The federal government is not the only source of support for small business owners. A number of nonprofit organizations have been formed for the purpose of expanding business ownership, as well. “As a business owner, you have to have people you can call and learn from, and you’ve got to be able to take advantage of value-added services that business associations offer,” says John F. Robinson, president and chief executive officer of the National Minority Business Council Inc. Here are some organizations that you can look to for support:
National Minority Business Council (www.nmbc.org)
The New York-based National Minority Business Council is a membership-based organization that promotes the growth of minority-owned businesses by offering training and consulting in exchange for the $375 annual membership fee. With the goal of helping minority businesses move to the next level, the council also helps firms secure financing, prepare for initial public offerings, and do business globally.
“Finding a mentor is very important to a small business owner’s development,” says Lauren R. Beard, president of Valens Marketing & Consulting Group L.L.C., a Silver Spring, Maryland-based management consulting and marketing firm with services that include helping small businesses secure financing. One program that makes it easier to find one is SCORE, which connects entrepreneurs with mentors. In addition to free advice, face-to-face or online, SCORE recently launched an information hub geared specifically toward minority entrepreneurs, www.score.org/minority.html.
National Minority Supplier Development Council (www.nmsdc.org)
Businesses looking to increase their relationships with larger firms can undergo a certification process, which allows them access to companies in corporate America that are in the market for their products and services.
Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (www.wbenc.org)
Recognizing that women-owned firms also needed a certification program to gain access to companies looking for their services, the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council was formed in 1997. In addition, the organization provides women-owned businesses with training and educational opportunities.