Posted by Lisa Amstutz on Monday, February 2, 2015 - 07:30 | Follow me
Whether you’re looking to launch a small business or expand your existing one, it’s likely you’re going to need financing along with great employees to see your vision come to fruition. Here are seven resources that provide information about small business finance and other options that can help you determine the best approach for your venture:
- BusinessUSA.gov: BusinessUSA is a one-stop platform designed to make it easier for businesses to learn more about government resources that can help them start or grow a business. The site features an Access Financing Wizard, which is a guide to small business finance resources. BusinessUSA provides information on other business topics as well, including taxes and credits, and tips for starting a business.
- Small Business Lending Fund (SBLF): The SBLF was established by the Small Business Jobs Act, which President Barack Obama signed into law in 2010. According to the U.S. Department of Treasury Resource Center, the SBLF is “a dedicated fund designed to provide capital to qualified community banks and community development loan funds (CDLFs) in order to encourage small business lending.” Access this online map tool to find lending institutions in your area that participate in SBLF.
- U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA): The SBA does not make direct loans to small businesses, but it does set the guidelines for loans made by its partners, including lenders, community development organizations, and microlending institutions (lenders that make loans in small amounts). The Finance Your Business page on the SBA site is a good starting point for determining SBA financial assistance eligibility, as well as estimating startup costs and assessing the fiscal fitness of your small business.
- SCORE Association: For more than 50 years, nonprofit association SCORE has been “helping small businesses get off the ground, grow and achieve their goals through education and mentorship.” Visit the Finance & Money page on SCORE’s website to read up on small business finance topics ranging from taxes to accounting basics to budgets to money management. SCORE is supported by the SBA and has more than 11,000 volunteers in its network; mentors offer free and confidential advice to association members, including financial guidance.
- National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB): This nonpartisan, nonprofit, small-business advocacy association has more than 350,000 members (small and independent business owners) across the United States. The NFIB’s Finance and Accounting website offers news and tips on small business finance.
- Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA): An agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, MBDA helps minority-owned businesses find access to “the capital, contracts, and markets they need to grow.” The MBDA maintains a Financing Your Business website with detailed information on business finance basics, credit analysis, choosing an accounting method, and more. It also provides links to other resources on an array of small business finance-related topics, including grant and loan information.
- American Express OPEN Forum: This advice-sharing platform geared toward entrepreneurs and operated by American Express includes an extensive section devoted to the topic of money. Members of the OPEN Forum share tips on everything from how to fund a growing business to understanding small business taxes to managing cash flow.
Staffing considerations: Attracting the right people to your new or expanding company is as important as obtaining the necessary financing. But many small business owners wonder how they can compete for talent with companies two and three times their size. The key is stressing your strengths to potential employees by playing up your small company culture, including a better work-life balance, a family atmosphere, an easier route to advancement and a history of helping good employees to grow quickly.
These are just a few resources to help you jump-start your small business launch or expansion. Don’t forget to reach out to trusted contacts in your professional network for advice. Also, look to state and local resources, such as economic development agencies and chambers of commerce. Consider reaching out to credit unions and community lenders as well.
Hiring for your small business? See this post for tips. Also, visit Robert Half’s Small and Mid-Sized Business Resources Center to access a range of business resources that can help you recruit, retain and motivate your team.