I'm often asked if there are any government incentive programs available to young entrepreneurs that most new business owners don't know about.
The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council. Founded by Scott Gerber, the Y.E.C. is a nonprofit organization that provides young entrepreneurs with access to tools, mentorship, community and educational resources that support each stage of their business’s development and growth. The organization promotes entrepreneurship as a solution to youth unemployment and underemployment.
1. Local minority entrepreneurship programs
Check your area on the county and municipal level because most communities have some sort of local programs to help minority entrepreneurs get extra help to build businesses. Start with organizations with titles like 'Economic Development Authority.'
2. Get your knowledge for free
In New York City, for example, entrepreneurs can tap into NYC Business Solutions, which is a local, government offered service designed to educate entrepreneurs in everything from business plan writing to branding/marketing, to labor law and accounting. The classes are free and time commitments vary by topic, so it is easy to at least get an introduction to a subject you need to know more about.
- Vanessa Nornberg, Metal Mafia
3. Start-Up Chile
Start-Up Chile is a government program from Chile that gives entrepreneurs $40,000 in grants in exchange for moving your business to Chile for six months. It's best for bootstrappers and companies that are very early stage. They take no equity and plug you into the networks of entrepreneurs and investors in South America. My company did it and it was an amazing experience.
4. New venture loans
Check out if there are any low-interest new venture loans or something of the like in your state. In Wisconsin, my last company was able to get a $65,000 with no interest for the first year and something like 2 percent interest thereafter. Effectively, we're able to borrow $65,000 at a cost of like $3/day in interest...pretty sweet deal. Check with your local Dept of Commerce for similar programs.
5. Visit SBA.gov
The U.S. Small Business Administration website is a great place to start. Most likely you have a Small Business Development Center in your area and there are SBA loans to apply for as well. Great advice, most of it for free.
6. O Canada!
Our friendly neighbors up north have an excellent government resource to assist young entrepreneurs: The Canadian Youth Business Foundation. This government agency provides mentorship and coaching programs, budgeting and accounting seminars, as well as marketing workshops. Additionally, they can help secure funding for young entrepreneurs by providing access to grants and loans.
7. 8A business development program
The federal government offers a fantastic business development program for minority and women owned enterprises. Becoming an 8A certified company allows tremendous advantage in obtaining federal contracts and working with major corporations. While most people may not have heard of it, this certification can truly transform your business. Visit SBA.gov.