The capital city of Texas has an unofficial motto: Keep Austin Weird. Another one could be Entrepreneur Capital of the World. Multiple publications have pronounced Austin as the top city in the world for small business, simply due to the quantity and quality of the resources available to entrepreneurs.
There is no shortage of groups, websites, publications, and courses for the Austin small business person. This post will highlight three resources that, in turn, can lead you to even more information.
We will look at SmallBizAustin.org, Austin SCORE, and the Austin Chamber of Commerce.
SmallBizAustin.org is actually the site for the Austin Small Business Program. According to the site, the mission is to:
“[Foster] job creation and support for growth of new and existing businesses by providing capacity-building information, tools, and resources. We provide counseling and assistance to small businesses. Our focus is to develop and empower small businesses in order to strengthen their business capability and survivability.”
The website is easy to use with large buttons linking to areas for starting a business, getting help, funding, events, and classes. The “Start a Business” section takes you to an explanation of the BizAidsm organization where you can find:
- Coaching services
- Business plan review and development assistance
- Marketing plan review and development assistance
- Financial readiness assessment
- Business management technical assistance
BizAid Business Education is highlighted as a small business resource that provides classroom education on small business topics. The classes are low cost and taught by the University of Texas Professional Development Program.
This area also introduces information on minority-owned business enterprises (MBE), women-owned business enterprises (WBE), the State of Texas Historically Underutilized Business (HUB), as well as regional assistance for small business development centers.
Other links take you to pages of curated links and lists for getting help, including the Lawyer Referral Service of Central Texas, funding, and events such as the Getting Connected (R) Business Education Conference. Online registration for business classes is also available.
The site for the Austin branch of SCORE tells you that SCORE is a non-profit association dedicated to:
- Free small business advice
- Educating entrepreneurs
- Helping small businesses start, grow, and maintain themselves
You can sign up with SCORE to get free access to a business mentor, both local and those with specialized skills. SCORE also offers online workshops, templates, tools, and links to small business community events.
Like SmallBizAustin.org, Austin SCORE has a curated list of links about preparing to open or run a business, a list of market research links, marketing tips and templates, and links to setting up a business structure and funding.
The funding page includes links to small business loans, micro lenders, and investors.
There are links to other SCORE chapters in the surrounding area where you can find more localized content.
Austin Chamber of Commerce
If you run a small business, the local Chamber of Commerce should be first on your list of go-to places for networking, learning about local businesses and event opportunities, and to keep your finger on the pulse of a city.
The Austin Chamber of Commerce is loaded with all of that. The Austin Chamber has an active calendar of events that is kept up-to-date and includes the Austin A-list of Hot Startups, which is run in partnership with the city’s famous South by Southwest Conference.
The site provides several reasons to join including:
- Being part of a credible brand
- Engaging with like-minded peers
- Having a voice on the issues that matter to small business
- Increasing your visibility in Austin
Belonging to the Chamber of Commerce also nets you some member discounts, one of which is a discount badge to SouthXSouthwest. You can also get member-to-member coupons so you can take advantage of your network to make discounted purchases from another member of the chamber.
The Austin Chamber of Commerces is also a central library of public policy, education, talent, and economic development information. Get your business into the member directory for some additional promotion from an authoritative site.
Utilizing Your Austin Business Resources
Austin SCORE, SmallBizAustin.org, and the Austin Chamber of Commerce are three broad-based sites that have an abundance of information valuable to the small business person or entrepreneur.
SCORE provides mentors experienced in business, especially around Austin, to help you put together a cohesive business and marketing plan. SmallBizAustin.org is an easy-to-use site offering registration for classes in running a business, coaching sessions, handling taxes, and more.
The Austin Chamber of Commerce keeps itself relevant to local business people especially for entrepreneurs and small business owners. Look at the member directory to get familiar with the other businesses in town. You can link your site to the chamber website to gain more visibility.
Each of these websites has links to take you wherever you need to go, from tax information to classes on payment processing. You can find information on loans of all sizes and find out where to go to get your business licenses and permits.
Are you ready to do your part to Keep Austin Weird?