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Dear Solopreneur, You Are Not Alone!
Launching a small business can be hard especially if you’re a solopreneur. How do you compete on a larger scale while having to do it all yourself? How do you find leads while also learning the skills like marketing, understanding tax-law, or understanding market trends and data? Where can you find a quiet co-working space to work that has high-speed internet and a whole world of information within reach? Most importantly, how can you access all of that without blowing through your start-up funds?
Of course, the answer to all of these questions would be the library. Here are 5 ways that libraries support solopreneurs and help launch American Small Businesses. (TWEET THIS)
Global Market Data
Many large companies and corporations have the resources they need to analyze market trends to find opportunities by using high-end databases and market information sources such as Gale’s Global Insights, Ebsco’s Business Source Complete, Mergent Online, or Marketwatch. Of course, many of these databases cost thousands of dollars per month which puts them out-of-reach for many small businesses and startups. But, you can access them all for free with a library card from many libraries and from the comfort of your own home and that can help you compete with some of the larger companies or find a new niche for your product that you didn’t know existed.
Once you have a product, how can you find customers? The library has you covered here too. There are two excellent databases that are available through your library that allow you to find new audiences for your product whether you are trying to sell to non-profits, for-profits, or directly to the customers. Most libraries have a subscription to either AtoZ Databases or ReferenceUSA. While these two databases each have some unique features, they both allow you to look up company executives and contact information (AtoZ has email addresses of executives), search for businesses by sic and naics codes, and even build lists of potential audiences of individuals by a wide range of attributes. For example you can build and download lead lists of American individuals that include name, address, and phone number (enough for a Facebook Target Audience) with variable such as geography, income, head of household, home value, a wide range of hobbies, political affiliations, giving history, and even things like whether or not they read sci-fiction books or subscribe to magazines. Again, all you need is a library card.
If you’re unsure about how to use many of the platforms and tools that are available to entrepreneurs then you might check out your library for classes and online learning platforms. Many libraries provide free access to the Lynda learning platform where you can learn a wide range of skills to help guide your organization’s growth. For example, you can learn digital marketing, management, accounting for small business, and much more.
It’s Right on the Shelf
The big problem with relying on the internet for your small business education is that, quite literally, anyone can say that they’re an expert at anything while they’re online and the information that you get might not actually be relevant, accurate, or even truthful. But you can trust that the material on the library’s shelves have been vetted by experts, verified by publishers, and reviewed by librarians. That’s the power of the book vs the internet. Generally speaking, content written in books is far more accurate than what you can find online and librarians spend countless hours making sure that the materials curated for the library collection are up-to-date, accurate, trustworthy, and written by actual experts.
Why are you paying for a co-working space anyway? If you can save 3-5 hundred dollars a month by using your library, money that you can reinvest into growing your business, wouldn’t that be a better investment than paying for a hot-desk and free luke-warm coffee? Plus, many libraries have coffee shops and workspaces that you can take advantage. All of this while also having databases, learning platforms, books, and professional librarians on duty to help you through your start-up questions.
You’re Not Alone (Bonus)
Speaking of librarians, did you know that many libraries employ business librarians who are experts at finding small business resources? They have also been trained to help you navigate government business websites, finding you information that you need, and seeking out the answers to your questions. It’s like having a private researcher on hand to answer all of your small business questions and help you find all of the information you need to successfully launch your business.