5 Free Resources to Help You Grow Your BusinessRieva Lesonsky
Every year, the Small Business Administration (SBA) holds National Small Business Week to honor and celebrate outstanding small business owners from all 50 states and US territories. This year, National Small Business Week runs from April 30 to May 4, highlighting the contributions that entrepreneurs make to our nation's economy. Take advantage of the free, three-day virtual conference May 1-3—it features webinars targeting small business owners on topics such as marketing, financing, HR and more.
In honor of National Small Business Week, we've put together a roundup of some of the best free resources available to help you grow your business.
1. Small Business Administration (SBA)
The SBA is the federal government agency devoted to small business owners, and its website is a great starting place for all kinds of small business information and guidance. For example, you can learn about business financing and find business loan sources in your area, or find the SBA District Office nearest you for in-person assistance. The SBA also works with a variety of local partners, including Women's Business Centers (WBCs) to help women business owners, Veterans Business Outreach Centers (VBOCs) to help current and former members of the military, and Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs) that help small businesses learn how to compete for federal, state and local government contracts.
The Business section of USA.gov offers a variety of government resources, including information on importing and exporting, an introduction to federal government contracting, and information about small business financing. You can also use the State and Territory Business Resources tool to find information about regulations, business resources and small business financing opportunities in your area.
I know it's hard to think of the IRS as a helpful resource, but as a small business owner, you'll need to stay on the right side of tax law, and there's no better place to go for tax information than directly to the source. At the IRS’s Small Business and Self-Employed Tax Center, you can find all kinds of information to guide you through your tax responsibilities. Take a Virtual Workshop on small business taxes that explains the basics of federal tax obligations, or attend one of the many live tax workshops and events the IRS across the country. Finally, one of the most useful tools for a small business owner is the IRS Tax Calendar. Subscribe to reminders or import it into your own online calendar so you never miss a tax payment. For National Small Business Week, the IRS is offering daily free webcasts for small business owners, so be sure to check them out.
The nation's largest network of volunteer, expert business mentors, SCORE has more than 10,000 mentors in more than 300 chapters nationwide who volunteer their time and experience to provide free advice and consulting for small business owners. SCORE mentors are current or former business owners themselves, so they bring a wealth of insight and experience to helping your business grow. Just go online to get matched with a SCORE mentor (or mentors) with the particular expertise you need, from online marketing to accounting. You can meet with your mentor in person at your local SCORE office, or if your ideal mentor isn't located nearby, talk to them via video chat or email. In addition to mentoring, SCORE has a vast library of free small business resources such as templates, e-books and checklists, and offers live and recorded webinars, interactive online training courses, and in-person local workshops on a variety of small business topics.
5. Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs)
There are about 1,000 SBDCs nationwide, providing free business consulting and low-cost training to startups and existing business owners. SBDCs are typically located on college campuses or hosted by state economic development agencies and private sector partners. At the SBDC in your community, you can get help with everything from legal and employee management issues to online marketing and finding financing. Similar to SCORE, you’ll be assisted by current or former business owners and professionals, such as attorneys and accountants, who know small business concerns from the inside out.
There are so many great resources to help your business grow! Take advantage of them and who knows: You might just be one of the entrepreneurs receiving honors at next year's National Small Business Week.
(Disclosure: SCORE is a client of my company.)