Here at SBS, we often get calls from prospective clients who are at the very first stages of their business development. They are unsure of where to turn for help and stumble upon our website seeking guidance. Here is our to list of top free resources for starting a small business and doing it the right way!
“The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) was created in 1953 as an independent agency of the federal government to aid, counsel, assist and protect the interests of small business concerns, to preserve free competitive enterprise and to maintain and strengthen the overall economy of our nation. We recognize that small business is critical to our economic recovery and strength, to building America’s future, and to helping the United States compete in today’s global marketplace. Although SBA has grown and evolved in the years since it was established in 1953, the bottom line mission remains the same. The SBA helps Americans start, build and grow businesses. Through an extensive network of field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations, SBA delivers its services to people throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, the U. S. Virgin Islands and Guam.”
The SBA is one of the most fantastic free resources for starting a small business. They offer access to capital through business financing, entrepreneurial development, government contracting and serve as an advocate for small businesses. There website is an excellent place to start and we suggest the “Starting & Managing” section as your first stop. It includes answers to common questions like, “How do I write a business plan” and “How do I register my business?”
SBA’s primary 7A loan program helps people who are starting a small business when they can’t get the financing elsewhere. It offers flexibility, longer terms and potentially lower down payments. The 7A loan doesn’t come from the SBA, but from banks. The banks are given a guarantee that SBA will pay some of the loan back if the business defaults on payments. It can help supply funds for startup costs, equipment, inventory and working capital. To be considered eligible, your business must operate from profit, have reasonable owner equity , do business in the united states, and use other financial resources (including personal funds or assets). The SBA also offers low interest disaster loans to help you recover from uninsured or under insured disaster loss.
Another SBA online lending marketplace, SmartBiz, is a leading provider of SBA loans below $350,000. Five banks have partnered with SmartBiz. The online application helps automate applications and partner you with the best bank match. This increases the odds of loans getting approved.
SCORE is a non-profit resource partner of the SBA. They offer free business consulting services to new and aspiring entrepreneurs. They offer a mentor program that gives you face-to-face mentoring with a local volunteer who has experience in starting a small business. In addition to mentorship, they offer workshops in person and online as well as an awesome Templates and Tools section. It has articles on everything from purchasing a franchise to e-mail marketing to ADA compliance laws.
Similar to the resources on the SBA website, georgia.org offers resources specific to registering your business in Georgia and getting the required certifications.
A Note on Bookkeeping
First of all, we highly recommend getting a financial advisory service and bookkeeper to help you keep everything straight. Trust us, it will truly save you time and stress to have a professional helping you keep everything straight , but sometimes you can’t afford that right away. That doesn’t mean you should ignore your books. Learn the basics of bookkeeping to keep the financial side of your business in order. QuickBooks offers a really handy checklist to help you stay on track. (Also, we REALLY recommend getting QuickBooks ASAP).
Other Resources and Articles
We will keep this blog post updated regularly and post any new resources we find here.
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