Reviewing all the programs the Small Business Administration operates is like visiting Willie Wonka's chocolate factory: There are so many good things to examine, you don't know where to begin. We conducted an exhaustive search to uncover the little-known programs that help homebased entrepreneurs grow their businesses. Here's what we found:
The SBA's Web site is a great place to start if you want an overview of this federal agency's offerings. At http://www.sba.gov, you'll find everything from news to a business plan workshop to an entrepreneurial quiz that tests your success quotient.
If, for example, you've been running your business on sheer guts, determination and industry knowledge and now want to write or update your business plan, visit http://www.sbaonline.sba.gov/starting/businessplan.html for a detailed outline to guide you through the process.
The start button (under "Counseling and Resources") is also home to the SBA Resource Directory for Small Business Management, which puts out a series of brochures. These publications give you information about business issues such as family succession planning and managing a growing enterprise. And getting help won't break the bank-most of the publications cost between $2 and $4 each. The videotape series is not as extensive, but it includes a section that discusses how to operate a productive, profitable homebased company, with segments on designing your home office, avoiding isolation by networking and building an image. Each video costs $27 and comes with a workbook.
See our tip on Monday, October 16 for part 2 of this article.