It’s scary when you first venture out on your own. Whether you’ve quit your 9-5 job to work from home or you’re a stay-at-home mom trying to make a living, depending on yourself for a paycheck is nerve-wrecking. I’ve talked with other entrepreneurs who struggled the first few months of opening. Some gained weight and others lost weight. Some blew through all of their savings in the first month and some even developed a short-term twitch. I’m not saying you’re going to gain 20 pounds, I’m just trying to let you know that, although the rewards are great, being your own boss can be very stressful. With that being said, this blog post was created to help preserve your sanity.
Finding a mentor is hard. Many local people in your field are competitors, and competitors certainly don’t want to help you. What if you could find someone in your field, with years of experience, willing to counsel you for free. That’s what SCORE is all about. What better way to sum up an organization than to use their own words? I’ve taken this excerpt from SCORE’s website:
SCORE is a nonprofit association dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground, grow and achieve their goals through education and mentorship. We have been doing this for nearly fifty years.
Because our work is supported by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), and thanks to our network of 11,000+ volunteers, we are able to deliver our services at no charge or at very low cost.
Their website is full of wonderful, free resources. They have numerous articles about any topic that you can think of (business plans, marketing, finance, technology) and every single one offers advice to make your business run smoother. SCORE offers free mentoring sessions, free workshops, free webinars and free business tools. With 326 chapters, there’s bound to be a local chapter. Check their website to see if there are any near you.
*You can get lost in their wealth of information. While it’s great to learn, don’t forget why you’re there in the first place – your business. I suggest that you choose one topic that’s pressing to your business right now (like a business plan), read advice and suggestions, and then implement those suggestions. Return to the site when you have spare time or when you need specific help.
The U.S. Small Business Administration has a plethora of advice. The SBA offers free advice on everything regarding small businesses. It’s similar to SCORE’s website and has more free tools, but I find SCORE’s website a little easier to maneuver. SBA.gov has so many resources, that unless you know exactly what you’re looking for, it can be more than a little daunting.
You can also go to your area’s Chamber of Commerce website to see other local offerings. It’s nice to meet with other business owners. Sure, you’ll talk about your business and marketing, but socializing is always nice too. Another group to check out is MeetUp.com. Meetup is an organization made of various groups that “meet up.” Some groups have similar hobbies, like hikers or knitters, but some are business oriented. It’s relatively new, so there may not be groups in your area. It’s definitely worth checking out. Time spent networking is never wasted time.
A Little Help Can Go a Long Way
You will want help at some point in your business venture. These are great places to search for your answers. The Internet is great, but search results can sometimes be overwhelming. SBA and SCORE are great resources for any business owner, whether you started your business years ago or just yesterday. Use them. As I find reliable resources for different businesses, I will probably post them here, so check this post every now and then.