Limited cash flow is probably the one thing most small businesses and start-ups have in common. Fortunately, through a number of private and public resources, you can gain access to free mentoring, training and technology solutions.
Not only can these freebies save you money, they may also help you avoid costly mistakes and position your business to take advantage of growth opportunities as they arise.
3 Free Small Business Resources
1. Free Mentoring
Before you hire an expensive consultant, explore free one-on-one mentoring advice through the Service Corp of Retired Executives, SCORE program. SCORE now offers mentoring from more than 13,000 working and retired business professionals who have expertise in 62 industries and 500 skills.
The organization offers online mentoring, but you may get advice that's more relevant to your geographic market if you book a face-to-face session through one of SCORE's more than 340 chapters. Rest assured that SCORE keeps your company data and propriety information confidential.
In addition to mentoring, SCORE offers low-cost workshops and free online tools and templates.
2. Free Training
While the type of mentoring offered by SCORE may be best suited to big-picture business decisions, sometimes you or members of your staff may need specific training. That's where the government's Small Business Administration SBA can help.
The SBA offers a diverse set of resources and tools through a number of partner agencies. At its Small Business Technology and Development Centers, business owners can take advantage of free training to learn the skills needed to help their businesses grow. Classes vary by location but can include workshops on starting a business, writing a business plan, financial management, marketing and applying for business loans.
Click on this link to find a center near you or to explore other free SBA services.
3. Free Software
Finally, you can free-up capital by using low or no-cost software for your business. Anyone familiar with OpenOffice, a free suite of office software, can attest that open source programs and freeware can be both high-quality and user-friendly.
You can find free software for a variety of business needs including customer relationship management (CRM), accounting, security and invoicing. You can check out a comprehensive list of open source software at Datamation. Be aware that this list is a year old so fees may have changed slightly, but it's an excellent starting point to find the technology you need.
From mentoring to training to technology, these free resources can point your business toward the path to growth and success.
Maryalene LaPonsie has been writing professionally for more than a decade on topics including education, insurance and personal finance. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from Western Michigan University.
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