U.S. Small Business Institute

 Volunteers serving small businesses and charitable foundations...since 1985!        

              SBA Loan Guarantee Program

1) How did the organization get its start in 1985?

In 1985 the U.S. 'Small Business Institute' (SBI) got started under the name Small Business Coalition of Missouri by a core group of seven entrepreneurs and their top-tier execution. We became professional volunteers for business and charities in the St. Louis Metropolitan Area that is home to 2.8M resident and 193K small businesses that supports over 1K charitable foundations in our local area. We have supplied expert consultants, coaches and mentors to hundreds of small businesses and charitable foundations in our area - at no charge - because they needed expert counseling, but simply could not afford it. 

2) Why was the name changed in 1987?

In 1987 the name was changed from the Small Business Coalition of Missouri (a/k/a SBC: effective 11-5-85) to the U.S. Small Business Institute (a/k/a SBI: effective 5-5-87) because our Honorary Chairman and legal counsel, MO State Representative Jack Buechner, was elected as our U.S. Congressman in Missouri’s 2nd District (effective 1-20-87). Since we now had representation in both in the St. Louis Region and in Washington, DC at that time we decided to change our name to give our organization more credibility and boost our effort. The St. Louis Region now covers the City of St. Louis, its fifteen surrounding counties, is home to 2.8M residents, houses over one thousand charitable foundations and is host to 193K businesses. This makes our region the ninnteenth largest economic engine in the United States.

3) Why was the effort launched in the first place?

The effort was launched to give much needed support to local small businesses and charitable foundations in the St. Louis Metropolitan Area that were experiencing major financial challenges', which continues to this day. We set out to help entrepreneurs and their top-tier executives generate new leads at our monthly events and assist them in creating a short-term action strategy and long-term business plan. Successful small business owners and their managers were now able to band together using the power of the 'peers helping peers' business model. Our members enjoy giving back to their community and volunteer their time and expertise to help other local small businesses and charitable foundations...at no charge, if they qualify.

4) How does the effort help local businesses and charitable foundations?

A) Small BusinessesOur SBI 'Business' Advisors volunteer their time, talent and skills to help local small businesses generate new leads for clients at weekly and monthly networking events, educational seminars and business expos, plus assists them in the creation and development of a short and long-term business plan for their organization. We have a team of individuals who are experts in their field and give business consulting, coaching and mentoring services to local small businesses who are experiencing financial difficulties and need assistance from experts, but simply cannot afford to pay for it at this point in time. 

B) Charitable Foundations: Our SBI 'Charity Advisors' donate their time to assist charitable foundations in event planning so they can meet their membership, sponsorship and financial goals. We have a team of individuals who are experts in their field and give charity consulting, coaching and mentoring services to local charitable foundations who are experiencing financial difficulties and need assistance from experts, but simply cannot afford to pay for it. 

5) Who were the 7 founding sponsors in 1985?

Seven entrepreneurs and their top-tier executives launched the effort in 1985. They were the owners and leaders at their own company who joined forces with fellow board members of the Regional Commerce & Growth Association and the Saint Louis Ambassadors who were able to work together very well as a team helping the St. Louis community. 

7 Founding Sponsors:

  1. American Marketing Group, Inc.: Richard T. Pisani, President
  2. Catastrophe Restoration Co.: Jim Thompson, President
  3. Drake-Beam-Morin, Inc.: Joseph Danklef, Area Manager
  4. Missouri State Bank & Trust Co.: Robert L. Harris, President
  5. Right Management, Inc.: Richard J. Mueller, Partner
  6. V. Schneider Enterprises, LTD: Vicki Schneider, President
  7. REK Enterprises, Inc.: Ralph E. Kaufman, President

6) Where did SBI get its initial support?

