Free Generic Small Business Advice
Think of this as the classic Google search. Done right it can produce brilliant and timeless insights, but it typically yields more guiding principles than personalized advice. How can it be anything else, as it’s instantly available to millions of people? That’s not to say that free, generic advice isn’t critical. It’s vital to have your head around the foundations, to make sure you’re not paying to reinvent the wheel with paid advisors. Top notch resources of this type include:
- Entrepreneur.com (www.entrepreneur.com): This site is a classic go to for entrepreneurs—quite simply a staple that you should revisit often.
- Forbes (forbes.com/entrepreneurs): Another classic that should be on your regular return list. This is a proven brand that makes sure it has quality content.
- Inc. Magazine (www.inc.com): This magazine provides great content, relevant from start-up to mature business stage.
- Meetup (meetup.com): This amazing site isn’t used as much as it should be. Those who’ve discovered it are hooked. Use it to network with almost any conceivable group that is key to your business.
- Startup Nation (startupnation.com): This site consolidates great articles from seasoned contributors. It covers start up and growth stages and a full range of topics.
- Small Business Trends (http://smallbiztrends.com): This website has strong content and great levels of engagement with readers. Coverage is broad and insightful.
- Google/Bing (you already know the URLs): You probably use search engines so much that you take them for granted. Don’t forget how powerful they are.
- US Small Business Administration (sba.gov): This government site provides reliable information that also incorporates links to helpful government data sources.
- Government of Canada (http://www.canadabusiness.ca/eng/page/2793): The Canada Business Network provides an immense list of free and paid resources. This page also provides links to excellent provincial and territorial government resources.
- AllBusinessExperts (http://experts.allbusiness.com): Solid expert contributed content on a range of topics makes this a high value destination.
- Quora (quora.com): A free question and answer site, this resource can provide powerful crowdsourced intelligence. However, because interactions are public, there’s no doubt you’re going to want to keep your use of this one to generic issues.
Free Personalized Small Business Advice
Free advice that’s also tailored to your situation provides the best of both worlds; specific, actionable insight and strong ROI. Many excellent government programs provide seasoned experts that deliver highly personalized small business advice at no charge. Active private sector experts also often provide this type of guidance in order to develop new client relationships. It’s always important to deal with reputable experts that genuinely seek to earn your business by providing free, personalized insights. Such relationships should never be geared upon pressure to do paid business. By providing free, personalized guidance, true experts know that they are maximizing their chances of being selected when you are seeking to pay for further in-depth insight and assistance in implementation.
Top-notch sources of free, personalized advice include:
- SCORE (score.org): This volunteer organization spans the US and provides free mentoring for small businesses. It is highly personalized and high quality.
- Canada Business Network (canadabusiness.ca/eng/page/contact): This Government of Canada resource provides links to many free and paid sources of tailored small business advice for Canada. It includes links to private sector resources as well as high value provincial and territorial government resources.
- mySMEAdvisoryBoard.com (www.mySMEAdvisoryBoard.com): This free platform connects every small/mid-size organization to its own dedicated board of small business advisors, covering sales/marketing, legal, HR, finance, IT/operations and strategy (disclosure: the author of this article is associated with mySMEAdvisoryBoard.com).