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We live in a digital world, which, in many ways, makes it easier to run a business. Whether you live in a major city chock full of resources dedicated to small businesses, or you live in the middle of nowhere with not so much as a post office nearby, you still have access to some pretty amazing online small business resources.
Below, find some of the best resources available that can provide you with information, contacts and knowledge to boost your business:
If you want to find a mentor…
Having connections with more established professionals in your field can provide you with someone to bounce ideas off of (especially useful for us solopreneurs), and can help you grow your network. A mentor often fits the bill.
SCORE, a nonprofit dedicated to helping small businesses grow, can connect you to a mentor in your industry for free. If there’s not a match in your geographic area, you can get a video mentor to connect with from anywhere.
SCORE also offers workshops, webinars and courses on demand and they are always free.
If you want to access more buying power than your small business has…
Try the National Federation for Independent Business (NFIB), an organization that seeks to help small businesses through advocacy, collective buying power and education. Becoming a member of NFIB will automatically get you a discount on health and personal insurance, financial services and business products and services that you couldn’t get for your business on your own. Since there are over 300,000 members, there is collective buying power that can save your company serious cash.
In addition to the perks of membership, the NFIB’s website keeps tabs on policies in Washington DC that pertain to small business, as well as provides ample articles, videos and webinars on all aspects of running a business. You don’t have to be a member to access this wealth of information, either.
If you want info on women-owned businesses…
Start with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). It has a portal dedicated to women who run companies, which includes informative articles, links to find a local Women’s Business Center, and details on what it takes to qualify for the Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSB) Federal Contracting Program. Even if you’re not sure if that program is right for you, this website will educate you on the many benefits and walk you through the process of applying, which could end up with you winning government contracts you wouldn’t have been eligible for otherwise.
If you need money..
Again, the SBA is the place to turn. Its Loans and Grants portal will educate you on your financing options, show you what programs you’re eligible for and help you check your credit to prepare to apply for a grant or loan.
You can also find SBA-approved lenders and grant programs here, as well as information on other types of financing, like venture capital and research grants.
If you want to sharpen your overall business skills…
There are many websites dedicated to the entrepreneur (including StartupNation!). A few sites and blogs to add to your reading list for topics related to marketing, management, growth and sales include:
If you need resources to improve your marketing game…
HubSpot is the best place to start. Its Marketing Library is constantly updated with ebooks, webinars and toolkits on subjects like increasing your blog readers, writing better content and learning SEO, all of which are free. HubSpot also offers business stock photos, infographic templates and SEO templates to help you with your marketing.
Social Media Examiner is another great marketing resource, particularly related to social media. In addition to data-rich blog content, the site regularly publishes detailed social media reports and statistics. If you’re willing to travel, SME hosts many summits, shows and conferences that will fill your brain with so much marketing knowledge, your head will spin.
If you’re looking for next-level marketing with a bit more technical component to it, check out QuickSprout. Each blog post is in-depth and full of real-world examples to illustrate a lesson, and yet, none of them are overly complicated to follow and apply.
These are just a few of the myriad of small business resources to be found online. It’s worth the effort to spend an hour or two every week perusing these sites to sharpen your skills in order to make yourself more competitive in your industry. You’d be amazed at what a little bit of reading and learning can do for your business!