Come April 15 each year, when you take a look at your tax return and sigh, realize your federal taxes are paying for a lot more government services than you realize, and it's up to you to take advantage of them. One service for entrepreneurs is the Small Business Administration, and particularly for women entrepreneurs, the SBA's Office of Women's Business Ownership (https://www.sba.gov/offices/headquarters/wbo).
“There are 26 million businesses in this country, and 7.8 million of them are owned by women,” said Erin Andrew, OWBO assistant administrator. There's a whole lot of commerce being directed by women, and the resources offered by OWBO are designed to support this. The SBA has three main focuses—the three Cs—and two of those can help equine businesses:
Capital: The SBA provides government loan guarantees and microloans. (Editor's note: We will have an article on these loans on StableManagement.com this month.)
Counseling: More than 12,000 resource partners throughout the U.S. provide free and low-cost business classes and one-on-one counseling on topics ranging from business plans and financial strategies to social media.
Contracting: Twenty-three percent of government contracts are awarded to small businesses, according to Andrew, and the SBA helps guide businesses in securing those contracts.
Between SBA resource partners (https://www.sba.gov/tools/local-assistance) that are not necessarily woman-entrepreneur-focused, such as SCORE (https://www.score.org/) and Small Business Development Centers (http://americassbdc.org/), plus almost 100 Women's Business Centers (https://www.sba.gov/tools/local-assistance/wbc) in the U.S., you're likely to find an organization offering free or nearly free business-development assistance in your area.
Online, the SBA website (https://www.sba.gov/content/women-owned-businesses) has enough business guidance to keep you busy reading nonstop for about two days. If you're not the type to learn by reading, there are videos, online chats and online training programs in the Learning Center (https://www.sba.gov/tools/sba-learning-center).
If there's a topic you're struggling with in the business aspect of your horse business, there's probably a person involved with the OWBO or an online resource for you. “We see folks who are just thinking about a business to folks who have been in business for year and want to take their business in a different direction,” said Andrew. “You don't have to go it alone.”
The take-home message here is that all of this business assistance is mostly free, thanks in part to your April 15 annual American dues.