Okay, so all the programs I’ve talked about so far this week involve actually going somewhere, at least for part of the training. But what if you can’t or don’t want to take on that kind of commitment? Or what if you just want information on one aspect of business ownership, such as how to get a small business loan? In that case, I suggest you look into SCORE’s Fast Launch Initiative.
SCORE is a non-profit organization made up of over 11,000 volunteers, mostly former executives and current entrepreneurs, who are willing to lend their time and experience to help small business owners through “education and mentorship.” All of what SCORE offers is free to those who choose to participate and the tools they offer include workshops, individualized business counseling, templates and business necessities, as well as matching you up with a mentor through your local SCORE office.
Their Fast Launch Initiative goes even further to help veterans, Guard, and Reserve members. Through a partnership with the Small Business Administration and corporate sponsors, it is providing such tools as free software, financial advice, and advertising, free trials for other resources, and discounts at others.
The online workshops encompass a wide range of categories, including Business Plans, Apps & Software, and Sales. Specific titles include “Determining Your Business’s Legal Structure,” “How to Market Your Business Using Search Engines,” and “Preparing a Balance Sheet.” Just to see how useful they actually are, I chose to try out the “Extreme Digital Marketing: The BIG Picture” by Lon Safko. It was an extremely detailed presentation on how to use LinkedIn, Google, and other online resources to grow your business and how your social media and web presence impact customer perception. I learned at least five things that I can use to help my blog and it cost me nothing more than an hour of my time.
You can also locate in-person workshops in your area (under the “local workshops” tab) by entering in your zip code. Just a few examples of the types of SCORE workshops that are going to available in the next couple of weeks:
Market like a Guerilla, Sell like a Gorilla – Chicago, IL – 29 October
Developing Your Business Plan – Burnsville, MN – 30 October
New Healthcare Laws – Phoenix, AZ – 5 November
Veterans Expo – Turning Your Passions into Profits by SCORE – St. Petersburg, FL – 10 November
Access to some of the other tools, such as the Tips & Templates section, is as easy as clicking on the “Sign me up!” button and then choosing the category you are interested in. Other tools, such as the online workshop, require you to provide first and last name, an e-mail address, and your zip code. The mentorship category can be in person, which requires you to enter your zip code to locate a mentor close to you, completion of a short request form that explains exactly what type of mentoring (franchising, government contracting, etc.) you are looking for, and your contact information, or via e-mail, in which case you can view the profiles of individuals who are willing to mentor and determine which mentor suits your needs and then click on the “request mentoring” button and complete the short request form.
I’ve only scratched the surface of what SCORE has to offer for those looking to start or grow a business (or get more people to read a blog!) but already I can tell that there’s a lot of useful information available…and at no cost. I’m headed back to the SCORE site to see what else I can find. What about you?
To access Veterans Fast Launch and all of its resources, check out: http://www.score.org/node/3363168/
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