Whether they’re cheering for the underdog or standing firmly behind the little guy, small-business organizations, associations, membership programs, and advocacy groups provide valuable support, resources, and networking opportunities for entrepreneurs. We suspect you’re already familiar with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), an independent federal agency that helps Americans start, build, and grow businesses. Here are a half dozen other organizations you should get to know:
- StartupNation. Need to know how to register a trademark? Or learn to expand your marketing channels? StartupNation, developed by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs, is an online small-business community that provides free information about technology, inventions, growing your business, and more. Its Small Business Braintrust video series features industry insiders discussing and debating relevant news and strategies in a roundtable setting.
- SCORE. Service Corps of Retired Executives is a nonprofit organization that provides expert small-business counseling. Its network consists of more than 13,000 volunteers who offer free advice and mentoring through email, phone, or face-to-face consultations. In addition, SCORE’s website is packed with tools, templates, and online workshops that assist entrepreneurs and company owners in starting, developing, and growing their operations.
- Entrepreneurs’ Organization. The Entrepreneurs’ Organization (formerly known as the Young Entrepreneurs’ Organization) is a global, not-for-profit networking group of 8,000-plus business owners that strives to enable entrepreneurs to learn from one another. One of its notable founding members is infomercial pioneer and Shark Tank investor Kevin Harrington.
- NFIB. The National Federation of Independent Business touts itself as “The Voice of Small Business.” The association, which has some 350,000 members, provides discounts, networking opportunities, online discussion groups, and state and federal lobbying. It also runs young entrepreneur, legal, and research foundations.
- Chamber of Commerce. Your local chamber of commerce can be an excellent resource for growing your business, particularly in your immediate community. Local chambers work to link small businesses by facilitating interaction and support within regional areas. Community chambers also help small-business owners connect with the more than 7,000 chambers of commerce worldwide.
- Meetup. Meet like-minded small-business professionals through this global social-networking group. Meetup connects entrepreneurs online so they can ultimately connect in person. Simply plug in your ZIP code to find a group in your area. With get-togethers happening in more than 1,100 cities, chances are you’ll find a relevant event happening near you.