Keeping a small business afloat is not a simple task: the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data concludes that 50% fail within the first five years. Due to the number of tasks that self-employed entrepreneurs are faced with and the financial risks associated from building a business from the ground up, a costly mistake could spell the end for a vulnerable, young startup.
Small business owners need all the advice and assistance they can get in assuring that their labor of love (and potential revenue) doesn’t end up another statistic, that’s why we’ve assembled this thorough list of links covering every resource the aspiring entrepreneur will need in the quest to become profitable.
Included in the guide are links to mentoring programs, advocacy organizations, directories of small business-related workshops across the United States (and the world), and a lot more. This handy resource guide will no doubt prove fruitful in helping you fulfill your ambitions.
Business Mentoring Programs
- SCORE – If you’re looking for a mentor to help you get your small business up and running, the first place you’ll want to look is SCORE. Founded in 1964, SCORE’s extensive network of volunteer business mentors boasts over 10,000 individuals in 300 chapters across the United States. SCORE also offers free mentoring services as well as online and in-person workshops.
- MicroMentor – A terrific, non-profit social network for both budding entrepreneurs and mentors, alike. Micromentor has helped tens of thousands of hopefuls gain a foothold in their respective industries while allowing existing businesses to increase their revenue significantly. The site reports that businesses mentored through the site have a 90% survival rate, a rate 21% higher than the national average.
- Association of Women’s Business Centers – A non-profit 501(c)(3) organization boasting a network of 100 centers around the US that assist women in business via mentoring, training, and business development programs. AWBC also advocates for women entrepreneurs at a government level, throwing support behind candidates and officeholders that support policies ensuring women have equal opportunity in the world of business.
- eMentorConnect – A software platform designed to help businesses and individuals manage their mentoring programs. Users can create preferences and fill out profiles in order to best self-select a mentor or mentee through the program that best suits their specific needs.
Small Business Workshops and Events
- The Small Business Expo – Celebrating ten years of existence as of 2018, Small Business Expo holds a variety of entrepreneur-centric events in 17 cities around the United States, including workshops, seminars, speed networking, and product demonstrations. Small Business Expo’s events are great places to improve your entrepreneurial acumen and make connections to advance your business.
- SBA Events Page – The Small Business Administration website’s events page is a frequently updated list of seminars, workshops and other events for entrepreneurs around the country. Included in each listing are the time, contact details, and whether registration is required to participate.
- Small Business Majority Upcoming Events – Another great, informative listing of events directed towards small business owners held by the Small Business Majority, a national small business advocacy organization. Many events listed are exclusively for women or native Spanish speakers. Included in listings is info on how to register.
Small Business Educational Resources
- Small Business School – The official website of Small Business School, a television show that aired on PBS from 1994 to 2012, as well as on cable stations around the world. Despite the fact that the show is no longer running, the website is still an excellent resource for budding small business owners, with tons of video and complementary bios of the entrepreneurs featured on the program through the years.
- Moz SEO Learning Center – SEO, or search engine optimization, is one of the newest and fasting growing industries on the internet. Moz’s SEO learning center features a guide on the in’s and out’s of the young industry and instruction on how to apply the latest tactics in order to maximize the revenue from your marketing campaigns. Includes sections on keywords, site audits, doing SEO for local businesses, and more.
- SCU – My Own Business Institute – One of the top providers of an online education on how to run a business, MOBI has been active since 2000 and has helped thousands with their online courses using audio, video and textual content.
- edX – A joint project started by Harvard University and MIT in 2012 where anyone can enroll in online courses in just about any subject, including many related to business and economics. Most courses are free, yet include the option of receiving a verified certificate for $100-200. For those who can’t afford to enroll in school at the moment, edX is a great alternative, with over 120 educational partners and growing.
- Saylor Academy – A nonprofit educational initiative that allows those on a tight budget (but with the desire to learn) to enroll in nearly 100 university-level courses that they can complete on their own time. Of particular interest to entrepreneurs are the 30+ courses offered in Business Administration, Economics, and Professional Development. A great educational choice for those who are too busy running a business to attend school full-time.
Business Networks and Trade Associations
- U.S. Chamber of Commerce – The official website of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the largest business organization of its kind that represents over 3 million businesses across America, most of which qualify as small businesses. The Chamber advocates for business-friendly policies in Washington and provides resources and information that entrepreneurs will likely find useful.
