Frequently Asked Questions

Mason Small Business Development Center provides guidance, educational programs and resources that can help both prospective entrepreneurs and existing business owners. Please find answers to several frequently asked questions below.

Operational FAQs

Mason SBDC provides counseling and training services to local entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses at no cost. We serve small businesses in Fairfax County, Fairfax City, Town of Herndon, Prince William County, Arlington County, and the City of Manassas.

Yes, all our counseling sessions are by appointments only. Our sessions are normally during business hours (9AM – 5PM) on weekdays, except for holidays and winter break.

We provide services at no cost thanks to our sponsors: the U.S. Small Business Administration, George Mason University, Prince William County’s Department of Economic Development, the Manassas City Economic Development Authority, and Virginia Small Business Development Center.

Our main office is located in on 10306 Eaton Place, Suite 180, Fairfax, VA 22030.

Other *locations include:

*Counseling services at all locations by appointment only

Fairfax – Free parking is available behind the building from South Street and Sager Avenue.

City of Manassas – Free public parking is available in downtown Manassas. Please see this map for parking information
 
Town of Herndon – Free parking is available next to the building.

Mason Small Business Development Center hours of operation on business days are Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, except holidays and winter break. You may call or email us anytime during the hours of operations stated above.

We follow George Mason University’s closure schedule. If George Mason is closed, our office will be also be closed. Please check the George Mason University website for closings during inclement weather. If your appointment is canceled due to inclement weather, we will contact you to reschedule your appointment.

The SBDC Counselors will not write a business plan for you, but will assist in the assessment of the plan. The counselors may offer recommendations to make it a viable business plan to gain financing through a lending institution. It can also be used as a guide for your business to make sure you stay on track with your goals and objectives. The writing of the plan is an educational process in which you learn about your business and how you expect it to operate. It should reflect your goals, objectives, priorities, and management style.

The Mason SBDC does not provide funding. Our assistance is educational in nature. Mason SBDC business counselors can advise you on how to prepare for a loan and provide referrals.

We offer assistance to non-profit businesses, but the discussions are focused on the “business” side, such as adding a for-profit entity to the non-profit, strategic planning, marketing, social media, etc.

Clients may schedule up to 2 pending appointments, limiting to (1 appointment/week) with a Mason SBDC counselor. Please note that your counselor must recommend any additional appointments.

Cancellation policy: Please be advised that a 24-hour* notice is required to cancel an upcoming appointment.*Notification has to occur during regular business hours: Mon- Fri, 9 AM – 5 PM (Not weekends)

Failure to do so inconveniences counselors and the program’s clients who are on the waiting list for an appointment.

You are considered a no-show if you miss your appointment without notifying the team or counselor.

  1. A ‘missed appointment’ notice will be sent for the first occurrence and marked on our records
  2. Any subsequent no-shows will be flagged as well.
  3. Missing or Cancelling appointments twice in a row or three times within a three-month period will result in suspension of services.
  4. You will be suspended from scheduling an appointment for six months. 

To comply with notification requirements please email help@masonsbdc.org or give us a call at 703-261-4105 to inform us of your cancellation.

A “no show” is a client who misses an appointment without canceling in advance.

  • No-shows inconvenience other clients, those that are waitlisted as well as the consultant/counselor.
  • A failure to be present at a scheduled appointment will be noted on the client’s profile.
  • Rescheduling will be at the discretion of the Center and may result in delays lasting up to six months.

For more information, please send us an email at help@masonsbdc.org.

If you are new to Mason SBDC, please do a one-time registration for counseling services here.

Please request to meet a counselor to discuss VPD (Value Proposition Design).

Business Topics

Your financials, number of employees, tax implications, and risk tolerance are some of the factors that need to be considered before choosing the right type of entity. Work with a Mason SBDC counselor to make the right decision. Please contact us to schedule a counseling session.

Mason SBDC can provide guidance on business strategy, marketing and promotion, financial analysis, accounting, and access to capital.

There are specific requirements for each state, county, and locality. Some basic information can be found below:

  • Local—A business license from a city, town, or county, depending on your location, will usually be necessary. In addition, you’ll have to meet zoning laws, building codes, and similar regulations.
  • State—In most cases, if your business isn’t a corporation and your full name isn’t in the name of the business, you will have to register under what is called the fictitious name law. You should also file for a sales and use tax number. In some lines of business, specific licenses are needed.
  • Federal—You will need to contact the IRS for an Employer’s Identification Number (EIN) and it is a good idea to request a “Going Into Business Tax Kit.”

A small business is defined differently for each industry. According to the SBA size standards, small business is defined as a business that employs a maximum of 250 employees or earning a maximum of $38,000,000 in annual revenue. You can also check whether your business is small using the SBA Size Standards Tool.

Some commonly used business terms can be found in this useful Glossary. Additionally, find the SBA Glossary here.

You can find the information regarding SBA loans here: https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans

To ensure you follow proper steps, please request to meet a counselor to discuss the items. We also highly recommend one of our workshops, Legal and Administrative Steps to Start a Business, on our workshops page here: https://masonsbdc.org/workshops/