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Newly Graduated? – 10+ Tools and Resources to Help You Start Your First Business

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Newly Graduated? – 10+ Tools and Resources to Help You Start Your First Business

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: May 30, 2013 Updated: May 30, 2013

GraduatesJust graduated from college and looking to start your own business? With the economy still in recovery mode, many students are actively seeking an alternative to traditional post-college career paths.

According to Kauffman Foundation, young entrepreneurship in the U.S. is on the rise, with the 20-34 age group comprising 29 percent of the total new entrepreneurship activity in 2011.

Starting a business isn’t easy, and clearly for many young people it’s a risky path to take. Concerns range from worrying about being able to get a loan or line of credit; not having the skills or knowledge to start; and not knowing how to run a business (source: iHonest.com).

But for those with great ideas and a desire to be their own boss (and employment generator), support is at hand. Both online and in small business assistance centers throughout the country, SBA and its partners offer a variety of tools, programs and resources to help young entrepreneurs plan, start and grow their businesses.

Here are just a few tools that can help make the difference between success and failure as you plan your post-college entrepreneurial dream:

Free Online Training for Young Entrepreneurs

For a useful overview of the steps you need to take to get started, as well as some considerations that can help you understand if running a business is for you, take a look at this Free Online Course – Young Entrepreneurs: An Essential Guide to Starting your Own Business. This self-paced training course walks you through the steps of turning a business idea into reality. It includes tips on doing your research, deciding on a business model, understanding financing options for young entrepreneurs and six “must-do’s” for getting started.

Get Help and Mentorship

As mentioned above, not knowing how to start or manage a business is a huge concern for young entrepreneurs. But did you know you can get the services of a mentor – someone who has walked in your shoes – for free? SCORE is one such organization that can pair you with a mentor for general business guidance, or help in specific areas such as finance or marketing.  Local Small Business Development Centers, Women’s Business Centers and other organizations also offer counseling, training and assistance. Find one near you here. You can also use SBA’s Events Calendar to find and sign up for training in your area

Online Tools That Help at Every Stage

Wondering how to create a business plan? Need help determining how your business stacks up against the competition? Unclear of the steps involved in starting your business?

The SBA.gov website has developed numerous online tools and guides to help small businesses get information and answers they need quickly and efficiently. For example, these 10 Steps to Starting a Business and these 10 Steps to Hiring your First Employee guides are essential reading. Did you know you need a business license or permit to operate legally? This Licenses and Permits Search Tool can point you to what you need.

Other tools that business owners are finding extremely valuable include:

  • Build a Business Plan Tool – Many of us put business planning off, thinking we’ll come back to it when we need to put something official in front of a potential investor. But it’s vital that young entrepreneurs plan their businesses, set goals and define plans for achieving them. To help create your plan, check out SBA’s interactive “Build a Business Plan” tool, which guides you through the process of creating a basic, downloadable business plan. The great thing about it is you can build a plan in smaller chunks of time, save your progress and return at your leisure.
  • “SizeUp” Your Competition – How does your business stack up against the completion? Where are your competitors located? What are the best places to market your business? Use SBA’s “SizeUp tool to crunch millions of data points and get customizable reports and statistics about your business and its competition. Just enter your industry, city, state and other details. SizeUp then runs various reports and provides maps and data related to your competition, suppliers and customers. It also highlights potential advertising opportunities.
  • Want to Sell to Uncle Sam? To help you determine if your new business might qualify with the largest buyer in the world – the U.S. federal government – use SBA’s Size Standards Tool to see if you qualify for special set-aside contracts for small businesses.

Additional Resources

 

Image courtesy of Steven Depolo via Flickr

About the Author:

Caron Beesley

Contributor

Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley

Comments:

I graduated from banking academy, but now I'm the owner a small shop about mobile phone, in future, I want to expand it. Universities just make students smarter and grownsman. I think so
A lot of people who graduated in college really get into business there is a bigger opportunity in getting higher income. There risk is a lot bigger too!
In my experience, some of the above advice is really great, dynamic and young people have the flexibility to spontaneously take your work with the other, it will bring you unexpected things to.
You've shared some great points here, I especially like the recommendation of finding a mentor - it can make a real difference. I'd never heard of the SCORE website before, it seems very useful for this. Excellent post.
Wonderful suggestion! When I look back at last two years of my small business, I find myself lacking in making new contacts. Yes, I am a part of many forums, communities and all but I am more into read n think stuff instead of making some valuable contribution.
My number one piece of advice is, use your disposable job income to fund your business efforts. My second is, find the business opporunities that are low financial risk with leveraged time income compensation models. Lastly, make sure its something you're passionate about and give it 110% of your effort.
Here is an incredible resource for building your email list so you can get a lot of people to your website - people who are actually looking for whatever you are selling. Go to the link below and check this out - it will make a huge difference in the growth of your business.
Good article to promote a entrepreneur feel among the youngsters, who couldn't pursue their dream to do big because of lack of helpful hands. with such initiative that SBA has been providing over the year, it is best to optimize this available option in hand. Hence the time has come for everyone to do their best to be counted among the successful people.
I wish I knew about this when I was exiting college. I think one of the most important things you mentioned is definitely getting a solid business plan together. The SBA interactive tool (I just checked it out) is solid and will definitely be useful. I would like to add another thing that's important: Find your niche. No matter what industry you're going into, find what makes you unique and different and become the leader in that field.
Starting a business is a great idea for recent college grads or even students between semesters. With young people spending so much time on the internet playing games and keeping in contact with their friends, some of that time can be converted into starting a blog or online business. Many businesses are not brick and mortar anymore and there is no reason a grad couldn't turn their blog into a business.

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