QUESTION: I operate a small retail establishment with two employees. I want to grow the business but am uncertain about the best way to proceed. What resources are there for advice and counsel?
ANSWER: The old saying "It's lonely at the top" is never more true than when YOU have the sole responsibility for all decisions. For a new business the decisions you make in the first year can determine success or failure.
The small business owner must wear many hats. It's not enough to know your product or service. You must also have more than a passing knowledge of legal, tax, bookkeeping, insurance, advertising and marketing issues, to name a few.
How do you know where to find out what you need to know, is the critical question? The answer is to find and develop a relationship with a mentor.
"You may be surprised, but the government offers many free resources and services to support small business owners, both online and locally", according to the Small Business Administration (SBA) web site http://tinyurl.com/65273d8. One such resource is SCORE, a national non profit organization and resource partner with the SBA.
Founded in 1964, SCORE has 364 chapters throughout the United States. SCORE is a valuable network of 13,000+ volunteers who offer small business entrepreneurs free and confidential business counseling services. The dedicated volunteers represent over 270,000 years of experience across 62 industries.
SCORE provides resources, templates and tools to assist entrepreneurs in developing the business plan they need to navigate their way to small business success. Log on to http://naples.score.org/resources/national to access these free resources.
SCORE also provides local workshops and events throughout the country to connect small business owners with the people and information they need to start, grow, and maintain their businesses, as well as online workshops available 24/7. A list of upcoming workshops in the Naples area can be accessed at http://naples.score.org/events