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SCORE can help you start, grow or successfully exit a business. Small business owners who receive three or more hours of mentoring report higher revenues and increased growth. Enter your ZIP code to find a free SCORE business mentor today.

Discover the ideal SCORE mentor tailored to your specific needs by utilizing our Mentor Matchmaker. This tool allows you to refine your search by filtering options such as industry, location, area of expertise, and various other criteria, ensuring a match that aligns with your unique business needs.

Set your search preferences to find a good match. You can also search by keyword below or use our LiveChat feature to chat with a SCORE representative about finding a mentor.

Search our mentor database to find the expertise you need.

Identify your small business needs and desired support.

Request a SCORE Mentor as your advisor to small business success.

Schedule a mentoring session with your assigned SCORE mentor

Set goals for your small business with guidance from your SCORE mentor.

Work with your SCORE mentor through the life of your business.

Madhu Challa owner of Pretty Pokets standing with her SCORE Mentor

Pretty Pokets

"With SCORE, I got so many opportunities. Everything from starting, how to build, to actually selling online. I took every possible advice whether it's legal, educational, informational, mentoring, everything. I've relied on SCORE. SCORE has been my secret weapon, I must say."

Gavin Escolar owner of The Chaga Company with SCORE Mentor Pete Slosberg holding chaga mushrooms.

The Chaga Company

"Pete Slosberg is GOLD. From securing my position in the market, redefining our sales sheet, providing guidance on the core values and driving force of the company, recommending new marketing strategies, and suggesting unique customer acquisition approaches."

Tonyia Smith owner of Silver Slice Bakery

Silver Slice Bakery

"I encourage business start-ups and seasoned business owners to utilize SCORE services to grow their business. It WORKS especially if you do the work.  The training is impeccable and the mentors are the best part of working with SCORE. The mentors are not only knowledgeable about business and share their personal business experiences, but they also help you find out what your transitional skills are from leaving a job to starting a business, plus they are very kind and listen to you."

Iyobosa Ero owner of Preparture with SCORE Mentor

"There are challenges when it comes to being black in America. I see that as an opportunity to show why a partnership or a collaboration is actually needed. I needed someone from SCORE to provide me with strategic road-map focus, as Preparture at the time seemed broad. Meeting with Steven Lome helped me set goals and milestones."

Fanni Xie owner of Uni Uni Bubble Tea in front of bubble tea shop with her SCORE Mentor

Uni Uni Bubble Tea

"When you go to the SCORE website you can actually choose different mentors from the list. You can see their credentials, their experiences. You can be matched with the one that can help you most. SCORE is the start point for your business."

"I have recommended SCORE to every veteran or entrepreneur I have come across. My team was patient, flexible, and insightful, and they brought a variety of different perspectives to our meetings. I can honestly say that I would not have been able to do it without them. Their encouragement and practical knowledge helped me to transform my idea into a reality."

Ask a Mentor Series

Are you curious about how SCORE mentors can help your business grow? Wondering about the qualifications of SCORE mentors or the process of engaging with them? Check out our Video Playlist! The playlist will help provide clarity and our FAQ section provides clear answers to these and other common questions, guiding you through the valuable services SCORE offers to small business owners.

Are you curious about how SCORE mentors can help your business grow? Wondering about the qualifications of SCORE mentors or the process of engaging with them? Our FAQ section provides clear answers to these and other common questions, guiding you through the valuable services SCORE offers to small business owners.

Ready to elevate your business journey? Connect with seasoned experts in your local area! Simply enter your zip code below, and we'll match you with a dedicated SCORE mentor who can guide you towards success. Unlock personalized advice, gain industry insights, and take your business to new heights today.

What is SCORE mentoring?

How does score mentoring work, how will you match me with my mentor, how long will it take to get matched, will my mentor reach out to me first, is score mentoring confidential can my mentor sign a nondisclosure agreement (nda).

  • Always place the business interests of SCORE clients first.
  • Protect the confidentiality of all client information so that it remains within SCORE.

What industries do you support?

Are the mentors really business experts, what is a typical mentoring session like, how can i make the most of my mentoring experience.

  • Checking your inbox for emails from SCORE.
  • Be ready to actively participate in your session. This means bringing specific questions that we can answer, engaging in discussions about your business, and challenging the mentor's ideas & suggestions if you don't fully understand them.
  • If your business is already in operation, please be willing to share your history, recent financials, cash flow, and business plan. This will give your mentor a much-needed understanding of your current operations so they can suggest ideas about how/where to improve.
  • Be open and honest in the discussion.
  • Be willing to meet with your mentor over a period of time. Many of the questions that we receive will take more than one meeting to answer. Remember, mentoring is always free and you can meet with your mentor as often as needed (based on schedule and availability).
  • Keep in mind that SCORE mentors will not do the work for you. We are here as guides and advisors but we’ll ask you to do the work. This is to help you develop the skills and knowledge needed to manage your business.
  • When you’ve achieved success with your mentor, submit a success story for our website. This will allow us to celebrate your accomplishments and spread the word about your business. Your story could be featured in SCORE’s national media releases and marketing efforts, which will build awareness for your business.
  • Consider attending a SCORE workshop to complement your mentoring. We offer educational webinars, workshops and events online and in your local community. This will help you strengthen your knowledge and expand your business network.

Copyright © 2023 SCORE Association,

Funded, in part, through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.


The Rewarding World of Small Business Consulting

Rebecca Riserbato

Updated: August 25, 2021

Published: August 24, 2021

According to Statista, the consulting market size in the United States reached a value of $64.4 billion in 2020 — a figure that isn't covered exclusively by massive firms catering to corporations. The market for small business consulting is also incredibly lucrative, and the practice itself can involve rewarding, engaging work.

small business consulting program

If you're an expert in your field, whether it's sales, marketing, IT, or finances, you can make good money as a small business consultant. Below, we'll review what small business consulting entails, what services are offered, how to start a small business consulting firm, how to become an independent small business consultant, and take a look at pricing and compensation in the practice.

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Small Business Consulting

Small business consultants give business owners advice on strategy, problem solving, and developing skills. They also come up with resources and lay out a plan to improve an organization's performance. Overall, small business consultants are contract workers that will spot problems, implement solutions, and achieve goals.

Consultants can be an important tool for small businesses that can't afford full-time employees year-round, need a third party to solve a company issue, or want an expert to give advice and strategize.

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What does a small business consultant do?

Small business consultants can carry out a variety of responsibilities. They might design something like a business plan, sales strategy, marketing plan, or public relations campaign.

They can specialize in certain areas such as accounting, operations, human resources, management, marketing, or public relations. It would be difficult to rattle off every possible kind of small business consultant in a single article. They can help address virtually every base a small business needs to cover.

Ultimately, every small business consultant is similar in the fact that they're independent entities contracted by small businesses for their expertise and help with certain activities that those companies don't feel fit to handle themselves.

Below, let's review some services a small business consultant might perform.

