Finding Friends, Funding and a Future: Great Resources for Your Small Business

It’s always difficult to begin a new business, not only does the act require courage, it requires help, information, and resources. Finding those resources, and knowing how to use them properly is just another item on a growing to-do list. With that in mind, this collection of local business resources was compiled with the Hartford entrepreneur in mind, but it represents the kind of help anyone might look for in their own city. Take all the help you can get, and explore what’s available in your own community!

The MetroHartford Alliance

An organization dedicated to “the Hartford Region’s future economic growth and its viability for robust business development,” the Alliance was born through the fusion of the Hartford Chamber of Commerce and the MetroHartford Economic Growth Council. They offer their help to businesses in many ways, but directly communicate with entrepreneurs via HYPE (Hartford Young Professional and Entrepreneurs). HYPE connects participants to fellow entrepreneurs through organized events specifically tailored to educate. Attend their events to network, learn from the success of young and growing businesses, and find out about beneficial experiences such as Startup Weekend Hartford.

Not from Hartford?

Find help through your own Chamber of Commerce. There’s a good chance they offer their own networking events, trade-shows, seminars and publications. They can also provide you with lists of other businesses in your area.

University of Hartford: Entrepreneurial Center

If you’re responsible for the direction of your company, you’ll need a business plan, the ability to take out loans, and a knowledge of your practical responsibilities. If this seems overwhelming, trying taking a workshop or class for a minimal fee at the Entrepreneurial Center. UHart offers counseling for one-on-one advice, loan application coaching, and FastTrac classes specifically geared toward entrepreneurs. They even offer a free list of their favorite local resources as well. Each counseling and coaching session costs $50 per hour, and the classes and workshops also require a modest investment, but they offer valuable guidance.

A 2009 aerial view of the University of Hartford as it appears on the University of Hartford website

Not from Hartford?

Check out nearby colleges to explore their business classes, and to explore whether they offer additional resources. Chances are you will stumble across at least one very helpful tool.

CBIN: Connecticut Business Incubator Network

Entering your business into an incubator program vastly increases its chances of survival. This network boasts 7 programs in 10 facilities throughout the state, and is home to more than 64 startups. The list of benefits from involvement with this organization is long; an office, a lab, manufacturing space, access to facilities and personnel, mentoring… find a program that’s right for you.

Not from Hartford?

Apply to a reputable incubation program in your own area. In general, participation in such a program doubles your company’s chances of survival.

SECTER: Southeastern Connecticut Enterprise Region

Looking for free documents with information about how to start a business, manage it, and promote it? Check out secter.org for helpful articles, it’s a great source for information.

Not from Hartford?

Great! The information offered on this site free and is still extremely useful.

Connecticut Innovations:

Created by the CT legislature in 1989, but no longer financially supported by it, Connecticut Innovations provides capital and guidance to high-tech and pioneering science companies. They also offer workshops and panel events (although these cost a fee). For example, in September they are holding an event to teach entrepreneurs how to effectively pitch to venture capitalists and angel investors.

Not from Hartford?

There are probably still groups in your area that are striving to spur economic growth by guiding entrepreneurs and helping grow small businesses. Be proactive and ask around, if these groups do exist in your area, it’s likely someone at your Chamber of Commerce or local university will know about them.

Are there any other resources that you or a small business owner you know have found helpful? Tell us about them!

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