By Janet Attard
The single most important thing you can do before you apply for a business loan is to get to know the local resources available to help you. In the United States, there are a wealth of Federal, state and local resources such as the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), SCORE, and economic development agencies that exist specifically to help small businesses grow.
Since cash is so necessary for growth and survival, the people in these local government offices usually know exactly which banks do business with small businesses. They also may be able to suggest ways to combine lending programs to come up with the money you need. They also may offer training courses and other types of help you need.
The same is true of trade associations and small business associations. Active associations will attract the leaders in your business community. They will attract your competitors and they will attract people you want to do business with. They are also magnets for investment bankers, attorneys, accounting firms and investors.
Locate these groups and become involved. Get to be a familiar face. And keep notes on the backs of business cards you collect about who does what and who they might know. Even if you never get any new business directly from your participation in these groups, you gain new insights about the ways to do business in your community and beyond.
Janet Attard is the founder and CEO of www.BusinessKnowHow.com , a popular small business Web site that provides ideas and strategies for growing a business and making it profitable. The site attracts 3 million visitors a year, contains thousands of free articles about sales, marketing, internet marketing, business finance, ecommerce and all phases of starting and growing small and home businesses. Janet is a small and home business expert and has authored several books for business owners and startups. Visit Business Know-How and sign up for their free newsletter at www.BusinessKnowHow.com.