The SBC garnered its first 100 Charter Members from seven 

small businesses, the Saint Louis Ambassadors (SLA) and the St. Louis Regional Commerce & Growth Association (RCGA) who had nearly 3K small business members. SBI's President, Rich Pisani, was on the Executive Committee of the RCGA and was the Chairman of their Small Business Council. Because of his position he was able to be the spokesman for the entrepreneurs and their top-tier executives who were members and needed support. Because Rich was heavily involved in both the RCGA and SBI he secured support from Mr. LeRoy Grant, who was the Director of External Affairs at Southwester Bell Corporation who provided venues and funding for RCGA and SBI events in the St. Louis Region..


7) What does it cost to be a member of SBI as an Advisor or Client?

A) Membership Dollar Donation - $19.04 annually:

In order to belong to the U.S. Small Business Institute - at no charge - you must be a registered member of the 1904 World's Fair Charitable Foundation (our fiscal partner), which is only $19.04 annually. This foundation offers the SBI services - at no charge - through their all-volunteer organization that is made up a very diverse group of individuals and sponsors or co-sponsors events to raise funds for Forest Park, the St. Louis Zoo and other local charities. Everything we do is a true 'team effort' with untiring support, guidance and assistance from our team that donates their time to 'help us help others' at no charge because they simply can't afford to pay for professional services at this point in time. 

The 1904 World's Fair Charitable Foundation was launched on March 14, 2002 at the Top of the Chase Hotel with nearly one thousand attendees. Our main speakers who launched the effort that night included our Missouri Governor Bob Holden, St. Louis County Executive 'Buzz' Westfall, St. Louis City Mayor Francis Slay and a host of celebrities from the radio, television, sports and educational fields. To this day this charity has the most prestigious Honorary Board of Directors in the entire State of Missouri. It is headed up by the then-current Governor of Missouri, the MO Lt. Governor, the St. Louis County Executive, the St. Louis City Mayor. Plus, it has a litany of VIP's from the radio, television, sports, education and religious arenas. Additionally, this charity has pro-active team of officers, an executive board and advisory board who have actively operated the foundation since March 14, 2002.  

SBI supports this public charitable foundation and assists them in raising funds for the Forest Park 'beautification program', the St. Louis Zoo 'special projects' and - most importantly - other local charities 'specific causes'. 

B) Membership Time Donation - up to 10 hours monthly:

In addition to being a member of the 1904 World's Fair Charitable Foundation you must be able to donate up to ten hours monthly (3 to 6 months) to a small business or charitable foundation 'of your choice'. Every individual is acquainted with at least one hundred family, friends and associates who are either entrepreneurs or top-tier manages of a small firm or is the President or Executive Director of a local charity...and all need help from time to time. You chose the one that needs help and the SBI leadership will select the expert(s) who will help the business or charity...it's that simple.In fact, SBI may have to engage several experts over a 3 to 6 month period to volunteer 10 hours monthly depending on the needs of the client and the the advisors area of expertise.

Our goal is to have you on board with us as an SBI 'Business or Charity' Advisor so you can 'help us help others' who own or manage a 'for-profit' small business or lead and operate a 'non-profit' charitable foundation in the St. Louis Region. Remember, you get to chose someone in your 'business or charity circle' and the SBI leaders will select the proper business or charity expert to help them for up to ten hours per month for an initial ninety to one hundred and eighty day period. If the organization requires more support after the first ninety days then a different SBI Advisor(s) will be appointed to help the client for an additional three month period. After six months of assistance - at no charge - and if the client wants more help from our SBI team, they may select one of our SBI Advisors on a 'for hire' basis and will receive a discount from that individuals company for any on-going services rendered, plus reimburse the advisors firm for any agreed-to direct expenses.  

8) What is required to become an SBI ‘Business or Charity' Advisor?

A) SBI 'Business Advisor'To be approved as an SBI ‘Business Advisor’ you must be a successful owner or upper-level manager for at least five years of a local for-profit small business that has less than 250 full time employees and is having financial challenges at this point in time. Also, you must possess the talent, skill and ability to be considered an 'expert in your field' so you give the proper counseling to the company you are asked to help - at no charge - for up to ten hours per month for three months.

