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Resources: Where to Go When You Have Questions

Starting a business can be a fun, exciting journey — and one that will leave you with lots of questions. Your team of professional advisors will be invaluable to you, but an abundance of other kinds of resources also is available. These offer a wealth of advice. Some online resources include blogs that give you insight and encouragement from professionals in the business world.

Small Business Development Centers

Small Business Development Centers, operated nationwide by the Small Business Administration, or SBA, offer diverse help and guidance to small business owners — and most services are provided free of charge. This one-stop resource can be your go-to guide throughout the life of your small business. Find help writing your business plan, learn about getting business loans, take online training courses and much more. Go to to learn about Small Business Development Centers and the types of assistance available through the Small Business Administration.

Small Business Development Centers can be found in all 50 states. The SBA web site can help you find the Small Business Development Center nearest you. If you do not have an office near you, it may be worth a trip or phone call to go the closest office for assistance.

Small Business Development Centers can assist you in securing a loan from the SBA or your local bank. They are familiar with all the forms required for loans and can help you fill them out.

The SBA web site also offers specific guidance for women in business through its Women’s Business Centers. The centers provide help to all kinds of entrepreneurs, whether they are just starting a business or have a thriving business that is expanding. The centers’ services include training courses on practical skills that entrepreneurs need, such as understanding business financial statements. Although their services are for all women, Women’s Business Centers are particularly geared toward female veterans, Native Americans and women who socially and/or economically disadvantaged. Learn more about Women’s Business Centers at

In addition to the SBA, many web sites offer such as these listed below offer useful information, support, and practical advice for small business owners.

Business Advice and Resources — The IRS web site has a section devoted to small businesses. You can apply for Employee Identification Numbers at The IRS site also has links to various forms you will need, helpful publications about taxes and business structures, and advice about starting a business. These include: 583, “Starting a Business and Keeping Records”) (Publication 1779, which defines an independent contractor versus an employee) (Publication 334, “Tax Guide for Small Business”) — SCORE “Counselors to America’s Small Business” is a nonprofit association dedicated to educating entrepreneurs and helping small business start, expand and succeed nationwide. Working and retired executives and business owners donate their time and expertise as business counselors. The SCORE web site offers free services including mentoring, workshops and more to help you learn how to run your business. Their assistance is available to businesses that are just starting and to businesses that are established. — The Better Business Bureau evaluates businesses and charities. Research businesses and charities to find out about their reputations and whether they have any complaints against them. This can be especially useful when you are trying to learn more about a business to buy or you are researching a home-based business opportunity. The BBB also issues up-to-date consumer warnings about scams and offers some advice for small businesses. — is a destination site for small and growing businesses. It focuses heavily on information about business trends and advice on a wide range of topics to help business owners. The site includes more than 250 downloadable legal forms, including those you need for starting a business, starting a corporation, hiring, firing and more. — offers start-up and small-business entrepreneur information, services and expert advice to ensure business success. The site includes extensive information on starting a business, management, business opportunities, franchises and home-based businesses. — Toolkit describes itself as total know-how for small business. It provides small-business owners practical information, services, news, sample documents and software tools to help start, continue and expand a successful business. - Features news and trends about small business, first-person success stories from entrepreneurs, advice for successfully building a small business, columns from business bloggers, and more. — This site says it reviews, screens and recommends “best of breed” business services and products for all your business needs. It offers many links to resources about technology, business funding, marketing, services for small businesses and much more.

Government Sites — The Federal Trade Commission’s purpose is to protect consumers. This site includes up-to-date information on job and business scams. If you request a copy of your credit report by mail, you must include a form with your request. The form is available for download at the Federal Trade Commission’s web site at

Credit/Finance — You can get a free copy of your credit report every year at this site. — CDFIs help by offering various financial services, including basic banking for individuals and funding for small businesses. Many of these services are geared for those with lower incomes. To find organizations in your state that are certified CDFIs, go to this site and click on CDFI info.

Home-Based Businesses – This site encourages home-based business owners to create a “life plan” as well as a business plan to help them find a home-based business that fits their lifestyle. The site also provides practical advice for starting a business.

Social Media Resources

Social media can be an effective, low-cost way to get to know your customers and promote your business. See Chapter 8 for a detailed explanation of these popular social media sites.

Other sites online can help you maximize your use of e-mail and social media. — Save time by using HootSuite to update information to multiple social media sites at one time. — Manage e-mails to your customers and more with this service, which is free if your lists include less than 500 customers. — This social network allow business owners to promote their business by uploading pictures, writing blogs, publicizing events, creating coupons and newsletters, and connecting with other merchants, all free of charge. - Features daily updates about trends in social media, plus tips for effectively using social media sites in business.

Online Magazines— helps start-up and small-business entrepreneurs with public relations, crisis management, strategic marketing, employee retention, cash planning and business plans. They also have a “matchmaking” feature for those who provide services and products and those who are looking for the same. — This site is filled with articles directed at the serious small-business owner. It features many interviews with business experts, how-to’s, venture capital sources, chat sessions and management and marketing information. — The Home-Based Entrepreneur’s Magazine covers every facet of the growing, dynamic home-based business market. Its cutting-edge editorials on business operations, sales, home office, franchising, business opportunities, network marketing, mail order and the Internet help readers select and manage a home-based business.

Employee Issues — The United States Department of Labor site gives you an overview of information that will affect you if you have employees, and also includes resources specifically for small businesses.

Trade Show Information

Revisit these sites — and others you discover that are helpful to you — on a regular basis. As a small-business owner, you need to stay informed about laws and regulations that affect your business, keep up with changing technology, and more. Although you may feel you have no extra time after you open your business, it is important to continue your research so you are aware of issues that face your business and industry. If there are trade magazines dedicated to your type of business, read them regularly. Look for organizations in your state that are dedicated to helping small businesses and subscribe to their newsletters or visit their web sites.

When You Run a Business, Ask for Help When You Need It

When you own a small business, don’t be afraid of making mistakes — the key is to learn from them. It is vitally important to be able to look at your work and the decisions you have made and determine what you did wrong, as well as what you did right. Failure in one area likely won’t ruin your business if you learn from your mistakes. Take responsibility for your errors, and make an effort to correct them. Blaming the economy or a lack of opportunities won’t help you fix your mistakes. What did you do to overcome the economy or to make new opportunities? Once you know what doesn’t work, you are that much closer to determining what will work and will make your business succeed.

When you run into difficulties, knowing where to go for help is essential. The resources in this chapter might help you, or you may need to consult with your professional advisers to work through mistakes or problems. This may be especially true if you feel like your business is growing too slowly or you are wondering whether it will be profitable.

If your business is not growing at the pace you expected, set yourself some time limits, such as another 90 to 120 days. If your business does not improve, give it another 30 days and use that time to decide what changes you’ll need to make to be successful. If you are working full-time on your business, do you need to make it a part-time business? Do you need to get a full-time job until your business is growing more?

This is the time to talk to your team of professional advisers. Ask their advice about what else you can do to help your business earn income. Always carefully monitor the health of your business. Don’t let yourself get into a situation in which you lose everything because you got into too much debt opening and running your business, and then didn’t earn the revenue to pay back the debt. It’s OK to scale back your business — or decide not to continue it — because you don’t want to go further in debt.

This is your business, and you make the decisions about how much risk you are willing to take.

“Stand up to your obstacles and do something about them. You will find that they haven’t half the strength you think they have.” - Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, minister, author, and founder of Guideposts magazine




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