One of the toughest aspects of being a small business owner is the isolation. Next time you feel like there’s no one you can turn to for advice, check out one of these organizations. They’re some of the best places I know to get help achieving your entrepreneurial goals.
Small Business Administration (SBA)
This federal agency provides access to capital, entrepreneurial development and training, assistance with federal contracting and more. Through its resource partner organizations, including SCORE, the SBDC Network, Women's Business Centers and Veterans Business Outreach Centers, the SBA helps entrepreneurs start, run and grow their businesses. There’s also an online Learning Center where you can take entrepreneurial education courses[GK1] .
Related Content: SBA Loans & Financing from Bank of America
With more than 10,000 volunteers in 300 chapters nationwide, SCORE is the country’s largest network of volunteer, expert business mentors. Since 1964, SCORE has helped more than 10 million entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. SCORE offers both in-person and online mentoring by current and former business owners and executives. Entrepreneurs can also take advantage of free educational resources including live and on-demand webinars, interactive online training courses, in-person local workshops, and free business tools.
Small Business Development Centers (SBDC)
SBDC advisors provide aspiring and current small business owners with free business consulting and low-cost training services including business plan development, manufacturing assistance, financial packaging and lending assistance, exporting and importing support, market research help and more. There are hundreds of SBDC locations nationwide, typically located on college and university campuses.
Women’s Business Centers (WBC)
There are more than 100 Women’s Business Centers throughout the United States and its territories seek to level the playing field for women business owners. Women can receive training and counseling on a wide range of topics to help them overcome the unique obstacles they face in starting and growing their businesses.
Veterans Business Outreach Centers (VBOC)
Transitioning service members, veterans and military spouses who want to start, buy or grow a business should check out the Veterans Business Outreach Centers. Located nationwide, the offices provide transition assistance programs including Boots to Business and Boots to Business Reboot; resource referrals; and business development assistance such as training, counseling and mentoring.
National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO)
Founded in 1975, the National Association of Women Business Owners represents over 10 million women-owned businesses nationwide. With chapters across the country and members from all industries, NAWBO works to strengthen the wealth-creating capacity of its members and promote economic development. Members benefit from a library of resources; networking opportunities; and the NAWBO Institute Virtual Platform, which facilitates best practice sharing, communication and education[GK2] .
Related Content: Learn about Bank of America's partnership with NAWBO
The National Minority Business Council (NMBC)
The NMBC offers minority business people business assistance, educational opportunities, seminars, purchasing exchanges, mentoring, business listings, procurement-related events and opportunities, and more.
National Black Chamber of Commerce (NBCC)
The largest black business association in the world, the National Black Chamber of Commerce is dedicated to economically empowering and sustaining African-American communities through entrepreneurship and capitalistic activity. It has more than 200 chapters in 40 states and 50 countries. Members include businesses of every size and industry, state and local chambers of commerce, and trade and professional associations. Benefits for members include corporate and federal procurement sessions, networking opportunities, publications, access to international trade missions, and an annual convention.
Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO)
This elite organization is open to owners, founders or majority stakeholders of businesses earning at least $1 million in the most recent fiscal year. With 173 chapter locations in 54 countries and more than 12,000 members, Entrepreneurs’ Organization promotes both global and local networking. Members have access to executive education and mentorship programs, local, regional and global events, and virtual learning tools.
With so many entrepreneurial assistance organizations out there, there’s sure to be one (or a few) that appeal to you. Have you worked with any of these organizations? What did you think?
*(Disclosure: SCORE is a client of my business.)
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.
Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.
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