How many of you can recite the alphabet from A to Z? How many of you remember learning simple words like dog, cat, or fat? This is what we remember as basic words used for learning. Learning these words gave you the base that was needed to begin the journey of education.

Now how many of you remember SBA, MBE or WBE? How about RFP or DBA? How many times can you remember being tested on SBIF or TIF? You’re probably thinking, “What is he talking about?” Well, these are some basic acronyms, essential to know if you are in business, or if you are thinking about going into business.

I can remember talking to someone and being asked if I had applied for CDBG. I tried to act like I understood what they where talking about, when I really did not have a clue. When I finally got up the nerve to ask what CDBG was (Community Development Block Grant), I began to ask about other acronyms. I was surprised to find that there are many others who do not know the “language.” So I thought it may be helpful to define some of the more commonly used terms.

SBA: The U.S. Small Business Administration was created in 1953 as an independent agency of the federal government to aid, counsel, assist and protect the interests of small business concerns, to preserve free competitive enterprise and to maintain and strengthen the overall economy of our nation, recognizing that small business is critical to America’s economic recovery and strength.

MBE/WBE: The Minority Business Enterprise and Women’s Business Enterprise programs are used to link government contracts with businesses that are owned by people of color and women. The MBE/WBE program was created as a tool to identify those businesses that had been kept out of the bid process for government contracts and set aside a percentage of work for them.

RFP: Request For Proposals is a process by which there is a survey of vendors to solicit competitive bids for products and services.

DBA: Stands for “doing business as.” This is also known as an Assumed Name. When doing business under any name other than your legal name, you must file a DBA.

For example, if doing business as John Doe, usually you are not required to file a DBA. But if you are doing business as Joe Doe Plumbing or Midwestern Plumbing, for example, then you must file a DBA or assumed name.

TIF: Stands for Tax Increment Financing. TIFs are used as a way of redirecting property taxes for redeveloping areas that may not be developed without some type of incentives.

SBIF: Stands for Small Business Improvement Fund. The SBIF program provides matching grants of up to $50,000 to help companies improve their facilities.

On the City of Chicago website, Department of Planning and Development Commissioner Denise Casalino says, “The SBIF program is a great way to bring TIF dollars to small business owners who need to make physical improvements to their facilities to make them more efficient, productive and attractive to customers.”

As Westsiders continue the journey to success in business, you need to know these and many other important acronyms. To find out more about them, you can research the Internet or visit your local library.