- NFIB: Small Business Administration – A non-profit small business advocacy organization that includes 325,000 small business owners among its membership. NFIB’s primary focus is ensuring that entrepreneurs rights are protected and voices are heard at the state and federal government levels. Any small business owner ought to consider enrollment.
- National Retail Federation – For 100+ years, the National Retail Federation has advocated for retail businesses at the government level. If your business is in retail, consider heading to the website and enrolling.
- BNI (Business Network International) – An international networking organization headquartered in the United States with well over 250,000 members meeting in 8,800+ chapters around the world to discuss business opportunities and share referrals. According to BNI, member referrals have generated $13.6 billion in revenue for member businesses. Bonus tip from BNI founder Ivan Misner (with published books including “Networking Like a Pro” and “The World’s Best Known Marketing Secret”): he highly recommends joining a local Chamber for optimal business success. See BNI for more.
- National Hispanic Business Group (NHBG) – Founded just over 30 years ago, The NHBG seeks to expand business opportunities for the fastest growing ethnic demographic in the United States. Members of the group meet to exchange referrals, discuss emerging trends and share information on new projects.
- National Association for the Self-Employed – An organization providing education, tool, and resources for the small business owners comprising its membership. Among the benefits provided to its members are health insurance plans, legal assistance, website design, credit cards, scholarships, and more. NASE also advocates for small businesses in Washington, D.C.
- International Council for Small Businesses – A non-profit organization founded in 1955 with representation in over 85 countries focused on advancing the interests of small and medium sized businesses, everywhere. The organization’s annual World Congress is held in June at locations around the world, bringing together members from many industries.
- The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) – A Silicon Valley-based not-for-profit organization founded in 1992, TiE is focused on creating an international online community for tech entrepreneurs. TiE works through creating connections between startups, investors, and influencers located in far-flung parts of the globe. The group now includes over 500,000 active participants and continues to grow.
- Entrepreneurs’ Organization – A peer-to-peer network solely for entrepreneurs founded in 1987. With over 13,000 members belonging to 181 chapters in 57 countries, worldwide, it’s likely you’ll find a chapter near you. Members meet in small groups to exchange referrals and share their business experiences. Also available to members is the EO Mentorship program and EO Accelerator program.
- Meetup: Small Business – Looking to meet small business owners in your area? Look no further than this section of the Meetup.com website. With millions of members in all inhabited continents, you’re sure to find the group you are looking for to network and exchange referrals and ideas.
- USTelecom – A somewhat niche trade association representing the broadband industry in America, from massive corporations to small, locally owned companies. USTelecom serves to make large scale investment in broadband easier. Members attend meetings, and receive CEO memos and weekly newsletters.
Online Business Communities
- Alignable – A social network where business owners can make connections, receive referrals, get business advice from experts, and more. Over 20,000 communities in the U.S. actively network through Alignable, so no matter where you live, you’ll likely find other business owners to network with nearby through the service.
- Small Business Forums.org – They may not be flashy, but the Small Business.org forums are very active and cover many topics, including tax issues, business creation, marketing, advertising, and finance.
- Small-business-forum.net – Another highly active message board for small business owners with a somewhat generic look. Subforums include “Starting Your Business”, “Managing Your Business”, “Accounting & Taxes” and many others.
- Quora – Quora is a Q&A website where (mostly) intelligent, informed people answer questions posed by users about everything under the sun — including topics relevant to small business owners and entrepreneurs. Many recognized entrepreneurs are active on the site.
- LinkedIn – The top professional social networking platform. By becoming a user of LinkedIn, making lasting and lucrative professional connections gets much easier. Many entrepreneurs consider it an essential platform.
- CNET: Small Business & Startups Forum – CNET is one of the world leader’s for technology reviews and news. This board, in particular, is for small business owners and startups in the tech industry. Visit this helpful board to get your software and technical questions answered.
Small Business Blogs
- SmallBiz Daily – A frequently updated news source for small business owners with a focus on the latest market trends and business ideas.
- Venture Beat – One of the best sources for news in the tech and gaming worlds for twelve years running. While not specifically targeted to small business owners, entrepreneurs stand to gain a lot of insight on the developments documented in Venture Beat.
- B2C: Business2Community – B2C’s contributions from over 10,000 experts in various fields provide a balanced and up-to-date look at the contemporary business landscape. Plenty of insightful content to keep readers engaged for hours.
- Small Biz Trends – An online publication with breaking industry news, product reviews, statistical analysis, as well as listicles providing solid advice for small business owners.
