Great Ideas for your Small Business: Get Free Government Counseling
After working in retail for twenty-two years, Barbara Galloway wanted to start her own business. One of her first stops was at the Jacksonville State University Small Business Development Center.
Counselors there provided her with help in finding a good location, setting a budget, record keeping, and product pricing. She opened the BG Boutique on the town square in Jacksonville, Alabama, in 1991. The business has been profitable from the start.
“It’s really great to know I can call the SBDC and say, ‘I need help,’” she said. The center also partnered Galloway with a mentor in 1994. They worked together for a year.
“My mentor is wonderful,” said Galloway. “She helped me with problems such as how to deal with vendors and all the paperwork involved.”
There are about 1,400 SBDCs around the country. You can find one by contacting your local SBA office.
Another helpful government program is SCORE. The SCORE program provides assistance to more than one mil- lion businesses every year. The nonprofit association matches veteran business people with entrepreneurs. There are eleven thousand SCORE volunteers with years of experience in financing, business planning, and every aspect of running a business.
Like the partnership between the SBA and SCORE, the Business Information Centers are a joint venture between the SBA and the private sector. They offer computers, soft- ware, reference libraries, videos, and seminars.
The SBA publishes numerous booklets on a variety of topics from business planning to boosting cash flow. Most are free or at a very low cost (www.sba.gov).
If it applies to you, check out the Minority Business Development Centers. They provide counseling and technical assistance around the country. The SBA’s Office of Women’s Business Ownership and the Office of Veterans Affairs also provide special assistance.
Several Women’s Business Centers have opened around the country to assist women. “Many of the success stories born in these centers result in true economic development,” said Sherrye Henry, former head of the women’s office of the SBA. She said more than sixty thousand women have participated in the various programs.
Contact your local Small Business Administration to learn more about the variety of assistance programs near you.