When you’re ready to start a small business, you may be bursting with excitement and energy, imagining the end product or the day your entrepreneurial acumen is rewarded. But before all of that, you have to get started — and sometimes that can be a little more daunting in practice than it is in theory.
Fortunately, there are numerous resources available for small business owners that can demystify and simplify the process. Experts weigh in with advice for how to get help with your bold new business idea.
There are a lot of organizations and entities already in place that want to help you, such as the Small Business Administration (SBA), a government-run organization, said Edward Mellett, co-founder of WikiJob.co.uk. “The SBA gives a number of suggestions for saving money to start a business including: reduce your credit card debt; request a lower interest rate from your bank; set up an automated savings account deduction…” and more.
The SBA can support small businesses in a number of ways, including: providing different kinds of financing, including microloans; free job and business counseling and low cost training; government contracting in certain industries; and through policy advocacy.
Additionally, you can visit Grants.gov to search for grants that might apply to your business idea.
Not all advice has to come at a price. Score.org is an organization that connects new business owners with volunteer business mentors for free, said Erin Lubien, host of “The K!ck*ss Podcast.”
“I recommend finding a SCORE mentor and checking out the resources there. Their retired business owners and consultants help those launching their own business. It’s only a matter of time that you are organized, held accountable to your goals and promises and off and running.”
Sometimes the best resource is other people, be they business owners with companies like the one you plan to start, or people who have years of experience regardless.
“Invest time to build your networks. It’s not what you know but who you know,” said Daniel Foley, CMO of Scooter Guide. “Networking allows you to build relationships with other people and encourage them to refer customers to you through word of mouth.”
You can take that even further by thinking about ways to give back to your community, he said. “Building brand awareness in your social community is a magnificent way to draw new business.” He recommends sponsoring events or participating in community activities.
Angel Investors and Venture Capital
If you’re still at the stage of raising money to get started and you’re not interested in, or can’t get, a bank loan, Chris Taylor, marketing director of Profit Guru, suggests looking into angel investors and venture capital investors.
“High-growth firms or organizations with good cash flow are the greatest candidates for venture capital and angel investing,” he said. “To attract their funding, you’ll need a unique idea and a great company plan.”
According to Legal Zoom, some strategies for winning angel investors, include:
- Prove that you have past success
- Show that your product or service is in demand
- Impress with the size of your market segment
- Be transparent about debts, problems and concerns
Incubators and Accelerators
Incubators and accelerators do not have anything to do with babies or cars — they are terms for financial and business support that can be offered to new businesses with a good chance of success, said Kevin Mercier, founder of Travel Blog.
“These organizations provide a full range of services, including connections, legal services, intellectual property and management training.” In them, business owners work with mentors to receive training provided by the accelerators in exchange for an equity stake in the company, he said. There can, however, be steep competition for these, and the application process may be lengthy.
There is a difference between these two kinds of programs, however, according to MassChallenge.com. Incubators are typically geared more toward startups, with the intent to help you build a company from the beginning and help you at every stage along the way.
Accelerators, on the other hand, are there to support companies that already have a “minimum viable product” grow and expand into a successful company.
Sometimes corporations offer funding for small businesses, particularly if it aligns with their businesses. Jon Buchan, CEO of Charm Offensive, said that Goldman Sachs, for instance, offers affordable loans to small businesses that do not qualify at traditional credit sources. It may be worth looking for other opportunities like this, as well.
Program for Veterans
If you are a veteran of the U.S. military, you can take advantage of a host of government available services for starting a small business through the SBA and the Government Services Exchange.
US Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency
Minority-owned firms that are looking to expand into new markets may be able to find support at the MBDA business center. They can offer support around gaining funds, becoming competitive in winning contracts or identifying strategic partners, to name a few.
Ultimately, if you keep your eyes and your doors open, are willing to ask for help and have the patience and persistence to put yourself out there, you will probably find more help than you know what to do with.
More From GOBankingRates