One of the most wonderful aspects of living in the United States is the level of freedom that allows its citizens to become whomever they want. People from all over the world long to come to the US so they can open a business, work hard, and have a chance at becoming successful and living a better life.
But when people have skills and want to open a business related to the skills, they very often do not have any idea on how to start or run a business. Where does a future business owner go to learn about starting or running a business? Who can they turn to? Because the United States is the land of opportunity, and we all want businesses to thrive here, there are business resources available to help entrepreneurs succeed in business.
The most obvious and appropriate place to start looking for help with a small business would be the Small Business Administration (SBA). This is a government agency, and should not be confused with SBA.com, a private business resource website that will be discussed later in this blog.
SBA.gov focuses on SMBs, also known as small and medium-sized businesses. SMBs have several classifications, but they typically have 500 or fewer employees in a manufacturing capacity, 100 or less in a wholesale trade company, and 10 or fewer employees in small offices.
The business guide for SBA.gov provides useful business resource information such as how to plan, launch, manage, and grow your business. They also provide information on funding programs including loans, grants, investment capital, disaster assistance, surety bonds, and more. If you’re interested in federal contracting, SBA.gov offers the best methods to win government contracts, getting certified, and how to get an edge over your competitors by using their development programs. There are also actual human beings to provide live counseling and help to those who are unfamiliar with or new to federal contracting.
One of the most useful departments of the SBA.gov is the Learning Center. Their goal is to empower and educate small business owners, and they offer courses to help you throughout the complete journey of starting a business and making it successful. Courses include planning (how to research, plan, and document ideas), launching, managing day-to-day operations and more, marketing (strategies and competition), and growing your business with instructions on funding, finding, and dealing with customers, and selecting locations for your business.
The Learning Center at SBA.gov also offers a women-focus section called “Ascent for Women“, a free online learning platform for women to assist with starting and growing a small business. In addition, this section offers business resources including exercises, tools, testimonials, infographics, guides, videos, and more.
In addition to funding information including grants and loans, SBA.gov has an excellent counseling service where a business owner can get advice from real business experts from partnering organizations.
SBA.com is a small business-related website that is independently owned and operated and is completely separate from SBA.gov or any other government affiliation. They offer a wealth of information dedicated to finding and running the business in addition to general business resources. On their website, you can find legal resources (trademarks, contracts, patents, tools & templates), business funding information (SMB loans, credit cards, special interest loans, government loans), and how to run a business (trademark info, patent info, payroll management, etc.). You can also find information about licenses and permits in any state, and you can find local business resources information with just a ZIP Code.
SCORE is a nonprofit organization that is a resource center to the Small Business Administration (SBA), and it also has a team of more than 10,000 volunteer business mentors available to help businesses “survive—and thrive—through any crisis.” Through mentoring and education, SCORE is dedicated to helping start businesses, grow those businesses, and meet and hopefully exceed their goals. One great aspect about SCORE is their services are free!
The volunteers at score will confidentially meet with people in person, or by email, phone, or video. They have over 250 local chapters throughout the US, and they provide support and advice for those needing business-related assistance. They have experts, in whatever field matches your business, who will meet with you and use their own years of experience to guide you toward an optimal solution for your business.
SCORE not only offers advice, but they also offer on-demand free webinars, courses, recordings, and online workshops that cover every business-related topic imaginable. You can learn about startup strategies, marketing, finance, loans and grants, online marketing, corporations, and just about anything else you would want to learn to help improve your business.
SCORE’s extensive collection of e-guides, templates, checklists, blogs, videos, infographics, and more are all resources available in the library to help small business owners and entrepreneurs successfully operate their businesses.
Through SCORE’s social media channels, business owners can not only being supportive and motivational content from business professionals, they can also receive emails, read blog posts, and have access to other resources. It’s also a good platform to have discussions with other business professionals and learn of local events in one’s area to attend a free or low-cost workshop in person.
Other Business Resources
There are many resources on the Internet for business owners, and one good one is Yelp for Business Owners. They offer free tools to showcase your business to the Yelp community and have resources to engage in new and existing customers. Yelp has 77 million unique visitors each month, so it obviously is a resource worth considering. They claim their businesses see a 9% increase in revenue for every new star the business earns.
MOZ Academy usually charges for their courses, but they are currently offering their courses for free due to the pandemic. You can learn about keyword research, SEO fundamentals, and how to audit websites. Google’s Digital Garage offers free digital marketing resources and is a good place for beginners to dive into the business world.
Hubspot, SEM Rush, and Constant Contact are other good and reputable resources for online education, certificates, and courses that cover an expansive variety of topics and issues facing business owners. Currently, there is even free open courseware being offered by the king of technical colleges, MIT. That is an attractive offer.
We live in a time where so much information is available and accessible. Anyone running a business or picking about starting one should check out one of these incredible business resources that are available online. Practically anything business-related can answer through one of the websites listed here.