Small Business Consulting Services

  • Sales and marketing consulting.
  • Project management consulting.
  • Forecasting.
  • IT consulting.
  • Accounting consulting.
  • Strategic planning.

1. Sales and marketing consulting.

If you're an expert or have worked in sales and marketing, you can easily transfer that knowledge as a small business consultant.

A small business consultant can work with sales and marketing teams in a number of ways. For example, they can come up with a digital strategy, a marketing campaign, or work on the web development or training side of things.

To illustrate, let's say that a company contacts a consultant because their sales team hasn't been performing well. A small business consultant will come in, observe, identify the problems (whether they're operational or training-based), work on strategizing a solution, and then implement it. For instance, a consultant might recommend using the HubSpot Sales Hub or Active Campaign .

2. Project management consulting.

One of the main reasons that companies hire small business consultants is for project management.

Let's say a company has a new product or launch coming up, but they aren't sure how to strategize for it because there are only five employees and none of them work in project management.

That's when a consultant could come in and either train your employees on how to handle the project or work as a contract project manager.

Additionally, if a company has operational inefficiencies long-term, they might consider hiring a consultant to spot the inefficiencies and come up with a plan to improve the organization's project management.

3. Reporting.

A consultant can help a company with reporting in two ways: they can gather analytics and reports and they can analyze the reports that come in.

This is a service that a company might want to hire a consultant for on a longer-term basis. With reporting, a small business consultant will help a company collect and understand the analytics or reports so they can make smart business decisions based on data.

If a company or owner tries to do this on their own, they could misinterpret the data or not understand what the numbers mean contextually.

4. Forecasting.

When a small business is just starting out, it needs to have projections and forecasts for how things will go in the near and distant future.

However, forecasting is hard when you don't have ample resources, time, or personnel to gather the data and analyze it. That's when a small business consultant can come in. They'll work with the company to understand and put together proper projections.

5. IT consulting.

With a small business, choosing the right technology and getting the system set up efficiently isn't easy.

That's why companies hire consultants for IT services. A consultant can help choose the proper technology and ensure the technological systems are set up correctly and efficiently.

If a company has been up and running for some time, a small business consultant can help identify technological inefficiencies and then figure out a solution to improve a company's system and processes.

6. Accounting consulting.

Accounting is another service that a small business might hire for the long term. With a small team, having an accounting department might not be financially worth it. However, every company needs an expert managing and looking at the finances.

A small business consultant who specializes in financial management can come on and adjust budgets, set up payroll, or help with taxes. Finances and accounting are one of the hardest things to manage for a small company, but it's one of the most important areas to set up accurately.

7. Strategic planning.

At its core, small business consulting is about strategic planning. A small business consultant might help plan strategic messaging or launches.

The role of a small business consultant is to identify issues and strategically plan solutions. Essentially, they are creative problem solvers that can specialize in any area of business and help small business work more efficiently.

How to Start a Small Business Consulting Firm

1. find a niche, and specify your services..

What is your small business consulting firm going to do? What's your identity? Who are you going to be? When it comes to starting your own small business consulting firm, you have to have more specific goals than, "We're going to consult for small businesses."

Your average small business is both specialized and multifaceted, and you're most likely not going to be equipped to handle every element of every business across every industry. You'll need a specialty — and that has to be clearly defined before you start putting your firm together.

Your firm will be much better off specializing in something like "communications for pre-seed funding B2B SaaS startups" than it will be if you market yourself as a "small business consulting firm for small businesses."

2. Get a strong feel for your market and its typical pain points.

Once you have your niche pinned down, you need to understand how to best tackle your target market. If you're starting your own small business consulting firm, odds are you're not going in totally blind. You probably have some degree of experience in your field — at least you should.

Still, you can't rely solely on your prior experience with a market when trying to put a firm of your own together. You need to conduct extensive market research to understand the businesses you're trying to work with and the issues they're most likely facing.

Reach out to business owners across platforms like LinkedIn to see if you can get some insight into the struggles and setbacks they most commonly face. Try to find literature like industry-specific blog content and thought leadership pieces. See if you can attend conferences or download webinars for an in-depth perspective on how your target industry functions.

One way or another, get a solid pulse on who you're trying to appeal to — it can be instrumental to successfully guiding almost every other point on this list.

3. Document a business plan.

Putting a business plan together isn't necessarily essential to starting a successful small business consulting firm, but it can still be a big help — and it doesn't have to take too long either.

Having a thoughtfully segmented, clear-cut document that details who you are, what you do, your market position, your plans for the future, your financial situation, and other key elements that define your firm's identity and viability can be a massive asset for you — both internally and externally.

It also doesn't have to be a massive, hundred-something page diatribe that covers literally every corner of your operations. It can be as simple as the one-page template from HubSpot shown below.

small business consulting business plan

Image Source: HubSpot

Having a business plan laid out helps you better understand your strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities while simultaneously giving you a document you can show potential clients to prove that you're effective and legitimate. Again, this step isn't mandatory — but it can still help you out in both the short and long term.

4. Cover your firm's legal bases.

Hiring an attorney.

Starting any kind of business comes with its share of legal requirements and hangups — and a small business consulting firm is no exception. That's why you need to find some solid legal representation to help ensure your firm gets off the ground within the confines of the law and doesn't overstep any legal boundaries as it grows.

But hiring the right legal help is easier said than done. Connecting with a reputable, reasonably priced, reliably available attorney who's willing to represent your firm can sometimes feel like chasing a unicorn.

You're best off establishing a firm budget, setting measured expectations, and going from there. Thoroughly screen the lawyers you're looking into to ensure that they've served their clients well — particularly those whose characteristics are in line with your firm's.

Landing on a Legal Business Structure

Once you have your attorney, you need to work with them to determine what kind of entity you intend to register. What is your legal business structure going to be? Your answer to that question is going to inform several other key elements of your operations — how you pay taxes being one of the most important.

There are four main legal business structures:

  • Sole proprietorship — Where one person is responsible for a business's profits and debts.
  • Partnership — Where two or more people hold shared responsibility for a business.
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC) — Where owners aren't personally responsible for a firm's debts or liabilities.
  • Corporation — Where a business is considered legally separate from its owners.

Generally speaking, registering as an LLC makes the most sense for a small business consulting firm. But that's not necessarily a given. When you're determining how to proceed at this point, give the decision some thorough thought — and if you already have legal help on hand, ask for their opinion.

5. Research your competitive landscape.

Unless your firm's niche is as niche as a niche can be, you're bound to have competitors in your field. There are going to be other consulting firms vying for the same business as you — and it's in your best interest to have a firm grasp on how they operate.

See the services they offer and the types of businesses they generally cater to. Doing so can let you see what kinds of organizations are looking for firms with your specialty. It might also help you identify gaps in their clientele that you can make a point of appealing to.

