10 resources to help launch your small business
When thinking of starting a business, many budding and established entrepreneurs look for advice and information online.
Those who haven’t ventured into entrepreneurship have likely still heard how challenging it can be to run a business—1 out of 5 don’t make it through their first year. Despite living through a nearly three-year pandemic, the U.S. hasn’t given up on its entrepreneurial spirit. In fact, 2021 saw a startup spike with approximately 5.4 million new business applications filed in 2021 compared to 2020, when approximately 4.4 million applications were filed.
As the country emerges from the pandemic, small businesses seem poised to embrace new opportunities. Simply Business compiled a list of tools that can help entrepreneurs launch their small businesses using research from a variety of sources, including government programs and nonprofit organizations.
SCORE is a nonprofit network of volunteer mentors for small businesses and a resource partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration. SCORE offers free virtual summits, one-on-one mentorship, and volunteer opportunities.
To get connected, entrepreneurs can sign up for emails or follow SCORE on social media to learn about upcoming in-person workshops and roundtable discussions.
Small Business Development Centers
Small Business Development Centers help to promote business growth by providing counseling, funding, and training to small businesses. This is done working with the SBA to develop informational tools to support business startups. These centers also offer specialized programs for entrepreneurs who are minorities, women, or veterans.
City, county, and state governments
Local governments generally have programs or agencies that can be beneficial to small business owners. Utilizing these resources—which may offer free, educational virtual seminars—could make starting a business easier. For businesses looking for funding to expand to other locations or seeking to purchase new equipment, local governments can assist with this as well.
Local chamber of commerce
The local chamber of commerce includes local businesses within a specific industry and can help companies by providing resources, networking, and promotional opportunities. Members of the local chamber receive benefits for their businesses—which can include customer referrals, visibility within the community, and membership newsletters.
For business owners, networking is often important, as it’s a way to meet new people and make valuable connections. Joining a professional organization can also grant access to exclusive events, help business owners gain more insights and knowledge into their industry and other industries, and help to foster collaborative efforts. Business associations or organizations can also provide additional financial and emotional support for entrepreneurs along their journey.
IRS Small Business Center
Business owners can take advantage of the IRS Small Business Center, a hub for small businesses and the self-employed. The IRS Small Business Center can help entrepreneurs navigate complexities related to taxes. Information such as reporting returns for a company, filing past due tax returns, and reporting payments to independent contractors is also available.
Online business profiles
Registering a business on platforms such as Google My Business, Apple Maps, and Yelp can help businesses to be easily searchable and gain more online visibility. Google My Business is a free service where businesses can register their company phone number, address, and other details, which would also appear on Google Maps.
Apple Maps allows businesses to claim and register their company location, which is accessible to smartphone users who frequently utilize navigation apps. Yelp can be beneficial to business owners in receiving customer reviews, monitoring performances at a glance, and responding to customer messages quickly.
The federal government offers a range of funding options for small businesses such as contract opportunities, grant programs, and loans. Grants are available to new companies as well as businesses that have existed for years. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), an independent agency of the federal government, assists businesses with obtaining loans that may require lower down payments and flexible requirements; for some loans, collateral isn’t needed.
Getting a small private business loan can be a time-consuming process as paperwork such as personal and business bank statements and income tax returns is often needed. Private loans are not usually given by banks but by other lenders, which are helpful for potential business owners to know if they are eligible in meeting a lender’s qualifications. Small business loans can help fund efforts such as hiring employees, marketing, and new research.
There are several types of small business loans including the Paycheck Protection Program, which requires businesses to be in existence prior to Feb. 15, 2020, and to have 300 or fewer employees. There’s also the accounts receivable financing loan, which grants a business instant access to available cash, depending on the level of funds that are receivable as interest rates vary.
Small business credit cards
Business credit cards tend to offer perks and rewards that may compete with consumer credit card benefits. Oftentimes, interest rates for business expenses accrued on business credit cards are tax-deductible.
Freelancers and those who are self-employed—as well as those with “side hustles”—can also benefit from small business credit cards. For people interested in possibly taking out a business loan in the future, establishing a business credit score separate from their personal credit can certainly help.