Starting a business from scratch is a scary idea. Aside from the inherent risk involved (be sure you plan for failure, as this will have you prepared to deal with any eventuality), there is so much you need to know. Where do you turn for information and advice?
Magazines and Blogs
Blessings be upon the internet, eh? While the facts may sometimes be generic, there is a plethora of websites and blogs out there in cyberspace, just waiting to be discovered. And while new ones emerge and take over all the time, these three offer abundant articles and posts for just about anything you need or want to understand.
With a tagline that says “Start, Run, and Grow Your Business”, you’re well covered. This magazine and website provides a range of topics, how to’s, and lists for the new and budding business owner.
“Small Business Ideas and Resources for Entrepreneurs”. Doesn’t that just say it all? Their online categories include Startup, Grow, Lead, Innovate, People, and Money. If you need information or advice that Inc. doesn’t have, you probably don’t really need to know.
Business + Innovation. This one leans more towards innovation and creativity in business, but that’s not a bad thing. Certainly worth checking it out periodically, as the new ideas presented will probably spark something for you.
Yes, you could go with Facebook and Twitter, but that’s so two years ago. Many social media platforms pride themselves on being geared towards professionals and entrepreneurs (rather than cat and wipeout video lovers). You have, of course, heard of LinkedIn, and the platform remains one of the best if you’re looking for a new job, or hoping to connect with industry leaders and startups. There are dozens of groups and forums you can join to discuss topics and issues relevant to you and your new business. Some less known (but equally valuable) platforms for meeting and mingling include:
- Young Entrepreneurs - a great source for blog posts and videos on topics that matter to you, as well as some very popular and busy forums and discussion boards.
The idea here is to find, connect, and then mine for information (as well as pass along your own pearls of wisdom), the people that can help you. After all, if two heads are better than one, then thousands of heads must be better than two, right? Utilise the power of the internet - and its global reach - to truly find the best and wisest people out there. Share the knowledge!
Check out Mashable’s list of the top ten social media platforms for entrepreneurs for even more ideas.
Your College or University Alumni Association
Too many people ignore or forget about this potential treasure trove of valuable insight and connections. No matter how little experience you have, no matter how green or unknown you are, you can leverage your alumni organisation to meet and connect with people that can help, advise, or point you in the right direction. Did a powerful and successful leader in your industry attend the same school as you? Use that to make initial contact. Remember that guy from class that was an amazing programmer? Find him through your alumni group and ask for help with your business website or app. The possibilities are endless. Going to college immediately connects you to thousands of people, and most are happy (or at least more willing) to assist someone that went to the same alma mater. Don’t abuse or milk it, but mentioning the connection, or using the resources available through them, should be part of your entrepreneurial tool belt.
Don’t forget about your investors! Most - if not all of them - want to help. They need you to succeed so they can see a healthy return on their investment. And if they’ve got the money to risk on you, they’ve obviously done well for themselves. Utilise their experience. Ask questions.
Private and Government Resources
Most countries have some sort of organisation or branch devoted to promoting and helping new and small business owners. Find them and use them. The resources and information - location and country specific - are absolutely invaluable. Checklists, tax advice, applications for permits and licenses...everything you need, all under one virtual roof. A simple Google search using the keywords “small business government of [blank]” will return many great sources.
The United States
The United Kingdom
- Starting a Business in Canada
- Canadian Federation of Independent Business
- Official Government Business Portal
- Australian Small Business Commissioner
There are other avenues and places to seek out. The Better Business Bureau (or its equivalent), the local Chamber of Commerce (or equivalent), the list goes on. No matter what information you need, no matter the obstacle you find yourself facing, the answer is out there. And most of the time, it’s only a few keystrokes away. Just go typing.