San Francisco is a great place to start a small business.
SFEDA provides small business services to entrepreneurs at every stage of organizational growth from idea development to exit strategy. Our ten member organizations offer a wide variety of programs for both start-up and established businesses. Whatever your need, you can be sure that SFEDA has the program for you.
With all the great support services available for entrepreneurs in San Francisco, narrowing down all the options to find the best service can be a challenge in itself. Please browse the categories below to learn more SFEDA’s programs.
- Introduction to Business Classes
- Business Planning Classes
- Business Incubators
- Finding a Location
- Consulting & Advising
- Classes & Workshops
Clarify your idea and learn about the steps to start a business
Many entrepreneurs choose to begin their journey down the path of small business ownership with an introductory course to help formulate an action plan and learn more about the available resources to help you succeed.
Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center’s two session Start Smart class, together with individual consulting, helps you to clarify your business visions, create business missions, identify objectives and develop business strategies.
MEDA’s Business Entrepreneurship program is a series of six workshops designed to train in the main areas needed to write a business plan. Introduction to business planning, Legal aspects and operations of the business, Marketing, Personal finances for entrepreneurs, Finances of the business, and how to put together a Business Plan, are the topics covered in the training. Clients that attend all the classes graduate from the training and receive a certificate of completion.
Refine your business idea into a written business plan
SFEDA offers several programs specifically designed to help entrepreneurs through the process of writing a business plan, complete with one-on-one consulting. Learn more about the business planning process and available courses with a free orientation session.
Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center offers comprehensive English language business planning classes addressing every aspect of starting and growing a small business, including: marketing, management, finance, taxes, and recordkeeping. Business planning classes are offered at both the SOMA and Bayview locations.
MEDA provides bilingual services for Spanish or English speakers. After the initial step of graduating from the entrepreneurship training, clients are coached individually to design and produce their own business plan.
Take advantage of San Francisco’s many incubators
Once you have established a business plan, it may not be time to jump into the deep end just yet. A business incubator is a comprehensive assistance program to help start-up and early-stage firms grow into healthy, sustainable companies. SFEDA provides several options for low cost space in supportive environments to grow your organization to self-sufficiency.
Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center combines low-cost office space with intensive business development services in their locations at: Renaissance SOMA’s Business Incubator, Renaissance Bayview’s Business Assistance Center, and the Virtual Incubator Program.
La Cocina provides commercial kitchen space and technical assistance focusing on low-income women and immigrant entrepreneurs who are launching, growing and formalizing food businesses. La Cocina requires a complete business plan prior to application to the incubator program.
MEDA offers low cost, rental incubation space to clients enrolled in the business development program at MEDA. Clients enrolled in the program can apply to lease one of the spaces in the Mercadito at the same time that they continue receiving technical assistance to improve their business. Enrolling in the program and participating in coaching is a requirement to lease the space.
Assistance in finding and leasing a location
Finding the right location in San Francisco can be a big challenge for small businesses. SFEDA offers neighborhood attraction and leasing assistance, particularly in the SOMA, Fillmore and Bayview neighborhoods. Speak with an SFEDA member today about assistance available for finding and renting space for your business.
Urban Solutions: Urban Solutions offers low-cost real estate brokerage services as a way to improve neighborhoods throughout San Francisco.
SFMade’s Places to Make services are designed to help local manufacturers make the best use of one of their most important – and expensive – assets: their urban industrial space. Places to Make services are uniquely tailored to the special needs of – and opportunities for- manufacturers, who seek to locate new, expanded, or start-up space for production, distribution, and related retail operations in the City limits of San Francisco.
Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center’s 3rd Street Corridor Project (TSCP) is a collaborative effort to revitalize the commercial, civic, and cultural center of the Bayview-Hunter’s Point community – 3rd Street. TSCP’s goal is for 3rd Street to become a place where local residents find essential goods and services, earn their livelihood as business owners and employees, access cultural and social resources, and meet and mix with neighbors.
Expand your business with a microloan or traditional financing
Ready to expand? Need cash for Working Capital? Expansion and debt financing are a crucial step for a growing business. SFEDA offers several services to help entrepreneurs with a complete business plan take on this additional responsibility.
Loan Packaging Advising
Before seeking financing, we strongly recommend entrepreneurs sit down with an expert for free loan packaging to improve the content and presentation of your documents and to identify all your financing opportunities.
SF Small Business Development Center’s team of lending specialists provide free services in English, Spanish and Chinese: reviewing/ helping you prepare financial projections, packaging your loan application for optimal results, and assistance getting your application to the appropriate lender.
Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center’s Financing Resource Center provides free consulting for entrepreneurs interested in acquiring a start-up or expansion loan.
