At times, the odds may seem stacked against small business owners looking to thrive in competitive markets. Nonetheless, about 600,00 small businesses open every year in the U.S., with many developing into successful businesses that last for generations.
One of the key characteristics of successful small business owners is resourcefulness: knowing how to find resources and taking advantage of them. When it comes to financing and maintaining a small business, the federal government and your state government are entities that offer assistance. You and your business can benefit from these resources through the following avenues.
1. The Small Business Administration
The Small Business Administration (SBA) helps small business owners and entrepreneurs across the U.S. make their business dreams their reality. It’s the only cabinet-level federal agency dedicated to small businesses, and it has offices across the U.S. to help businesses in every state.
Besides offering grants and other funding opportunities, the SBA has plenty of growth, leadership, mentorship, and training opportunities for business owners and entrepreneurs. They provide counseling services for upstarts and contract expertise for business owners trying to navigate the many responsibilities and legal issues related to owning a small business.
In addition to in-person help, the SBA provides many online guides and resources to small business owners, startups, and entrepreneurs. Their extensive business guide has plans, worksheets, and tips to help you with the many aspects of planning to open a business, such as financial planning, launching, managing, and growing your business.
The SBA also has offshoot organizations that specialize in the particular needs small businesses may have. One of those is SCORE, which the SBA helps sponsors. The SCORE Association sees itself as “counselors to America’s small business,” according to its slogan.
SCORE operates as a nonprofit with over 13,000 volunteer business counselors across the country, including U.S. territories. Volunteer counselors are trained to be advisers and mentors to entrepreneurs and business owners as SCORE helps them navigate whatever challenges they’re facing.
On its website, you can search for webinars, helpful resources, or even a mentor. If there was a live webinar you wanted to watch but couldn’t make, you can always watch it free later on. For example, some popular SCORE courses help businesses navigate e-commerce. Note that many of these sources are available in English and Spanish.
If you’re an entrepreneur, startup, or small business owner, some of the most challenging and frustrating issues you face will involve money and funding. Luckily, there are many small business government grants available both at the federal and state level.
The federal government administers grants through the SBA and offers many grants to small business owners. A few noteworthy federal programs are the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. Aside from searching the SBA website, you can also use grants.gov to find and apply for federal grant opportunities.
You can also apply for small business grants at the state and local level. A good place to start researching grants is your state Economic Development Administration office or your district’s regional board. Most states also have Small Business Development Centers, which can provide additional information and point you to grant opportunities.
4. Government Contract and Subcontracts
The U.S. government allotts a specific amount of its contracts and subcontracts to small businesses to support local economies. If you work in a sector, such as research or technology, that the government has a need in, you may be eligible for such a contract.
A list of government contracts and eligibility requirements can be found on the General Services Administration website. If eligible, these contracts are a good way to spread awareness of your business, build credibility, and get paid.
5. Tax Deductions
Tax deductions are an important way for anyone or any business to get well-deserved money back, and that’s no different for small businesses. Be sure you know what you can deduct from your taxes to ensure you get as much money back as possible. For example, you may be able to deduct costs related to starting up your business, making improvements, and business assets.
Funding Your Small Business’s Future
Whether you’re trying to launch a small business or keep the doors of your well-established business open, it can feel like the odds are against you. However, there are plenty of ways you can secure financial assistance and get the education you need to take your business to the next level.