BrightBridge Women's Business Center | Welcome

A resource for women entrepreneurs to assist with the issues they face in starting and growing a business.

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Our Mission

The mission at BrightBridge Women’s Business Center is to be a resource for women entrepreneurs to assist with the unique issues they face in starting and growing a business. We are here to assist with all aspects of starting and growing a successful business.

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Request Counseling

The BrightBridge Women’s Business Center provides services including individual business counseling and group business training. The business counseling services are offered at no charge to the client. Costs associated with our business training will be noted in the class description.

Frequently Asked Questions
Does the SBA have business grants?

No, the SBA does not provide grants for the purpose of business start-up or expansion. The SBA does offer several loan programs, which are explained in the Financing portion of this website. But I’ve heard about grants available for: (see list below)

  • • Women-owned businesses
  • • Minority-owned businesses
  • • Minority women-owned businesses
  • • Disabled business owners
Where can I get one?

Regardless of what you may see on television in commercials or infomercials, or what you may hear from friends or others, the fact is---there is no government agency or private foundation giving out free money to start a small business, even if you are a woman, minority, economically or physically challenged. The fact is that most grants are awarded to non-profit organizations. A few go to businesses that do research and development geared toward crucial government projects. These grants are extremely specific in nature and often quite technical. Such funds are not available to people who are interested in opening restaurants, hair salons, daycare centers, coffee shops and other common small businesses.

Are there any restrictions on the type of business that can receive an SBA business loan?

Businesses that are ineligible for SBA financial assistance include: not-for-profit organizations and businesses which deal in real estate investments, religious indoctrination, pyramid sales and distribution, or illegal activities.

Does the SBA help finance small businesses?

Yes, the SBA offers a variety of financing options for small businesses. The SBA's assistance usually is in the form of loan guaranties - the SBA guarantees loans made by banks and other private lenders to small business clients.

What is a business plan and why do I need one?

A business plan precisely defines your business, identifies your goals and serves as your firm's resume. Its basic components include a current and pro forma balance sheet, an income statement and a cash flow analysis. It helps you allocate resources properly, handle unforeseen complications, and make the right decisions. Because it provides specific and organized information about your company and how you will repay borrowed money, a good business plan is a crucial part of any loan package. Additionally, it can tell your sales personnel, suppliers and others about your operations and goals.

Why do I need to define my business in detail?

t may seem silly to ask yourself, "What business am I really in," but some owner-managers have gone broke because they never answered that question. Example: A watch store owner realized that most of his time was spent repairing watches while most of his money was spent selling them. He finally decided he was in the repair business and discontinued the sales operations. His profits improved dramatically.

How much money do I need to get started?

Once you have taken care of your building and equipment needs you also must have enough money on hand to cover operating expenses for at least a year. These expenses include your salary as the owner and money to repay your loans. One of the leading causes of business failure is insufficient start-up capital. Consequently, you should work closely with your accountant to estimate your cash flow needs.

What are the alternatives to financing a business?

Committing your own funds is often the first financing step. It is certainly the best indicator of how serious you are about your business. Risking your own money gives confidence for others to invest in your business. You may want to consider a partner for additional financing. Banks are an obvious source of funds. Other loan sources include commercial finance companies, venture capital firms, local development companies and life insurance companies. Trade credit, selling stock, and equipment leasing offer alternatives to borrowing. Leasing, for example, can be an advantage because it does not tie up your cash. Ask your local SBA office for information about these various sources.

What do I have to do to get a loan?

Initially, the lender will ask three questions:

  • • How will you use the loan?
  • • How much do you need to borrow?
  • • How will you repay the loan?

When you apply for the loan, you must provide projected financial statements and a cohesive, clear business plan which supplies the name of the firm, location, production facilities, legal structure and business goals. A clear description of your experience and management capabilities, as well as the expertise of other key personnel, will also be needed.

Where can I get help?

The U.S. Small Business Administration has offices in nearly every major city in the country.

The SBA operates the toll-free "Answer Desk" at 1-800-8-ASK-SBA (1- 800-827-5722), to give callers direct referral to appropriate sources of information.

Sponsored by the SBA are a variety of counseling, training and information services including the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE), Business Information Centers (BICs), Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) and Women's Business Centers (WBCs).

In addition, procurement center representatives can be found at each major military installation. More than 2,700 chambers of commerce are located throughout the country to provide additional assistance.

How much money do I need to have in order to qualify for an SBA loan?

A borrower's capital contribution generally must be one-fifth to one-third of the total project cost.