Your competition should naturally inform several aspects of how you do business. There's a market for your services, and you need to land on an appropriate, lucrative place within it. That all starts by knowing what you're up against.

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6. Understand your financial situation — including potential pricing structures.

Initial funding and budgeting.

Here's where you get into one of the more uncomfortable but essential elements of getting your small business consulting firm off the ground. You can't start your firm without any picture of your finances — planning on spending money like you have carte blanche and hoping for the best.

You need to know the exact financial figures behind your initial efforts — as well as a picture of where the money is coming from and how reliable that source is. Are you getting funding from investors? Are you paying out of pocket? Are you relying on friends and family?

With that information in mind, you can start to budget for what it's going to take to put your firm together and how you intend to attract and retain clients.

Pricing Structure

You also need to piece together a realistic financial forecast that incorporates aspects of your business like your pricing structure. You have to ask yourself, "How and how much am I planning on charging clients?"

Are you going to charge them on retainer? Hourly? By project? This step leans heavily on the one that came before it. You should have a solid picture of your competition's going rates and pricing models. That way, you can ensure that your prices are rational and competitive enough to keep pace with others in your space.

You need to be realistic here. Try to land on a rational pricing structure that can keep your business afloat without alienating too many potential clients. This might take some trial and error, but you have to figure it out. After all, you can't sustain a successful small business consulting firm if no small businesses are interested in paying for your services.

7. Prepare to address bookkeeping and accounting.

Another key element of starting a small business consulting firm is covering the administrative aspect of your organization — namely bookkeeping and accounting.

Accounting and bookkeeping are similar to the legal side of your business — they're grating but essential. You need to have your books in order if you want to avoid trouble from the IRS. But that can be tough for anyone starting a small business consulting firm.

In many — if not most — cases, small business consulting firm founders aren't starting their firms to spend their time and energy tied up in their numbers. That's why you're best off hiring bookkeepers to handle at least part of that process.

It could also help to outsource your accounting responsibilities to a CPA, but there's a good chance you might not have the budget for that. In that case, you might want to explore leveraging some sort of small business accounting software to get that side of your operations in line.

8. Begin to develop an online presence.

Once you have your more administrative infrastructure in place, it's time to start attracting potential clientele. That starts with establishing a solid online presence. Put together a well-constructed, easily navigable, professional website that shows visitors who you are as a firm — that'll help you come off as more trustworthy and legitimate.

Consider starting publishing industry-specific blog content and other marketing collateral to help bolster your reputation and establish yourself as a thought leader. Tactics like those can be powerful lead generation and prospect engagement resources.

You also need to continue networking proactively but not aggressively. Connect with your target audience. Start some conversations through platforms like LinkedIn, and begin to establish some relationships with prospects in your space.

Beyond that, you should start profiles on various social media platforms to meet your prospects where they are, let your satisfied clientele leave positive reviews, and promote your thought leadership through as many channels as possible.

9. Determine your value proposition.

The information and insight you've accrued up to this point should amount to a solid understanding of your target audience, competition, and broader market. Taken together, those factors should inform your value proposition.

What can you do that your competitors can't? Can you offer high-quality consulting at a lower price point than your industry peers? Can you provide a degree of individualized attention to the small businesses you serve that others can't match? Do you have more experience than the average firm in your market?

One way or another, figure out what makes you special, and mold your sales and marketing strategies around that. Piece together the personas that will be most receptive to your services, and make a point of targeting them.

In many respects, this is where every prior point on this list comes together. You've put together the bits and pieces of a successful small business consulting firm — your value proposition is what really sets things in motion.

10. Start staffing sustainably and effectively.

Here's the key difference between starting a small business consulting firm and becoming a small business consultant — a firm means you're employing other people. As your business expands and you can afford to bring on new employees, make sure you're recruiting thoughtfully and effectively.

Do your research on the candidates you want to recruit, and connect with them using personalized, non-generic outreach. If you want to use job listings to find potential employees, make sure the descriptions are thorough and provide a clear understanding of your expectations, the role's responsibilities, and your preferred qualifications.

It might go without saying, but you also need to have the resources to bring new people on as you carry out the recruitment process. You can't overstep your limits at this point in the process — be sure to staff sustainably.

How to Become a Small Business Consultant

Let's say you want to get into small business consulting but lack the interest or resources to put together a full-blown firm. In that case, you might want to become an independent small business consultant. Here's a quick look at how to make that happen.

1. Choose a specialization.

Determine what you're an expert in. Ideally, you'd have five years of full-time experience to be an expert on a certain subject.

2. Research certifications.

Some states have laws around consulting, especially in the fundraising industry. Before you get started, look up if you need to have a certification to work as a consultant in your industry in your state.

3. Take courses.

You should always be learning and active in your specialized industry. For example, if you're a marketing consultant, make sure you're an expert in the industry by taking courses and staying informed on the latest trends. Ongoing education should be a huge priority for you.

4. Begin networking.

To be a consultant, you need to build a list of contacts. Begin by attending local events and conferences for small businesses.

5. Decide on a pricing structure.

Once you're starting to drum up interest in your company, you need to consider how much you're going to charge. You can look up the competition and see their rates. Do they price per project, hourly, or on a retainer business?

6. Have a marketing plan.

Figure out how you're going to promote your services. Plus, consider your budget. How much do you want to spend on traditional or internet marketing?

Average Small Business Consulting Fee

Given the broad variety of types of small business consultants, pinning down an average figure for small business consulting fees can be tough. These rates also vary by location, pricing structure, and whether you intend to maintain ongoing relationships with clients.

If you're determining what to charge for your small business consulting services, one of the better places to start is by taking a look at what your direct competitors are charging. If you can provide comparable services, you'll likely want to keep your fees in that ballpark.

That being said, you need to make sure your going rate is worth your time. Try to find the average salary of a position that requires your expertise — think of it as an opportunity cost of sorts.

Once you have that figure, use it to calculate how much you could earn on a monthly, weekly, and hourly basis. With that information, try setting a rate that reflects what you could be making if you weren't working as a consultant.

That logic can apply to virtually every type of small business consulting pricing model — including retainers, monthly fees, charging by project, or hourly rates. As you deliver on more projects and build your reputation, you can gradually and appropriately increase your prices.

Small Business Consultant Salary

The nationwide average salary for self-proclaimed small business consultants is $63,750 with the 25th and 75th percentiles being $51,500 and $74,500 — according to ZipRecruiter. Those figures tend to vary based on specialty and location.

Overall, small business consulting can be a rewarding career. With creative problem solving, every day looks different and presents interesting challenges.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in   December 2019  and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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Starting and Building Your Consulting Business

August 26, 2024

8:30 AM – 4:30 PM ET

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Registration Deadline

August 18, 2024

Develop the critical skills you need to successfully launch and scale a thriving consulting business.

Program overview.

