center: Entrepreneurs gain access to professional and confidential business advising, a variety of quality training programs, and an extensive referral network. SBDC provides benefits including:
Develop and update business plans
Identify sources of capital
Identify foreign markets for products or services
Create marketing strategies and advertising campaigns
Launch SA: A partnership between the City of San Antonio and LiftFund, Launch SA provides entrepreneurs at all stages direction, education, mentorship, and community through its network of support. Launch SA relies heavily on relationship building to help small business owners and entrepreneurs develop specially tailored strategies to put them on the pathway to success.
Economic Development Incentive Fund (EDIF): Since 2009, The City of San Antonio has made funds available and offers financial incentives through economic grants and loans to create or retain jobs and invest in the future of San Antonio. The following project categories are eligible for consideration for EDIF assistance:
The attraction and recruitment of companies who plan to create jobs and investment in targeted industries, including corporate headquarters.
The retention/expansion of local companies, including corporate headquarters, who are considering relocating or expanding in communities outside of San Antonio.
Promote development at and around higher educational institutions and other non-governmental institutions, such as the Texas Research and Technology Foundation, which help create jobs and support growth in the targeted industries.
Maestro Entrepreneur Center: MEC is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization revolutionizing how successful entrepreneurs grow their small businesses in Greater San Antonio. Its mission is to accelerate business growth beyond the $1 million revenue threshold. The center creates jobs for the San Antonio community through incubation, acceleration, and connecting small businesses. Offering a creative learning environment, MEC strives to provide resources and tools for entrepreneurs to grow their businesses.
Scaleworks: With a robust portfolio, Scaleworks serves as an aggregator, investor, and accelerator for business-to-business SaaS (software-as-a-service startups). Venture Equity is a hands-on operational model taking substantial positions in their investments, focusing on markets where they can lead and bringing together teams of experienced B2B SaaS operators to realize objectives. It puts businesses in a solid position to succeed, using low to no debt, and reinvests every dollar of profit back into growth.
SCORE (San Antonio chapter): Made up of experienced volunteer entrepreneurs, corporate managers, and executives with backgrounds in diverse industries and specialties, SCORE offers mentorship and free business advice, low-cost or no-cost business training, and numerous templates and tools for small business owners.