2 Valuable Places to Find Free Information You Need to Start a Business

The adage “knowledge is power” applies to those starting a new business. After all, the more a business owner knows, the less likely they are to make mistakes. However, for someone starting a new business, it can be challenging to figure out where to gain that knowledge. If that describes you, this article will point you to the people and organizations you should know.

1. Small Business Administration

The Small Business Administration (SBA) is like one-stop shopping for the emerging business owner. Created in 1953, the SBA is an independent agency of the federal government. It was designed to assist and protect the interests of small businesses.

If you’re just starting out, the SBA can help you with everything from how to fund your business to the research you need to do if you want to be competitive. Here’s just a taste of what the SBA offers entrepreneurs like you.

The SBA’s Business Guide covers practical tips for running your business, including:

  • Business taxes
  • Business insurance
  • Applying for necessary licenses and permits
  • Hiring (and managing) employees

The goal, of course, is to put money in your business checking account while conducting business ethically and legally. The SBA can teach you the ropes.

The agency also provides information for funding your business, including:

  • Ways to self-fund your business
  • How to work with investors
  • How to take out small business loans

There are no federal grants available to start a business, making it doubly important to understand your other sources of funding. If you want to take out an SBA-guaranteed loan, this agency can help you understand how the process works.

2. Service Corps of Retired Executives

The Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) is a resource partner of the SBA. Through its network of 10,000 volunteers, SCORE has provided free mentoring and education to current and aspiring entrepreneurs since 1964.

Are you worried about starting a business while trying to save for retirement? A SCORE mentor can explain your options. Wonder how to attract talented employees? Your SCORE mentor has undoubtedly been down that road.

As questions arise, you have access to someone who either knows the answer off the top of their head or knows where to find the answer. Better yet, you may meet with a mentor one on one or in small group sessions. The beauty of meeting with a small group of like-minded entrepreneurs is hearing questions and answers that may have never occurred to you. Plus, there’s something comforting about knowing people on the same path as you.

Here’s how finding a SCORE mentor works:

  • After logging into the SCORE website, you enter your ZIP code in the box provided and complete the mentoring request form.
  • Or, if you’re seeking specific expertise (such as expert advice on opening a daycare, pet store, or online business), you can use the Mentor Matchmaker. Mentor Matchmaker focuses on what you need and helps you locate an expert based on that need.

Once you’ve submitted a mentoring request, you’ll receive an email from your mentor scheduling an appointment. Appointments can be accomplished by phone, video conference, email, and in person.

What’s even better is that there’s no expiration date on the mentorship. You can work with your mentor (or mentors) as often as you need, for as long as you need. Mentorship support is available for all stages of your business, from starting the enterprise to selling it or retiring.

As you prepare to dive into the role of business owner, you’ll find many organizations that are happy to provide you with assistance – for a price. The truth is, with SBA and SCORE, there’s no reason to pay less experienced organizations for support available to you for free.

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