As an entrepreneur or small business owner, it can be a challenge navigating the complex world of business development and funding. Between finding trusted resources, exploring loan options, and kickstarting your business dreams, it can be difficult to gain any momentum if you are tackling every factor impacting your business alone.
Fortunately, you don’t have to fly solo the entire way. Over the years, other entrepreneurs have paved the way and written down their wisdom, government agencies have established programs to support small business owners, and community members have founded nonprofits to nurture businesses along their path to success. Thanks to these entities and the wealth of information centralized on the Internet, small business owners have never had more options and more readily available access to resources to grow their businesses.
There are numerous resources available to small business owners and entrepreneurs to help them start and grow their businesses. Whether it’s counseling and training services, financial assistance, networking opportunities, or market research, there are organizations and programs available to help businesses succeed. In fact, many of these resources are free, an added bonus for your business budget.
As a digital marketing agency, we’ve partnered with dozens of entrepreneurs and small business owners over the last decade, so we’ve learned which resources have been the most helpful (and which ones haven’t) for our clients. Below, our Big Storm team has compiled a list of organizations and forms of support that offer support to small businesses in the United States. By taking advantage of these resources, you can learn more about the different types of support out there so you can overcome challenges, achieve your goals, and thrive in today’s competitive business environment.
Before Diving In: Evaluate Your Options & Budget
It’s important to note that while these small business resources can be incredibly helpful, it’s also essential to do your due diligence and carefully evaluate each opportunity before committing to anything. It’s crucial to research and compare different options, read reviews and testimonials from other business owners, and talk to trusted advisors and mentors before making any decisions. Additionally, it’s worth noting that while some of these resources are free or low-cost, others may come with a price tag. You should carefully consider your business’s budget and financial needs before committing to any paid services or programs.
Tried-and-True Small Business Resources
The SBA is a government agency that provides counseling and training to small businesses through its district offices across the country. Business development specialists offer free and low-cost services to entrepreneurs and small business owners looking to start or grow their businesses. This business resource is best for a wide range of business owners, from those who have yet to start a business to entrepreneurs seeking a $5 million loan to buy real estate.
Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) are hosted by leading universities and state economic development agencies. These centers help aspiring entrepreneurs realize their dreams and help existing businesses remain competitive in a complex, ever-changing global marketplace. SBDCs are best for existing companies looking to get to the next level.
Procurement & Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs) provide local, in-person counseling and training services designed to assist businesses that want to sell products and services to federal, state, and/or local governments. PTAC services are available either free of charge or at a nominal cost. This resource is best for business owners who wished they knew about such services before they started on the arduous journey of selling products and services to the government.
The United States Export Assistance Centers (USEACs) are staffed by professionals from SBA, the Department of Commerce, the Export-Import Bank, and other public and private organizations. Together, their mission is to help small and midsize businesses compete in today’s global marketplace by providing export assistance. This resource is best for entrepreneurs with their sights set on the global stage, as it offers valuable guidance and resources to help businesses navigate the complexities of exporting.
Certified Development Companies (CDCs) are nonprofit corporations certified and regulated by the SBA. They work with participating lenders to provide financing to small businesses. There are 270 CDCs nationwide, covering specific geographic areas. CDCs are best for existing business owners looking for debt financing to buy capital equipment, another company, or enter new markets.
Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) are private financial institutions that are 100% dedicated to delivering responsible, affordable lending to help low-income, low-wealth, and other disadvantaged people and communities join the economic mainstream. Visit the CDFI Locator to find a CDFI near you.
Your local or regional chamber of commerce is a member community organization that actively facilitates, educates, and advocates on behalf of its members through various services and programs. Chamber member offerings typically include networking opportunities and events, educational seminars, leadership development, and special offers to chamber members from other chamber members. This resource is best for companies interested in local networking and business development. It is also helpful for companies interested in local networking and business development.
The Veterans Business Outreach Program (VBOP) is designed to provide entrepreneurial development services such as business training, counseling, mentoring, and referrals for eligible veterans owning or starting a small business. The SBA has 16 different organizations participating in this cooperative agreement and serving as Veterans Business Outreach Centers (VBOC). This resource is best for veterans who want to start a business or need assistance managing and growing an existing business.
An excellent local business resource, Prospera Business Network helps support businesses in southwest Montana, especially those in Gallatin and Park Counties. A non-profit organization, Prospera’s goal is to help small businesses launch their dreams. They focus on building the local economy, which, in turn, grows a thriving community.
The Women’s Business Centers (WBCs) represent a national network of nearly 100 educational centers throughout the United States. This organization supports women in launching and growing businesses. They are particularly helpful in encouraging women who are economically or socially disadvantaged. Additionally, they offer business training and counseling for women who are starting a business for the first time or who are hoping to expand the business they have.
SCORE is a nonprofit organization that offers counseling, advice, and mentoring services to small business owners. With more than 13,000 volunteer business counselors across the United States, SCORE provides valuable support to startups during their first two years of operation. The organization offers training and guidance to help businesses avoid the common mistakes that can sink new companies in the first 24 months.
12.) Public Library and Research Librarians
Public libraries and research librarians offer a wealth of information and business resources to entrepreneurs and small business owners. Libraries can provide expert industry market research to help businesses better understand their market and competition, while research librarians have access to databases and research reports that can help businesses make better decisions, faster. And if you cannot find what you are looking for at the public library, IBISWorld is a great place to do industry market research. They provide reports, statistics, analysis, data, trends, and insights.
Boost Your Small Business’s Digital Presence with Big Storm
Now that you’re equipped with the resources you need to thrive, it’s time to partner with a digital marketing agency who can take your online game to the next level. Big Storm is a data-driven marketing company that aims to be transparent, genuine, valuable, and profitable in the work that we do for our clients. We’re driven to create impactful results for our clients, whether it’s a sleek website layout designed to convert leads or a PPC campaign geared to boost your sales. If you’re ready to partner with a team dedicated to helping you succeed, contact us today.