Small Business Advisory Resources

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Small Business Advisory Resources

Seven additional free or low-cost resources that entities looking to start a business or small business owners can utilize have been provided below. They include Entrepreneur, The Balance Small Business, Grow with Google, Fortune, Inc., InspireHUB, and Kauffman Entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneur

  • Entrepreneur offers free business advisory resources. The resources include video, podcasts, news, articles, books, webinars, and spotlight. The website has four sections namely Starting Up, Growing a Business, Franchise, and Inspiration. Resources that are specific to small businesses can be easily accessed.
  • The video resources include the Entrepreneur Elevator Pitch, a show which features entrepreneurs who have to pitch their business ideas to potential investors within 60 seconds in an elevator. The entrepreneur is invited for further discussion if the investors were impressed by the presentation.
  • Small business owners can subscribe to either the print edition or the digital (app) edition of the Entrepreneur for $9.99 per year. The content includes spotlights on successful entrepreneurs, coverage of emerging opportunities and trends, and practical tools and solutions for business productivity.
  • The Entrepreneur Insider program gives "exclusive access to resources for launching business ideas, guides for operational best practices, strategies for growing your business, and advice from our network of experts" for $5 per month.

The Balance Small Business

  • The Balance Small Business provides free advisory resources for starting and running a small business. The experts on the site provide "clear, practical advice on entrepreneurship and management".
  • The site features resources on "business planning, accounting and bookkeeping, small business financing and loans, sales and marketing, hiring employees, and more."
  • It also features highlights on specific small business industries including laws, regulations, and taxes obtainable in each industry.

Grow with Google

  • Grow with Google offers free online tools and training courses for small businesses.
  • Grow with Google helps small business owners to get their businesses online and strengthen their presence in order to attract customers with easy-to-use tools. Google helps "drive over 1.9 billion direct connections monthly, including phone calls, messages, requests for directions, and bookings for American businesses".
  • The site also gives free access to experts through virtual events and workshops.
  • Small business owners can answer a few questions and get a personalized plan of Google products for their business.

Fortune

  • FORTUNE Small Business is a section on the Fortune website with focused and informative articles and news on small businesses.
  • Fortune features audio podcasts and "flash briefings covering business news, leadership lessons, and CEO interviews.

Inc.

InspireHUB

Kauffman Entrepreneurs

  • Kauffman Entrepreneurs helps people to generate business ideas, start, and grow their business. The resources include articles, audio, and video. Users can use the search box to focus on small business topics.
  • The site features the Founders School, an online educational resource focused on entrepreneurship. Skills and tools are provided through a rich curriculum and online video lectures. The lectures include suggested readings, questions, and tools and exercises to engage the users.
  • Kauffman Entrepreneurs facilitates the 1 Million Cups program which is designed for entrepreneurs to connect with their community.
  • Entrepreneurs use the opportunity to talk about their business ideas and needs in a setting where answers can be provided to help the entrepreneur in making the right decision to start or grow their business.

Research Strategy

For this research on additional free or low-cost resources that entities looking to start a business or small business owners can utilize, we leveraged credible and popular sources including Entrepreneur, The Balance Small Business, Grow with Google, Fortune, Inc., InspireHUB, and Kauffman Entrepreneurs.


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Start-up Programs in the US

Key Takeaways

  • 500 Startups has supported approximately 2,500 companies, Techstars accelerated around 1,336 startups, while AngelPad supported 150 companies, but has around 2,000 applicants to its program during each application period.
  • Small Business Innovation Research Grant Program provides $3.2 billion in funding each year through 12 participating federal agencies.
  • FedEx Small Business Grant Contest has around 8,300 applicants each year. The collective amount of its annual grants is $250,000.


Introduction

The report includes five programs in the US that startups and small businesses can benefit from, including three accelerators (500 Startups, Techstars, and AngelPad) and two small business funding programs, FedEx Small Business Grant Contest and Small Business Innovation Research.

500 Startups

  • 500 Startups has multiple accelerator programs, with each having its own application dates and eligibility criteria. Its US-based accelerators include The Flagship San Francisco Accelerator, Miami Growth Program, and Miami Founder Bootcamps.
  • The San Francisco Accelerator accepts applications continuously. Founders can get up to $150,000 in funding, along with a full mentorship program needed to scale their business.
  • Specifically, the program involves community building, advice, a full curriculum of business education (accounting, marketing, company culture, and similar), and hands-on support.
  • The investment is made in exchange for a 6% stake. The program costs $37,500, but it can be deducted from the investment.
  • 500 Startups also offers additional early-stage funding through its network of funds.
  • Miami programs are focused on providing mentorship and tools to grow the company.

Reasoning

  • In 2018, Forbes named 500 Startups as one of the best startup accelerators based on the number of successful exits. At that point, it invested in 1,694 startups, which resulted in 162 exits, including sales to Google and Rakuten.
  • Currently, the number of investments has grown to more than 2,500 companies. The number of exits is around 190.
  • Recently, Growth Mentor named it as one of the best startup accelerators.


