Government help may sound like an oxymoron to many people. I know that when I was in my many Small Businesses, I never believed that any government help was of value and to get it was not worth the effort even though it was free.
In exploring this avenue, I was pleasantly surprised to discover all the high quality assistance that is available to start-ups and existing Small Businesses from government agencies. Best of all, this help is free with minimal paperwork—A great Bootstrapping weapon.
The two agencies that I felt were the most valuable were SCORE and SBDC.
SCORE which stands for Service Corps of Retired Executives, now call themselves “Counselors to America’s Small Businesses.” Their mission is to provide resources and expertise to maximize the success of existing and emerging Small Businesses. They have over 370 chapters in the US and about 12,000 volunteers. Their service is open to everyone regardless of gender, education, race, religion, etc.
SCORE counselors have real world experience and success. Most counselors are retired, highly motivated to give back to the community, have no hidden agenda, are volunteers, and collectively have expertise in all areas of business. They make perfect mentors and are free to you. To me, they are the equivalent of large company consultants without the high cost associated with them.
To set up an appointment with SCORE, go to their website: http://www.score.org/ to find your nearest SCORE center and phone number, or call them at 1-800-634-0245. Be prepared to do some work to make the relationship into a lasting and productive one. Know that they do not loan money, but will counsel you on all your options to raise it.
SBDC stands for Small Business Development Centers. They have over 1,000 centers in the US and are usually aligned with a local educational institution and local government. Their mission is basically the same as Score’s. Their major difference is their counselors are paid, full-time employees, and they offer more educational seminars. As with SCORE, all their counsel is free and held in strict confidentiality.
To locate the SBCD nearest you, go to http://www.asbdc-us.org/.
You have nothing to lose and lots to gain by visiting either or both, SCORE SBDC— plus both are free to you.