Become a Client

What to expect as an SBDC client and
understanding your rights and responsibilities.

Become a Client at the Small Business Development Center

How do I become a client?

All consultations are by appointment only, and all prospective clients must complete a Request for Service prior to receiving SBDC assistance. To complete a Request for Service, please click the “Request Consulting” button below.

Why must I complete a request for service?

The Request for Service 1) provides us background information on you and your business to better direct you to the right starting point with us and 2) establishes confidentiality between you and the SBDC. We are not able to provide consulting services without having a completed request for service on file.

I am getting an error/having issues trying to complete a request for service

If you have ever used an SBDC in Pennsylvania in the past, please click the button above and try logging in via the login box in the top right corner of the page. If you do not remember your password, please click the “forgot password” link to have it emailed to you. If you are unable to login, or this is your first time working with the SBDC, please email insbdc@lehigh.edu or call us at 610-758-3980 and we can help.

What can I expect after submitting my request for service?

If your starting point with us is one of our training seminars, you will receive welcoming information from one of our consultants and any specific information about the training. Otherwise, you will be assigned to one of our consultants who will contact you to set up your first meeting and discuss your request and business goals. The time it takes from submission to that initial meeting varies based on 1) our total client volume and 2) your individual consultant’s client load at that time. At peak times, you may be looking at a 2-4 week waiting period. If you have not heard from anyone in our office after that time, please contact us at (610) 758-3980.

WHAT TO EXPECT AS AN SBDC CLIENT

As a client of the Lehigh University Small Business Development Center, you have the right to expect the following out of your consulting engagement.

Consulting Assistance Provided at No Charge

Because the SBDC program is supported by funding from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development (DCED), host institutions and other funders, consulting is provided to you at no charge. However, SBDC capacity is limited and business consultants are only able to work with a set number of clients at any one time.

Personalized Approach

Request consulting with an SBDC consultant who will work to understand your needs, access SBDC services, and develop a customized work plan. SBDC consultants do not do the work for you, they provide guidance, information, advice and resources that you, the business owner, need to successfully manage and grow your business.

Confidentiality of Information Provided

All SBDC representatives agree to abide by the Pennsylvania SBDC’s Code of Professional Conduct. Information you provide will be held in strictest confidence and will not be released to any parties outside of the Pennsylvania SBDC network without your prior approval.

Non-Disclosure of Trade Secrets

Sensitive trade secrets pertaining to unique facts of your business will not be used to benefit another client of the SBDC or any SBDC representative. SBDC clients understand that it is their responsibility to inform the SBDC of any such trade secrets.

Assistance, Guidance and Education

The SBDC program is an educational program. The SBDC will work with you on your specific issues to help build your management skills and knowledge. It is your responsibility to accept and implement recommendations. The SBDC will not negotiate on your behalf, write your business plan or act as an employee of your business.

Professional Advice

SBDC staff are experienced business management advisors. Many possess first-hand business experience and hold advanced degrees in business management, law, engineering and have helped thousands of small business owners launch and grow their businesses.

RESPONSIBILITIES AS AN SBDC CLIENT

Participating in Surveys

Because this program cares about the quality of services provided, and because it is primarily funded with public support, the SBDC undertakes a number of initiatives to ascertain the quality and impact of services provided to you. Your candid feedback is critical to the long-term success of the Pennsylvania SBDC. You will be asked to participate in an annual client questionnaire sent at/near the end of the calendar year. Your consultant will provide you with a link upon request.

Informing Legislators About Your Service

Consulting services are provided at no charge to you because of the financial support of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development (DCED), host institutions and other funders. To ensure the SBDC program will be able to sustain its program into the future, we ask that you to write to your legislators to let them know about your experience with the program. To find your legislator, visit the Pennsylvania General Assembly and enter your business address.

Accepting Responsibility and Waiving all Claims

In recognition that you are ultimately responsible for the success or failure of your business and that all decisions pertaining to implementing plans and operating your business are solely your responsibility, you agree to waive any claims of damages against the Pennsylvania Small Business Development Centers and the Pennsylvania SBDC program, the U.S. Small Business Administration, and the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, based on any advice or information provided by the SBDC.

WHAT THE PASBDC DOESN'T OFFER

The Pennsylvania SBDC cannot loan money to businesses or start-ups. However, the network partners with lending institutions across the state, and advisors can identify funding opportunities and help you prepare for applications.

We are mandated to work only with for-profit companies, but everyone is welcome to join us for relevant workshops.

Due to our cooperative agreement with the SBA, the PASBDC cannot assist clients who engage in the sale and possession of marijuana. SBDC services are not available to individuals or entities that have been debarred or suspended by the federal government. By agreeing to receive assistance from the SBDC you are self-certifying that you are not currently federally debarred or suspended and also agree to cease using SBDC services if you become federally debarred or suspended in the future.