Starting a business is a big leap from the security and comfort of a 9-5 day job into the stressful unknown. According to a report by Lending Tree, which used data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as much as 20% of businesses close up shop after the first year of launch. That’s a staggering number, which can easily deter any aspiring entrepreneur from trying. Fortunately, you don’t have to be another casualty in this statistic. Given the right resources, you can minimize the risk and avoid the mistakes that entrepreneurs make. Here are six resources to check out:
Small Business Association Website
The Small Business Association is an independent organization of the US government that offers support to small business owners. The SBA runs various lending programs, including the 7(A) Loan Guarantee Program and Disaster Loan program, all of which are designed to provide a financial boost to eligible applicants. The SBA also runs various entrepreneurial development programs around the country, 900 center sites to be exact. The sba.gov website also has resources explaining how to apply for grants and loans and what type of business to declare your business as, e.g. sole proprietor, C corporation, or S corporation.
Local SMB Development Center
Every state has its own small business development center that services residents of the state. These development centers offer services for people who are planning to start a business or have recently started one. These places also provide support for established businesses. Your local SMB development center will typically offer advice on various aspects, including cybersecurity, business resiliency, disaster assistance, etcetera. These services are provided in-depth and on a one-on-one basis. All information is confidential and the session is provided at no cost.
SCORE is one of the country’s largest networks of volunteer professional business mentors that can help you in whatever stage of the process you are in, whether you’re trying to launch a new idea or take your business out of a sales slump. SCORE is a non-profit organization that works in partnership with the SBA. You can get mentorship from a SCORE mentor in one of their 250 local chapters around the US. They also have a variety of webinars and courses on demand readily available on their website.
As the name implies, Bplans helps entrepreneurs create effective business plans through its extensive library of business plan templates. The website is a good resource for a wide range of technical topics, including SWOT analysis, cash flow forecasting, investor pitch guides, and more. Bplans also has a wealth of information published by the organization’s chairman and founder, Tim Berry. Following his blog, you can learn about how to create a proper financial plan, how to write an executive summary and more.
Post-it notes are archaic and simply inefficient by today’s fast-paced standards. A very simple yet also useful resource are apps that let you manage your tasks at least a little bit easier. Evernote lets you save and manage notes, images, URLs, and ideas as they pop up. As a business owner, you absorb a ton of information and encounter constantly moving variables every day. Apps like Evernote help you manage this important but exhausting part of being an entrepreneur. All the information you save on Evernote is kept on the Cloud, so you can easily access it from anywhere, anytime.
Market research is an important stage in starting a business. Knowing which market or industry is underserved means that you can find where the opportunity lies. Google Trends gives you a deeper insight into what consumers are searching for online. Since search engines, like Chrome, are where consumers go to search for products/services, you can determine whether or not your business idea has merit and if someone is actually willing to pay for your product/service.
The modern entrepreneur is inundated with information. For whatever topic that you might need to research on, there are resources readily available at your fingertips. That said, it’s important to understand that not all resources are created equal. Some will give you a better roadmap for starting a business than others. The resources aforementioned in this article will help you build a solid foundation for your business.