B) SBI 'Charity Advisor': To be approved as an SBI 'Charity Advisor' you must have worked as a volunteer committee member, board member or officer for at least two local non-profits. Plus, you must have a proficient skill, talent or ability and be considered an 'expert in your field' who has the capability to volunteer time to help the charity - at no charge - for up to ten hours per month for a ninety day period. 

In either role, you must possess the desire and willingness to want to 'help us help others' who need professional consulting, coaching or mentoring for their small business or charitable foundation, but simply cannot afford to pay for such services at this point in time. In essence you will become a volunteer life-guard for small businesses and charitable foundations in the St. Louis Region that is home to 193K companies and over 1K charities...all who need help from time-to-time.

9) What is required to become an SBI 'Business or Charity' Client?

A) Small Business ClientTo qualify for our services and receive professional small business counseling - at no charge - the individual must be an owner or upper-level manager of a small firm that is a for-profit legal entity, has been operating for at least one year, employs less than 250 full time workers, is experiencing hard times in today’s economic climate and requires professional support to improve the firms chances of success, but simply can’t afford it at this point due to the company's current financial challenges. The existing business may be a proprietorship, partnership or corporate entity that has been in operation for at least one full fiscal year. 

NOTE: We do not directly consult with inventors or individuals who have a concept that is simply in the idea stage. However, these individuals  can seek assistance from the President of the Inventors Association of St. Louis (IASL), Robert Scheinkman at 314-432-1201 or by email at President@inventorsconnection.org. Also, you can 'click here' to visit their website for details. The President of SBI, Rich Pisani, was the President of IASL for three years in the nineties and understands the importance of securing the right patent attorney, prototype development, networking, raising capital, marketing and a host of things that an inventor must do before selling their idea to a large company or selling their product directly to the public. Inventors typically need a professional business consultant, patent and contract attorney, CPA, banker, active partners, silent investors, manufacturer, distributor and a host of other supporters in order to make their invention a source of income.  

B) Charitable Foundation ClientTo qualify for our services and receive charitable foundation counseling - no charge - you must be an employee on the payroll as their President or Executive Director and are considered the leader in charge of the organization. Your non-profit must be in operation for at least one year, plus be recognized and accepted by the IRS as a 501 (c) (3/4/6 or 7) and need assistance with membership development, event planning and the execution of a short and long term plan in order to meet both your financial goals to support 'the cause' of the charity. 

NOTE: We do not directly consult with brand new 'start up' non-profits. However, these individuals can contact Charity Net USA in Orlando, FL at 407-857-9002 who serves as a start-up center. They can help you with many of the launch issues, concerns and challenges of a newly forming charity like legally establishing a 501 (c) (3) with the IRS, hiring staff, forming a volunteer advisory 

board, developing a short and long term strategic plan, creating marketing services, making graphic designs, grant writing, fundraising ideas, website development and a myriad of items that they will need to operate their charity as a professional organization in the public arena in order to raise awareness and funding for their 'worthy cause'.

10) What is the SBI mission statement?

SBI has a two-fold mission statement as outlined below. Our team of SBI ‘Business or Charity' Advisors are considered ‘experts in their field’ and have agreed to volunteer up to ten hours monthly for three to six months to assist both the ‘for-profit' small business and 'non-profit' charitable foundation to help them develop a short and long term plan to meet all of their goals. 

Our current effort actively engages our volunteers to contribute their time and share their expertise with two completely different segments of our society - businesses and charity's. Our mission statement for both sectors is outlined herein and is as follows.

Two-Fold Mission Statement:

A) Small BusinessesSBI ‘Business Advisors’ volunteer as much time as possible and are considered experts in a specific field. They are considered to be professional volunteers that can afford to assist small businesses and their upper-level managers in a multitude of different areas and departments in the company. We also help the firm with ‘new lead generation’, which can help secure new clients with both in-person networking events and the proper use of the fast-growing internet social media websites. Plus, our team will show the SBI ‘Business Client’ how to create and develop both a short-term action strategy to solve current challenges and a long-range business plan in order to hone their leadership skills, plus improve the overall health and financial stability of the small business.

