While sometimes running a business has its challenges, realize that you are never alone. There are numerous small business resources — many of them free — designed to help business owners like you through education, mentoring, and financial assistance. Here we look at five to consider.
1. The Small Business Administration
The Small Business Administration, or SBA, is a government organization that helps entrepreneurs in several ways. It provides:
Access to capital
Government contracting assistance
Advocacy, as a voice for small business
The SBA website provides ample articles of use to small business owners, as well as free templates like business plans and contracts. Locally, the SBA probably has a branch near you. Its small business development centers, women’s business centers, and veteran’s outreach business centers are free resources you should take advantage of.
While there are many small business websites online, not all address the topics you care most about. BizLaunch offers free business webinars on topics like cash flow management, social media marketing, and SEO. The site also offers a well-written blog, videos, and business templates.
3. Small Business Development Centers
An offshoot of the SBA, there are thousands of Small Business Development Centers across the country. Each has its own offerings, but typically provide in-person counseling, workshops, classes, and online tools. Most of these are free, while others are low-cost. Find a SBDC location here.
Another organization supported by the SBA, SCORE offers similar small business services, including one-on-one mentorship in various aspects of running a business, workshops, counseling (online and in person), and online articles. Most major cities have a SCORE office. Click here to find a chapter.
5. Various Websites and Blogs
We’d be remiss if we didn’t at least try to make a dent in the hundreds of useful small business websites and blogs that provide hands-on advice by leading small business experts. Small Business Trends is one example. It’s prolific blog content covers every topic from marketing to management to technology, and has well-respected writers. AllBusiness is another blog with informational articles for startup founders and entrepreneurs.
If you want franchise-specific content beyond what we offer here on Franchise Direct, The Franchise King blog is a good place to start. And here’s one final list of 51 free resources for small business. On it, you’ll find stock image sites, resources for business ebooks, website building tools, and productivity apps.
Whatever you’re struggling with in your business or want to know more about, there’s a small business resource to help.
Susan Payton is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, a marketing firm specializing in content writing and social media management. She’s written three business books, including How to Get More Customers With Press Releases, and frequently blogs about small business and marketing on sites including Forbes, AllBusiness, The Marketing Eggspert Blog, and Tweak Your Biz. Follow her on Twitter @eggmarketing.