Many small business owners do not have a background in business…many come from other walks of life and at some point decide to start their own venture. While it is true, some can be successful and others may not be, it is still important to know where you can turn if you have questions that only professionals can answer. If you have a concern or a problem in your business, it’s best to try and hit it head on rather than not doing anything because, quite frankly, you may not know what to do. When in doubt, do not be afraid to use these resources:
- Small Business Association: located locally here in Buffalo, with an office at Buff State College, they provide mentorship and guidance from the bottom up. Whether you just have a business idea or you have already been up and running for a number of years, they are there to help you succeed. The best part: their services are 100% free. There are many familiar faces over at the SBA and many times business owners prefer to stick with who they know and who they had worked with previously. Take advantage!
- SCORE: Take a look at http://www.score.org. SCORE offers free advice to small business owners. SCORE is broken down into multiple categories so you can contact the right expert for you: whether you are in a retail based industry or a service based industry, you will be able to find someone in your line of work that you can connect with for specific questions and answers. This is a national website with leading industry professionals from all over, so even though you make not be able to speak to them face to face, e-mail and phone calls can get the job done.
- Lawyers: I cannot say this enough: Good legal help is imperative to the growth and development of your business! Find your self a lawyer that you are comfortable with, can be honest with, and he/she is honest with you. Your company’s lawyer will be your backbone. Not only will he/she be able to set up your business, but it is a great resource to use when legal or even out of the ordinary questions arise.
- IRS.gov: answer all your tax related questions here! Let’s face it, your annual taxes will be much more difficult than doing your residential taxes. Consider hiring a CPA to minimize errors and mistakes. Also check out this website for any questions regarding taxes, collection of sales tax, e-filing, etc.
- Grants: Are they a real thing? Yes they are. but they are not always as lucrative as they sound. Be weary of “federal” grant money that states they can help grow and expand your business. Generally, federal grants are only available for those involved in scientific research and environmental conservation. Grants often come with long term obligations and may require a grant writer. Do your research and talk to your lawyer first!
- Networking: Even though you may lack the time and the energy to attend a networking event, try and make it to atleast a 2-3 per year. Whether you join your local chamber of commerce or decide to network with people on a national level, you will have made connections that can last a lifetime. And lets face it: it never hurts to know someone in the industry. Sometimes you meet people that are happy to offer advice and sometimes you meet people in the media etc. You never know what you will need in the future!
Thanks all for reading. Blessings!