We all need help sometimes and there are many great resources out there to do just that. There has been a lot of attention on small business recently and it is for good reason. The SBA reports that small businesses make up of all U.S. firms. Check out some other small business numbers they’ve reported below.
It’s no wonder there has been a large amount of focus on helping our small businesses succeed. The SBA and other state and federally funded projects have been around for years, but we are starting to see more and more entrepreneurial organization pop up in our local communities. Each one has its focus and you can typically find one that will help you in the area you need help with.
I’ve been doing business in my community for almost a decade now and I just recently started finding out about all of the wonderful resources that small businesses have available to them. I’ve talked to other business owners about these resources and many of them had no idea they existed. When I do meet some owners that have utilized such resources, they go on to tell me the story of how some benevolent person helped them in some way or another. They refer to these people as their mentors who helped them negotiate a lease or get a loan to operate. They are the people who steered them in the right direction and helped them maintain focus.
The idea of a mentor was something I had always dreamed of, but had no idea how to get one. I thought it was just going to be a chance meeting that would turn into mentor/mentee relationship if either I asked or they offered. It turns out, there are resources that do exactly what I was looking for. The Service Corp of Retired Executives (SCORE) is a free volunteer based mentorship program that is supported by the SBA. All you need to do is peruse the member bios in your area to find the one that could help you the best.
Your local Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is another great resource available to you. This is a program initiated by the SBA that provides business advising at no cost. They can help you with almost anything like building a business plan to market research and marketing. If they can’t help you, then they usually know someone who can. They typically have branches throughout each state and you can usually find a counselor close to you.
We have many entrepreneurial organization in my area that might not be available in yours, but Startup Weekend and 1 Million Cups are national and international organizations. Startup weekend is a 54-hour event where entrepreneurs with all different skillsets come together and “share ideas, form teams, and launch startups.” 1 Million Cups has weekly meetings where two local entrepreneurs have an “opportunity to present their startups to a diverse audience of mentors, advisors, and entrepreneurs.”
Get involved in some of your local business organizations. They may be hard to find if you don’t know what you’re looking for, but start somewhere and you can usually find what you need just by asking other members of this community. I’ve come to learn that it can be a powerful community that can be leveraged to help make connections and gain access to tried and true skills that have a positive effect on your business.
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