Running a business is not impossible, but it can be challenging. Good news is you do not have to do it alone. The Small Business Administration Resource Partner Network offers small businesses free and low-cost help and resources.
The SBA resource partner network is comprised of independent organizations funded by the SBA that provide high-quality training and counseling designed to meet the specific needs of small business owners — for free or at a low cost. With over 300 SCORE chapters, 980 Small Business Development Centers, 100 Women’s Business Centers, and 20 Veterans Business Outreach Centers across the country, you’re never far away from SBA-approved experts who can help your business thrive.
In 2021, SBA resource partners worked together to provide small businesses access to $45 billion of capital. Over 26,000 new enterprises were opened with this capital, creating 2.1 million jobs.
SCORE is a large organization with volunteer business mentors ready to help you tackle industry problems. Small business owners and managers will get a lot out of this program since real-world business executives run it.
The flexibility is a perk. Don’t have time to speak with a professional business mentor in person? These volunteers are also available for a video chat or phone call. The workshops are also free, and it costs nothing to speak with a volunteer mentor.
Score Mentors are business professionals with years of expert knowledge. They work with you to build a solid business plan and check in frequently.
If you are lucky enough to live near a small business development center in your local area, you can enjoy the small business resources and tools at your disposal. Unlike the SCORE mentors, these centers run low-cost mentorship programs.
It is a valuable resource if you can find one near you because it connects you to other like-minded business people and entrepreneurs. You can look up a small business development center near you by typing your zip code into the search bar here.
It is more challenging for women to start and run their own small businesses. In 2021, the Biz2Credit Women-Owned Business Study found that women-owned enterprises generated an average profit of $88,995.
This was much less than both the average profit for firms owned by males in 2021 ($136,147) and the average profit for businesses owned by women in 2020 ($119,654). However, you do not have to feel alone when running a business as a woman. These business centers offer free mentorship programs, counseling, and referrals.
Veterans have always been a driving force in American entrepreneurship.
However, there are fewer veteran-owned firms now. Compared to 49.7% of WWII veterans and 40% of Korean War veterans, only 4.5% of post-9/11 military veterans have gone on to launch a business.
There isn’t a lack of motivation behind the sudden fall in veteran business ownership. 26% of veterans indicate they are interested in starting their own business. Veterans, however, encounter many problems when trying to launch a business, from knowledge limitations to funding issues.
Thankfully, Veteran business outreach centers exist. This business center’s strength is that it can help you as a veteran learn valuable tools and tricks to landing a competitive government contract.
Other noteworthy SBA programs
With so many SBA programs in its resource partner network, it’s hard to choose just one. A few notable mentions are the SBA learning platform, boots to business, and THRIVE. The SBA learning platform transforms lives as it is an online free tool that is easy to use. It is a learning center that is entirely online and accessible to small business owners. You can take courses in planning, launching, managing, marketing, and growing a small business.
Another unique and worthwhile SBA program is Boots to Business. At Boots to Business, transitioning service members can take B2B and B2BR business courses. B2B: Revenue Readiness was created in partnership with Mississippi State University. Active and transitioning military members can start with a free, two-day, in-person course.
THRIVE (Train. Hope. Rise. Innovate. Venture. Elevate) is an executive-level training series for small businesses that want to grow and thrive. This SBA program is challenging to get into, but it is worth it! You need to have your own small business with at least $250,000 in revenue, have at least three years of running the business, and employ at least one person, not including yourself. The program lasts six months, and it is completely free!
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