Running a small business can be overwhelming. There is no one to guide you, no one to tell you what you need to be doing each day. It’s up to you to make the right decisions to keep your business afloat.
Whether you have a one-person micro-business or you’ve already hired a small team of employees, you’ll benefit from these resources. In fact, you’re missing out on excellent opportunities for growth if you fail to take advantage of them.
1. Small Business Administration
No matter what stage you’re at with your venture, the Small Business Administration (SBA) can help. The agency is committed to seeing entrepreneurs succeed.
It’s worth spending some time on the SBA website to see what’s available to you. Just a few free resources include:
- Advice for creating a business plan
- Free business consulting
- Small business loans
- Technical assistance for companies that want to sell to the government
- Training and business development services
2. Service Corps of Retired Executives
The Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) is run by the SBA, but it’s important to merit its own place on this list of small business resources. It is made up of a network of more than 10,000 mentors, all of whom work on a volunteer basis. SCORE is currently offering remote services, allowing you to receive support over email, phone, or video chat.
In addition to finding a mentor, you can use SCORE as a resource hub. It has webinars (you can attend live or watch recorded versions) and interactive courses on numerous topics that are useful for small business owners.
3. Small Business Development Center
One more specific resource offered through the SBA is the Small Business Development Center. Each state has its own, which offers a different selection of services. These can include checklists, business advisors, training, and events.
4. Google My Business
Improve the chance potential customers will find you through search with a Google My Business account. It’s fast to set up and enables you to appear on Google Maps, receive reviews, and post photos of your business. You’ll also receive some basic analytics about what actions users are taking when they find you. Best of all, it’s completely free.
5. Keyword Planner
Google has another way to help you improve your SEO for free: its Keyword Planner. Although this is technically for ads, it also works well for organic search — and will save you shelling out on an expensive tool.
6. Website Grader
To make sure your website is optimized in other ways, it’s worthwhile using the Website Grader from HubSpot. All you need to do is input your URL and email address and the tool will provide you with a score. You’ll also receive feedback on how to improve your website — all at no cost.
7. Yelp for Business Owners
Users look for business reviews on more places than just Google. For instance, a top platform if you’re in the service industry is Yelp. With Yelp for Business, you can set up your business listing and add accurate information about your business. As well as receiving reviews, you’ll be able to respond to any messages users send you through the platform.
In addition to the free version, there’s a paid version with additional features. This is worth considering if you want to stand out on the site, improve the look of your business page, or add a call to action button.
8. Constant Contact
Email newsletters need to be part of your digital marketing efforts. Manually sending emails quickly becomes unmanageable as your list grows. A much better option is to use a service like Constant Contact. This offers integration with social media, commerce, and events. It also provides you with templates for your emails and offers A/B testing to allow you to continuously improve your newsletters.
If you want to network with small business owners but are unsure where to go, try Meetup. The platform has countless groups for entrepreneurs, women in business, and ideas exchanges. You’ll almost certainly be able to find something nearby — but you could also search anywhere in the world if you’ll be attending online. Some events have a fee to attend, others are free.
10. Trade Associations
Another way to network is through a trade association. Although you will have to pay to join, you’ll receive extra perks with your membership, like information about the latest trends, compliance guidance, and training opportunities.
11. Chamber of Commerce
It’s worthwhile looking into joining your local chamber of commerce or finding one for your industry. With thousands around the country, most people will have a choice of several.
A chamber of commerce will give you access to a network of business owners, resources to learn more about small business basics, and special discounts. In addition, you’ll find that being a member of a chamber of commerce improves your image to potential customers.
Be aware that most chambers of commerce charge a fee of a few hundred dollars a year. It’s important to do some careful research to make sure you’ll benefit before you commit to joining.
You may be able to avoid taking out a small business loan by raising the money you need for your latest project on a crowdfunding platform. A top choice is Kickstarter, as it is specifically for venture capital and you’ll only receive the funds if you meet your campaign target.
Small businesses need to create many contracts and other legally-binding documents. You could ask your business lawyer to create all these, but you’ll end up spending hundreds. A better option is Docracy. The website has free documents for all sorts of situations. With hundreds to choose from, you can find the exact document you need for your situation.
SmallBusinesses.org supports everyone from entrepreneurs to owners of established businesses. It has a variety of information to help you with every step of your business journey, including starting a company, financing, and management.
15. Small Business and Self-Employed Tax Center
In addition to the forms you’ll need to file your taxes, you can find information about running a business at the Small Business and Self-Employed Tax Center. This is a section of the IRS website. It is easy to navigate, with subheadings like preparing your taxes, filing/paying taxes, and stages of owning a business.
16. National Association for the Self-Employed
If you define your company as a micro-business, the resources from the National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE) will be hugely useful for you. In addition to how-tos, you can receive tangible benefits by becoming a NASE member, including legislative advocacy, college scholarships for your dependents, and discounts on things like home office insurance, credit cards, and legal help.
17. Home Business Magazine
A top place to go for tips on running a business out of your home is Home Business Magazine. The website has information for every stage of running a business — including advice for would-be entrepreneurs who are still on the fence about starting a business at all.
18. Community Colleges
If you’re looking to expand your team but your budget is tight, a top place to find potential talent is your local community college. In addition, forming a relationship with a community college can be great for your business — you may be able to send employees there in the future for training or you could even be invited to speak to business students.
19. A Virtual Assistant
In the case that hiring another employee is not feasible at the moment, a better option is a virtual assistant. VAs are no longer just for big businesses — in fact, they are in huge demand among small business owners, as they provide you with the exact services you need on demand. The advantages of a VA over an employee is that you can request just the hours you want and there’s no need to provide the person with office space.
Of course, you’ll see the best results from your virtual assistant if you find someone who already understands the challenges small businesses face and knows what kind of support you need. At MYVA360, we have a whole team of virtual assistants for small businesses. They have worked with countless professionals in the past, helping small business owners to run a successful company.
We’ll match you with someone who possesses the business know-how you need, whether that’s through administrative support to help you eliminate monotonous tasks or expertise in an area like team wrangling, website maintenance, or campaign management. Check out our packages to choose the number of hours and extra perks you want.