Aspiring small business owners need help but often don’t know where to turn or who to trust for advice. Here’s the SocialMediaOnlineClasses.com Small Business Resource Guide, a primer on the big issues facing business owners and where to turn for help. Bookmark this page so you can return to it when you need help. I’ve collected the resources I’ve used and wished I knew about when I started my own business. Good luck!
Choosing a Web Hosting Company
Here’s my story in hopes it will help you:
I now have five total websites, and they’re all hosted with the original web host I chose from day one. We’ve been through a lot together, and I’m grateful for all of their help. Why did I choose this particular web host and how have they helped me?
- They were recommended by WordPress as a blog hosting company that works well with their blog tool
- They offer a 5-minute WordPress installation
- They have online help when I get stuck, including videos
- They have live, English-speaking technical support staff available 24/7, so when I’m really in a bind I get can answers
- They helped me figure out how one of my websites was hacked into AND they fixed the problem for no charge! (A web developer I had hired to add a shopping cart to my site had used shoddy techniques and left my site open to hackers. Ugh!)
- They’re affordable, have never had a service outage, which makes my business available 24/7
Who are they? Bluehost.com, and I’ve been with them for over five years and counting.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can use a Facebook page as your main website. Give your business credibility by having a well-designed website, the 21st century version of an online business card. If people can’t find you on the web, you’re losing business, period.
Technology on a Budget
How can you keep costs down while still getting the technology you need to run your business? Open source software, cloud computing, and staying lean. Great articles here.
Getting Funded and Getting Paid
Many mega-banks and small community banks are backing away from small business lending, but loans are still out there to be had. It can be tough to navigate the maze of SBA resources, but it’s worth it. I secured an SBA loan for the second printing of my book after my community bank turned me down, but it wasn’t easy. It took six months of solid determination, filling out massive amounts of paperwork, and constant follow-up calls. Here’s where to go for help.
Indie GoGo (create a campaign to fund your small business and use social media to spread the word. You keep all funds you generate)
Kickstarter (tagline: A new way to fund and follow creativity. Similar to IndieGoGo, but you keep the funding only if you meet your goal.)
Promoting your business can be a full time job, and keeping up with the latest social media tools is nearly impossible. Here’s how to stay ahead of your competition and market efficiently.
Government Resources for Small Business
The U.S. government is serious about providing assistance to entrepreneurs. Know why? Because small businesses pay taxes, and more profitable you are, the more taxes you pay. That’s a good thing. Don’t complain about paying taxes: that means your business is doing well, and you probably got there with the help of the SBA, SCORE, or other government agency. If you’re not there yet, or need help in getting there, here’s where to start:
Small Business Development Centers. These university/college-based offices partner with the SBA to provide educational services to aspiring and growing small business owners. Their budget is far greater than SCORE’s and provides more services. I was made aware of SBDCs by my SCORE mentor, who actually recommended their educational programs. He said they have much bigger budgets and more resources than SCORE. SBDCs exist in all 50 states, and if I can find one in a rural mountainous area, you can too!
SCORE website. SCORE offers excellent mentors and counseling. My own SCORE mentor guided me through the process of getting an SBA loan. Definitely take advantage of the leadership here.
Lastly, check out my growing list of online courses to help you get started with your entrepreneurial venture. Classes are instructor-led, on your own schedule, and I’m available to answer your questions when you get stuck. Look forward to seeing you in class!