Whether you are just starting to brainstorm your business idea, are in the beginning stages of your business plan, or recently launched your new small business, there are resources you need to take advantage of right here in Austin that will help you, for FREE. This last year Austin was voted #4 in The 10 Friendliest Cities for Small Business by CNBC and was in the #1 spot for the last three years. It’s no secret that small businesses have been popping up throughout this city over the last few years. It also seems as if everyone you meet here is a successful business owner or an aspiring entrepreneur.
Owning a small business, regardless of the size, is no small undertaking. Some days you may feel as if you are swimming upstream thinking ‘What am I DOING?’ – when you feel like this I would like you to remember one of my favorite quotes:
“WHEN YOU FEEL LIKE QUITTING THINK ABOUT WHY YOU STARTED.”
As business owners, we all have those days – I have yet to meet someone who has had a PERFECTLY SEAMLESS transition into starting their own business. Another thing to remember is that Austin has so many resources for small businesses anytime you need help. When I started my business I was floored at all of the free resources Austin offered to small businesses – this city is passionate about small business and it shows.
Top 10 Free Resources for Small Business Owners:
- Small Business Program – If you have not yet been to the City of Austin’s Small Business Program website – you need to get there, FAST! This website is your starting point for all small business resources available to you within Austin. Here you can find everything from classes, small business coaching, events, an outline of where to start when launching your own business, and checklists of open items to complete.
- BizAid Business Orientation – This is the first class you should take if you are thinking about starting a small business in Austin. It is instructed by a member of the Small Business Program and provides an overview of how to get started along with an essential resource guide.
- BizOpen – If you are thinking about opening a brick and mortar business this is the next class you should take. In this class the instructor, who works for the city, will cover all your checklist items for getting started with Austin’s development and permitting process. If you aren’t sure whether you are planning to open a store front yet, I would still recommend taking this class to ask any questions you may have which might help you with your decision. Attendees of this class with receive a resource guide to help them through the development process. Register for both of these classes among many others here.
- BiGAustin – BiGAustin is a solution center for small business owners offering everything from classes to one-on-one consulting. This is a resource center that you do not want to miss out on especially if you are in need of funding to start your business. BiGAustin will help you throughout your business plan creation and walk you through your loan application process.
- SCORE – SCORE offers small business owners one-on-one coaching from certified mentors. Their mentors are retired small business owners and corporate executives who volunteer their time to help with the start of your business. The wonderful thing about SCORE is their dedication to supporting you throughout your business as well. Your mentor will be there for you whenever you need them. They also offer free small business classes on a range on different topics from small business finances to social media.
- Tech Ranch – Tech Ranch is a community focused on helping entrepreneurs succeed in any stage of their business. They offer a free coaching call and in the past have partnered with others to offer pro-bono legal clinics to answer questions from small business owners. Check out their calendar for free events and classes.
- LocallyAustin.org – LocallyAustin.org is your go-to resource to find the existing small businesses in Austin. If you are wondering which businesses already exist in the city within your industry this is a great tool for you. Once you are officially launched be sure to add your business listing to the website too! There is also a search tool for small business resources.
- Lawyer Referral Service of Central Texas – The Lawyer Referral Service of Central Texas is a beneficial resource for those who are in search of a lawyer. This service will help you whether you need to find a lawyer for business filing or are wondering about local resources and aren’t sure where to start. Their referral counselors can answer general legal questions and will refer you to an appropriate lawyer, the first referral is free.
- Austin CPA Finder – I’m sure this isn’t the first time you will hear this – your two best friends during your business life should be your lawyer and your CPA. Similar to the above, if you are in search of a CPA and not sure where to start, Austin CPA Finder is where you need to look. Here you can search for local CPA offices and refine your search by services and location.
- Austin Public Library – The Austin Public Library provides resources such as business plan, financial, legal, and marketing templates to help you with your business. Here you can also search for metrics related to your industry and business profiles within databases.
I hope this helps you get started with your business idea, back on track with your existing business, or simply provides you with a new resource to take advantage of to benefit your business. This list by no means compiles all of the resources that are available to small business owners in Austin. There are many, many more you will uncover once you’ve worked your way through this list. These resources are free and the best to start with when you are on a tight start-up budget. My one piece of advice to you is to take advantage of everything you can – there is no reason not to know something when it is all available to you at your fingertips. Get out there, ask questions, and learn!
I wish you the best and remember why you started your small business when you are having one of your ‘small business owner days’ – you are not alone!
About the Author
Annie Ferreri is the owner and founder of Parenters, a new parenting resource for families in Austin and the surrounding areas offering in-home, child-specific guidance, education, and support to parents. Annie has a background in childcare and corporate finance – two very different industries which have both helped her to launch her business. Read her story to learn more.