Whether you’re just beginning to figure out your small business idea or you’re in the early stages of its fruition, using outside resources is valuable and oftentimes crucial.
Your trade will naturally determine what kind of outside help you need, but there are some that can be used for any and all types of small businesses.
Even if you’ve been running your business for a few months (or years), it’s always worth checking out resources to boost your success!
To help you get started, I’ve rounded up a list of 5 go-to small business resources below:
SBA: U.S. Small Business Administration
The SBA is a great government-run agency. Right on the homepage, you’ll find links to all sorts of resources, such as a guide to starting your own business. The website was thoroughly designed, so you’ll find a good number of tools to use for different concerns, such as:
This is an especially helpful website for individuals just starting to manifest their small business idea. Another really cool thing about the SBA website is that it offers free online courses to help you start and run your business.
There are 4 categories of courses: planning, launching, managing, and growing your business.
Looking to learn how to write a business plan? This 30-minute course will help you do that! Not sure what the legal requirements are for a small business owner? Enroll in this course. Want to learn about the impact of social media marketing? They have a lesson on that too!
Your income taxes pay for the SBA, and it’s a “free” resource, so you might as well take advantage of it!
SCORE: Service Corps of Retired Executives
For direct support from former business executives, SCORE is an amazing resource. It describes itself as “the nation’s largest network of volunteer, expert business mentors, with more than 10,000 volunteers in 300 chapters.” It’s a partner of the SBA and makes the process of finding a business mentor super easy and accessible.
You can find a mentor on the SCORE website and meet with them in your area, at your local SCORE chapter, or have a digital discussion through email and video chat.
Not sure if you need a mentor? Think about it before you dismiss the idea — what are your goals for your small business? Is it to start a company, maintain it, or make it grow?
Sometimes, even if you’re doing things by the book and have done everything you think you can to succeed, having a mentor take a look at your business plan can help. Having another pair of eyes without an emotional attachment to your business is incredibly helpful, as they can have an easier time spotting any weaknesses or opportunities for you to improve!
A mentor also may have access and connections to resources you don’t have, so getting a mentor can be a great networking opportunity. Plus, having a mentor is an opportunity to get an expert’s opinion on your business plan. You also benefit from the emotional support by having an experienced professional help you.
If you want to ensure you are ready for success, then get a mentor!
It behooves you to run a website, as it’s an opportunity for free internet marketing (by utilizing SEO, which stands for search engine optimization). Whether it’s just a blog, a portfolio, or an eCommerce landing page, having a website helps to establish your small business’s credibility. Customers put more trust in a small business if they see there’s a legitimate website for it. The easiest to use and most popular website builder is Wix.
The most basic plan is free, which means you can’t lose by testing out how well having a website improves your business’s success. One of the highlights is that you don’t have to worry about creating and coding a beautiful website design — Wix offers so many templates with super easy customization. Keep in mind, you will have to pay for your website domain even if you choose the basic plan.
Another great bonus about Wix is all the add-ons you can purchase. Want to consolidate email marketing and do it all from one place? Have an email account linked to your Wix website, and also create email campaigns in the same place. If you don’t feel like researching the best SEO strategies on your own, Wix has your back! Just follow its SEO tool guidelines to make your website the best it can be for search results.
It also has a feature for website analytics if you really want to spend time looking at how well your site is performing. These are just a few of the many great things that Wix provides its users!
Social media may seem complicated and intimidating if you aren’t really internet savvy. The good news is, most social channels make it really easy for you to create an account and get going! Here are some of the most commonly used social media platforms that small businesses use:
If you choose just one social channel for your business, you’ll want to pick Facebook, as having a business account will assist with your SEO results. I would personally recommend having more than one account, though. You can check out our other article on the top-3 social channels to use for your small business.
Social media helps to get your brand out there, but it’s also an excellent research tool. By searching your trade and potential customers who are interested in your kind of business, you can find out who they are, what they like, and how they talk. Knowing your customer well is extremely important for running a successful business and marketing strategy.
A couple of popular places for online customer research can be a social channel’s hashtags for topics related to your business (as you’ll find posts from customers) and online groups (especially on Facebook), as you can see what other people in your trade are talking about or what customers are looking for.
Marketing is directly linked to sales, which makes a huge difference in whether your small business takes off or stays stagnant. It’s also a place for customer interaction (and customer service), so if you use it wisely and consistently, it’s also a tool for boosting your small business’s customer retention rates.
Think of social media as your free marketing opportunity, so you might as well take advantage of it!
If you really want to get to know your customers and how they shop or respond to your marketing strategies, Google Analytics is another major tool for your small business. With many of its own insights unavailable elsewhere, it provides a unique analytics opportunity that other platforms might not be able to offer you. One user, Nancy Naficy (Founder and CEO of Minted), said that “Google Analytics helped us optimize our art marketplace, resulting in 400% year-over-year revenue growth for our art business.”
You don’t have to be an expert in data and analytics to use the platform. You’re given easy-to-read and use interface and shareable reports. Google analytics also easily syncs with other marketing apps, such as Google Ads and Data Studio, so you can get information on customers from all of your platforms in one place (and have an easier time keeping that information organized).
When you identify what works regarding your marketing strategy and what doesn’t with data, you can make a lot of improvement for your business!
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When she’s not writing for SB, Pauline runs an intuitive healing business... and is still writing as she types up psychic readings! As she was raised by entrepreneurs, she knows what it takes to be a small business owner.
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