Small businesses play an important role in the United States by creating over 50% of the private jobs and by infusing hundreds of millions of dollars into our country's economy. And while several small businesses are being honored this week during the Small Business Administration (SBA) National Small Business Week for their achievements and great contributions to their respective communities, the truth is a significant amount of small business owners are facing challenges that seem insurmountable and many are struggling to make good decisions for their businesses to survive.
Lack of capital is often cited as the main reason for a small business failing. While cash is vital for success, from my interactions with small businesses across the country in my workshops, one-on-one meetings and keynotes, many small business owners are unsure how to handle tough problems because they lack vision and do not have a written plan on achieving their business goal.
With free and low cost resources as shown in the list below, small businesses can obtain assistance in creating cash flow projections, developing growth plans, receive training or simply request a retired executive to lend an ear and practical advice.
To encourage those small business owners to continue to reach for their dreams (#DreamSmallBiz) by tapping available help, below are the top seven resources to help conquer small business problems and grow
Small Business Administration - The SBA is a no cost and valuable resource which is funded through your federal tax dollars. Under the leadership of Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet, the SBA has elevated its game in providing information on how to obtain financing, in educational development and with one-on-one counseling. For more information, visit www.sba.gov.
Chambers of Commerce - Chambers of commerce have been around for centuries and started in the United States in the mid 1700's. Chambers are comprised of large to small businesses and have a focus on developing and promoting the interest of their business members. There are chambers of commerce for women owned businesses, for Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, and Transgender owned business, Asian owned businesses and for many more types of businesses. Chambers offer a wealth of information, business connections and other benefits for small businesses. To locate a chamber of commerce in your area, visit www.officialusa.com/stateguides/chambers/
Peer-to-peer Learning Programs like the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses offer small business owners with a safe environment to share and get ideas on tackling problems and creating a written 3-year growth plan with a clear vision to propel small businesses to next level. This is a proven model that has shifted many small businesses from the brink and this program provides a plethora of networking with other Goldman Sachs 10,000 small business cohorts across the U.S. For more information, visit www.goldmansachs.com/citizenship/10000-small-businesses/US/
Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) - When corporations like ConstantContact.com started and eventually grew their business by learning from the resources of retired experts and then developed a strategic partnership with SCORE then it behooves other small business owners lacking the understanding on the components of business to use this valuable resource to help mold your small business's success plan. For more information, visit score.org.
Three other resources include the following: Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTAC), Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) , and you can contact your local City and State Small Business Departments for assistance in tackling problems. In Houston, small businesses can visit the City of Houston Office of Business Opportunity Solutions Center.
If you are a small business with a testimony from working with noted resources or you work at a small business resource provider and have other tips to assist small businesses that are facing challenging problems, please comment below or connect with me on Twitter.