The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that around 50% of small businesses in the U.S. collapse within the first five years of operation. Most of these small businesses face similar problems. They suffer from poor leadership, improper planning, and poor marketing skills. Others do a terrible job at picking profitable business models. Many of those small businesses would thrive if the owners had someone to educate them. Unfortunately, consultation fees today are quite high. Small businesses may need to pay up to $150/ hour to enjoy these services. However, there are plenty of free and low-cost consulting options available. Read on to learn more.
Who Can Benefit from Low-Cost Consulting?
Aspiring Entrepreneurs – The moment before setting up a business is crucial for any entrepreneur. The decisions you make at this stage determine the future of your business. A consultant can help you generate business ideas and select a profitable model, as well as help you conduct market research and enlighten you on how to get a business license and permits.
Entrepreneurs – From social media marketing to cash flow management, there are many skills that new as well as experienced entrepreneurs can learn from consultants. They can learn how to secure government contracts or expand their businesses.
Small Businesses – One reason why many startups fail after launching is due to improper planning. That’s why consultants strive to help startups with business planning. Various institutions have come up with business training programs for startup owners.
Where Can Small Businesses Get Free or Low-Cost Consulting Services?
- Small Business Development Centers (SBDC)
The small business development center brings former executives and former business owners together. Their experience enables them to provide valuable advice to new and aspiring entrepreneurs.
SBDCs allow you to enjoy free in-person consulting sessions. They cover any topic from finance to marketing. If you cannot make it to an in-person consultation, you can enroll in their online classes. These centers also provide low-cost workshops for startup owners.
- SCORE Business Mentors
SCORE allows you to select a mentor based on your industry. You can also request the SCORE team to choose one for you. SCORE has over 300 offices in the United States, but you can also opt to connect with your mentor via email. The organization provides tons of free training videos and webinars for entrepreneurs.
- Women’s Business Centers
These are smaller business development centers that help female entrepreneurs. These centers have a keen interest in financially disadvantaged women. The training enables women to identify problems they encounter when running small businesses. It also helps them come up with solutions to those problems. Everything in these centers, from networking events to entrepreneurial classes, is free.
- Minority Business Development Agency Business Centers
The Minority Business Development Agency has been on the frontline of supporting small businesses. It has 40 centers that hold free consulting sessions for minority-owned businesses. They train the entrepreneurs on how to expand their businesses both locally and globally. They also provide loans and capital to members of the minority communities.