Helpful Resources for Small Business Owners

  • May 29
Helpful Resources for Small Business Owners

One of the major struggles for small business owners is finding appropriate resources to help establish a strong foundation for growth. But knowing the avenues available for startups and SMBs might make the difference for long-term sustainability and success.

That’s why we’ve taken the opportunity to put together a short list of great resources small business owners need to know about. That way, you understand exactly where to turn for help with various aspects of your organization.

So, whether you’ve just started planning to open a new business or have been working for years to keep yours afloat, check them out.

10 Great Resources for Small Business Owners

1. Small Business Development Centers (SBDC)

Essentially, Small Business Development Centers work in cooperation with the Small Business Administration to assist small businesses in local contexts. This often includes counseling services and different training opportunities geared toward start-up and expansion.

Most SBDCs specialize in various areas like marking, finances, organization, and even feasibility studies. Although special programs also help address more specific needs such as technical assistance, international trade, and rural development.

In order to find the nearest center, you can use the tool provided on the SBDC webpage and enter your zip code. Based on the results, you should find that center’s website, contact information, and directions. That way, you know exactly how to get in touch and learn about the services they provide.

For example, the Oklahoma District SBDC offers valuable resources such as:

  • Various funding programs
  • Counseling services
  • Certification options for federal contracting
  • Disaster recovery aid

Of course, the exact services might differ from one center to the next. But the best way to know how your business can benefit is by checking out your area’s primary office.

2. LinkedIn

Although not nearly as formal as other official organizations, LinkedIn represents another great resource for small business owners. At the very least, the platform helps individuals and businesses connect to form a larger network of partners. After all, it primarily serves as a social media platform.

However, LinkedIn also offers a learning center where you can gain a better understanding of industries and careers. Some of the primary skills LinkedIn Learning helps build include technology, AI-readiness, leadership, and certification prep.

So, whether you’re looking for educational opportunities or online networking, you should become familiar with LinkedIn.

3. Chambers of Commerce

Moving back into the local sphere, small business owners should become familiar with their area’s chambers of commerce. These organizations keep the goal of furthering business interests in their own communities. And as such, they’re often essential for helping form networks and partnerships that benefit various member businesses.

On a national level, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce stands as the world’s largest business organization. It often publishes helpful information and articles that provide great insight into business trends and advances nationally and worldwide. Moreover, the U.S. Chamber provides various programs and strategic advocacy that advance the interests of small businesses across the states.

However, the most beneficial thing is for small business owners to get involved in their own regional chambers. That way, they understand the different trends and events affecting their specific interests. So, if you haven’t already, be sure to check out the Chamber of Commerce Directory. This resource helps connect SMBs with local offices, so they can start getting involved.

4. National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE)

Small business owners are almost always self-employed individuals. And to that extent, they need to become aware of the specific requirements and factors impacting their businesses. Fortunately, the National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE) has helped provide a broad range of benefits since 1981.

This organization, specifically geared toward entrepreneurs, supports micro-businesses. That is, organizations with ten or fewer members. It boasts a wide range of focused, how-to resources, legal guidance, and even scholarships to aid small businesses.

Depending on the level of membership, prices generally range from $25 annually up to $240. So, it represents an extremely affordable option for small business owners looking to get a leg up in their industries.

Currently, NASE claims over 50,000 members, representing somewhere around 150,000 business owners and employees. So, if you’re struggling to understand the complexities of self-employment or want a guide to small business ownership, NASE can help immensely.

5. Small Business Administration (SBA)

The U.S. Small Business Administration formed over seventy years ago as the sole cabinet-level federal agency dedicated to small businesses. Working in tandem with SBDCs, it provides various services such as counseling, capital, and contracting expertise to help small business owners pursue success. It boasts an extensive network of field offices and opportunities for partnerships to help protect and expand the interests of SMBs.

As a part of its overall mission, the SBA reviews Congressional legislation and even testifies on behalf of small businesses throughout the U.S. Some of its initiatives include National Small Business Week, the White House, HBCU Initiative, and the Equity Initiative among others.

