Resources for Skagit County Business Leaders and Entrepreneurs

Friday, February 23, 2018

Entrepreneurs and business leaders have access to an unprecedented amount of information and resources in 2018. With the rise of the open source and sharing economy, many corporations have made business tools free, affordable and easily accessible. When combined with resources offered by EDASC and other community organizations, entrepreneurs and business leaders have a built-in support structure to promote and grow their business.

EDASC encourages businesses in Skagit County to take advantage of business planning and strategy sessions, workshops, and networking events that will take place throughout the year. In addition, here are some of our favorite business resources available in 2018. Use them to develop optimal strategies, launch your startup, plan for growth, and to position your company for long-term success.

#1. Young Entrepreneur Council

This app was designed to provide startups with support, especially in the marketing arena. It offers free websites, media exposure, brand-building tools, and information. Members can also benefit from a variety of discounts.

#2. Develop business skills

Business owners, entrepreneurs, and leaders can all benefit by increasing their knowledge. Whether looking to take industry-specific courses or to learn more about businesses accounting or marketing, courses are available online through a variety of providers. Online, Udemy offers a variety of courses. Also, Coursera connects people with online universities and programs. Locally, Skagit Valley College offers flexible course schedules for busy professionals.

#3. Create a business plan

The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is an excellent resource for anyone looking to launch or grow a company. Business advisors can help with all aspects of starting a business, including creating a business plan and identifying ways to fund it. This is a 100% FREE resource for businesses and entrepreneurs in Skagit County. EDASC has a dedicated SBDC Certified Advisor, Cindy Brooks, to offer assistance to local businesses. Those who are looking for an online solution, may wish to try Strategyzer’s Business Model Canvas. Though not as comprehensive as a full business plan, it can be a good place to start.

#4. Find a mentor

Mentorship can be a critical force in any entrepreneurs journey. SCORE is an excellent resource for finding one or multiple mentors. By contacting EDASC, it is possible to receive FREE business advice from a SCORE mentor. Entrepreneurs who need advice in specific areas should check out Clarity.

#5. Secure financing

The Small Business Administration (SBA) is typically the best place to start looking for business funding. SBA loans can be used to purchase a business, a commercial building, and equipment. Several SBA lenders invest in EDASC and are actively working to support local business growth. EDASC can connect local businesses with these lenders, including the SBA representative for US Bank. EDASC also works with the National Development Council to provide business owners access to the Skagit Revolving Loan Fund.

#6. Discover tax information

Paying taxes can be significantly more complicated when owning a business. Fortunately, the IRS Small Business and Self-Employed Tax Center has plenty of information to keep business owners informed.

#7. Support for Latino businesses

EDASC has a Latino business retention and expansion program, conducted in partnership with Skagit Valley College, which provides one-on-one business counseling and broad-based support for Latino entrepreneurs and business owners looking to start or expand their business. Our customized bilingual approach focuses on building bridges with the local community through cultural awareness and collaborative educational opportunities. Since its establishment in 2004, this program has assisted Latino business owners in securing over $2 million in loans, and is being replicated across Washington as a model program.

#8. Improve digital literacy

Microsoft offers free online courses to improve digital literacy and provide people with the basic technical skills they need to compete in a digital marketplace.

#9. Free software for small businesses.

The right software or app makes running a business easier, makes it possible to complete tasks faster, and to connect with customers and suppliers. For a list of free software small businesses can benefit from using, read this article.

If you are looking for information, resources or support that is not listed here, try the NW Innovation Resource Center. EDASC partners with the NW Innovation Resource Center (NWIRC), which assists entrepreneurs and inventors from throughout Skagit County create the strategies they need to evaluate their ideas and obtain the resources they need to bring the ideas to life.  NWIRC works with EDASC to identify resources in the business community that will aid the entrepreneur along the path from idea to reality. Their Enterprise Program assists the entrepreneur from innovative idea to startup business.  The Build It Program helps inventors develop their product and get it to the market.  Support is provided at no cost, but upon success, entrepreneurs may make a pay-it-forward donation.  For more information click here.

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