Consulting services are in high demand — and continue to be a rapidly growing industry. In the United States alone, the market is estimated at $250 billion and is expected to grow three times faster than the general labor market through 2030 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

This course will help you leverage your expertise to start your consulting business and establish a niche in this highly competitive market. You will gain the skills necessary to develop your consulting practice and explore the high-potential and in-demand niche(s) into which you can expand. Combining your subject matter expertise with these critical skills will enable you to enjoy the freedom, financial security, and intellectual challenges of a highly successful consultant.

In addition to deep expertise in your field, starting a consulting business requires knowledge of client development, sales and marketing, contracting, billing, and other operational details. The program will cover topics including:

  • Determining your ideal consulting niche
  • Effectively communicating your value to prospective clients
  • Using content and digital marketing strategies to engage with prospects
  • Choosing the appropriate billing model for each client
  • Drafting and reviewing engagement letters and consulting contracts
  • Closing the deal
  • Knowing when and how to add additional consultants
  • Identifying the investments that you should and shouldn’t make

Benefits of the Building Your Consulting Business Program

Starting a consulting business may seem daunting at first, but this course will set you up for success by teaching you how to efficiently identify and effectively communicate with prospective clients. The material will also cover how to create an integrated marketing strategy for a new consulting practice, how to construct accurate sales funnels, methods of predicting demand, and robust referral networks, and will teach you how to draft and review consulting contracts. The robust curriculum will give you the confidence to identify your niche market and the skills necessary to get your consulting business off to a strong start.

All participants earn a Certificate of Participation from the Harvard University Division of Continuing Education.

Who Should Enroll in the Building Your Consulting Business Program

This consulting course is ideal for current and prospective independent consultants starting a consulting business and looking to expand their practice. This course would also prove invaluable for those professionals charged with building or expanding a consulting practice within a pre-existing organization.

Attendees should have a minimum of five years of professional experience.

“I recently completed two courses with the great Shawn O’Connor. I run a consulting company and was able to apply most of the things from the course very quickly. Surveys from our clients have given us better ratings and we have achieved new and more significant contracts. —Stefan Fijala, Managing Director/Consultant, Wacky Advisors

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How do i know if the building your consulting business program is right for me.

Many professionals looking to start their own consulting business come with enthusiasm and the drive to be successful, but don’t know where to begin. If you have deep experience in your field, an entrepreneurial attitude, and the desire to share your knowledge with others, this consulting course is for you!

How will the Building Your Consulting Business Program help me improve my career or company?

From identifying your niche to closing the deal, this program will cover the steps you need to take to start — and grow — your consulting business. Whether you’re looking to establish your expertise in your field or to build connections across your industry, this consulting course will help you invest in yourself and your future success.

Are there any prerequisites for this consulting program?

Participants should have a minimum of five years of professional experience and either be looking to start a consulting business or to expand an existing consulting business within their organization.

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The Division of Continuing Education (DCE) at Harvard University is dedicated to bringing rigorous academics and innovative teaching capabilities to those seeking to improve their lives through education. We make Harvard education accessible to lifelong learners from high school to retirement.

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The SEMP Approach is a comprehensive, step-by-step methodology that provides effective, clear-cut guidance to small business and SME consultants.

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It is estimated that there are approximately 30 million small businesses in the United States, and even more worldwide. Unfortunately, 7 out of every 10 new businesses will likely survive for only two years, and half will likely survive for only five years – a staggering statistic.

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  • Tax forms available for all states (U.S.)
  • Special business reports

Major Benefits of SEMP Approach

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Assist your clients in growing their small businesses and SMEs

  • Learn all aspects of small business and SME consulting with an easy-to-follow, logical, concise, systems approach
  • Practice aides (checklists) to guide and support you
  • SEMP Approach teaches you how to think "out of the box"
  • Can fit your skill level and needs of your client

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Promote your own small business or SME consulting practice

  • With new skills
  • With new ideas
  • With more to offer small business and SME clients
  • Easy to use resources to help market your services
  • Add additional revenue streams to your new or already existing business as opportunities

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AASBC Branding and designation

  • Designation on business cards, stationery, and website
  • Public recognizes your achievement as an Accredited Small Business Consultant or Accredited SME Consultant
  • Allows you to project a unique, professional image
  • Distinguishes you from your colleagues who have not obtained the ASBC or ASMEC certification


"​The AASBC has done a fantastic job of tying in the SEMP Approach training book to a very professional video series. Like many of my fellow consulting colleagues, I have a multi-year professional background, and like most, I’ve developed my own way of conducting business along the way. The good news? SEMP doesn’t replace a consultants’ prior experience or specialized knowledge – rather it will enhance that skillset by providing a core knowledge and toolset – a system – for helping the consultant probe deeper and make more focused business improvement recommendations to their clients. A good consultant must be knowledgeable, ethical and client-focused – the AASBC, the SEMP Approach, and the ASBC accreditation process combine to build such consultants."


​The SEMP Approach is a great roadmap for growing a business resulting in positive outcomes for all my clients. The accreditation lends to my professional portfolio where clients and business partners require a level of professional trust in working and partnering together. One of my pillars is the more I learn, the better I can serve my clients and my community. Being an active member of the AASBC provides me a stronger foundation of expertise to consult and coach businesses. Excellent decision to be part of the AASBC!


​“The amount of material included in the SEMP Approach training book is incredible considering the reasonable cost. It’s a full-fledged consulting business curriculum. I regularly refer to it, as well as use it as a reference manual, during my client engagements.”


​"When I started my own consulting business, I knew that I wanted to make sure I persisted in continuing education programs, which is why I joined the AASBC ® and became an Accredited Small Business Consultant ® . The program materials include the SEMP Approach training book and an on-demand video lecture series that provides a wealth of information pertaining to small businesses and how to help owners increase operational efficiencies and maximize profit. 


"​I joined the AASBC ®  because of the wealth of information available to members. The program, the resources, and the SEMP Approach are excellent! As an Accredited Small Business Consultant, I am not only more valuable to my employers, but I am able to present credentials to other small businesses that I assist which gives them a comfort level they may not have had otherwise."


"​Before joining the AASBC, I was already doing internal consulting for a major corporation and consulting small businesses on the side. Since I had not heard of the AASBC the question was, “Is this for me?” After completing the certification, it became instantly obvious that the answer was yes. The training filled gaps in my knowledge and gave me a complete playbook."


"​If you’re a small business consultant or want to be, joining the AASBC will give you both the comfort and confidence that you know more about small business than any of your clients - and you’ll be able to deliver the right solution to the myriad of problems every small business owner will encounter. The training book is your ticket to passing the certification exam."


​"During the three years since the sale of my company, I have coached and mentored small businesses and start-ups but did not feel that I had the structure or confidence to help with a thorough and comprehensive examination. This changed when I discovered the AASBC and began studying their comprehensive training book, the SEMP Approach, backed up with video lectures that bring to life the detailed information covered in the training book. The AASBC also offers impressive ongoing member support via newsletters, weekly tips, power points, checklists and more."  


