Do-it-yourself small businesses don’t normally look to the government for help. But maybe they should start. The federal government is desperate for small businesses to succeed.
In the midst of record unemployment, a new Kauffman Foundation-funded U.S. Census Bureau study reports that startup companies are a major contributor to job creation. And according to the Startup America Partnership, companies less than five years old account for all of the net job growth in our country between 1980 and 2005.
Here is a list of government sites to help small businesses. Find a mentor, develop your business plan, access financing, and let them know what you think.
“Startup America” is the White House initiative to celebrate, inspire, and accelerate high-growth entrepreneurship throughout the nation. This coordinated public and private effort brings together entrepreneurs, corporations, universities, foundations, and other leaders, working in concert with a wide range of federal agencies to increase the prevalence and success of America‘s entrepreneurs. Here are some of the sites to its launched projects:
Reducing Barriers to Entrepreneurship. This is an online forum to submit and vote on what processes and regulations should be modified, eliminated, or strengthened to support entrepreneurship.
Startup America Partnership The Startup America Partnership is a private-sector coalition of mentors, advisors, funders, major corporations and service providers to help entrepreneurs start and scale companies. This site offers assistance at all stages of development: idea, start-up, ramp-up, and speed-up.
Energy Innovation Portal. This site provides entrepreneurs with enhanced access to U.S. Department of Energy laboratories and government-patented energy technology, including: Startup America technologies available for licensing and “America‘s Next Top Energy Innovator,” the DOE‘s Startup America initiative.
Veteran Fast Launch Initiative. This program is a combined package of training scholarships, free software and services, combined with a mentoring program to help accelerate the ability of veterans and their families to start and succeed as small business owners.
Entrepreneurial Mentor Corps. This is an initiative by the U.S. Small Business Administration, mobilizing successful business owners to mentor and support startups and entrepreneurs.
NSF Innovation Corps. The National Science Foundation Innovation Corps — called “I-Corps” — program brings entrepreneurial know-how together with discoveries ripe for innovation out of the university lab.
SBIR.gov. This site is designed to help small businesses connect with federal agencies as part of the Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR) and the Small Business Technology Transfer Program (STTR). SBIR.gov features a single database of all awards and solicitations across all 11 participating federal agencies.
The U.S. Small Business Administration has delivered millions of loans, loan guarantees, contracts, counseling sessions and other forms of assistance to small businesses. Here are some of the features offered on its site.
Starting and Managing a Business. This includes resources to get your business started and to manage it successfully after its launch. Find a mentor, learn to write a business plan, and review regulations and business guidelines.
Loans and Grants. Determine your financial needs, then evaluate SBA loan programs to see which is right for your needs. Find an SBA lender, and prepare for your meeting.
Online Small Business Training. Take advantage of free online courses from SBA to learn the basics of important topics related to your small business, such as managing a business and finance.
Counseling and Training. SBA provides small business counseling, mentoring and training through a variety of programs and resource partners. Access what’s available online and in your area.
Contracting. This section lists the information you need to get started contracting with the federal government.
The Internal Revenue Service provides a variety of tools to help small businesses understand and plan for their federal tax responsibilities. Here are some of the features offered on its site.
Small Business Tax Center. This is the tax center for small businesses. It provides forms and publications, links to small business online tools, frequently asked questions, and more.
Virtual Small Business Workshop. The Virtual Small Business Workshop is designed to help small business owners understand and fulfill their federal tax responsibilities.
IRS Video Portal. IRS Video Portal contains video and audio presentations on topics of interest to small businesses, individuals and tax professionals. You will find video clips of tax topics, archived versions of live panel discussions and webinars.
IRS Live. IRS Live is a live webinar among IRS experts and industry professionals aimed at educating tax professionals on the most current and complex tax issues affecting them and their clients.
Grants.gov. Grants.gov was established as a governmental resource named “E-Grants Initiative,” part of the president’s 2002 Fiscal Year Management Agenda to improve government services to the public. Today, Grants.gov is a central storehouse for information on over 1,000 grant programs and provides access to approximately $500 billion in annual awards.
State economic development agencies. Each state has an agency that administers business grants. Agency names vary by state. About.com has assembled a list of links to these agencies’ websites.