Small Business Development Center -- Bucknell

Frequently Asked Questions about Engineering Development Services


How can the SBDC help someone just thinking of starting a business?
The SBDC offers Entrepreneurial Assessment, Pre-Business and Business Planning seminars for those individuals who want general information on starting a business, or who are in the initial start-up phase.

These seminars provide the basis for getting a business up and running. Upon completion of the Business Planning seminar, individual consulting services will be available and you will be assigned a consultant who will guide you through the development process. (Back to top)

What can I expect from my consultant?
At your initial meeting, your consultant will review your business or proposal, determine a course of action and identify areas that both of you will be responsible for completing. Your consultant will then follow up with an engagement letter detailing your meeting and listing the items that both of you will be working on, along with an estimated time frame for completion. (Back to top)

How long will it take to write a business plan?
A well thought-out business plan generally takes anywhere from six months to a year to complete, but it can be less depending on how committed you are to the business, and how much time you are willing to spend on writing your plan. Your business plan is a joint venture with your consultant. The SBDC consultant will not write a business plan for you. 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. (Back to top)

How can the SBDC help someone whose business has been established for some time?
The SBDC provides an array of services to established businesses including one-on-one consulting in business planning, marketing and promotion, financial analysis, and accounting. In addition, a Procurement Assistance program is available for companies that want to bid on Federal government contracts and an International Trade program is available for firms that want to enter into or expand in the global marketplace. A new Environmental Management Assistance program is also available. (Back to top)

What is the cost for SBDC services?
There is no charge for any of the SBDC consulting services. Fees are charged for seminars and workshops to cover costs of instructors, materials, etc. (Back to top)

Who pays for the SBDC program?
The SBDC is part of a state-wide network of colleges and university centers (PASBDC) which is a joint venture of federal, state, and private sector agencies and organizations including the US Small Business Administration and the Pennsylvania Department of Commerce. Each agency, along with the host university, contributes to the financial support of the program. (Back to top)

What are the requirements of the program?
To receive assistance from the Bucknell SBDC, your business must be located in Union, Perry, Juniata, Montour, Snyder or Northumberland Counties, and fall under the Federal guidelines for a small business which generally is 500 employees or less, and a maximum of $10 million in annual sales. (Back to top)

What basic skills do I need to run a business?
The basic skills include a working knowledge of recordkeeping, financial management, personnel management; market analysis; breakeven analysis, product or service knowledge; federal, state and local tax knowledge; legal structures, and communication skills. (Back to top)

Is there a time limit in which I can receive assistance?
Assistance is available to you as long as it is required. If there is no activity for several months, your case may be closed; however, it can be opened again at any time should you require further help. (Back to top)

Does the SBDC provide financing?
The Bucknell SBDC does not provide financing. Our assistance is technical and educational in nature. We work with banks and other lending agencies and organizations to assist in putting together financial projections, but the actual financing comes from outside sources. Generally, you start with the bank where you normally do business and have established accounts. You may have to apply at several lending institutions or look for alternative sources such as outside investors. (Back to top)

What grants are available for my business?
Generally, grants are not available for starting up a small business. However, there are grants available from federal and state resources, as well as the private sector, for some research and development companies, large manufacturing businesses and disabled entrepreneurs.

The SBDC counselors can provide more detailed information upon request. (Back to top)

Can I get help from the SBDC if my business is set up as a not-for-profit business?
Because of the SBDC's funding guidelines, the Center is not able to assist businesses that are established as not-for-profit. (Back to top)

Frequently Asked Questions about Engineering Development Services

What specific services do you provide?
We provide educational seminars, one-on-one consulting in the process of New Product Development and general applied engineering services. Some deliverables might include: business plan critique, patent searches, technical reviews, feasibility studies, CAD drawings, brainstorming, preliminary design, rapid prototyping, proof-of-concept prototyping, cost/benefit analyses, vendor searches or pre-certification testing. Click here to view the seminar schedule. (Back to FAQs about EDS)

What fields of engineering can you address?
Bucknell University has a wide range of nationally-recognized programs within the college of engineering: mechanical, electrical, chemical, biomedical, civil & environmental, computer science & engineering. All faculty also have particular research interests, which cover a wide range of subject areas. (Back to FAQs about EDS)

How soon can I expect to receive assistance?
We make every attempt to assist our clients as quickly as possible. You should be contacted within 48 hours of your request for assistance, to inquire about your needs. We are an economic development agency, so do require that you have already clearly mapped out a commercialization strategy before we can invest appreciable resources (click here for business planning assistance). Project start times and length are dependent on the academic calendar, the availability of personnel or facilities and other factors. (Back to FAQs about EDS)

How does the academic calendar impact my project timing?
Bucknell University is a teaching university, not a research university, so projects usually progress rapidly when classes are in session. The normal school year runs two semesters, from mid-August to early December, then mid-January to early May. We recommend you plan ahead and start early in contacting us to make arrangements for our assistance. (Back to FAQs about EDS)

Can projects be put in the classroom?
Yes. Some client projects are selected for the senior level “capstone” experience, where teams of students are expected to address a problem, with the end result being a working prototype. These capstone projects are either one or two semesters in length, depending upon the particular engineering program. This can be an exceptional opportunity for those clients whose project scope, time-frame and other factors meet the requirements of the classroom. Please keep in mind, there are no guarantees of the outcome. These are students and we can promise only their best efforts in assisting you with engineering solutions. (Back to FAQs about EDS)

Are you able to take on projects of any size?
Unfortunately, no, some projects are simply too large for us to handle efficiently or within our SBDC budget. There is good news: we’re always ready to take a look to see how we can help. Projects can sometimes be broken down so that we can assist with some part of it. Or, we can help clients with engaging the university directly. (Back to FAQs about EDS)


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