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July 19, 2011

By Michael Chang, Contributing Columnist






Starting your own business is the ticket from cubicle slavery, where
you spend hours upon hours working for bosses up a long chain of
command. If you own your own small business, you can pursue
something you have a passion for, you can set your own schedules,
and you can determine your own course of living. Yet, it is a daunting
challenge.

Without information, resources, and assistance, you might find
yourself at a loss at even how to begin this endeavor. At the onset, it
is important to educate yourself and locate the resources available to
help you on this project. Are there any government programs to help
you start a business? Which government programs help
entrepreneurs?

Browsing through the following government agencies designed to
assist budding entrepreneurs and business owners is great first step
to starting your own business.

1.
Small Business Administration (SBA)

Established in 1953, the United States Small Business Adminstration
(www.sba.gov) emerged as an independent agency of the federal
government that sought to aid, counsel, assist and protect small
business concerns. It seeks to provide Americans with the resources
to start, build and grow their own individual businesses. Among the
services that it provides are access to capital and business financing,
entrepreneurial development through technical assistance and
training, and counseling sessions.

Start-up money is required for businesses to launch and for some,
finding the ways in which to find investment can be difficult. While
the SBA does not provide direct grants to small business owners, the
agency serves as a useful resource to locate the agencies and
foundations that do offer such grants and financing option. SBA
consolidates all this information for you, easily accessible on either
their website or their many field offices.

In addition, the agency provides potential business owners with
information on other government agencies and programs that
provide business training and development.

2.
SCORE Association

Launching your own small business project can be an overwhelming
thought. If you have not had the formal business administration
education, you might lack the knowledge needed to begin the
business. Even if you have a college degree in Business Economics,
you make lack the practical know-how to get your business idea
implemented.

A nonprofit association dedicated to mentoring small business
owners for more than forty years, SCORE Association (www.score.
org) provides individuals thinking about starting their own business
with the skills and resources that they need to launch their project.
Dubbed “Counselors to America’s Small Business,” the organization
offers business counseling services, including topics such as business
planning, financing or human resources, at no charge. With a
network of more than 13,000 volunteer counselors, individuals
looking for assistance can attend local workshops and events to
achieve their business success.

3.
Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs)

Small businesses compose the backbone of the American economy
and many are run by individual families that might not necessarily
have the funds to hire private consultants to assist with business
planning and development efforts. With America’s Small Business
Development Centers( www.asbdc-us.org) , new entrepreneurs can
access free comprehensive services to boost their business and
remain competitive in the marketplace.

The free educational services provided for small business owners
include financial, production, organization, marketing, and technical
problems, among other business-related topics. Anyone interested in
starting a small business that is unable to afford private consultation
services can request assistance from this agency, which is located in
all 50 states.

4.
The Association of Women’s Business Center (AWBC)

As difficult as it already is to begin your own business, it is even
tougher if you are a woman, given the additional barriers in the
corporate and business world. With The Association of Women’s
Business Centers (www.awbc.biz) founded in 1998, you will receive
the tailored services needed to help jump start your business ideas
into action!

Through training, education, mentorship, and pooling of resources,
this national not-for-profit organization provides support and
services to women business owners throughout the nation. Because
women are poorly represented in the business world, this community-
based organization seeks to provide entrepreneurial development
training to women. To date, it has provided training, technical
assistance, and access to capital to over 150,000 women annually.




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