Starting a business for the first time on your own can be scary and oftentimes paralyzing. You have so many decisions to make and so many tasks and people vying for your time and money. How can you manage it all?! Lucky for you, there are many resources (most of which are free) for those wanting to start a business or grow an already existing business. They can connect you with the resources, people and information you need to get your business to a place you want it.

Small Business Association (SBA)

The Small Business Association (SBA) is a federal government run agency that provides resources to small businesses including connecting business owners with financing options, training and education opportunities, government contracting opportunities and guidance, and policy support and research. The SBA has a robust online resource guide, as well as district offices across the United States that can provide more local service. Learn more about State Small Business Development Centers here.


SCORE is the largest network of volunteer, expert business mentors in the country, with 10,000 volunteers and 300 chapters nationwide. Business owners or entrepreneurs can get paired with or search for a mentor to help them as they start or grow a business. The mentorship program is free and can be provided on an ongoing basis in person or over phone/email/video by an expert in entrepreneurship or in the business owners’ industry. They have webinars, online courses, events, and a library of resources accessible to entrepreneurs.

Chamber of Commerce

Joining your local chamber of commerce can provide exceptional opportunities for networking and connecting with other local business owners and entrepreneurs. It’s also a good way to get customer referrals and be an active participant in your community. They can also be a resource and support in your local government to help with law changes or policy shifts.

Industry Associations

Joining industry associations specific to your field of business has many advantages. Associations provide advocacy for policy and legislative issues, updates on industry trends and issues, and can provide valuable networking and education opportunities with other members. There are thousands of associations nationwide, whether local, state, or national that could be right up your alley. Here is a list of many industry associations to help you get started on finding the one that’s right for you.

National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB)

The National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) advocates on behalf of small businesses in a variety of areas. Policies are established by the members directly. It is the largest small business association in the country. Being a member isn’t free, but if it’s right for you, the fee could be worth it.

National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO)

The NAWBO represents over 10 million women-owned businesses in chapters across the country. It does require a membership fee. They are a thought leader on women’s business issues, an advocate for important public policy issues, and in creating strategic business alliances.

American Express Trends & Insights

American Express has some fantastic resources for small business owners with their online resource library, covering topics including managing money, getting customers, building your team, and planning for growth.

1 Million Cups

1 Million Cups is a free program where entrepreneurs can engage with each other and get access to tools and resources to help them start or grow their businesses – all over a cup of coffee. There are opportunities for coaching and mentoring and to build a community of entrepreneurs.

Creative Mornings

Creative Mornings provides the platform for face-to-face community events where local creatives get together every month for a breakfast lecture. All events are free of charge. They also launched the CreativeGuild, a membership-based network for companies and individuals, as well as job postings. If you’re looking for something with these benefits, this might be a good option for you.


Meetup is a platform that allows people to find or build their own communities, find support and learn new things. Entrepreneurs can build their careers, network, take classes, and more in career groups. You can create and post your own event or find one near you.

One of the common themes we noticed about many of these organizations is that they provide the opportunity to build or grow a community. People often dismiss networking opportunities, but really these resources aren’t just about networking to get ahead or get a sale, they are about having a support system that understands what you are going through, can provide guidance when necessary, and help you develop a sense of camaraderie.

XcelHR also has a several free resources available to business owners, including articles, webinars, podcasts and more. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.