September 7, 2009
Regional help for aspiring small business owners
If you're one of the many unemployed contemplating starting your own business, you don't have to go it alone. The greater Seattle area is home to a number of affordable resources for those interested in learning how to launch and maintain a solo venture. Behold:
Seattle SCORE. This U.S. Small Business Administration partner is one of the best small business resources around. In addition to its numerous low-cost workshops, the non-profit offers free one-on-one business coaching with seasoned entrepreneurs and executives, regardless of whether you're self-employed or still in the daydreaming stage. If you're outside Seattle, check out this list of SCORE locations around the Puget Sound.
Washington CASH. This Seattle-based non-profit has been helping women, people of color, and those with low incomes get the training and mentorship they need to go into business for themselves since 1995. Training is offered on a sliding scale basis, depending on income. In addition, Washington CASH features a computer lab that's open 46 hours a week and grants microloans ($1,000 to $50,000) to eligible students. Washington CASH's next Seattle orientation meeting is at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, September 9.
Self-Employment Assistance Program. If you quality for unemployment benefits in Washington, you may also qualify for the state's Self-Employment Assistance Program, which, like the above services, offers entrepreneurial training and counseling. To see if you're eligible for SEAP and to fill out an application, visit the Employment Security Department's website.
Grassroots Business Association. This collective of small business owners has been hosting monthly Seattle meetups since 2008 to educate and inspire networking among entrepreneurs and freelancers. The next GBA event is at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, September 16 at Richard Hugo House on Capitol Hill. Admission is free (though donations are welcome).
Biznik. Launched in 2006 by Seattleites Lara Eve Feltin and Dan McComb, this international web community of entrepreneurs and independent professionals is a goldmine of information on starting and nurturing a small business. But the helpful online forum and hundreds of how-to articles (all free) are only part of the story. Each month, dozens of Biznik members host free and low-cost educational events throughout greater Seattle on everything from paying your taxes and managing cash flow to closing a sale and asking for referrals.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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