Techstars

  • Techstars is an accelerator with 47 mentorship-based accelerator programs globally. Several of them are located in the US (including Atlanta, Austin, Boulder, Chicago, and Los Angeles, among others).
  • The programs are three months long. Due to COVID-19, the company offers a mix of in-person, virtual, and hybrid programs.
  • Participants receive funding, mentorship, and lifetime access to the accelerator's network of resources.
  • Techstars provides a $100,000 convertible note, out of which $20,000 is from Techstars in exchange for 6% equity.
  • The lifetime support includes hosting, accounting, and legal support worth $300,000.
  • Some of the accelerators that currently accept applications are Cox Enterprises Social Impact Accelerator, Austin Accelerator, Boulder Accelerator, Music Accelerator, and Smart Mobility Accelerator.
  • Overall, applications for each accelerator open six times each year. They are open for 12 weeks. Reviewing and accepting applications typically lasts no longer than eight weeks.

Reasoning

  • The accelerator was named as one of the best by Growth Mentor. It funded about 1,336 startups with 204 exits.
  • In 2018, Forbes also included it as one of the best accelerators based both on the number of exits and the total amount of dollars in exits.


AngelPad

  • AngelPad's program is different compared to other accelerators. The company chooses around 15 startups for each edition, even though its average number of applications is 2,000. It means that the acceptance rate is below 1%.
  • Thanks to this strategy, founders can benefit from more comprehensive support over three months.
  • Thanks to its way of operating, AngelPad has been touted as "anti-Y-Combinator."
  • The program's key focus areas are one-on-one mentorship, community building, building investor relations, and providing seed funding.
  • The initial funding from AngelPad is $120,000. Participants can also benefit from $300,000 in cloud credits from AWS, Google, and Digital Ocean.
  • Applications can be submitted through the website. They are currently open for the 2021 winter edition.

Reasoning

  • AngelPad has been named as the top US business accelerator by MIT's Seed Accelerator Benchmark every year since 2015.
  • In 2018, Forbes noted that while it isn't one of the best accelerators based on the number of exits, it is the third-best based on the number of exits, with $493 million.
  • The accelerator has a large pool of applicants each year (around 2,000). So far, its companies have raised $2.2 billion in funding.
  • It has also received mentions in reputable industry media. For example, according to TechCrunch, "The sheer progress a startup makes in 12 weeks of AngelPad is nothing short of stunning."


FedEx Small Business Grant Contest

  • FedEx Small Business Grant Contest is an annual event. Participating small businesses can win between $15,000 and $50,000 prizes, plus free office services.
  • There is one Grand Prize of $50,000 (plus $7,500 in office services) is offered to one business, just as the Second Place ($30,000 plus $5,000 in office services). There are several Third Place awards of $15,000, along with the Entrepreneur Choice Award.
  • Each year, 12 businesses in total are awarded grants that sum up to about $250,000.
  • The application period opens around February each year.
  • The last edition's winners include businesses such as Equine Amnio Solutions (which provides next-generation veterinary products for horses), KC Cattle Company (which produces Wagyu beef products), and Care+Wear (a social-mission company at the intersection of fashion, wellness, and healthcare).
  • It is worth noting that FedEx is committed to helping small businesses through a variety of resources. Outside of the contest, it provides the Making it Work podcast, Tech Chat, and E-Commerce Center, which aim to offer guidance and insights for small businesses.

Reasoning

  • The program was chosen because it was named as one of the best grant opportunities for small businesses by Motley Fool and Fundera. It is one of the very few private funding opportunities that are considered among the best.
  • In 2021, the contest had 8,300 entries.


Small Business Innovation Research

  • Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Grant Program is a program through which 12 federal agencies allocate at least $3.2 billion each year to fund research and development activities for small businesses to advance their core missions.
  • The participating agencies belong to the Department of Defense, Department of Health and Social Services, and National Science Foundation.
  • It is supposed to foster tech innovation, meet research and development needs in the US, and increase access to entrepreneurship and innovation for women and disadvantaged groups.
  • The grants are between $50,000 and $750,000. They can be for up to two years. However, selected projects can receive even above $1 million.
  • Participating businesses need to answer solicitations published by specific federal agencies. The SBIR database includes all open applications.
  • Eligible businesses have to be for-profit, located in the US, have no more than 500 employees, and have more than 50% ownership by a US resident.
  • Each of the agencies that are part of the program has additional eligibility criteria.
  • The program is overseen by the Small Business Administration.

Reasoning

  • The program was chosen because it was named as one of the best funding opportunities by Motley Fool and Fundera.
  • It was also praised in an article published in TechCrunch, written by the founder of SOSV, one of the top accelerators, even though the author stated that even more federal funding should be allocated to it.
  • The article says that as of March 2021, "for a little more than $3 billion per year in contracts and grants disbursed by federal agencies, the SBIR has produced 70,000 patents, $41 billion in follow-on venture capital investments, and 700 public companies.

Research Strategy

The programs were chosen based on recommendations by industry experts, supported by quantitative data. We used one article from 2018 for the reasoning behind our choices of accelerators, because it came from a highly reputable media site (Forbes) and was the only one that ranked the accelerators based on a quantitative metric. However, we confirmed that the same accelerators are still regarded among the most successful in more recent articles.
Sources
Sources