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Where to Find Smart Business Startup Advice

Key Takeaways

  • The SBA, SCORE, and local Chambers of Commerce provide free resources for small business owners.
  • You could have a one-on-one conversation with a SCORE mentor who has experience in your particular industry or interest.
  • Networking can be impactful and should be taken seriously.

Startup? Growth? Transition?

No matter what phase your business is in, knowing where to quickly turn to find actionable small business resources is invaluable.

You may be relieved to know there are at least a handful of trusted resources you can access from just about anywhere.

If you’re searching for ways to make connections and get quick guidance, check out some of these time-tested organizations:

Small Business Administration (SBA)

Created in 1953 as an independent U.S. federal government agency, the SBA exists “to help Americans start, build, and grow businesses.” The SBA provides information about business loans, grants, and taxes, plus guides to walk business owners through essential beginning steps, such as:

  • How to create a business plan
  • How to calculate startup costs
  • How to choose a business structure

Because the SBA is directly associated with the U.S. government, particular attention is paid to business legal and tax implications. Search by your business’ geographic location to be sure you are doing everything necessary to meet those compliance standards in your area. In the meantime, get free advice on everything from registering to selling your business.

Service Core of Retired Executives (SCORE)

SCORE is a supported branch of the SBA made up of retired, high-profile executives from all industries and specialties. Many of these volunteers are experts in their fields, so you can set up an appointment with a lawyer, accountant, marketing or hiring pro – pretty much every area of business is covered.

These volunteers give free, one-on-one advice to business owners (or even those with a business idea) who wish to set up an in-person meeting. With a focus on education and mentorship, SCORE helps people…

  • Find and meet a mentor
  • Attend workshops and webinars
  • Discover and use business planning, finance, marketing and sales, and management templates

Collaborating with SCORE is a great way to have a real conversation with a mentor, build your business network, and ultimately make more informed business decisions. 

Other key business resources

As a business owner, networking (like it or not) is impactful. Resources and organizations that provide both step-by-step guides and access to a community of like-minded professionals should be at the top of your list. Consider these:

  • Meetup: Meetup helps you find entrepreneurial groups of all shapes, sizes, and industries. Can’t find what you want? Start one of your own.
  • LinkedIn: Not only may LinkedIn be used as a hiring tool or way to find potential customers, but LinkedIn Groups provide access to professionals in your industry. This lets you share ideas, find answers, and make contacts.
  • Alumni groups: Many school alumni groups or respected university MBA programs offer free workshops, seminars, and networking events. Start with your own school, but don’t be shy to search outside of your immediate network.
  • Chamber of Commerce: As small business advocates, local Chambers of Commerce often host networking and learning events for entrepreneurs.
  • Regional associations: The Small Business Association of New England (SBANE), for example, assists business owners with health insurance plans, supplier matchmaking, and marketing opportunities. Check to see if there’s one near you.

There is no shortage of small business resources available. Do your research, explore, and continue to build your business — smarter.

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