My fellow small business owners, I have a few questions for you…
- How often do you assess your business goals?
- Do you have a formal business plan in place?
- Have you thought about where you want your business to be in one…three…five years?
I know firsthand how easy it is to get caught up in the day-to-day tasks that are required to run a business. 🙋♀️
However, it’s crucial that we make time to sit down and perform an assessment of our business health and identify measurable goals. This enables us to capture an aerial view of our business journey and helps keep us on the course for success.
Now, I also know that coming up with business goals can be daunting. If you’re like me then you’re probably thinking, “I know how to do [insert trade here], but I have NO idea how to write a business plan.”
Well, thankfully for you and me, there are FREE resources available to small businesses to help us with that kind of thing!
Small Business Development Center
Did you know that each U.S. state has a Small Business Development Center, which is administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA), that employs consultants who can meet with you one-on-one and help you write a business plan?
The SBDC can also help you:
- Secure funding if you’re a start-up company or if you’re looking to grow your business
- Come up with a marketing strategy
- Help you with compliance issues
- Assist you with becoming eligible for bidding on government contracts
- And much more!
Again…they do all of this FOR FREE!
If you’re in Louisville, KY or one of its surrounding areas, I highly suggest you contact Toni Sears with the Kentucky Small Business Development Center. You can reach her via email at email@example.com.
Small Business Administration Emerging Leaders Initiative
If you’re looking for more intensive entrepreneurial training, the SBA offers an education program called the Emerging Leaders Initiative.
The Emerging Leaders series is perfect for small business executives who are looking to accelerate the growth of their business.
This 7-month program consists of about 100 hours of classroom time and provides the opportunity for business owners to work with coaches and mentors, attend workshops and network with their peers and members of the business community.
The Emerging Leaders Initiative is meant for businesses that are poised for growth, so there are eligibility requirements for participants.
In order to qualify for participation you must:
- Have annual revenues of at least $250,000
- Have been in business for at least 3 years
- Have at least one employee other than yourself
This program does require a serious time commitment, but all costs associated with it are covered by the SBA and its local partners.
If you’re interested in participating, contact your local SBA district office.
Chambers of Commerce and Trade Associations
While technically Chambers of Commerce and trade associations are not an entirely free resource for local business, oftentimes they provide seminars or other resources on their websites and social media that all businesses can benefit from — not just their members.
It’s a good idea to follow your local Chamber of Commerce and/or trade association on social media and sign up for their email newsletter so that you are tapped into what’s going on in your business community.
If you’re in a place where you can join the association, I highly recommend doing so.
Like anything you do, you’ll get out of it what you put in. If you decide to join an association, be sure to utilize your membership to the fullest. You can’t just pay your membership dues, get added to their membership directory, and then never interact with the organization again.
Fill out your membership profile on their website completely to increase your profile’s visibility to other members.
Attend mixers, mingles, and other networking events and get to know fellow members of the association. As you begin forming relationships with people, they will start thinking of you when a referral opportunity comes up. You want them to think of you first — not your competitors!
Try to come up with an offer that you extend exclusively to Chamber/Association members so that you can be highlighted in their membership benefits section on their website and in other materials.
Are you familiar with the programs that I discussed in this article? What are some other resources that you’d like fellow business owners to be aware of?