- U.S. Small Business Organization – The official site of the SBA is definitely one of the most useful for budding small business owners. Just about everything you need as an entrepreneur is on the site: a guide to starting a business, information on how to acquire funding, listings for business counselors, information on various business development programs, and much more.
- Nation Women’s Business Organization – A federal advisory board dedicated to advocating for women business owners in Washington. The independent, non-partisan NWBC is the only council of its type. It holds several events a year and posts an annual report on the status of women entrepreneurs in the United States.
Small Business Incubators and Accelerators
- StartFast – A venture capital fund and startup accelerator program in Upstate NY that screens over 5,000 early-tech companies and selects 5-7 to invest in. The accelerator program’s core values include scaling sales, raising funds, and accelerating growth – so if you are accepted, you can expect to gain from these benefits.
- Amplify – An LA-based network of mentors and investors across a slew of industries. If you are located in the region and your company qualifies for their collective portfolio, you stand to gain a lot of incentives including free workspace, discounted services, and business advice.
- StartX – A Stanford University-based, non-profit startup community made up of serial entrepreneurs, tenured professors, industry leaders, and growth-stage startups. If you’re admitted into the community, StartX provides you with 1-1 mentorship and gives you access to an enormous wealth of resources, knowledge, and support.
- Dreamit Ventures – An early stage venture fund and accelerator that invests in more mature, typically post-revenue, pre Series A startups in the following sectors: SecureTech (cyber & physical), UrbanTech (real estate, construction, smart city), and HealthTech. Dreamit has accelerated 300 startups in its ten years.
- One Million by One Million – Located out of Silicon Valley, this is considered to be the first global virtual accelerator and has set a goal to enable one million entrepreneurs to earn a million dollars in annual revenue, along with other admirable objectives. “1Mby1M” holds weekly online mentoring roundtables and hosts podcasts. Informative books and articles can also be found on the site.
- Y Combinator – A venture fund that specializes in seed funding for startups in their infancy. The group funds a wide swath of businesses from the outset, while providing an introduction to subsequent investors down the line.
- Entrepreneurs on Fire – An award-winning podcast where the host, John Lee Dumas, interviews inspiring entrepreneurs from all sectors of business. His show currently has over 2,000 episodes and 1 million listens per month: for inspiration and education, we recommend you start listening to this podcast, too.
- StartUp by Gimlet Media – A documentary series focusing in on individual startups for an entire season. StartUp provides an in-depth look at the day-to-day struggles and minor victories experienced in the quest to build a successful business from infancy.
- Breaking Down Your Business – A lively podcast hosted by Brad Farris and Jill Salzman that tackles the myriad issues faced by small business owners in a humorous fashion.
- This Week in Startups – Host Jason Calacanis leads a flexible panel of experts in a weekly podcast that looks at breaking developments from the entrepreneurial realm and shares insider stories from veterans in various industries.
- Mixergy: Startup Stories – Andrew Warner speaks with successful entrepreneurs that offer candid tales of their successes and failures in building businesses from the ground up. A great listen for business owners hoping not to repeat the mistakes of others while looking to gain invaluable advice.
Small Business Books
- Start Your Own Business: The Only Startup Book You’ll Ever Need by The Staff of Entrepreneur Media – A collection of essays by a number of experts on every aspect of getting a business off the ground. A vital tome for aspiring entrepreneurs.
- Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hsieh – Hsieh’s bestseller detailing his experiences at the Zappos Company and how its unique company culture lead to its overwhelming success. The book provides a lot of lessons on how to foster a positive business environment.
- Small Time Operator: How to Start Your Own Business, Keep Your Books, Pay Your Taxes, and Stay Out of Trouble by Bernard B Kamoroff C.P.A. – One of the most popular guides to starting a small business available, Small Time Operator will answer your questions on how to proceed in every scenario, from keeping books to hiring employees.
- Small Business Hacks: 100 Shortcuts to Success by Barry Moltz and Rieva Lesonsky – A fun manual to running a small business that doesn’t demand that you read the whole thing cover-to-cover. Readers can skip to sections that most address their concerns.
- The Small Business Bible: Everything You Need to Know to Succeed in Your Small Business by Steven D. Strauss – Where better to learn how to build and run a small business but from the country’s “leading small business expert”? Contains myriad tips, strategies and direction on what to do and not to do in managing a business. The latest edition of the book contains new chapters on using social media and Youtube to your advantage.