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When starting a business, it’s important to know where to look for trustworthy advice. Whether you already have a plan in place for what kind of business you want to start, or if you just have a product idea or you've already been doing business as a side hustle to get your idea off the ground, it’s good to get financial advice or legal advice for new business growth.
You might have questions about how to set up your business, how to get funding for your business, how to deal with the tax implications and legal compliance requirements of hiring employees or simply how to get more information on running a successful startup.
Fortunately, there are several great resources to help entrepreneurs with legal and financial advice for new businesses.
Small Business Administration (SBA)
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) website has a lot of great information for business owners, including:
- The Business Guide for step-by-step advice on starting a business
- The SBA Learning Platform for online learning programs
- The SBA website also has special insights on how to get your business situated to be a federal contractor.
- SBA Loans are in-demand as one of the most flexible, affordable funding options for new business owners. Use the SBA site for good information on how to get small business loans.
Depending on what sort of financial advice or legal advice your business might need, the SBA website is a great place to start.
Small Business Development Centers
Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) are partner organizations of the SBA. These centers are a nationwide network of offices, hosted by universities, colleges, state agencies and private sector organizations, that help entrepreneurs start and build businesses.
SBDCs offer a variety of services to support your business, including:
- Free business consulting
- Free and low-cost training for business owners
- Information on how to get access to capital for your business
- Advice on regulatory compliance
- Strategic business planning
Learn more at AmericasSBDC.org.
Startup Incubators and Accelerators
Another great place to look for financial advice and legal advice for new businesses is by going to your local small business incubator. There are many organizations throughout the U.S., often located near university campuses, that help “incubate” and nurture startups during their early stages of growth. Connecting to your local incubator can help you with business networking, advice, possible connections to funding and investors and more.
For example, there are several startup incubators in cities like Chicago and Austin that help connect entrepreneurs with resources, ideas, advice and industry-specific information and introductions to supercharge their business growth. Techstars is a global network of startup accelerators serving a wide variety of industries, where company founders can apply to join; if selected for a three-month accelerator program, you’ll receive funding, mentorship and valuable connections to help your business grow faster.
SCORE is a nonprofit organization and partner of the SBA that provides free business mentoring and education to entrepreneurs. They offer remote mentoring, local events, webinars and other helpful resources to help answer your questions about all aspects of running a business.
There are more than 300 SCORE chapters throughout the U.S., letting you connect with someone in your local area for personal advice, or take online courses on demand.
Local Networking Organizations
Another good way to get general financial advice for new businesses is to start by getting connected with the business community in your local city where you live. Check with your local Chamber of Commerce or state economic development agency. Go to a lunch & learn session at your local coworking studio. Find out where other local entrepreneurs gather to meet, mingle and learn from each other.
If you want legal advice, it’s important to talk to an actual lawyer. Other organizations and resources can give you business advice and general guidance on the legal and regulatory aspects of running a business, but if you have specific questions about the legal aspects of your business plan; you want details about how to comply with regulations; you have a more complex business plan that involves international trade or finding investors; or you have questions about writing business contracts, protecting intellectual property or registering trademarks, you might want to consult with a lawyer.
You don’t have to hire a lawyer to form an LLC. But there are various reasons and situations when you might want to consult with an attorney to answer your specific questions about your business. Depending on the scope of your needs for legal services, you might want to get referrals for a lawyer with experience in your industry. Many attorneys will offer a free short consultation to assess your needs and recommend a scope of work. Sometimes it might be worth spending a few hundred dollars on a few hours of an attorney’s time to help avoid spending thousands of dollars later on.
Being an entrepreneur is a nonstop learning experience. Even if it might seem overwhelming at times, the truth is you are never on your own; there are many great resources, organizations, mentors and advisors who are eager to help answer your questions, connect you with good information and help shepherd your business to its next stage of growth. One of the most valuable characteristics you can have as an entrepreneur is curiosity: a hunger to keep learning, keep asking questions and keep listening to good advice from trustworthy sources.
Ben Gran is a freelance writer from Des Moines, Iowa. Ben has written for Fortune 500 companies, the Governor of Iowa (who now serves as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture), the U.S. Secretary of the Navy, and many corporate clients. He writes about entrepreneurship, technology, food and other areas of great personal interest.
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