B) Charitable FoundationsSBI ‘Charity Advisors’ volunteer as much time as possible and are considered experts in a specific field. They are considered to be professional volunteers that can afford to help charitable foundations achieve their membership and fundraising goals through proper goal setting, event planning and the  execution thereof. Plus, our team will show the SBI ‘Charity Client’ how to create and develop both a short-term action strategy to solve current challenges and a long-range charity plan in order to hone their management skills, plus improve the overall health and financial stability of the charitable foundation.

11) Does AMG - as the Founding Sponsor - continue to help?

Yes! On a monthly basis starting in the Spring of 2014, an experienced AMG ‘Group Facilitator’ will volunteer their time to qualified clients of SBI and host a two part program over a three month period of time…at no charge. Each of up to 12 participants will be required to attend both an AMG sponsored four hour monthly SBI ‘Focus Group’ meeting with peers and a two hour ‘Case Study’ private coaching session with their group facilitator within thirty days after each monthly gathering. Thus, you will be given six hours of consulting, coaching and mentoring...at no charge and in the following manner.

Part 1 - 'Focus Group - 4 hours': You will be invited to join us in a ‘Focus Group’ meeting, which is a four hour peer group advisory board gathering. You will not be placed in a group with any partners, board members, direct competitors, customers, vendors, or employees so that you can openly share your business or charity’s current issues, concerns and challenges with the group. Then, your peers will be able to give you suggestions, ideas and advice on the best way to handle each situation that was discussed, which will help you become a better leader and manager. Once this occurs it will have a positive impact on the overall health and financial stability of your organization.

Part 2 - 'Case Study - 2 hours': Additionally, each of up to 12 members attending the three 'peer group advisory board' meeting will be involved in a ‘Case Study’ within thirty days after each peer meeting. You will meet with the AMG Group Facilitator in a two hour private coaching session where you will be helped so you can launch any good ideas that came from your peers in the most current ‘Focus Group’ meeting. Plus, the AMG Group Facilitator will become your 'Accountability Coach' and help you create a ’90 Day Action Plan’ to solve each business issues, concerns or challenges you are facing, plus develop a ‘5 Year Business Plan’ so your organization has both a short-term strategy and a long-term operating track to run on as a safety-net for its principals, lenders, investors, employees, clients and vendors.

12) Who have been SBI’s long-time supporters?

Since 1985 SBI has had many long-time supporters that have given us their time and financial support when needed. Below is a list of the top 10 who were sponsors for lengthy and much appreciated periods of time.

Long-Time Supporters: 1985 - present

(alphabetical order)

  1.   American Marketing Group, Inc.: Cicardi A. Bruce - Chairman and Richard T. Pisani - President (1985 - present)
  2.   Small Business Development Center: Ginni Campbell, StL Director and Max Summers, State Director (1987 - 1994)
  3.   Southwestern Bell Corporation ‘External Affairs’: LeRoy Grant, Regional Director (1985 - 1994)
  4.   St. Louis University ‘Center for Entrepreneurial Studies’: Dr. Robert Brockhaus, Endowed Chair (1987 - 1994)
  5.   St. Louis Community College ‘Continuing Education’: Ed Bennett, Managing Director (1987 - 2009)
  6.   St. Louis RCGA ‘Small Business Council’: Richard T. Pisani - Chairman, Small Business Council (1985 - 1992)
  7.   St. Louis County ‘League of Chambers of Commerce’: Vi Smith, President (1985 - 1992)
  8.   St. Louis Data Destruction, Inc. ‘IPSA Licensee’: John P. Walsh, President (2000 - 2006)
  9.   The Pasta House Co. ‘Franchise Division’: John P. Ferrara, President (1985 - 1999)
  10. REK Industries: Ralph E. Kaufman, President (1985 - 1990)
  11. V. Schneider Enterprises, LTD: Vicki Schneider, President (1985 - present)

13) What small businesses have received help thus far?

