How To Keep Up With Small Business Legislation That Could Impact Your Business

By Dawn Mentzer: Connect with me!  Facebook  | Twitter | LinkedIn | Google+

Taxes, healthcare, legal reform, labor laws, the environment, energy, technology, transportation and infrastructure, Info overloadeducation, campaign finance, economic development, local government, workforce development, privatization, fiscal policies…the short list of topics that show up on legislative agendas at the local, state and federal government levels.

You’re on top of all of them right? Although not all of the issues and propositions will affect you as an entrepreneur, some most definitely will make an impact on how you do business.

Too busy to keep informed?

Here are some easy to access resources you can turn to for legislative and small business advocacy updates:

US Chamber of Commerce – Their Small Business Nation website section lists current legislative topics and issues occurring at the Federal level. The US Chamber also has a business Facebook page  and Twitter account, so you can “like” and “follow” to get regular updates via your social  networks.

In addition, the Take Action section of the Chamber website lists key issues affecting small businesses. It also gives you online access to communicating with your elected officials. You can even register to receive issue alerts via email.

SBA (Small Business Administration) Office of Advocacy – They have a web page devoted to Regulatory Alerts. Listed there are documents published in the Federal Register that could significantly impact small businesses. In addition to a description about each proposed action, the site also provides a link for readers to submit comments directly to the government agency that owns each issue.

Updates are even more accessible via subscribing to the SBA’s Small Business Watchdog Blog – or you can “like” the Office of Advocacy Facebook page and “follow” them on Twitter.

Some other sources of legislative and advocacy news:

Local Chambers of Commerce – The depth of information and level of involvement varies across chambers, but yours might have a strong focus on advocacy. Check out your local chamber’s website for info. They might also have a blog, Facebook page, or Twitter account that provides news about small business legislation and describes how issues might affect your immediate business community. Generally, you do not have to be a chamber member to access info about their advocacy activities and information.

State Chambers of Commerce – Focused on state legislative actions, these organizations also keep an eye on the impact that federal propositions will have on businesses within their states. Like the US Chamber, state chambers have websites that include an advocacy (or similarly named) section, and they use social media as a tool for keeping small business owners in the know about legislative activity that could affect them.

Local government officials’ websites – The amount of direct information provided can vary widely, but most representatives’ websites at the very least provide links to resources that give details about current legislative proposals and actions. Many also allow you to subscribe to their e-newsletters and connect with them on social media.

Keeping informed about pending legislation can be rather dry stuff, but it’s important. For the sake of your business, you should know what’s pending so you can make your voice heard (in support or in opposition). Thankfully, tapping the right resources is easier than ever before.

How do you stay informed?

Image: Michal Marcol / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Small Business Resources Every Start-Up Should Know About

By Dawn Mentzer – Solopreneur & Freelance Writer

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As a solopreneur and SCORE mentor, I meet and interact with small business owners from a wide variety of industries. Although their business types have their own individual nuances, many commonalities exist when it comes to starting Business Resources All Entrepreneurs Need to Know Aboutand operating their businesses. And many of their information and development needs are the same as well.

Here’s a list of small business resources that EVERY solopreneur and entrepreneur should know about:

  • SCORE – With over 360 chapters nation-wide, this non-profit, volunteer-operated organization provides free mentoring (face-to-face and online) to start-up entrepreneurs and small business owners. SCORE’s 13,000+ volunteers have experience in all aspects of starting and running a business. The organization also offers low-cost workshops and business roundtable opportunities at the local chapter level. Plus, they’ve got a nice library of online resources including articles, webinars and templates.
  • Small Business Administration (SBA) – The SBA provides a wealth of online information related to launching and managing a business. Through their loan and grant programs, they also help facilitate small business loans with a third party lenders, guarantee bonds, or help find venture capital. In addition, their website includes a section devoted specifically to Women’s Business Resources where female entrepreneurs can find information and link to other organizations focused on helping women business owners succeed.
  • Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) – There are nearly 1,000 SBDC service centers across the U.S. SBDC’s are partnerships between the government and learning institutions. Administered by the SBA, they provide educational services for start-ups and existing small business owners. Like SCORE, most services are free and low-cost training opportunities are also available. Plus, their list of online resources includes links to companies, business groups and organizations that provide services and products relevant to starting and managing a business.
  • Freelancers Union –Freelancers Union supports the interests of independent workers through a variety of services, advocacy and education. Membership is free and gives solopreneurs access to group health and life insurance options, a retirement investment plan, and discounts on business goods and services from participating companies (Staples is on the list!).
  • Business Centers at local libraries – For example, in Lancaster, PA, our local library’s Duke Street Business Center provides a vast amount of online, video, audio and hard copy resources to our business community. Check with your local library to find a business center closest to you. There’s no better place to embark upon industry and competitive research – a must if you’re considering starting a business.
  • Chambers of Commerce and Industry – At the national, state and local levels, these organizations provide access to online resources, face-to-face networking opportunities with other business owners, professional development programs and updates on legislation that could impact your small business. Chambers charge a membership fee and costs vary across organizations. Many services are available to non-members as well, typically at an additional cost.
  • Main Street organizations – If your business resides in or near a small town, check to see if there’s a Main Street organization that serves your area. These non-profit economic development organizations offer a variety of programs, services and incentives to support downtown businesses by giving them the tools they need to sustain and grow.

Got a business-related question? One of the above resources will either have the answer – or will be able to direct you to someone who does. Also remember that most of these organizations have blogs, Facebook pages, LinkedIn pages, Twitter accounts and newsletters that you can follow to stay in the know about the latest entrepreneurial news and small business best practices.

 

What small business resources have helped you most? Please comment and share  your experience!

More on small business resources:

The Five Best Small-Business Resources You’re Not Using

25 Essential Entrepreneur Resources

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