Owning a small business doesn’t mean having to operate with limited expert resources. From federal government websites to local entrepreneurs willing to donate their time to help you build a brighter business future, the right advice, and plenty of it, is available for the asking.
Free Small Business Advice for the Asking
Take a look at SCORE – A free small business and advice source, SCORE has provided support and encouragement to 8.5 million small businesses. You don’t have to wade through indexes of puzzling online content, either. SCORE has an interactive online site as well as 350 local offices across the U.S. You can also participate in free online webinars. If you prefer a hands-on approach, local workshops are also provided in many areas. Need tips from leaders in your industry or want to know how pending laws will impact the future of your small business? Sign up for the SCORE e-Newsletter.
Visit the Small Business Administration (SBA) – The SBA offers online resources as well as local assistance and training to small business owners. If you need management assistance or want more information about starting a business, the Small Business Development Centers (SBDC), part of the Entrepreneurial Development’s network of counseling services and training resources, can help.
Small business tax advice – You may have discovered some of the benefits of visiting state and federal Internal Revenue Services (IRS) websites. These online pages are totally free and include more valuable information than you might think. They offer self-directed training and advice workshops, live chat, and industry specific tips and tricks. You can obtain guidance in understanding the complexities of deductible expenses and also navigate your way to the appropriate downloadable forms you need. Before you stumble through tax preparation on your own, or resort to paying someone else to do it for you, check out business.gov and follow the links to tax help and training.
Try your local Chamber of Commerce – You don’t have to search very far to find advice. There are probably free or low cost options in your own community. Advisory match programs are sometimes offered by your Chamber of Commerce or via local library sponsors. There may be qualifying criteria, like being a woman or minority owned business, for some types of programs.
Check out your school system – If you have a good network of post-secondary educational resources in your area, you may be able to net lots of free advice and even some structured classes or one-to-one mentoring through an outreach program from a local university or community college.
These programs are often staffed by experienced, volunteer professionals who donate their time to help small business owners succeed. If you haven’t taken advantage of these resources to obtain business intelligence, now is a great time to learn a few new strategies and develop valuable relationships in the process.