Joe Johnson, Ph.D.
Entrepreneur. Investor. Startup Expert.
Entrepreneurs are most successful when they connect. Whether for the purpose of personal or business growth, connecting with others not only provides valuable information, it can help to lend support throughout the difficult startup process. As we all know, running a business is rarely easy. When you’re just beginning, you face a steep learning curve. Oftentimes, entrepreneurs must wear a variety of hats as they juggle accounting, marketing, and sales – all while running their businesses. However, unless you’ve taken (and passed!) courses in each of these disciplines, there are likely to be areas in which you’ll need to seek guidance. These community resources are worth investigating, either in-person or online.
Physical resources can help to provide entrepreneurs with face-to-face mentorship and guidance. Courses, networking groups, and community organizations can serve as invaluable sources of information and provide the help required to run a business successfully.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has, for over 60 years, served as both a source of funding assistance for – and as an advocate to Congress on behalf of – American small businesses. As part of its mission, the SBA backs loans and provides entrepreneurial development nationwide.
If you’d like to learn more about the services that SBA offers in your community or details on which local partners may be affiliated with the SBA, check out this map and select your state.
If you are in need of a mentor, SCORE is a great place to look. A nonprofit which aims to assist with small business growth, SCORE is supported by the SBA and offers both low-cost and free services to small business owners across the country, including hosted events and free tools & workshops. For more information, visit their website.
Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) provide both free consulting and inexpensive training to entrepreneurs. Many SBDCs have partnered with universities and encourage entrepreneurs to attend courses and network. The goal is to provide entrepreneurs with the tools they need to be successful, since healthy businesses are very often associated with healthy communities. The SBA lists SBDCs here: https://www.sba.gov/tools/local-assistance/sbdc
Community development associations (CDAs) which are working to enhance neighborhoods can provide invaluable assistance with both staffing and funding. Some states have designated areas within which businesses may receive specialized funding or tax incentives in return for settling there and/or hiring particular employees from the community. Some states, for example, offer tax breaks for hiring individuals who are receiving social services. A CDA can assist entrepreneurs by providing a pool of applicants, information about the community, and more. These groups are not available everywhere and are more common in large cities.
Community Groups and Business Associations
Some communities have organized groups that help to keep business owners apprised of community and local government goings-on such as discussions of recent zoning changes or upcoming construction. These meetings provide opportunities for businesses to collaborate on community events such as block parties or restaurant weeks.
In this day and age, your community is not limited to your business’ geographical vicinity. The astounding wealth of decentralized information available online enables entrepreneurs to obtain the help they need to run their businesses. Plus, because online resources are available whenever you need them, you can connect on your schedule.
Social media sites such as Twitter and LinkedIn provide another means for professionals to connect with each other. Following thought leaders in your industry can help you to learn more about what’s happening in your field. Similarly, connecting with individuals via social media will provide opportunities for entrepreneurs to learn directly from each other. Some sites provide forums or groups where individuals can share resources and network with people in their field.
SBA Online Learning Center
The SBA provides many online tutorials which aim to help entrepreneurs start and manage their businesses, learn to become government contractors, and more. Because these courses are free and online, they’re readily available to everyone and easy to access and navigate. Training courses are available here: https://www.sba.gov/tools/sba-learning-center/search/training
One of the most wonderful things about the internet is the wealth of information it hosts. Thanks to sites such as Coursera, universities have begun to offer free courses in a range of business fields.
- Coursera: Offering business courses from institutions around the world, Coursera permits enrollees to audit courses for free or to pay for certification. Business courses are available here: https://www.coursera.org/browse/business
- edX: Founded by Harvard and MIT, EdX provides free courses, including several from the Wharton School of Business: https://www.edx.org/course/subject/business-management
- SCORE: In addition to helping entrepreneurs find mentors, SCORE also maintains an online resource library: https://www.score.org/browse-library
Knowledge is most definitely power. Whether you’re seeking proprietary business information or simply a tip on how best to handle your accounting, making the effort to investigate resources can save you both time and money with the end result of helping your business to be more successful. None of us has the time to replicate everyone else’s mistakes, so it’s essential to learn from others’ experiences. Similarly, if we’re aware of our own shortcomings or gaps in our knowledge as entrepreneurs, we can (and should!) leverage all available tools in our efforts to fix them.
Know your resources, use them, and plan for success.
About the Author
Dr. Joe Johnson is an entrepreneur, investor, and startup expert. He is the founder and principal of GoodField Investments and the GoodField Foundation (www.GoodField.com).
Joe has a Ph.D. in Entrepreneurial Leadership and an MBA. He is the author of the upcoming book on The Science of Why Most Entrepreneurs Fail and Some Succeed.
Most importantly, he is the incredibly blessed husband of one amazing wife and father of six wonderful children. He resides in Bradenton, Florida. For more information on Dr. Johnson and his work, go to www.JoeJohnson.com.