Ask Score: Try these resources for your startup
This past week I had the privilege of chatting with three people who are wanting to start up their own business.
One had been working for more than 20 years in the food service area and now wants to start her own unique business that she has been dreaming about. Another has done some temporary work to earn some extra cash and has the idea to start a cleaning business. Another has been working for a company, likes what he does, is good at the trade, but wants to be his own boss.
A common thread that runs through all of these is, “Where do I turn to find help because I have a lot of questions?”
So do you want to start a business — or are you already underway? I know. You need every bit of help you can get. No problem. Let me give you several leads and ideas that can take you from your idea to startup to your enterprise. Here are some starters.
• Obviously, I will start with what I know best. Contact your local SCORE chapter. Wish you had a good friend with experience in your business who could give you real world advice? That’s what SCORE offers. The price is just right for shoe-string startup budgets, too. (It’s free.)
• The U.S. Small Business Administration. You paid your taxes — now reap some benefits. The SBA has a world of resources including financing, training, and legal basics.
• Consider business associations like the National Small Business Association or the National Federation of Independent Business.
• Small business incubators.Want to know if there’s a business incubator nearby? Consider contacting the International Business Innovation Association. They can tell you.
One of SCORE’s contributing writers, Brian Sutter has contributed some super internet resource ideas. Sutter is the director of marketing for Wasp Barcode Technologies, a software company that provides solutions to small businesses that increase profit and efficiency. He has contributed content for Forbes, Entrepreneur, Marketing Profs, the Washington Post, Fast Company, Allbusiness.com, Business.com and Huffington Post. Here are some of his suggestions. Note that some charge a fee.
• A user testing tool like “Peek.” Need an honest opinion about your website, your app, or product? Even your mom or your best friend might not give you the totally unvarnished truth. But a user testing service can. For a fee (sometimes less than $20 a test), you can get a recorded video of someone using your site. With Peek, you can even get one free. Want a few other options? See Drift’s blog post, “The 7 Best User Testing Tools For Any Budget”
• A way to validate your market. Ever had an idea that looked great on paper, but flopped out in the real world? You need proof your idea won’t follow suit. You need to do market validation. It can be a time-consuming, complex mess. Or you can just use “Proved.”
• Need a good designer? According to Sutter’s company report, “54 percent of small businesses outsource graphic design and website design.” So where do you find a good designer? Brian suggests starting with “99 Designs,” or “Undullify” or “Design Pickle”
Conclusion: The long hours and uncertainty of launching a business can make anyone feel alone. But the truth is, the entire country wants you to succeed. There are extensive resources available, many of them free or nearly free.