Marin SBDCSan Rafael, CA

Frequently Asked Questions

What does the Marin SBDC do?

The Marin Small Business Development Center does a number of things to assist small business owners and entrepreneurs start and grow. We conduct a wide variety of business seminars across Marin County on subjects including accessing capital, business planning, e-commerce and web marketing, human resource management, expansion and growth capital, legal and business issues and a variety of best practice programs designed to help small businesses use the best techniques possible to increase sales and profits.

We have a team of Business Advisors (most have advanced business degrees from top schools plus 20 or more years of work experience) who offer one-on-one consulting to clients in diverse areas of business. We have relationships with a wide variety of other service providers and will help their clients get the right help for their specific issue.

Lastly, we answer dozens of calls a day from people who need help accessing information and help navigating through the company start-up process.

Where is the Marin SBDC located?

The Marin SBDC is located on campus at the Dominican University of California in San Rafael. We are one of 14 centers that is part of the Northern California SBDC Network.

What is the Northern California SBDC?

The Northern California Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is a non-profit organization that provides confidential, no-cost business consulting and affordable training seminars to small and medium-sized business owners and managers. The Northern California SBDC will help you with every aspect of business creation, growth, management and operation. We are funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. There are 18 centers located in Northern California for your convenience. Find your local SBDC to start receiving consulting and low cost training.

How does no-cost consulting with the Marin SBDC work?

It starts with a simple application. You tell us about your company and your needs and we give a truthful assessment of whether we think we can help. Then, we establish goals to work on (business loan, equity capital, etc.) and we work together to reach that goal. We will meet with you in-person, on the phone, over coffee – whatever works for your schedule. Think of it as having another confidential member on your team - someone who is specifically focused on the business goal you identified as most important - and at no cost to you.

Do you have to be in business to use the services of the Small Business Development Center?

No. You only have to be considering the idea of opening a business or researching the feasibility of a proposed profit-making venture.

Can the SBDC help my business if it is a nonprofit?

Because of the SBDC's funding guidelines, the Northern California Small Business Development Centers are not able to assist businesses that are established as not-for-profit.

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

The SBDC provides an array of consulting services to established businesses including one-on-one consulting in business planning, marketing and promotion, financial analysis, accounting, record keeping, human resources, strategic planning, new market diversification, and other areas. In addition, the procurement technical assistance program is available for companies that want to bid on government contracts and international trade specialists are available to consult with firms that want to enter into or expand in the global marketplace. Technology commercialization assistance is available to high growth and technology firms with sophisticated business management issues. The Northern California SBDCs are ready to help businesses in all stages with a variety of issues.

Who are Northern California SBDC Business Advisors?

SBDC Business Advisors are individuals who have significant experience in the private sector, and many have extensive management and financial consulting backgrounds. Northern California SBDC Business Advisors can offer individual advice and guidance concerning the formation, management, financing and operation of your business. Consulting is provided at no charge to qualified businesses and is confidential. We realize you have choices when it comes to choosing advisors for your business and we urge you to carefully consider whom you want on your team. SBDC Business Advisors are in it for you and your success. They are experts in their field and are 100% focused on making your company work better and faster, with increasing profitability. 

How are SBDC services free?

The SBDC is funded through the federal Small Business Administration, the California Governor’s Office of Small Business (GO-Biz), and local partners.

How can the Marin SBDC help someone just thinking of starting a business?

The Marin SBDC offers seminars and workshops for individuals who want general information on starting a business, or who are in the initial start-up phase. SBDC consultants can then help you with the details of turning your plan into a successful reality. 

Does the Marin SBDC charge for its services?

The management and technical assistance services are provided at no charge to the client. Nominal fees are generally charged for training seminars and special events. 

How much does it Cost?

It is FREE! There is no charge for one-on-one business advising. In exchange for the free services, we need you to share your successes with us so we can continue to get funded and support more business owners. The Small Business Administration (SBA) support this program. Click HERE to apply now. 

Who Qualifies?

You need to have written a basic business plan or have been in business over 3 years (i.e. are beyond the idea exploration phase). Most clients are likely to show results in getting their business started, jobs creation, sales increase, or capital investments within the first 6 months of working with our Advisors.  If you are not sure if you are at a stage to receive advising, give us a call or apply. Once you put in an application, we will go through an intake process with you to determine how we can assist you.

What if I don’t qualify?

If you are at the beginning phase of getting started (or imagine phase as we term it), it is best to start by taking a general or industry-specific business planning class.  The SBDC Network offers a broad spectrum of business classes, workshops, and forums which are open to all entrepreneurs and business people wishing to start or expand a business. If you are not sure where to start with classes, please give us a call: 415-755-1100.

Another resource for talking through your ideas is a local SCORE chapter
(the closest ones are in SF or Santa Rosa).

What Subject Areas Can I Get Assistance On?

The pool of expertise available to you ranges from developing high quality business plans with detailed cash-flow and profit and loss projections to marketing, sales, international business and government procurement assistance. Over the years, the SBDC has assisted hundreds of small businesses such as yours, to secure business loans that total in the millions of dollars. Best of all, you will not be charged for one-on-one consulting. The sponsors of the Silicon Valley Small Business Development Center pay all consulting fees on your behalf.

How do I become a client?

First, submit an online counseling request form HERE. If you have any questions you can call us at (415) 524-3560 or email the Marin SBDC Director Miriam Karell at

Are you open during this time?

Yes, we are here for your business! We are available for phone assistance, helping you navigate your business operations -- and recovery -- from impacts of COVID-19.

Apply Now

It all starts here. Complete the application and submit your request. A member of the SBDC will follow up with you and help you achieve your small business goals -- at no cost to you.


As concerns continue about coronavirus (COVID-19), we’re here to help you navigate available resources, answer your business questions and be a trusted partner for your business
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Funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA or HSU Sponsored Programs Foundation.