​"Being an independent consultant, certification helps marketability. It broadened my service offering and increased my projects just as a result of being able to promote my AASBC certification. The feature I liked best was that there were two different ways to learn the material...reading which is great and the addition of the video lecture series to plug some of the gaps in my understanding."

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Small Business Consultant Certification Program

The Compass CBS Foundation is a 501(c)3 organization based in Arizona that focuses on developing resources to help strengthen a diverse, inclusive, and sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystem nationally. The Small Business Consultant Certification Program is a capacity-building program designed to train small business consultants/coaches, economic development professionals and technical assistance providers with the skills to better serve and meet the needs of entrepreneurs and small business owners from any industry and sector.

Our training program helps participants understand how to advance equitable economic recovery, increasing generational wealth of small business owners for a more inclusive economy. The program includes presentations and activities for all participants.

PART 1: Getting to Know Your Small Business Community

  • Vision for equitable economic recovery in the nation
  • The Big Picture: National Data on Small Businesses
  • Facing the unique challenges of small businesses
  • Tools to connect and support small businesses
  • Evaluating a small business and understanding their needs
  • Developing strategic partnerships within the small business community

PART 2: Economic Landscape & Resources for SMALL Businesses

  • The economic history of small businesses in the nation
  • Resources for small businesses
  • Access to capital/financial resources for small businesses
  • Diverse supplier resources for small businesses
  • Diversity business certifications
  • Digital tools and power of bilingual digital advertising

PART 3: Leadership & Coaching Skills for Success

  • Consulting vs Coaching
  • Securing trust with your small business client
  • Active coaching skills to engage your small business client
  • Determining priorities and creating plans for success
  • Maintaining accountability to achieve your client goals
  • Tracking the progress of your client and following-up
  • Creating a resource toolkit for your client

Pricing: $895 per person

Our 3-day course offers 24 hours of official Compass CBS Foundation economic development training and coaching to be completed in 90-days. Course duration is approximately 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Unless otherwise noted, this course is delivered in English. Courses are delivered live, online via Zoom. A stable internet connection is required.

Participants will receive:

  • Certificate of Completion
  • Permission to utilize Certified Small Business Consultant (CSBC) achievement in email signatures, business cards and professional resume/LinkedIn for three years.
  • Certified participants will be listed on our website.
  • Comprehensive reference materials.
  • Interactive experience and activities to stretch your skills.
  • Opportunity to learn from emerging leaders.

*Group rates and private training schedule available for parties of four or more.

2022 Open Enrollment Schedule

We provide two open enrollment sessions throughout the year in English and Spanish. Please review dates below.

  • First Session (English): Q2 April 6, 7, and 8, 2022
  • Second Session (Spanish): Q4 October 5, 6, and 7, 2022


  • Must have a minimum of 1-year in a small business consultant/coaching role, economic development professional, or technical assistance provider in government or non-profit organizations.
  • Must have experience with business planning, access to capital, and financial reporting.
  • Certification valid for three years. Recertification required by attending any session during the open enrollment period.
  • Recommended for business development professionals who wish to enhance their cultural competency skills to advance solutions for minority-owned small businesses in the US.

Enroll Today!

Contact Edgar R. Olivo, CEO of Compass CBS Foundation, by sending an email to [email protected] for more information to enroll in the Small Business Consultant Certification Program.

About the Instructor

Edgar R. Olivo is the founder and CEO of the Compass CBS Foundation as well as bilingual business educator, economic advisor, and contributor for several media outlets. He is a nonprofit executive who is passionate about education, social and economic justice. He is certified in finance and data analytics and holds a business degree from Arizona State University. Edgar is a member of the Aspen Institute’s Latino and Society cohort to advance equitable economic recovery for Latino businesses and has working relationships with top economic development organizations in Arizona.

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Aztec Consulting

Offering management consulting services to san diego businesses.

Welcome! Aztec Consulting Program offers management consulting services to businesses in the city of San Diego for free, based on an annual grant from the City of San Diego.

We are focused on building value for our community of clients and student consultants.

  • To our clients, we strive to provide innovative, yet tangible solutions, which lead to optimized decision-making and increased effectiveness.
  • To our students, we emphasize professional and personal growth by developing top undergraduate students into strategic thinkers and leaders capable of approaching complex, real-world business issues.

At the Aztec Consulting Program we know that finding the right help when you need it is a choice not to be taken lightly. We value your time and well being.

Prospective Clients

SDSU’s Aztec Consulting Program, a highly successful, award winning program, started as the Small Business Institute (under an SBA grant). It has served nearly   one thousand   small and medium sized businesses in the San Diego region since its inception in the early 1970s. Our student consultants, working as a three to five person team, work with each business client for an entire academic semester, with each team guided by a student intern and mentor. 

SDSU will also provide an advising committee which consists of Dr. John Francis, management, and MBA or MS student advisors. These combined resources supervise the undergraduate students that are consulting for the business. All students in the program must complete a series of prerequisites, must apply competitively to participate, and are selected based on superior academic performance as well as stated commitment to engaging in active community-based service learning.

Areas of Expertise

  • Business Expansion & Revenue Growth
  • Improving Human Resource Processes
  • Conducting Feasibility Studies
  • Developing Advertising & Promotions
  • Search Optimization & Social Media
  • Cost Analysis & Control
  • Developing Foreign Market Entry Strategy
  • Conducting Benchmark & Competitor Analysis
  • Improving Operations & Project Management Efficiencies

Prospective Client Application

The Washboard Laundry Tyler Blair, The Washboard Laundry “I didn’t even think about the branding before they pointed out some inconsistencies, but now I have a cohesive message across all media.”

Tyler Blair, owner of The Washboard laundry service near SDSU’s campus, also engaged the Aztec Consulting Program's students shortly after purchasing his business. While the report from the Aztec Consulting Program confirmed Blair’s assertion that no other local laundry service offered free wi-fi, televisions, customer service and high tech washing machines, the report also came back with a marketing and financial suggestions that helped Blair to strengthen his unique business.

“One of the first things the students did was to determine the actual cost and profit for each service and that’s when we realized that the fluff-and-fold service had the highest return on investment,” said Blair. “When I started marketing that service more heavily, we began seeing more profits pretty quickly. They also showed me how to better manage our existing accounting system, how to train and delegate work to the existing employees and how to determine a pricing structure.” Like Romero, Blair also learned that he needed to make his marketing and branding more uniform. “I didn’t even think about the branding before they pointed out some inconsistencies, but now I have a cohesive message across all media,” he said.

At Your Side Planning Diana Romero, At Your Side Planning “My resulting revenue has increased significantly, and I have a higher quality of clientele now.”

One member of the business community is Diana Romero who offers wedding planning services through her company, At Your Side Planning. She enlisted the help of the SBCC students in the fall of 2011 when she decided she wanted to increase her revenues.

The students suggested techniques to improve her marketing plan and determined that she was charging too little for her services. Upon implementing their suggestions, she noticed positive improvements right away.

