What is your business support network
There's lots of on-going help available for new businesses, including government departments, financial institutions, business associations and non-profit organizations. Be sure to explore different resources to find what you need to support your business growth at every stage. Ask other business owners for their recommendations on who they have accessed as well.
There are a range of services that you can access, and who you choose depends on your own capabilities and type of business. If possible, choose advisors who have several other clients in your industry because they can often pass along that experience to your benefit. Even better if they specialize in your specific business sector.
- Accountant. This is your go-to person for advice on major financial decisions, tax filing, tax planning, and, eventually, preparing for business succession. While an accountant will charge for their services and advice, it’s usually worth the investment.
- Lawyer/solicitor. This is how you prevent legal hassles down the road. Your lawyer can set up a company for you, draft a sales agreement to use with customers, review your website for legal issues, create contracts for your employees and help you to protect your intellectual property.
- Business advisors and coaches. A business advisor is someone who will answer general business questions for you. A business coach will work with you to set business goals and encourage you to achieve them. Ask your colleagues for a recommendation.
- Industry groups. You may want to join an association that represents your industry to stay on top of industry news and regulations, and to connect with your peers. Industry groups also provide professional development and learning opportunities for members.
- Chamber of Commerce. Your local Chamber will host business networking events, seminars, workshops, award dinners and other activities designed to help business owners learn and connect with each other.
- Management consultants. These are typically category-specific advisors brought in to help you address a challenge.
- Business Mentors. A business mentor may be an experienced businessperson you’ve recruited to guide you through the process of starting and growing your business. You may find a business mentor through your local business media, Chamber of Commerce, business support group or professional network. Consider signing a mentor agreement to commit both parties to the process, establish the time commitment and define responsibilities.
- Business banker. Remember that your banker will have a wide range of business experience that you can call on to help when starting your business.
Small Business Development Centers (SBDC)
A helpful resource for new and existing small business owners, your local Small Business Development Center provides business support.
Key support elements include:
- Advice from business advisors on various business topics, including marketing, finance, human resources and operations.
- Research and analysis services to help you conduct market research, feasibility studies, business development strategies and industry studies.
- Affordable workshops, conferences, and special events designed to teach practical, hands-on small business management skills.
There are hundreds of SBDC locations throughout the US.
Funded by the US Government, SCORE is a non-profit dedicated to helping small businesses by offering free mentoring, workshops, events and content to help you start and grow your business. Other resources include:
- A resource library full of great links to content rich websites.
- SCORE Women which provides support education and fellowship for female entrepreneurs.
- A range of success stories profiling local businesses that have succeeded.
Useful business websites
There is plenty of support information online for your new business.
The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) offers a wide range of business services including advice, financial expertise, support and a powerful voice in government.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offers business counselling, learning opportunities, business resources and funding programs to support new and existing small businesses.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website provides tax information for businesses, including filing taxes, record keeping responsibilities, hiring employees and opening business tax accounts.
Spend some time online to research these resources and discover others. Check out local business organizations and services available to help your new enterprise grow. Read trusted business publications for a source of growth strategies, business tips and inspiration.
Before you join any association or group, ask to attend as a guest to see if the organization can bring value to you and your business. Ask experienced small business owners to recommend resources they used to get started. Attend local (and virtual) business conferences and trade shows to discover additional resources to support your business journey and build your business network.
Finally use social media to follow trusted business advisors, organizations and associations.