If you ever thought about owning your own business, I hope you also considered the work that goes into launching and maintaining an enterprise. Often, nine-to-fivers will leave their jobs in corporate America to run their own business in hopes of uncapping their earning potential and taking advantage of the flexibility that entrepreneurship offers.
The truth is before you ever open the door of your business, you will spend months – and maybe even years – planning your business.
You need time to assess the market and find out where the voids are. You’ll need to know if you can fill the void at a reasonable cost to you and still make money. It is also notable to mention that you need to have a specific product idea in mind and a pretty broad understanding of both your product and your target market – essential factors in establishing your niche in the business industry.
After doing the preliminary work, most entrepreneurs spend years and years working long days and clearing a living wage (the average entrepreneur earns right around $70,000 a year, according to Fox News).
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) can be a valuable resource to help you start and grow your small business. There are four basic types of resources available through the U.S. Small Business Administration that can really help you small business.
#1 Resources to Help You Organize Your Small Business
Starting and planning your own business can be time-intensive, but it can also be a fluid and seamless task when you have access to the right information and people.
Get the SBA’s guide for new entrepreneurs to get insights into steps to take to prepare for, plan and launch your business. SBA Direct is a service provided by the U.S. Small Business Administration that provides business owners the information they need to build strong businesses.
#2 Resources to Help You Manage Your Small Business
Business doesn’t start and end with you taking your products and services to market. Developing and implementing a good management strategy is essential to your business success. Business management includes guiding and motivating your team, managing the finances to keep the business profitable, scaling the business for growth, and anticipating changes in your market.
At the heart of good business management are the leadership skills of the management team. Your business will grow and evolve as long as you do.
The SBA provides free and low-cost resources to help your leadership team propel the business forward. Available resources focus on skill-building, strategic thinking, and developing a leadership mindset. Entrepreneurs can also get technical assistance and participate in mentoring programs.
#3 Resources to Help You Fund Your Small Business
A business that’s under-capitalized can die before it ever gets going. Contrary to popular belief, the federal government doesn’t provide seed money to help entrepreneurs start businesses. So, how do you get the money to start a business?
In the current market, it seems like any kid in a hoodie can pitch an angel investor and walk away with hundreds of thousands of dollars to start a business. But most seasoned entrepreneurs will advise novices to keep overhead low, stay lean, and skip raising hundreds of thousands of dollars (which is essentially selling off bits and pieces of your business) in investment money.
Come up with a plan, execute on the plan, and see how well your business idea does in the market. That’s the key to funding your business – actually selling.
There are several questions to ask yourself while still in the planning phase of your project:
- How will I fund the business before it’s monetized?
- How will I monetize my business?
- How much is it going to cost to operate this business for the first six months? The first year? Two years? Five years?
- Do I have enough operating capital on-hand to sustain my business through the slow seasons?
- Is there another way I can gather resources to sustain my business in lieu of money? (bartering, technical assistance for example)
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of securing a small business loan?
- Can I qualify for a conventional small business loan or will I have to seek outside funding through crowd sourcing or angel investors?
If you can answer these questions before you launch, it can make the difference between you being able to help your small business grow slowly over time, and your business stalling out from a lack of resources.
#4 Resources to Help Your Small Business Get Federal Contracting Opportunities
Winning the right government contract at the right time can help you grow your business. But it’s important that you are able to recognize if it really is the right time for your company to pursue a government contracting opportunity.
Can your company handle the responsibilities associated with winning a government contract?
Audit your daily operations and capabilities to help you objectively determine if you have what it takes to deliver on a government contract.