“The results were incredible,” said Romero. “I implemented the students’ suggestions to revamp my pricing when their analysis determined my price point was too low. I also used their input to re-name and re-brand my company name, website and marketing materials to create a cohesive and higher quality look and feel. My resulting revenue has increased significantly and I have a higher quality of clientele now.”

Part of the reason for Romero’s results is the fact that she was not only willing to implement the suggestions made by the students, but also that the students are among the best in the College of Business Administration. “In order to be involved in the Aztec Consulting Program, students must go through an applications process,” said Dr. Don Sciglimpaglia, outgoing director for the Aztec Consulting Program. “Only seniors and M.B.A. students that have shown excellence in the classroom and that have a track record of community service are accepted into the program.”

Previous Clients

Become a mentor.

A student team with one or two professional mentors is matched with a local business to help assess its business development needs. These mentors work with student consulting teams to guide the teams’ research and recommendations to meet the needs of the small business owners. The industry-specific and project management knowledge of professional advisors enhances the student learning experience and helps students work with small business owners to increase their success.

Interested in becoming a mentor? Please contact John Francis [email protected] 619-594-5339 

BA 404, or Small Business Consulting, is one of the available Business capstone courses that gives students the opportunity to implement all of their previous studies. The class meets on Friday from 10:00am - 12:40pm. There is a LARGE element of this class in which student groups meet OUTSIDE the classroom. Students act as “business consultants” to selected businesses, working in three to five member teams. BA 404 can be taken as a business elective in lieu of the required BA 405. Always be sure to check with your academic advisor. The class will be small [30 students maximum]. Students must apply to take the course, which fills quickly, so plan to register as early as possible.

Program Overview

The Small Business Consulting class pairs astute students with businesses in the San Diego area. After meeting with their client, business students design their project plans and deliverables to meet the scope of the project. This experience gives the students the opportunity to answer those tough critical thinking questions in an interview situation and gives them real-life experience to put on their resume. Not to mention the lasting impact made in the community.


  • BA 350, BA 370, ACCTG 202 completed
  • GPA 2.75 or above
  • Instructor approval (See Application Below)

Demonstrated Skills

  • Problem Identification
  • Problem Solving
  • Critical Thinking
  • Consultation
  • Project Management
  • Strategies for Team Effectiveness
  • Analyze the Business Problem
  • Develop Recommendations
  • Creating a Clear Action Plan to be Followed by the Client

Student Application

Meet the Team

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Owning a small business isn’t a job. It’s a calling.

Our best advice? Don’t try to do it alone. Wherever you are on your entrepreneurial journey, the Michigan Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is here to help.


You can’t Google everything. When you need to talk with an expert, that’s where the Michigan SBDC comes in. Sean Gartland, Feast Gourmet Kitchen Shop

 No-Cost Small Business Development Services, Resources & Tools

Our mission is to help your Michigan small business succeed so we offer free support with small business consulting, tools and resources. Provided or developed by experts, each one is geared to help you with a key aspect of Michigan entrepreneurship.

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If you have 10 or more employees and $1 million or more in revenue, our growth team can help you further your success by strategizing and guiding your ongoing growth.

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Better understand your market, your target audience, and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) so you can make decisions that drive interest in your products or services, improve customer loyalty, and move your business forward — all for free.

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While safety from cybersecurity issues can never be guaranteed, you and your customers will benefit from the peace of mind that comes with understanding how to protect your Michigan small business.

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Interested in expanding your small Michigan business to the global marketplace? Want to export goods internationally? We offer free export services to help you with everything from business planning to landed cost estimates.

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Are you a Michigan tech startup looking to commercialize an advanced technology? We can connect you with consultants with first-hand experience to help you with funding, launching, and more.

Training and Events

Get small business advice wherever, whenever from our experienced team of small business experts. Our business education library is full of both live and on-demand content to help you start and grow your business.

One-On-One Small Business Consulting

Our team provides support through the full lifecycle of your business: start, scale, and sell. Your Michigan SBDC small business consultant will meet you where you’re at and help you reach your goals through personalized business coaching, all at no cost to you.

Small Business Help at Any Stage

Whether you’re still ideating your small business or are ready to sell it, we’re here to help at any point in the lifecycle of your business.

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Partner with our certified small business consultants to learn everything you need to know about how to start and operate a small business in Michigan.

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When you need the space to work ON your business rather than IN your business, the Michigan SBDC is here to help. Scale effectively with the guidance of our team.

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If you’re looking to create a succession plan for business ownership or an exit strategy, our team is equipped to help you through this stage of the entrepreneurial life cycle.

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No school can prepare you for it. No book has the answers. It’s an education of trial and error, risk and reward. It’s about having the courage to jump. But the wins are indescribable.

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California State University, Northridge

Small business consulting program: a win-win for students and entrepreneurs.

By Andrew J. Skerritt  

The Nazarian College small business consulting program has assisted more than 300 small businesses over four decades, including Barclays Coffee & Tea in Northridge.

The Nazarian College small business consulting program has assisted more than 300 small businesses over four decades, including Barclays Coffee & Tea in Northridge.

Through the FOUND/LA Local Business Boost and Wells Fargo Bank, undergraduates and graduate students in the Nazarian College have made a big difference to local small businesses.   

The students deploy classroom lessons in the service of entrepreneurs as they pass their final hurdle to graduation. For undergraduates in the Business Honors program, consulting is part of a three-unit capstone course, BUS 497BBH – Small Business Planning & Growth, taught each spring. It’s a requirement for all honors students in their senior year. Management lecturer Drew Foley teaches the course in collaboration with Silvina Bamrungpong , director of the Business Honors Program.   

“The course is the culmination of their studies at the Nazarian College,” Bamrungpong said. “Working with a local client is a way students practice and apply their learning.”   

For graduate students working in teams of four or five, their process is an evolution, as they are transformed from learners to practitioners during their consulting project, said Kristen Walker, director of the MBA program and a marketing professor at CSUN.   

“It’s [fascinating] watching MBA students become accustomed to being the experts in the room, and offering advice they truly believe in because they’ve spent so much time, 15 weeks, researching and developing,” said Walker, who finds small business owners, then plays matchmaker between clients and students and creates the student teams. “It’s very empowering for the MBA student, right before they graduate.”   


The Nazarian College has established an impressive track record of providing small business consulting for more than four decades. During that time, more than 300 small businesses have benefitted from the college’s consulting program. The program received a substantial boost in 2019, when it formed a partnership with FOUND/LA, an initiative of the Wurwand Foundation designed to offer financing, mentorship and educational resources to local businesses.   

Jane and Raymond Wurwand are the founders of Dermalogica, a global skincare brand that the two immigrants began with a $14,000 investment. Their success in transforming a small business into an industry juggernaut inspired the couple to support local entrepreneurs through FOUND/LA.   

