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General questions

What does Mason SBDC do?

Mason Small Business Development Center offers counseling services for small business owners at no cost to help them start, grow or manage their company. Our core counseling areas are marketing, business strategy and finance.

How do I schedule for a counseling session?

New to Mason SBDC

Please go to our website and click on Request Services button to register with us. The process should not take mroe than 10-15 minutes of your time. Since we provide services at no cost, our sponsors require all of our clients to register with us to make sure we properly serve you.

Repeat Clients

If you registered with Mason SBDC (not other SBDCs) before, there is no need to register with us again. Please simply contact our team or (703) 277-7747 to schedule another session, and we will be happy to help.

Do I need an appointment to meet a counselor?

Yes, all our counseling sessions are by appointments only. Our sessions are normally during business hours on weekdays, expect holidays and our winter break.

What is the cost to use services of the SBDC?

We provide services at no cost, thanks to our sponsors, the U.S. Small Business Administration, George Mason University, and Virginia Small Business Development Center.

Where is Mason SBDC located?

Mason SBDC is located at MEC-Fairfax (Mason Enteprise Center - Fairfax), 4031 University Drive, Fairfax, Virginia 22030. You can find more information about directions and parking on Contact Us page.

Please note that Mason SBDC is NOT on the Fairfax Campus of George Mason University. We are about half a mile off-campus in historic old town Fairfax.

Is there parking available?

There is free parking behind our building for our clients. You may access the parking lot on South Street from University Drive or from Sager Avenue.

What are your Hours of Operation?

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

Do you close for inclement weather?

We follow George Mason University and Fairfax County Public School's closure schedule. If George Mason is closed our office will be closed. If FCPS is closed, but GMU is open, you may choose to attend or cancel without penalty. Please check and for closings during inclement weather. If your appointment is cancelled due to inclement weather, we will contact you to reschedule your appointment.

Other questions

What form of business do your recommend for a new business?

Each form: Sole Propietorship, Partnership, Corporation, or Limited Liability Corporation has its advantages and disadvantages. The one you should pick depends on your cicumstances, including: Your financial codition; the line of business you are entering; the number of employees; and the risk involved. To better assist you, pelase contact us to schedule a counseling schedule.

Do you write my business plan, marketing plan, or any business related documents?

The SBDC Counselors will not write a business plan for you but will assist in 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.

Does the SBDC or SBA provide financing?

The SBDC and SBA do not provide financing. Maosn SBDC provides counseling services to help you get ready and prepared for the financing process, such as improving your pitch deck, review your financial projections, connecting you with the banks, etc.. 

Can you help me if my business is set up as a non-profit business?

We offer assistance to non-profit buisnesses, 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..

My business has been established for some time. How can the SBDC help me?

The SBDC provides an array of counseling services to established businesses to help you grow and manage your small business including business strategy, marketing and promotion, financial analysis, accounting and access to capital.

What kind of registration and licenses are generally required to start my business?

There are specific requirements in each state, county, and locality, but it is possible to list the kinds of basic licenses and registrations a new business will need:

Local----A business license from 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'll have to register under what's 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."

Am I considered a small business?

A small business is defined differently for each industry. According to the SBA "size standard" a small business is defined as business that employ 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.