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5 Great Tools From The Small Business Administration

 by: Seomul Evans

If you're a small business owner, you need to check out the Small Business Administration website. You may have been reticent to visit as the SBA has not always been perceived as the most helpful or efficient agency out there. But they do, in fact, have some really helpful tools for small business owners that you should see. They're not only for businesses just starting out, but also for businesses that are well-established. Here are 5 tools to help you.

. Starting Your Business. This is a helpful section that provides great tips for individuals who are interested in starting their own businesses. The first piece of advice in this section is to find a mentor who can guide you through the many steps involved in starting a small business. SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) is a great mentoring group that is loosely affiliated with the SBA and provides free-of-charge guidance to those hoping to start small businesses. This section also includes comprehensive information about financing your startup, creating a budget for your business, and even a break-even analysis.

Other information included in this section covers buying a franchise, deciding on a business name, structuring your business, buying a business, obtaining a business license, and how to lease equipment for your business.

. Small Business Planner. This section includes questions to help you start thinking about what it takes to start your own business. It also includes a list of characteristics held in common by many successful entrepreneurs. Finally, an assessment tool can help you determine if you're ready to start your own business.

. Business Management. This is a great tool to help you think about the management aspect of your business. It talks about leadership skills that you'll need to be a successful business manager, as well as how to set up a business meeting, how to delegate tasks to employees, networking within your community, and running an ethical business.

. Exit Strategies. If you're chomping at the bit to start your own business, chances are you haven't given much thought to your exit strategy. After all, why would you be thinking about the end of your relationship with your business before even starting it? But an exit strategy is an essential part of starting your business because it will make a big difference in the way you start and manage it. This section talks about getting the most out of your company if you decide to sell it. It even goes so far as to discuss how to work with CPAs, how to determine the value of your business, and how to announce that you're going to sell your business.

. Tools. The SBA website has a huge selection of tools for you to use. Do yourself a favor and just look through them. Chances are, you'll find tools you didn't even know you needed! There are sections on regulations and statistics, a glossary of business terms, and some stories of small business owners who have been very successful. There are even videos, podcasts, chats, and forms for download.

Given the reputation of general inefficiency assigned to most government agencies, you may be surprised to find out that the SBA website is so thorough and helpful. It certainly isn't the only resource you'll need as you prepare to start your own business, but it's definitely a great resource to have at the ready as you go about the physical and mental preparations required of entrepreneurship. So add it to your toolbelt and enjoy your success!

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