The organization’s support of $425,000 over five years to the Nazarian College provides student scholarships and helps cover the administrative and other costs of the Small Business Consulting Program. In 2020, when announcing FOUND/LA’s expanded commitment to the consulting program, Jane Wurwand heaped praise on the students.   

“The single most persuading factor for us was the students,” she said. “I thought, ‘This is the energy, this is the hunger, this is the tenacity that makes successful entrepreneurs.’”   

Wells Fargo also recognizes the program’s impact on the small business community, and has dedicated $150,000 since 2019 in support of the program and its students.   

“At Wells Fargo, we are committed to investing in the future of our next generation of leaders,” said Robin Choi, Wells Fargo San Fernando Valley Region Bank president. “Through our continued support, our hope is that CSUN students will continue to provide guidance to the small business community in the San Fernando Valley.”   


The program’s consulting clients must meet specific criteria: They must be in business for at least two years, have annual revenues of at least $100,000 and be willing to share two years’ worth of financial statements. They must also commit to a two-hour initial intake meeting, two to three meetings with students throughout the semester, and attend the student presentation at the end of the semester. In addition to the 100 to 200 hours they dedicate to supporting their clients, students also attend the capstone class for three hours a week.   

Bamrungpong and Foley hold a virtual pre-intake meeting with prospective clients to assess their commitment to participating. Afterward, Bamrungpong sends the business an intake form to gather information about the client: their pain points, challenges and future aspirations — where they see themselves in several years — as well as demographic and general information and two years’ worth of financial statements.   

Student teams are created based on their interests, skills, background and other factors. Each three-, four-, or five-person team includes a team lead (the main point of contact with the client), a financial adviser and a marketing adviser.   

“We want to get an idea of what skill sets the students are bringing in,” Bamrungpong said. “We take the information and pair students with the best possible client so that we could position them on a successful path.”   

The two-hour intake meeting often sets the tone for a productive relationship between consultants and client, students and business owner.   

“Students are interested in the client,” Bamrungpong said. “They have done their homework and invested the time in reviewing the client’s financials. They come prepared with questions. They desire to know the client’s story, their background, who they are, not just about their business. They begin to build a relationship. They ask great questions, and the story evolves and reveals itself. That makes for an excellent meeting.”

Business Honors students present their recommendations to their small business clients at the end of the semester.

Business Honors students present their recommendations to their small business clients at the end of the semester.


Stevie Howell, a business which offers “sustainable textiles for artful living,” is one beneficiary of the program. Owner Stevie Howell, who started her firm in San Francisco before moving to L.A.’s Venice neighborhood, received consulting assistance from an award-winning team of Sara Alteryd ’ 20 (Marketing and Business Honors), Leila Esmaeili ’ 20 (Finance/Financial Analysis and Business Honors) and Marketa Pospechova ’ 20 (Systems and Operations Management and Business Honors). From the first introduction, client and student-consultants formed a bond.   

“They were all passionate about my business,” said Howell, whose website boasts “eco-friendly home textiles, wallpaper and luxury loungewear in original prints.” “They got the environmental and social aspects [of] my business; they got the care that is put into each project. I appreciated that they understood and respected my purpose and my vision.”   

As a one-woman operation, Howell found having three consultants working alongside her transformational.   

“It allowed me to step back from the day-to-day stresses and see my business through somebody else’s eyes, especially the financials,” Howell said. “It was good to get a big picture of the business. I was so involved in the day-to-day operation of the business, it was hard to step back and look.”   

By examining Howell’s financials for the previous three years, the team was able to show her the venture’s profitability and operating margin ratios. At the time, Howell was redesigning her website.   

“They had this recommendation to keep my value proposition and mission in mind as I was updating my website, to tell more of a story about the business,” Howell said. On the financial side, they recommended that she restructure her accounts in QuickBooks, so she could see how the various aspects of her apparel and home décor business were performing. She worked with a bookkeeper to restructure the accounts.   

When the pandemic hit, Howell started making facemasks, so she was able to help keep her factory suppliers open. She also created a free coloring book for kids and launched a wallpaper collection. “That [collection] has started to show some good sales,” she said. “We are moving in the right direction.”   

Meanwhile, another team was consulting with a business that sold tea and scones at a storefront. After the pandemic shut down the storefront, the team examined the logistics, the website, marketing and the ordering process. They came up with a plan that helped the business increase Mother’s Day orders by more than 250 percent, Bamrungpong said.


Team leader Alteryd said one of the biggest takeaways from their project with Howell was the value of teamwork.   

“We all collaborated and complemented each other very well. We knew each other from working on so many other projects,” she said. “You know each other’s strength. You knew what each person was good at. We had an amazing team. It was so easy for us to deal with any type of issues.”   

The pandemic complicated their lives and the consulting assignment. “A part of the project was working with the entrepreneur on how to pivot, how to make a marketing plan — [and] pivoting from the fashion to the home décor ,” Alteryd said. “It was amazing using the knowledge I learned in the classroom. It gave me more confidence going out into the real world.”   

During their project, Alteryd and her teammates also learned the importance of improvisation: tailoring the project to the specific needs and tastes of the client. Since Howell is an artist, Alteryd said, the team decided to forego the standard template for the project and use the business owner’s prints and her colors.   

Their project also impressed the business community. In February 2021, the team earned first place in the Comprehensive Project of the Year, the largest and most competitive category at the 2021 Small Business Institute Competition and Conference. “It wasn’t just a school project,” Alteryd said. “When working in consulting, everything is about the client.”   

MBA graduate students work in teams of four or five to evaluate their small business clients.

MBA graduate students work in teams of four or five to evaluate their small business clients.

While Alteryd and other undergraduates bring a certain passion and enthusiasm to their consulting tasks, graduate students in the MBA program also deliver the benefit of their longer work experience when consulting with small businesses. That was very evident during the pandemic, said Walker, the MBA program’s director.   

“MBA students have offered hope to small businesses,” she said. “Our students are really great at taking their experience, since they are professionals, and connecting with small-business owners. That really says, ‘We can help. We are going to show you how.’ That’s important.”   

The payoff, Walker said, is watching the students after they present to the client and watching the client’s reaction to the valuable information they receive.   

“MBA students are learning at a high level and taking it back to their work,” Walker said. “Consulting with a small business gives them the chance to practice all of those skills. I really try to put them with a small business that is different from the industry they are currently working in. The results deserve a top grade.   

“It’s a win-win,” she continued. “It’s a positive and valuable experience for both the clients and the students.”   

To learn more about the small business consulting program, visit nazarianconsult .   

