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There Is a Lot of Free Business Help Out There

(Photo by Shashi Bellamkonda - Flickr)

In the 1960’s the Small Business Administration came up with a great idea. Why not provide small businesses with the advertising, marketing and financial help they need by tapping the expertise of retired small and large business owners. This was the genesis of SCORE.

SCORE was an acronym meaning, “The Service Corps of Retired Executives.” Today that meaning is no longer used since many Score volunteers are still in business themselves. There are several ways to access Score for small business help and advice.

Local Score Offices

Chances are there is a SCORE office within driving distance of your home or business. You can find the nearest SCORE office at Find A Chapter on the Score Web Site. All conversations with Score counselors are kept confidential. Score counselors sign a strict code of ethics and can be terminated from the program for any violation of confidentiality.

The local Score office in Bozeman is located in the Bozeman Area Chamber of Commerce building at 2000 Commerce Drive, across from The Hilton Garden Inn. For a confidential appointment with a Score counselor call 406-586-5421. Also visit the Bozeman Score web site.

The way Score works is very simple. There will be an initial interview with one or more Score counselors whose job is to access what you need. If there are qualified people within the local chapter, you will be referred to them to see if they can help. If not, then the referral process will continue until a suitable advisor is located. The goal is to find the best possible advisor for your particular need.

Score Web Site

The Score web site is http://www.score.org and has tons of free helpful information for small business owners on a variety of subjects. In addition, there are over 1,000 online counselors across the country that can help if the expertise you need is not available at your local office. Simply type in one or more keyword, and a group of volunteers with that knowledge will pop up, then you can review their levels of expertise and select one or more to contact with your questions.

Score Forms and Workshops

Score offers a variety of free online workshops on a wide range of business topics. Most are “on demand” and you can take these at times that are convenient to your schedule.

You will also find many forms, templates and other tools to make your business run smoothly.  Take a few minutes to acquaint yourself with the Score web site and your local Score chapter. Why not clear away the speed bumps and enjoy a smooth ride to a successful, financially sound business.

SBDC (Small Business Development Center) Office

The Small Business Development Center offers free help with the creation of business plans, estimating financial projections for a business, assistance with doing business with state or federal entities, and clarification of various SBA (Small Business Administration) loans and grant programs.

The local SBDC office in Bozeman is located at 222 East Main Street – East of First Security Bank downtown. Sean Becker is the SBDC Director. seanb@mtcdc.org / 728-9234 x 250

Prospera Business Network

Prospera Business Network is one of the most comprehensive and collaborative economic development organizations in the area. It provides a wealth of resources and tools to business leaders and executives, and prides itself on the quality of its networking and mentoring programs. Prospera’s success stems from its ability to attract and engage the brightest and most progressive business leaders in Bozeman and the surrounding areas. Prospera is located at 2015 Charlotte Street, Suite #1, Bozeman, Montana 59718 – 406-587-3113

The Montana Women’s Business Center (WBC)

This is an additional program of Prospera Business Network and is partially funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration. Established in October 2009, the Montana WBC is one of over 100 business centers across the country. They provide the necessary tools and support to help women establish, grow and sustain businesses throughout the state of Montana.

There are too many more to list them all here. But if you begin with any of the organizations listed here they can certainly direct you to other agencies. All these folks are pre-paid with your tax dollars so contact them and put them to work for you.

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