Have a great idea for a business, but not sure if it’s a viable option? Need help developing a business plan so that you can apply for grants or loans to turn your dream into a reality? There are many free resources available to help individuals who are interested in opening a small business or need assistance growing it to the next level.
Public libraries are a great resource for the budding entrepreneur. Many community libraries have dedicated small business centers or business librarians to help you use the databases and other resources available. These materials are free and generally only need a library card for access.
For example, the Denver Public Library has a program called BizBoost which allows entrepreneurs to schedule a free 30-60-minute appointment with a business specialist. The library has database subscriptions that provide consumer demographics and market research for various industries. Another relevant database is the Business Plans Handbook, which provides real-life examples of how to create your own business plan.
The US Small Business Administration (SBA) is an excellent source of information for entrepreneurs. Their website has information on funding sources, choosing a location, registering a business, and applying for licenses and state or federal tax IDs. The SBA also explains how special programs for women, veterans and small businesses provide an advantage in winning federal and state contracts.
In addition, there is a network of local SBA offices to provide more hands-on assistance. For example, the Colorado Small Business Development Center Network has 14 full-time centers and more than 70 part-time offices throughout the state that offer counseling, events and training opportunities. They publish the Colorado Business Resource Book, a guide to doing business in Colorado, which provides small business tips and best practices. The guide can be viewed online or downloaded as a PDF. SBDCNet is a clearinghouse that provides market research reports and updates on business and industry trends in the U.S. to help with your planning.
The SBA also supports the SCORE Association, which is a nonprofit organization of thousands of volunteer business counselors throughout the U.S. and its territories. SCORE members are trained to serve as free counselors, advisors and mentors to aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners. They offer free webinars and courses on demand for small business tips and strategies in addition to individual mentoring.
Make your dreams of business ownership a reality by taking advantage of the many resources available to entrepreneurs. And, if you need more assistance along the way, Access/Information has extensive experience providing customized, in-depth market research tailored to specialized industries and locations.