You already know that running a small business is hard work. There are a million things to keep track of and a million more that can go wrong day-to-day. But luckily, there is a long list of associations whose main goal is small business support. If you need help getting started, learning more about running a small business, securing funding, or anything in between, we’ve got you covered. Read on to learn more about the 18 organizations that can help your business.

What are small business support associations?

Small business associations are nonprofits, for-profits, and private organizations designed to support small businesses. You can find associations to help out at different stages of your small business journey from securing funding to connecting you with other entrepreneurs.

18 Small business support associations that can help you

There are so many associations out there to lend a helping hand. So, how do you know where to start looking for help? We’ve put together a list of 18 small business support associations you may find useful. 

Graphic titled "Small Business Support Associations". The graphic shows a small line of small business storefronts,  with the quote "Small business support associations are nonprofits, for-profits, and private organizations designed to help your small business succeed" written underneath.

Getting started

Sometimes the hardest hurdle to clear is the very first one. Check out the Small Business Administration to get started. 

1. Small Business Administration

The Small Business Administration is the only cabinet-level federal agency dedicated to small businesses. They help with counseling, securing capital, and contracting expertise. 

The SBA has district offices across the country. Be sure to check their website for state-specific information and requirements. 

Support

Support comes in many different shapes and sizes. These associations help support small business through legislation, policy analysis, and advocacy. And that’s just a short list of how they’ll help!

2. National Federation of Independent Business

The National Federation of Independent Business is a state and federal advocacy organization that works for American small and independent business owners across the country. It is nonprofit, nonpartisan, and driven by its members.

To join the National Federation of Independent Business, you must pay a membership fee.  

3. National Association for the Self-Employed

The National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE) is a resource for the self-employed and micro-businesses (e.g., solopreneurs and freelancers). Membership benefits include:

  • Legislative advocacy
  • Legal help
  • Home office insurance
  • Discounted rates for credit cards
  • Access to health insurance plans
  • Scholarships for children and dependents

NASE offers a range of membership plans including reduced rates for veterans and students.

4. Chamber of Commerce

The Chamber of Commerce boasts that it is the world’s largest business organization. No wonder—its members include small businesses, industry associations, global corporations, and chambers of commerce across the country. 

The Chamber of Commerce offers:

5. Entrepreneurs’ Organization 

Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) is a group of global entrepreneurs that uses its community of members to expand interests, challenge perspectives, and encourage professional growth. 

You can join local or regional chapters where you can connect with thought leaders and peers in monthly forums. Members of EO must be the owner, founder, or majority stakeholder of a business earning at least $1 million in revenue for the most recent fiscal year. 

Lending

Sometimes, pinching pennies can seem like a full-time job. If you need some additional funds to keep things running, check out these organizations. 

6. Small Business Administration

The Small Business Administration (SBA) helps you access loans, additional capital, and opportunities in your area. You can use the SBA’s Lender Match tool, microloan intermediaries, and Certified Development Companies to help fund your company. 

7. U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s CO

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce launched a website in 2019 called CO that publishes content to help business owners solve everyday problems. The website is chock-full of great information to start, run, and grow your business. And, it has a page devoted to 58 grants, loans, and programs you can use to secure some extra funding. 

Education and advice

To amend John Dewey’s famous quote: “Education is not preparation for business; education is business itself.” You’re always learning on and off the job. These associations can help you upskill, train, and learn everything you need to take your business to the next level. 

8. Small Business Development Centers

Small Business Development Centers provide counseling and training to help small business owners improve their: 

  • Capital
  • Business planning, strategy, and operations
  • Financial management
  • Personnel administration
  • Marketing
  • Sales

If you can’t find a Small Business Development Center in your area, chances are there’s one nearby. Use their online tool to find one through your zip code. 

