Starting a small business or side hustle can be enormously rewarding, both emotionally and financially. During tough financial times, having an additional income stream can be a lifeline. There’s also a great deal of satisfaction in being your own boss. If you have the right idea, persistence, and willingness to work hard, there’s no telling where your business could go.
Sound intimidating? Well, there are a lot of moving parts to launch a business. But the good news is that there are many resources out there to help you succeed. You just need to know where to find them. Here is a collection of some of the best:
When I started my first business, I immediately turned to my local community college. That helped in two ways: First, the continuing education department had affordable seminars on starting a small business that covered basics like whether I should opt to be a sole proprietor or form a business entity. Also, it’s the home of my local Small Business Development Center (SBDC). Administered by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), the nation’s 62 SBDCs are a wealth of information, advice, and research assistance. Whether you need help with the basic mechanics of getting up and running, researching your market, or developing a business plan, your SBDC can help.
Another fantastic resource is SCORE, the Service Corps of Retired Executives. This nationwide nonprofit organization has a network of more than 10,000 volunteer mentors—seasoned business owners and executives—who are ready to give you advice about your business.
The SBA website is useful, too, with lots of content and support for starting an import/export business or contracting with the government.
Websites and books
There are so many small business experts out there who promise to help you get your business off the ground. Some of the best, no-nonsense sites include
Anything by Damon Brown, especially his column on Inc.com, newsletter, and books
Melinda Emerson’s (aka “the Small Biz Lady”) Ending Small Business Failure
Anita Campbell’s Small Business Trends
There’s a totally old-school book but helped change my thinking when I started my first business: It’s Getting Business to Come to You by Paul and Sarah Edwards. They cover some of the timeless aspects of starting a business, like pricing, promotion, and how to shift to an entrepreneur mindset. If you can find a copy, I recommend it.
Another great resource for checking outside hustles is SideHusl. Launched by Kathy Kristof, a personal finance and consumer reporter who was getting many pitches about various “gig economy” opportunities, SideHusl does some important upfront analysis that can help you decide whether the prospective earnings outweigh the costs and risks of doing business, including equipment, supplies, potential liability, and taxes,
I have mixed feelings about multi-level marketing (MLM) opportunities. I know some folks who’ve done very well with them. Most people make very little money, and some lose money with them. If you like sales and have a wide network, you may build a viable business. Generally, I refer people to the Federal Trade Commission’s advisory about MLM for more information.
Bloom Anywhere is constantly updating our resource list for small business information and other needs you may have. Have a good resource? Please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.