The Small Business Administration is now urging Small business owners and small businesses with essential employees who are members of the Reserve or National Guard to put a plan in place to work through any potential disruption that may result from a broad call-up to active duty.

'A call to duty of a key employee can be disruptive for a small business that is not prepared,' said SBA Administrator Hector Barreto.

Preparing for the disruption due to a loss of a key employee and especially an owner due to a call-up to active duty is similar, in some ways, to preparing for the potential death or disability of a key person. Although, Key Person insurance is not available for this type of loss, the SBA provides several assistance programs and something new for small biz owners facing this issue.

Through a vast array of programs and services, the U.S. Small Business Administration provides tools to assemble and enact a plan designed to prevent or reduce the potential disruption caused a business by the sudden absence of a key player. The SBA and its resource partners offer managerial, technical and financial assistance, counseling and training to assist small business with any conceivable business-related issue, from how to market their products and services, to financial assistance, to what to do if called to active duty.

Perhaps most important among these programs include several SBA loan programs. Besides the SBA's basic 7(a) loan guarantee, where small biz owners can obtain financing when they may not be eligible through conventional channels, the SBA also provides disaster loans for eligible small businesses affected by the call-up. Also available is a debt relief program on SBA loans in the form of repayment deferrals, interest rate reductions and other assistance.

Small business owners or small businesses with key employees who are members of the Reserve or National Guard can find relevant information on a new website created by SBA's Office of Veterans Business Development. The first phase of the information website, www.sba.gov/reservists/, is part of a comprehensive plan to provide members of the National Guard and Reserve who own or are an essential employee of a small business with timely information on all SBA programs and services available to them if and when they are called to active duty.

The site has a list of Veterans Business Development Officers nationwide, information on financial options, business counseling and training and other SBA resources.

Thus far, since the attacks on America on Sept.11, 2001, more than 100,000 Reserve and National Guard members have been called to active duty. In anticipation of additional call-ups, the SBA has taken these steps to ensure that eligible small businesses are informed of these services.

For more information about SBA programs and services for veteran-owned businesses, visit the Office of Veterans Business Development Web site at www.sba.gov/VETS/.