9. SCORE

SCORE dedicates its time to fostering small business communities through mentoring and education. To get an idea of how SCORE operates, its mentors use something called SLATE mentoring methodology. SLATE helps mentors work with business owners by asking mentors to:

  • Stop and suspend judgment
  • Listen and learn
  • Assess and analyze
  • Test ideas and teach with tools
  • Expectations setting and encouraging the dream

If you want to find a mentor that listens to you and finds solutions to your unique situation, SCORE can help. They offer a large resource library online and access to mentors and workshops, live and on demand. Workshops are both local and online. 

10. National Restaurant Association

The National Restaurant Association wants to create a thriving restaurant and food service community in the U.S. The National Restaurant Association helps strengthen operations, mitigate risk, and develop talent. Plus, it’s a state and local advocacy organization.

The National Restaurant Association has a ton of resources online, and the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) is just one of them. The NRAEF offers programs for:

  • Military members
  • High school students
  • Restaurant and hospitality leaders
  • Students pursuing a post-secondary degree in the restaurant, food service, and hospitality industry

11. StartUp Nation

StartUp Nation has a growing database of content created by and for entrepreneurs, as well as a vibrant online community. They also have different types of media on their website, so if a podcast or a video is more your thing, they’ve got you covered. 

12. New Economy Initiative

New Economy Initiative promotes inclusive economic development through growing small businesses owned by under-resourced entrepreneurs in underserved communities. The New Economy Initiative’s website offers an in-depth how-to guide, created through 15 years of experience working in southeast Michigan.

Community

Running a business can feel lonely. But the good news is, there’s a whole community out there waiting to meet you. These organizations focus on pulling specific groups together. 

13. Women’s Business Development Center

Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) is a national leader in the field of women’s economic development. The WBDC strives to support women and diverse business owners and accelerate their business development and growth. In 2019, the WBDC:

  • Created or retained over 1,500 jobs
  • Helped clients win over $409 million in federal and corporate contracts
  • Put over $3.3 million back into the community

The WBDC offers a large online resource for businesses at any stage of development. 

14. Minority Business Development Agency

The Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) is the only federal agency entirely dedicated to the growth of minority businesses. The MBDA offers access to business experts at MBDA Business Centers based on region or Indigenous affiliation and industry-focused services to improve access to capital, contracts, and markets. They also offer extensive online resources that help you find and contact:

15. National LGBT Chamber of Commerce

The National LGBT Chamber of Commerce is the largest advocacy organization dedicated to the economic opportunities of LGBTQ people and the exclusive certifying body for LGTBQ-owned businesses.

If your business is at least 51% owned and operated by LGBT individuals, you can apply for LGBTBE certification for access to hundreds of corporate representatives and supplier diversity professional contracts. Certified companies also have access to scholarship programs as well as mentorship and leadership training. 

16. National Veteran-Owned Business Association

National Veteran-Owned Business Association (NaVOBA) works to create corporate contracting opportunities for America’s Veteran’s Business Enterprises (VBE) and Service-Disabled Veteran’s Business Enterprises (SDVBE). NaVOBA does this through certification, advocacy, outreach, recognition, and education. 

If you are a veteran, you can apply for VBE or SDVBE certification. These certifications are marketing tools you can use to promote your business to corporations. The application fee depends on your company’s most recent annual review. 

Note: NaVOBA certification is focused on private sector contracting, not securing contracts with the federal government. 

Remote work

Don’t worry, we aren’t going to ignore the remote work leaders out there. Here are two organizations that want to create a larger online community for remote work leaders across the globe. 

17. Dynamite Circle

Dynamite Circle (DC) is a private community that works to connect online businesses around the world. A DC membership offers:

  • Connections with other entrepreneurs all over the world
  • Placement with an online mastermind, a group of entrepreneurs that share similar goals and experiences as you
  • An online business forum to discuss business topics
  • Monthly meetups in over ten cities worldwide
  • Access to DC’s remote recruiting services
  • Two global annual events per year

18. Remote Work Association

Remote Work Association is a free community of global virtual business leaders. Members can meet other remote work leaders, attend educational events, and share their ideas.

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