When you start a business as a solo act, it can feel overwhelming. Sometim es you have an idea but don’t know where to start, or you struggle to grow, or hit an unexpected bump in the road and aren’t sure how to organize your finances or protect your business. No matter your needs, your local Small Business Development Center has resources and mentors ready to help you and your business thrive for free!
What is the SBDC?
The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is the most comprehensive small business assistance network in the United States and its territories. Hosted by leading universities, colleges, state economic development agencies, and private partners, there are almost a thousand local centers across the country.
The SBDC is funded in part by the United States Congress in partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration, making it possible for them to offer tools and resources at little to no cost.
How Can My SBDC Help Me?
As a small business owner – or even as an aspiring entrepreneur who has yet to take those first steps – you have access to FREE face-to-face consulting and several trainings on everything from starting up to financial planning, and even on more niche topics. For instance, Washington state has an events calendar with several free webinars and downloadable courses that are excellent for anyone just starting out (though if you don’t live in Washington like me, I recommend looking at your own state’s website as legal requirements for owning a small business may vary).
You don’t have to put down a ton of money on training and courses in order to get started through the SBDC. Every location offers one-on-one consulting and many free downloadables that offer perfect stepping stones for starting your own business and knowing what path is right for you. Whether you’ve just been thinking about freelancing or have a well-established brand – your local SBDC offers opportunities and support for all kinds of small business experiences.
SBDC Can Help You Start
If you don’t have a lot of money to invest in starting a business or aren’t sure where to invest it properly, I highly recommend working with one of the SBDC’s consultants. You don’t have to worry about whether or not you’ll hit it off with the first SBDC consultant you connect with, because initial one-on-one meetings are completely free!
Sometimes the best thing you can do for your business is get an outside perspective. For instance, an entrepreneur in Pasadena, CA grew her yearly revenue from $28,000 in her first year to half a million by year two, largely thanks to the guidance and insight of her business advisor who she connected with through the Los Angeles SBDC network. I’d say taking the time to meet with this local SBDC consultant was absolutely worth it when you look at how exponentially she grew as a result!
SBDC Can Help You Grow
Just as you go to the doctor when you’re sick and want to improve your health, so too should you work with a business expert when you want to improve the health of your business. Your SBDC will have several courses and resources from experts locally and nationally to take your business to the next level.
One business owner in Pullman, WA went from sole proprietor to successful business owner with six full-time employees and several clients, half of which are within his local area – all thanks to an entrepreneur bootcamp he took through his local SBDC in 2017!
The beauty of SBDC courses and resources is that they’ve already been vetted by a reliable source (your local SBDC), so you don’t have to worry about whether or not it’s a scam or poor quality training. You can feel confident that your investments in SBDC tools will pay for themselves with how much they help your business grow!
How Do I Get Started?
Go to the Find Your SBDC page on the national website for America’s Small Business Development Center and enter your state or zip code to generate a list of centers near you. Each one should have an email address you can contact with any questions, plus a link to the state or local area website where you can access their unique library of resources.