Service Area

Tennessee counties:
  • Pickett TN
  • Byrdstown ⁄ Pickett County
  • Chamber of Commerce
  • 109 West Main Street
  • P.O. Box 447
  • Byrdstown, TN 38549
  • (931) 864-7195 office
  • (931) 864-6120 fax
  • Fentress TN
  • Fentress County
  • Chamber of Commerce
  • P.O. Box 1294
  • Jamestown, TN 38556
  • (931) 879-9948 office
  • (931) 879-6767 fax
  • Putnam TN
  • Cookeville Area ⁄ Putnam
  • Chamber of Commerce
  • 1 West 1st Street
  • Cookeville, TN 38501
  • (931) 526-2211 office
  • (931) 526-2211 fax
  • Cumberland TN
  • Greater Cumberland County
  • Chamber of Commerce
  • 34 South Main Street
  • Crossville, TN 38555
  • (877) 465-3861 office
  • (931) 484-7511 fax
  • Bledsoe TN
  • Pikeville ⁄ Bledsoe
  • Chamber of Commerce
  • 125 Spring Street
  • Pikeville, TN 37367
  • (423) 447-2791 office
  • (423) 447-6856 fax
  • Rhea TN
  • Dayton Chamber
  • 107 Main Street
  • Dayton, TN 37321
  • (423) 775-0361 office
  • (423) 570-0105 fax
  • Spring City Chamber
  • 384 Front Street
  • Spring City, TN 37381
  • (423) 365-5210 office
  • (423) 365-9790 fax
  • Meigs TN
  • Decatur Meigs County
  • Chamber of Commerce
  • P.O. Box 1301
  • Decatur, TN 37322
  • (423) 334-4270 office
  • (423) 334-4819 fax
  • McMinn TN
  • Athens Area Chamber
  • 13 N. Jackson Street
  • Athens, TN 37303
  • (423) 745-0334 office
  • (423) 745-1507 fax
  • Etowah Chamber
  • P.O. Box 458
  • Etowah, TN 37331
  • (423) 263-2228 office
  • (423) 263-1670 fax
  • Grundy TN
  • Grundy County Chamber
  • P.O. Box 387
  • Gruetli-Laager, TN 37339
  • (931) 779-4050 office
  • (931) 779-4050 fax
  • Monteagle Mountain Chamber
  • P.O. Box 353
  • Monteagle, TN 37356
  • (931) 924-5353 office
  • (931) 924-2264 fax
  • Sequatchie TN
  • Sequatchie County
  • Chamber of Commerce
  • 13 Rankin Avenue
  • P.O. Box 1653
  • Dunlap, TN 37327
  • (423) 949-7608 office
  • Marion TN
  • Marion County Chamber
  • P.O. Box 789
  • Jasper, TN 37347
  • (423) 942-5103 office
  • Monteagle Mountain Chamber
  • P.O. Box 353
  • Monteagle, TN 37356
  • (931) 924-5353 office
  • (931) 924-2264 fax
  • Hamilton TN
  • Chattanooga
  • Chamber of Commerce
  • 1001 Market Street
  • Chattanooga, TN 37402
  • (423) 756-2515 office
  • (423) 267-7242 fax
  • Bradley TN
  • Bradley ⁄ Cleveland/
  • Chamber of Commerce
  • 2145 Keith Street
  • P.O. Box 2275
  • Cleveland, TN 37320
  • (423) 472-6587 office
  • (423) 472-2019 fax
  • Polk TN
  • Polk County Chamber
  • Highway 41
  • Benton, TN 37307
  • (423) 338-5040 office
  • (423) 338-0056 fax
  • Copper Basin Chamber
  • P.O. Box 948
  • Ducktown, TN 37326
  • (423) 496-9000 office
  • (423) 496-5415 fax
South Carolina counties:
  • Cherokee SC
  • Andrews Chamber
  • P.O. Box 800
  • Andrews, NC 28901
  • (828) 321-3584 office
  • Cherokee County Chamber
  • 805 Highway 64 West
  • Murphy, NC 28906
  • (828) 837-2242 office
  • (828) 837-6012 fax
  • Clay SC
  • Clay County Chamber of Commerce
  • P.O. Box 88
  • Hayesville, NC 28904
  • (828) 389-3704 office
  • (828) 389-1033 fax
Georgia counties:
  • Dade GA
  • Dade County
  • Chamber of Commerce
  • P.O. Box 1014
  • Trenton, GA 30752
  • (706) 657-4488 office
  • Walker GA
  • Walker County
  • Chamber of Commerce
  • P.O. Box 430
  • Rock Springs, GA 30739
  • (706) 375-7702 office
  • (706) 375-7797 fax
  • Chattanooga GA
  • Chattooga Chamber of Commerce
  • P.O. Box 217
  • Summerville, GA 30747
  • (706) 857-4033 office
  • (706) 857-6963 fax
  • Catoosa GA
  • Catoosa County
  • Chamber of Commerce
  • P.O. Box 52
  • 264 Catoosa Circle
  • Ringgold, GA 30736
  • (706) 965-5201 office
  • (706) 965-8224 fax
  • Whitfield GA
  • Dalton ⁄ Whitfield County
  • Chamber of Commerce
  • 524 Holiday Street
  • Dalton, GA 30720
  • (706) 278-7373 office
  • (706) 226-8739 fax
  • Gordon GA
  • Gordon County
  • Chamber of Commerce
  • 300 South Wall Street
  • Calhoun, GA 30701
  • (706) 625-3200 office
  • (706) 625-5062 fax
  • Murray GA
  • Chattsworth ⁄ Murray County
  • Chamber of Commerce
  • P.O. Box 327
  • Chattsworth, GA 30705
  • (706) 695-6060 office
  • (706) 517-0198 fax
  • Fannin GA
  • Fannin County
  • Chamber of Commerce
  • 3990 Appalachian Highway
  • Blue Ridge, GA 30513
  • (800) 899-6867 toll free
  • (706) 632-5680 office
  • (706) 632-2241 fax
  • Union GA
  • Blairsville ⁄ Union County
  • Chamber of Commerce
  • Welcome Center Lane
  • P.O. Box 789
  • Blairsville, GA 30512
  • (706) 745-5789 office
  • (706) 745-1382 fax
  • Towns GA
  • Towns County
  • Chamber of Commerce
  • 1311 Fuller Circle
  • Young Harris, GA 30582
  • (706) 896-4966 office
  • (706) 896-5441 fax