Launching a start-up and growing an established business are two tall orders, attracting motivated entrepreneurs eager to embrace the challenge of sustained commercial success. As important as it is for this unique group of business visionaries to remain inspired and optimistic about their ventures, passion and perseverance don’t always translate into business acumen.
On top of their personal dedication and discipline, effective business leaders also know when to seek and accept advice and assistance, building business savvy and subsequent success. Whether you’re a budding entrepreneur or seasoned self-starter, valuable small business resources are available, offering various forms of help and guidance.
Community College Small Business Centers
Business assistance doesn’t always originate where you’d expect it to. Among the diverse sources of advice and entrepreneurial insight, US community colleges often maintain small business centers, furnishing valuable resources for entrepreneurs. Most centers are at least partially funded by the government, so the resources run relatively deep for motivated entrepreneurs – deeper than you’d anticipate finding on community college campuses.
Supporting business development is a key government initiative. As part of the national effort to stimulate business opportunity, community college small business centers strive to strengthen local economies and foster healthy growth. It has been shown investing in business education provides strong returns, so centers offer advice for new and established local business entrepreneurs. State resources are often networked across multiple community colleges, and may focus their efforts on startups and early-stage ventures, as well as at-risk and underserved enterprises.
Business training and professional business counseling are mainstay service provided by business centers. The initiatives explore important commercial topics, such as:
- Business Management
- Brand Messaging
- Business Development
- Process Improvement
- Human Resources
Veteran Business Outreach Centers (VBOC)
Backed by the US Small Business Association, Veteran Business Outreach Centers provide small business assistance for active duty service members, veterans, and members of their families. In order to lift veterans and serving members into entrepreneurial roles, the organization focuses on education, financial assistance, and ongoing business support. Programs and services offered by VBOC, aimed at starting and growing veteran small businesses, include:
- Boots to Business
- Business Training and Counseling
- Assistance with Business Loans
- Assistance with Veterans Business Certification
Through training, business counseling, and referrals to resource partners, VBOC helps transitioning service members and veterans, as well as Guard members, reserves, and military spouses. The organization draws from a network of support for military families with business aspirations.
Some of the services provided at Veterans Business Outreach Centers include:
- Pre-Business Plan Workshops – Business development workshops are regularly held at Outreach Centers, addressing self-employment issues head on. The events provide opportunities for veterans to meet one-on-one with expert counselors.
- Concept Assessments – Assessments evaluate each veteran’s entrepreneurial requirements, exploring solutions for common concept concerns.
- Business Plan Prep – VBOCs assist service members and veterans preparing business plans. A well-crafted business plan accounts for every aspect of a commercial venture, providing a summary blueprint of an organization’s goals and the steps required to reach them. Business plans cover legal designations, organizational structure, strategic planning, sales strategies, as well as capital requirements and revenue projections.
- Feasibility Studies – This invaluable step evaluates the overall viability of a business, based on information contained in the venture’s comprehensive business plan. Completing feasibility analysis enables entrepreneurs to adjust the strategic planning section of the business plan, for better results.
- Training and Counseling – Training is specific to each service member’s enterprise, speaking directly to the unique problems facing each owner or would-be entrepreneur.
- Mentorship – Mentors provide ongoing support, as needed. And each venture’s financial statements receive regular review, allowing time to make business plan adjustments.
Office of Women’s Business Ownership
Another vital resource offered by the US Small Business Association, the Office of Women’s Business Ownership (OWBO) enables and empowers women entrepreneurs through various programs. Focused on advocacy, education, outreach, and support, the organization has been working with entrepreneurs since 1979.
The Office provides training and counseling, as well as management and technical assistance, with special emphasis on lifting economically or socially disadvantaged women entrepreneurs. OWBO operates offices in almost every state, as well as coordinating support from thousands of resource partners across the US.
OWBO serves a wide demographic, offering many programs in multiple languages and dialects. Data illustrates that businesses receiving help from the Office fare significantly better than ventures operating without OWBO assistance. With SBA backing, the organization maintains several initiatives striving to increase access to procurement opportunities for women-owned small businesses. And OWBO also has government-partnered programs, providing occasions to increase the prevalence of women-owned business contracts in the public sector.
Robust economic development and strong business environments help individuals and communities thrive, so it’s in everyone’s best interest for small businesses to succeed. To that end, public and private resources are available, assisting entrepreneurs with information about finance, marketing, human resources, and related business subjects. When you need answers, consult these and other resources for advice and assistance you can count on to launch, grow, and protect your small business.