So, you’ve decided you want to start your own business. You have a novel product to sell or an expert service to deliver. You’re sure of your abilities to produce products or deliver services. But you’re a little intimidated by the other rolls you must learn as a small business owner: salesman, marketer, accountant, human resources manager and more. Luckily there are a number of excellent resources for beginning entrepreneurs to learn the ropes of owning their own business. Among the wide array of resources available, the two that are most constantly cited by small business owners as the best available are the United States Small Business Administration and local Chambers of Commerce.
The Small Business Administration has offices in most parts of the country. Although getting face-to-face assistance has become a bit more difficult in recent years due to budget cuts ordered by the Bush administration, the Small Business Administration also has a website packed with helpful information, forms, tutorials and online courses. Small business owners can count on the Small Business Administration for accurate information on laws affecting small businesses, tax and social security information and small business statistics.
The Small Business Administration’s sister organization, the Service Corps of Retired Executives provides mentoring and in-person courses for small business owners. The Service Corps of Retired Executives was created by a group of retired executives from large corporations who wanted to continue using their business skills after retirement to mentor small business owners.
Local Chambers of Commerce are another excellent resource. Chambers of Commerce typically serve two functions: Promoting the business climate of the area to outside investors and serving as a networking hub for existing businesses. However, due to the rise in entrepreneurship, many Chambers of Commerce are beginning to offer seminars to start up business owners including marketing, bookkeeping and other topics. They may also offer special networking events geared toward new businesses just getting started.
Once you get your business started, there is no better resource for networking than your local Chamber of Commerce. The annual fee is typically modest and covers your attendance at more functions than you could possibly find the time to attend. For example, the Chamber of Commerce in West Palm Beach, Florida offers networking breakfasts, lunches, cocktail hours and dinners. They also offer special networking events targeted at certain business sectors, sponsorship of corporate events and a member directory with advertisements from their membership.