Across the country, nearly 1,000 Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) help entrepreneurs think through their ideas and develop and implement business plans. SBDCs are hosted by leading universities and state economic development agencies and are funded in part through a partnership with the Small Business Administration. SBDCs offer small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs no- and low-cost consulting services and training on a variety of business topics. Visit America's SBDC website to locate a small business center near you.
Business accelerators and incubators (increasingly, the terms "accelerator" and "incubator" are used interchangeably) are another great way to grow your businesses. Generally, accelerators are designed to speed-up the growth of an existing company, while incubators cultivate ideas with the hope of building out a business model and company. Some accelerators and incubators are affiliated with venture capital firms and provide seed capital to invest in your business in exchange for an equity position. The selection process for both can be highly competitive.
The 2016 statistics from the International Business Innovation Association (InBIA) identified about 7,000 business incubators and accelerators worldwide, with more than 90 percent being non-profit and focused on programs for community economic development. The past few years have seen a marked increase in the number of business accelerators and incubators that provide support to help food entrepreneurs who serve low-income communities develop their ideas and start and expand their businesses. Examples include The Enterprise Center, Bodega Bootcamp, Propeller, and FS6 (Food System 6).
Check out the following websites and publications for additional information on launching a business.
Small Business Administration:
- Small Business Development Centers by State: These centers help entrepreneurs realize the dream of business ownership and help existing businesses remain competitive in a complex, ever-changing global marketplace.
- Starting a Business: Introductory tools ifor individuals thinking about starting a business, including writing a business plan, registering your business, choosing a business structure, and more.
- SBA Online Learning Center Tutorial: A menu of online SBA courses including topics such as market research, strategic planning, pricing, contracts, understanding your customer, and more. Featured courses include:
- CooperationWorks!: If you are considering a co-op model, get in touch with your state or region's cooperative development center to help with feasibility studies or finding funding.
- Business Plans: A Step-By-Step Guide: This guide to writing a business plan will outline the most important parts and what should be included in an effective plan.
- Small Business Encyclopedia: Developed by Entrepreneur.com, this searchable encyclopedia features a range of topics relevant to small businesses.
- PolicyMap: Easy-to-use online mapping with data on demographics, real estate, health, jobs and more in communities across the US.
- Understanding the Grocery Industry: Provides a basic understanding of the U.S. grocery industry including major participants, industry financials, current operating trends, and industry trends.
Healthy Food Access Portal
- Research Your Community: A featured tool of the Portal, this interactive map helps you understand and describe the communities in which you are working to improve access to healthy foods.
- Marketing Basics: In-depth tutorials covering Marketing Basics and Marketing Research.
- Food Hub Business Assessment Toolkit: This tool by Wholesome Wave provides users with the tools to evaluate a food hub business' readiness for investment.