Happy National Small Business Week!

May 23-25 2010 is National Small Business Week, this year honoring the approximately 27.2 small businesses in America.  More than half of us either own or work for a small business. Small businesses create an estimated 60-80% of new jobs in the country. With approximately 60% of U.S. small businesses owned by women and single women, it’s time to examine how you can turn an idea of yours into a small business, or how the business you already own can shine.  Here are five key ways to start with a business plan or grow on your existing model.
Start at the top. The government has many ways to help your small business succeed.  From many local development agencies through the national network of SCORE,  you’ve got access to free or very low-cost advice from experts in your industry.  Puja, 41 and just starting her own lunch delivery service from Seattle even had good luck with the IRS, “I kept calling them for little questions here and there.  One of the guys I’d spoken to called me back—to tell me something had just become deductable that he said wasn’t.”

Associations mean networking. From seminars on how your business can save energy to associations that matchmake corporations looking for women or minority-owned suppliers, through microlending to get women owned businesses on their feet, there are resources aplenty in associations—and a portion of those membership fees may be a tax write-off. Female-specific associations like Webgrrls help you grow through technology.

Your bank or credit union. Check out your current personal bank and ask what packages or networking they offer for small businesses.  It pays to shop around—you may get further discounts if you open a personal and small business accounts at one bank.

Your social and online network. If you need to ask about price points, the culture of a country you’re trying to do business with, or even just the value of different media—chances are a partner or friend of a friend will know something about it.  Post it on your Facebook/website/tweet about it or just ask for a word of mouth help and more than likely you’ll be surprised at what people in your circle know.

Your local universities and colleges. Do you want a savvy video for your website?  A creatively designed poster?  Someone to teach you about Flash or tweet for you?  The next business tycoon is out there and probably still in school.  Kathryn, a 29 year old knitting store owner from Minneapolis used local students to create all her signage.  “I was able to tap into available talent for less than I would have paid for a seasoned professional!”   You’ll get the talent you need at a price your business can afford—they get the experience and exposure.

Whatever your micro-goal for this week and beyond, your business is looking stronger already!

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