If you're in need of business advice but short on cash, consider going back to school for help. Universities and colleges are filled with talented student and faculty members who can offer creative solutions to your business problems. Following is just a sampling of what is available; check with local schools for programs in your area.
- Harvard Student Agencies offers small-business owners in the Boston area low-cost services, including graphic design, temporary personnel and software testing. Fees are typically up to 50 percent less than market rates. For information, call (617) 495-3030
- The Institute for Women as Entrepreneurs, a new program sponsored by and located at the school of Business Administration at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga, offers free information and assistance to women entrepreneurs starting or expanding businesses. Assistance is provided by students, faculty and outside consultants. The process begins by calling (423) 755-4412 to schedule an evaluation with a small-business consultant.
- Rent-a-Brain consulting services offers small-business owners in the Riverside, California, area assistance with marketing, customer satisfaction and feasibility studies; business plan development; product test marketing and more. Working under the supervision of faculty members a team of students from La Sierra University's Student in Free Enterprise program help entrepreneurs at almost any stage of their company's development.
Fees charged are lower than market rates. For more information, call (909) 785-2058 or (909) 785-2060.
- The Institute for Small Business, created by Georgia State University in Atlanta with help from business assistance organizations and private corporations, is aimed at introducing entrepreneurs to leading experts in all phases of growing and managing a company.
In November, the institute began a series of quarterly breakfast meetings, where small-business owners spend three hours learning about issues including marketing, leadership and family in business. The next meeting is tentatively scheduled for February 14.
In addition to the quarterly networking and educational breakfasts, the institute plans to develop programs where its MBA students (mostly working professionals already in management positions) can take internships in small business. The cost of annual membership in the institute is $250. For more information, call (404) 651-2815