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  Don't Be Afraid To Ask For HelpFriday, May 24th, 2024  

When considering the assistance of professional consultants, many owners of small business ask themselves: Is it necessary? Can I afford one? Can I afford not to get the help of outside experts?

The problem that faces many owners of new small businesses is how to afford professional help at the point when they will probably need it the most: usually when it is most difficult to pay for. But professional advice need not be expensive. Businesses can find assistance through local attorneys, consultants, accountants, bankers, the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Service Corps of Retired Executives, chambers of commerce, trade associations, and business libraries, to name a few.

Most important, consultants say, is knowing what kind of help you need, and then getting it early enough.

"It's a shame more small businesses don't tap into the resources of a professional to help them realize their full potential," notes Howard Cohen, economist and chartered accountant in Tiburon, CA.

Urges Dale Morseman, owner of Industrial Graphic Arts in Concord, CA, "Gather advice from all available sources, particularly business and trade associations. When you have questions or problems outside your area of expertise, seek professional help."

The owner of a small business consulting firm recommends the appointment of a board of directors with whom you meet regularly. Your board should be made up of experienced business professionals who can offer practical advice and help you solve the kinds of problems new owners face.

You needn't only turn to professional consultants for assistance. Newspapers, trade publications, specialty newsletters and magazines, and business libraries can point you toward the answers you need. Moreover, your local chamber of commerce and many financial institutions publish how- to books for a small fee or just for the asking.

The resources don't end there. Free counseling is available through the SBA and SCORE, the volunteer organization it supports. SCORE is staffed by experts who have had successful careers as business owners, chief executives, manufacturing chiefs, bankers, economists, attorneys, engineers, and sales and marketing managers. In addition to one-on-one counseling, they run "Entrepreneur Training" workshops and publish a number of practical guides and handbooks. SCORE counselors are experts who appreciate what small business means and who want to share their experiences and knowledge with any small business owner who needs help.

Reprinted from the United States Small Business Administration

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