15 resources to help DMV entrepreneurs navigate business launch and beyond

Cheerful business owners standing with open blackboard(Getty Images/iStockphoto/Rawpixel)
Here’s the thing: You might have a boffo idea for a product or service that no one is providing in the metropolitan Washington, D.C., region. But do you know what’s needed to take your idea from concept to full-blown business and then to keep growing it? (Psst: If you do, you can jump to another article right now.)

We’ve gathered this list of 15 sources, guides, tools and programs to help you rev up your startup for long-term success.

#1 SBA’s Business Guide

The Small Business Administration offers this great resource on its website (along with heaps of other great help). The Business Guide provides links to a lot of useful information, particularly if you’re just beginning your startup journey. The guide walks you through multiple elements across four phases — planning, launching, managing and growing a business.

#2 SBA’s “10 steps to start your business

Want a speed-dating version of the Business Guide to quickly learn what’s involved in starting a business? Then this SBA step-by-step list is for you. You can scroll through and then go back and click through to additional resources.

#3 Business News Daily’s Business Plan Template

This free template provides a roadmap for crafting your business plan. It details all the elements and offers explanatory information about what you should include in each section. It doesn’t skimp either. It includes nine main sections and 30-plus subsections.

#4 Census Bureau’s Small Business Hub

As you’re developing your business plan and strategy, you can tap the data and tools available from the Census Bureau to inform your research and guide initiatives to launch or expand your business. The site has data tools, survey reports, webinars and more to help entrepreneurs make data-driven decisions.

#5 Minority Business Development Agency

MBDA is a Commerce Department agency solely dedicated to serving minority-owned businesses. With a focus on equity and growth, it works to help businesses gain access to capital funding sources, potential contract opportunities and global markets.

#6 Black Founders

Established in 2011, Black Founders defines its mission as driving the growth of Black-owned businesses in the technology industry. It creates connections through programming and events in cities and at colleges across the country.

#7 Veteran Entrepreneur Portal

This portal, managed by the Veterans Affairs Department, points former military members to a host of federal services available about all phases of starting and growing a business. Also of interest: Boots to Business, a free education program for veterans who want to start businesses, funded by SBA and run by Mississippi State University.

#8 Association of Women’s Business Centers

With more than 100 businesses centers nationwide, the nonprofit AWBC aims to foster economic opportunities for woman entrepreneurs. Its centers provide access to a network of local peers, along with online and in-person resources. Here are links to centers in D.C., Maryland and Virginia.

#9 IRS’ Small Business and Self-Employed Tax Center

This IRS hub runs deep with information about all things financial and tax-related when it comes to starting, running and even closing a business. In addition to links to the obvious, like tax forms, there are also links to a host of other goodies, including webinars, videos and even live events — all targeting startups and small businesses.

#10 D.C. Bar’s Pro Bono Center

The D.C. Bar’s Pro Bono Center includes services and education specifically for small businesses. In addition to legal assistance, the center also offers advice and training sessions designed to help SMBs understand critical legal issues that could impact their businesses.

#11 Meta Blueprint

Blueprint serves up online lessons that can help you develop, create and launch a digital marketing program for your business. Sure, the goal here is for your business to do so on one of the Meta platforms (Facebook and Instagram, most prominently), but the courses provide a wealth of free help about becoming a socially savvy marketer.

#12 SBE Council’s Business Intelligence: Tips, Trends and Resources

This listing provides links to articles, reports and research just for the small business owner. The nonprofit Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council’s president curates and produces the listing every other week.

#13 LinkedIn Learning

LinkedIn Learning offers thousands of courses, including many on small business and entrepreneurship topics. It’s free for a month and then there’s a fee. There are single lessons and learning paths, as well as videos. You can dip in and out to control cost. You can also buy single courses.

#14 General Services Administration’s Small Business Hub

Given that much of the economy in our area is tied to the federal government, many local businesses seek to become federal contractors. GSA’s hub provides insights and information about what’s involved in winning work with the government.

#15 SBA’s Mentor-Protégé Program

SBA developed this program as a way for small businesses to partner with established federal contractors to learn the ropes first-hand. These MPP relationships can last up to six years and allow for the mentor-protégé partners to vie for federal small business contracts as a joint venture.

To discover more insights for entrepreneurs, startups and SMBs shared during WTOP’s Small Business September, click here.

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