Q. Dear Zenagos,
I can’t afford a business coach. Is there any free resource for people who need business help?
Good news! If you’re a small business owner, and you’re looking for free help, there are many terrific resources available. We list some of them on the Zenagos website: https://zenagos.com/resources/. Here are some of our favorites:
Free Business Coaching
You can get free business coaching from retired executives at SCORE. You can talk to as many coaches as you want. For example, you could set up regular meetings with a general business coach, and you could talk with a coach who specializes in legal issues, and you could also talk to a coach who specializes in tax issues. This is an amazing resource for U.S. small business owners. Even if you don’t connect with the first coach you meet, try again. Where else will you find experienced executives who want to help you for free? They won’t sell you anything – it’s free with no strings attached.
Free Help Finding Lenders
If you need a loan, start with the US Small Business Adminstration‘s website and try out its Lender Match service. Based on your zip code and loan amount, this service will connect you with banks or a Small Business Development Center (SBDC). The OCC (2016) explains, “There are more than 1,000 SBDCs, operating in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and many U.S. territories. The centers offer free counseling and training for small businesses on topics such as business planning, financial management, marketing, and access to capital. Some SBDCs specialize in certain areas, such as rural businesses, international finance, or technology transfer. In some cases, an SBDC may offer incubator space and support services for fledgling businesses. The services offered at local SBDCs are based on local needs and economic development strategies.” It’s worth your time to find and connect with any SBDC’s near you.
Free Help with Finances
If you need a loan or other financing for your business, you will probably need to create a financial forecast. Some SBDCs will give you free help putting together your company’s financials, so you can fill out a loan application.
Most small business owners are experts in their field, but did not receive extensive business training, so they have some knowledge gaps about business. Even those who majored in business or received an MBA may not have taken classes in small business topics. So, don’t go it alone – connect with the people in your community who are dedicated to helping small business owners succeed. All you need to do is ask!
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Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. (2016). SBA small business development centers [Fact sheet]. Retrieved on October 7, 2023, from https://www.occ.gov/publications-and-resources/publications/community-affairs/community-developments-fact-sheets/pub-fact-sheet-ca-sbdc-feb-2016.pdf