Where to Find The Best Free Resources to Run and Grow A Small Business
Free Business Resources May Be Under Your Nose
According to the Small Business Administration, roughly 50% of small businesses will not be in operation five years after they have started. Though there are many reasons why a small business will fail, often the biggest underlying problem is that the owners do not have adequate access to the resources and information they need when they need them. These fundamental resources include: basic business skills, business financing, and a network of professional advisers.
For new entrepreneurs, starting and running a small business can feel like traveling in uncharted waters. But the truth is you do not need to feel like an island when you go about starting a new business. Chances are that there are many programs and organizations right in your own back yard that can give you the training and resources you need to get your business going on the right foot.
Moreover, the Internet is host to a vast amount of quality free business tools, training, and other resources. You just need to know where to go.
The following is a rundown of some incredibly useful sites and services that any new small business owner should be aware of organized into categories: Local, Offline Resources for Small Business Owners; Online Government Resources for Small Businesses, Non-Profit Organizations, Free Online Business Courses, Other Free Business Tools and Resources for Entreprenuers.
Local, Offline Resources for Small Business Owners
There are numerous government agencies and programs designed to help new small business owners learn the business basics, get access to financing, and network with other businesses, among other things. Do you live near a university or college? Chances are there is a small business development center around the corner. You also may have a local SBA (Small Business Association) office in your neighborhood as well as a branch of the Chamber of Commerce. To find out where the closest offices are, you can do a search via the three following databases:
Open for Business
Online Government Resources for Small Businesses
There are many Internet-based Government resources that can help you better run your business. The problem is you may not even know that they exist. Here are some great Government resources that small businesses should know about:
- Internal Revenue Service Small Business Tax Center. Here you will find all you need to know about filing business taxes including what tax deductibles exist and who can qualify.There are many helpful tutorials and guides that do a pretty decent job of making our complex tax code understandable.
- Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) This Federal agency was established for the encouragement, creation, growth, and expansion of minority-owned US businesses.
- Small Business Association (SBA) The SBA provides a helpful assortment of articles, tools, and programs to help the small business owner start and run a successful business. Make sure that you take a look at their collection of free online courses.
- U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) This site offers a wealth of employment and economic data and statistics.
Non-Profit Organizations Offering Help to Small Business Owners
There are numerous non-profit organizations out there that offer assistance to new small business owners. Many of these organizations target minorities and those building a business within an economically depressed area. Here are a couple of great examples to look in to:
Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI)- The CDFI Fund is a program within the U.S. Department of the Treasury that offers small loans, grants, tax credits, and advice to small businesses located in low-income urban and rural communities across America via its network of community development financial institutions.
SCORE- This non-profit offers a powerful collection of tools and training resources as well as FREE mentoring and counseling. I highly recommend it!
Free Online Business Courses
Do you know that you can get a pretty extensive business education online totally for free? Aside from the training resources mentioned above, check out these amazing online learning opportunities:
- Free Management Library eMBA Courses- This free management and development program is available for for-profit businesses and nonprofits.
- London School of Business and Finance Global MBA- The entire accredited MBA course is available online for free. Learners can sign in via Facebook. Those who want certification can pay retroactively at the end.
- SmallBizU- This site offers several great classes on money, management, and marketing.
- Marketing Resources HubSpot- Hubspot is an authority on in-bound marketing. This site provides a collection of webinars, tools, and other resources on Internet marketing, SEO, blogging, social media and more.
- Businessballs- A collection of learning material on various topics from business management to self-development.
Other Free Online Resources
There are a number of additional places to go online for tools and training. Examples of free resources available to small business owners and entrepreneurs include:
- Buzgate.org- This public service initiative provides an extensive online portal that can help connect you to a vast array of free small business training and services.
- Free templates and invoices- a collection of business forms for self-employed professionals and micro businesses
- Free business forms for small business- Over 75 templates for brick and mortar small businesses
- Free sample job descriptions- A collection of example job descriptions
Free business apps and tools
- Open Office- Full-featured office suite, compatible with all other major office suites including MS Office.
- TurboCASH- A powerful fully-featured, multi-user accounting system.
- Sage Billing Boss- online invoicing specifically geared towards small businesses and freelancers
- Openbravo POS- Popular Point-of-Sale application designed for a wide range of retail businesses.