Urban Solutions offers English language services to entrepreneurs focused on improving their business plans and financial statements and guiding them through the loan application process. Urban Solutions serves clients from its offices in SOMA and the Fillmore.
LGBT Center’s Business Funding Factory is an intensive program that helps motivated entrepreneurs capitalize and actualize their businesses. This 6-week workshop series guides participants through putting the finishing touches on their business plans while preparing to get capitalized. At the end of the course, qualifying participants will have the opportunity to pitch their business to a mock panel of business experts, lenders and investors. The LGBT Center also offers free one-on-one consulting to help entrepreneurs access the best financing for their needs.
MEDA assists clients in the process of packaging the loan information required to apply for loans with community lending institutions including: banks, Kiva, Opportunity Fund, and others.
SFMade offers industry-specific knowledge, resources and networks specifically for manufacturing companies, to help them grow to the next level.
Qualified entrepreneurs with a well developed business plan who are ready to grow may be eligible for microloans for start-ups and existing businesses. For many entrepreneurs, it is better to start by scheduling free loan packaging advising to refine and package your loan application before applying for funding with a microlender. Contact the following SFEDA members to learn more about their programs and whether you qualify.
The LGBT Center offers a peer-to-peer loan program called Lending Circles, which rapidly builds participants’ credit and provides them with a no fee or interest loan of $600-$2,000.
MEDA provides microloans from $500 to $1,000 for small inventory or equipment purchases. Term 1 year, interest 8 to 12% based on credit.
OBDC provides $10,000 to $250,000 for startup and existing businesses, with low fees and competitive interest rates.
Pacific Community Ventures provides affordable small business loans from $50,000 to $200,000, and is more flexible than a traditional bank, credit union, or the Small Business Administration. PCV small business loans put small businesses on a path to grow and scale so they can attract additional capital. PCV integrates this capital with hands-on, pre-loan technical assistance and post-loan business advice throughout the full term of the loan to ensure the long-term success of its borrowers.
Working Solutions provides microloans from $5,000 to $50,000 for qualified entrepreneurs with a complete business plan who are ready to grow.
Free expert consulting & advising to help you grow
Businesspeople at every level can always benefit from fresh thinking and assistance in growing to their next step. Take advantage of free consulting services for entrepreneurs and business people of all levels.
SF Small Business Development Center’s team of professional consultants provides free one-on-one business consulting services in English, Spanish and Chinese to established and startup businesses located in San Francisco and North San Mateo County.
Pacific Community Ventures matches senior-level volunteer advisors with successful entrepreneurs who are facing challenges growing their businesses. PCV’s individually customized advising program provides specific expertise at the exact time of need for the business owner(s)/operator(s).
Urban Solutions provides free one-on-one business consulting services to established and startup businesses in San Francisco. Specialized services include sustainability consulting and legal office hours, to connect clients to pro bono attorneys.
SFMade provides manufacturing businesses with individualized coaching by experts from both the SFMade staff and volunteer advisors.
SF LGBT Center offers free one on one Business Consulting and advising to help you review your current situation, assess your business needs, and develop a concrete action plan.
MEDA’s business development program offers one on one assistance to small businesses (1-5 employees) seeking to launch a business or improve it. At the same time through its program, Accelerate San Francisco it offers assistance to businesses with 6 or more employees, looking for options or needed support to expand and grow successfully.
Classes and workshops for entrepreneurs with a business plan
Whatever your need or skill level, you can be certain that SFEDA has the workshop or class for you. With multiple events every week, SFEDA members cover the full range of small business needs. As our workshop schedule changes fast, check our events calendar or contact a provider directly to find out more about a workshop or class and to register.
Several SFEDA members are provide full introductory business planning courses. Learn more about our many business planning classes on the tab above.
Renaissance Center offers a wide variety of classes and workshops in English for all skill levels and all types of businesses, from both the SOMA and Bayview locations.
MEDA’s Entrepreneurship Training Program offers six training modules designed to develop basic business skills. Additional trainings are offered in specific topics such as computer literacy, facebook, web design, legal issues, best business practices, and others. Specific training provided for Home Childcare providers.
SF Small Business Development Center offers multiple business training workshops each week in English, Spanish and Chinese. Workshops are offered at the SBA Entrepreneur Center, Mission and Chinatown Campuses at City College of San Francisco.
La Cocina offers workshops specifically for food businesses and food lovers.
SFMade conducts educational workshops on manufacturing industry-specific topics designed to help companies move their business forward.
The SF LGBT Center’s Business Funding Factory is an intensive program that helps motivated entrepreneurs capitalize and actualize their businesses. This 6-week workshop series guides participants through putting the finishing touches on their business plans while preparing to get capitalized. At the end of the course, qualifying participants will have the opportunity to pitch their business to a mock panel of business experts, lenders and investors.