It may be a new year, but the recession remains the same.
For many who find themselves out of work, trying to meet ends meet, or returning to the workforce, starting a business can be the evolution of a dream, a lifestyle necessity, or in some cases a last resort.
If one of your resolutions for 2010 is to try to make a go of it on your own, you're not alone.
In 2008, there were 29.6 million businesses in the United States, according to the Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy estimates. Those businesses have generated 64 percent of net new jobs over the past 15 years.
So if you want to start your own gig, how do you get started? It depends, of course, what you want to do. What many budding entrepreneurs don't know is that there are some outstanding resources available right here in the River City so they don't have to feel like they're a little fish drowning in a big small business sea.
Here are a few places to start:
Peoria SCORE provides free and confidential business counseling tailored to meet the needs of the entrepreneur or small business and your personal objectives. It is sponsored by the U.S. Small Business Administration in cooperation with the Economic Development Council for Central Illinois, Inc. and the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce.
Entrepreneurs connecting with entrepreneurs. They meet every other month at the Peoria NEXT Innovation Center (unless otherwise indicated). Their networking events include an information component provided by either a guest speaker, usually an entrepreneur, or a panel discussion, with plenty of time to make connections with others and share ideas. No membership necessary; networking events are $10.
Area Chamber of Commerce Organizations
Chambers of Commerce are membership organizations of area businesses that strive to cultivate a striving business environment through networking, strategic business advisory services, and a commitment to government and community.
Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce
East Peoria Chamber of Commerce
Morton Chamber of Commerce
Pekin Chamber of Commerce
NAWBO (National Association of Women Business Owners) - Central Illinois Chapter
The National Association of Women Business Owners, Central Illinois Chapter, meets monthly to discuss current events and provide business support to area women business owners. They offer exposure for your business, development of you and any staff you may have, in-person and online social networking opportunities, and a wealth of other information.
BNI (Business Networking International)
BNI is a business and professional networking organization that allows only one person from each profession to join any chapter. There are a number of chapters in Central Illinois that meet at a variety of dates, times and locations.
Bradley University Small Business Development Center
Turner Center for Entrepreneurship
A not-for-profit organization that provides business counseling, technical assistance, training, and educational activities for individuals interested in owning their own businesses.
LinkedIn is an interconnected network of experienced professionals from around the world, representing 170 industries and 200 countries. You can find, be introduced to, and collaborate with qualified professionals that you need to work with to accomplish your goals.
Groups to consider within LinkedIn (after you join, search Peoria, IL Groups):
-Peoria Illinois Businesses
-Peoria Illinois Work Group
These organizations are truly dedicated to helping entrepreneurs get the ball rolling, and are a great way to network with fellow small business owners. Anyone reading this who has groups or organizations to add to this list, feel free to comment below.