However, perhaps most importantly for your individual growth, the SBA provides online learning opportunities. Through the SBA Learning Center, you can complete various courses on:

  • Planning
  • Business launching
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • Growth

So, if you’re looking for specified resources to help you get started with your new business or continue its growth, make sure you visit the SBA.

6. Center for Business Empowerment

The Bank of America’s Center for Business Empowerment acts as a sort of educational resource for new small business owners. It includes a host of various articles and reports that help in specific areas such as:

  • Starting a new business
  • Funding options for entrepreneurs
  • Managing cash flow
  • Building business credit

However, it also boasts various resources for strategy and operations that help you gain an understanding of vital business practices. That way, you further cement your foundation with a wealth of applicable knowledge and skills.

As a source of information and guidance on the complexities of running a small business, the Center for Business Empowerment stands as a prime, free resource that you should keep in your back pocket.

7. National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB)

The NFIB represents an association of small businesses in the United States with the goal of advancing business interests nationwide. Some of it’s primary activities include advocacy for various issues like healthcare, labor, and taxes. However, it also involves itself politically to help with voter education and registration, as well as publishing media campaigns. All the efforts of the NFIB go into keeping small business strong and independent.

As members of the NFIB, small business owners can expect advocacy on their behalf, access to lawmakers and legal experts, compliancy updates, and webinars or conference calls.

Of course, association with the NFIB isn’t a requirement for small business success or growth. However, it’s worth checking into for small business owners, at least for the options of coalition and advocacy. That way, you don’t get lost amidst the confusion of legal movement and change.

8. MIT Open-Learning Library

Another helpful educational resource for small business owners is the MIT Open-Learning Library. This online media center hosts thousands of free courses on various topics central to business success. For example, you might find titles like IT and Business Transformation, Nuts and Bolts of Business Plans, and New Enterprises.

The course levels range from high school to graduate, so you can find the right fit for your needs and start your business education. This is perfect for anyone without a business degree, because it offers the opportunity to learn free of charge. So, if you have a great business idea but no understanding of how to turn it into reality, check out this resource.

9. U.S. Census Bureau

Initially, the U.S. Census Bureau might not seem like a prime resource for small business owners. However, it provides quite a bit more information than mere population projections. For example, business trends and outlooks, demographics information for local business use, and economic indicators. So, it might literally pay to take a look at some of the information the Bureau publishes.

If you understand how to appropriately interpret this data, you can then use it to better understand your audience and how to fine-tune marketing efforts. So, make it a regular aspect of your planning to check into these sorts of demographics and economic information. That way, you know you’re working off accurate data when determining your overall business strategies.

10. FDIC Money Smart

One aspect many new small business owners struggle with is finances. And it makes sense – money can become a complex topic. So, it only makes sense that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation provides resources specifically for this topic. FDIC’s Money Smart education program helps individuals of all ages enhance their personal and professional financial skills. That way, they don’t have to be afraid to dive in.

The site features various interactive games and resources like podcasts to help create more positive experiences with finances. So, even if you feel like you have a great understanding of finances, it could prove a fun and informative method for gaining even more expertise.

VTR Learning’s Courses for Small Business Owners

Now, we heavily recommend you look into all of the resources we’ve listed above. Because each provides great tools and information to help you along in your business journey. But at the same time, we recommend you supplement them with some of our own business courses.

VTR Learning’s catalog stems from an accredited MBA program, so you know the information you’re getting is valuable and applicable. The difference is that we take a narrative approach to business education. So, rather than putting you through seminars or slide-shows, we offer a different learning experience. Taking the part of an intern at a company called Central Products, you learn business by watching it play out.

Our course topics cover a wide range of material, from decision analysis and strategy to management, marketing, and accounting. So, if you feel like you need a better understanding of core business areas, we have you covered. Check out our courses now to get started.

Article written by Braden Norwood

Last updated May 29, 2024