The SBI ‘Business Client’ list is strictly confidential and is not publicized in order to protect the identity of each and every entrepreneur or top-tier executive that we help…at no charge. Small business owners and their upper-level managers do not want it known to the public, employees, clients, prospects or competitors that they need volunteer support because they were unable to afford professional counseling at any point in their firm’s history. That information could be used by an individual to jeopardize our SBI 'Business Clients' posture in our community, relationship with a customer or position with a prospect and make them seem weak. 

Many times our SBI ‘Business Advisors’ will have meetings with their SBI ‘Business Client’ and one of their customers. When this occurs SBI ‘Business Advisors’ are simply introduced as the company’s consultant or the individuals private business coach and is never told that the service provided is at no charge. SBI goes to great lengths to protect the identity, privacy and confidentiality of our clients and the information we receive from them while serving as volunteers to those for-profit and non-profit organizations who qualify for our support - at no charge.

14) What charities have received help thus far?

Since charities have to be completely transparent to the public due to their IRS status as a not-for profit and disclose IRS tax form # 990, SBI is proud and allowed to list some of the non-profits we have helped. In every community if the U.S. it is a well-known fact that a public not-for-profit charity always needs support, guidance and assistance from many unpaid workers to help their paid staff reach the goal of the charitable foundation...help from volunteers is crucial. 

In most cases, you will find that the charity's event planning 'volunteer committee members' are made up mostly of entrepreneurs and their top-tier executives...they do the actual work necessary to execute the event that will make money for the charity. In return, they get to not only help a worthy cause, but can build new friendships, plus get recognition for their company's product or service that can lead to a new client for the volunteer.

Additionally, you will find that the charity's 'main sponsors and underwriters' are medium to large businesses in the local community that have budgeted funds through their Community or External Affairs department...they write the checks to improve the profit on each event. In return, they receive recognition, which is an indirect form of advertising, institutional marketing and public relations that sheds a good light on their company name in the local community.

Beneficiaries & Recipients: 1985 – Present

[past and current]

(alphabetical order)

  1.    1904 World’s Fair Charitable Foundation*
  2.    Adoption Exchange of Missouri*
  3.    AMC Cancer Research
  4.    American Cancer Society
  5.    American Heart Association
  6.    Boys & Girls Club*
  7.    CHIPS Free Health Care Clinic*
  8.    Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
  9.    Forest Park Flora Conservancy*
  10.  Foundation for Children with Cancer
  11. Heritage League Founders
  12. Home Builders Association Charitable Foundation
  13. Hugh O’Brien Youth Foundation
  14. Institute for Family Medicine
  15. Inventors Association of St. Louis
  16. Judevine Center for Autism
  17. Junior Achievement of Greater St. Louis*
  18. Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation
  19. Kilo Diabetes & Vascular Research Foundation
  20. Lou Brock Scholarship Foundation
  21. Leukemia Society
  22. March of Dimes
  23. Marlin Perkins Society*
  24. Missouri Energy Care
  25. National Alliance on Mental Illness*
  26. Old News Boys Day Foundation
  27. Operation Bright Side – St. Louis
  28. Saint Louis Ambassadors
  29. Salute…St. Louis!
  30. ShowMe Aquatics & Fitness Center Charitable Foundation
  31. Shriners Hospital
  32. www.stl250.org*
  33. Step Up! St. Louis
  34. St. Louis Zoo*
  35. Support Dogs for the Handicapped
  36. Squires & Ladies Charitable Foundation
  37. Racing to Read Charitable Foundation*
  38. Volunteers for People with Disabilities*

  *   Indicates that SBI is currently helping this organization as a sponsor, co-sponsor or committee member supporter.