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“The Chattanooga TSBDC was an invaluable partner as we opened the Kitchen Incubator of Chattanooga. My team and I are incredibly grateful for the support of the Chattanooga TSBDC and recognize that we couldn’t have done this without them!” – Hal Bowling, Executive Director of Launch Chattanooga

Tom Boyd of Ancient Lore Village

“The guidance that TSBDC’s Gregg Bostick provided was key to Ancient Lore Village achieving our goals.  The tools the TSBDC made available to us for developing our business plan and financial projections were instrumental as we approached potential lenders.  With our unique niche being focused on hospitality with purpose, many lenders did not understand our business model.  Gregg relentlessly pursued a lending partner who is willing to grow with us.” – Tom Boyd, owner of Ancient Lore Village

Get unstuck with help from the TSBDC.

Starting a business is exciting, but can be overwhelming – We partner with you in the process by providing guidance on writing your business plan, finding funding resources, and securing proper licenses so your business gets off the ground.

small business consulting program

Moving from the start-up to growth phase of a business comes with a whole new set of challenges. Use our experience and resources to make sound decisions, such as creating and implementing sales and marketing strategies, hiring and managing employees, and analyzing market research.

You’ve made it! Your business is growing, and now it’s time to start running your business instead of working in it. Work with your TSBDC consultant to create a lasting plan for the future of your business.

small business consulting program

TSBDC’s Impact in 2022

Capital infusion and formation, hours working for and with clients, hours of training received by clients, jobs supported, client satisfaction.

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Free business plan template (with examples)

Alan Bradley

Sierra Campbell

Sierra Campbell

“Verified by an expert” means that this article has been thoroughly reviewed and evaluated for accuracy.

Updated 3:37 a.m. UTC Feb. 12, 2024

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Featured Image

AzmanL, Getty Images

Starting a business can be a daunting undertaking. As with so many large projects, one of the most difficult challenges is just getting started, and one of the best ways to start is by putting together a plan. A plan is also a powerful tool for communication and can serve as a cornerstone for onboarding new partners and employees or for demonstrating your philosophy and priorities to potential collaborators. 

A solid business plan will not only provide a framework for your business going forward but will also give you an early opportunity to organize and refine your thoughts and define your mission statement, providing a guidepost that can serve as a beacon for your business for years to come. We’ve provided a business plan template below to help guide you in the creation of your new enterprise.

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Business plan template

What should a business plan include?

Regardless of the type of business you own or the products and services you provide, every business plan should include some core elements:

  • Mission statement. The definition and executive summary of your business.
  • Market analysis. A breakdown of the market segment and customers you hope to reach, built through primary (gathered by you) and secondary (gathered from outside sources) research.
  • Organization and logistics. The nuts and bolts of how your business is operated
  • Products or services. What your company provides its customers.
  • Advertising and marketing. How you intend to get your products in front of your customers.
  • Forecasting. Revenue forecasting for partners or potential investors.

Why do you need a business plan?

A business plan is a framework for success. It provides a number of key benefits:

  • Structure. The outline around which to design your business.
  • Operational guidance. A signpost for how to run your business from day to day.
  • Expansion. A vision for the future growth of your enterprise.
  • Definition. A platform to consider every element of your business and how best to execute your plans for them.
  • Collaboration. A synopsis of what’s exceptional about your business and a way to attract funding, investment or partnerships.
  • Onboarding. An efficient summary of your business for new or potential employees.

Business plan examples

We’ve created two fictional companies to illustrate how a business might use a business plan to sketch out goals and opportunities as well as forecast revenue.

Bling, Incorporated

Our first hypothetical example is a jewelry and accessory creator called Bling, Incorporated. A hybrid business that manufactures its products for sale both online and through physical retail channels, Bling’s mission statement is focused on transforming simple, inexpensive ingredients into wearable statement pieces of art. 

Market analysis includes gathering data around sourcing sustainable, inexpensive components, aesthetic trends in fashion and on which platforms competitors have had success in advertising jewelry to prospective customers. Logistics include shipping products, negotiating with retailers, establishing an e-commerce presence and material and manufacturing costs. 

Bling, Incorporated advertises initially through social platforms like TikTok and Facebook, as well as with Google AdSense, with plans to eventually expand to television advertising. Revenue forecasting is structured around a low overhead on the basis of inexpensive materials, no dedicated storefront and broad reach through digital platforms.

Phaeton Custom Cars

Phaeton is a custom car builder and classic car restoration business with a regional focus and reach. Its mission statement defines it as a local, family-owned business serving a community of auto enthusiasts and a broader regional niche of collectors. 

Market analysis breaks down the location and facilities of other competitor shops in the region as well as online communities of regional car enthusiasts likely to spend money on custom modifications or restoration projects. It also examines trends in valuations for custom parts and vintage cars. Logistics include pricing out parts and labor, finding skilled or apprentice laborers and mortgaging a garage and equipment. 

Phaeton advertises in regional publications, at local events and regional car shows and online through Facebook and Instagram, with an emphasis on a social presence highlighting their flashiest builds. Revenue forecasting is built around a growing reputation and high-value commissions.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

A business plan may not be a prerequisite for every type of business, but there are few businesses that wouldn’t benefit from one. It can serve as an important strategic tool and help crystalize a vision of your business and its future.

Business plans do just that: they help you plan the future of your business, serve as a platform to brainstorm ideas and think through your vision and are a great tool for showcasing why your business works to potential investors or partners.

Blueprint is an independent publisher and comparison service, not an investment advisor. The information provided is for educational purposes only and we encourage you to seek personalized advice from qualified professionals regarding specific financial decisions. Past performance is not indicative of future results.

Blueprint has an advertiser disclosure policy . The opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Blueprint editorial staff alone. Blueprint adheres to strict editorial integrity standards. The information is accurate as of the publish date, but always check the provider’s website for the most current information.

Alan Bradley

Alan is an experienced culture and tech writer with a background in newspaper reporting. His work has appeared in Rolling Stone, Paste Magazine, The Escapist, PC Mag, PC Gamer, and a multitude of other outlets. He has over twenty years of experience as a journalist and editor and is the author of the urban fantasy novel The Sixth Borough.

Sierra Campbell is a small business editor for USA Today Blueprint. She specializes in writing, editing and fact-checking content centered around helping businesses. She has worked as a digital content and show producer for several local TV stations, an editor for U.S. News & World Report and a freelance writer and editor for many companies. Sierra prides herself in delivering accurate and up-to-date information to readers. Her expertise includes credit card processing companies, e-commerce platforms, payroll software, accounting software and virtual private networks (VPNs). She also owns Editing by Sierra, where she offers editing services to writers of all backgrounds, including self-published and traditionally published authors.

How to start a small business: A step-by-step guide

How to start a small business: A step-by-step guide

Business Eric Rosenberg

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Advancing social justice, promoting decent work

Ilo is a specialized agency of the united nations, employers’ organizations: ready to defend small business interests and to support women entrepreneurship.

On 28 – 31 October, employers’ organizations representatives from eight countries - Cambodia, People’s Republic of China, LAO PDR, Mongolia, Vietnam (SRO Bangkok); and Kazakhstan, Russian Federation, Uzbekistan (SRO Moscow) met for an interregional workshop in Singapore. The theme of the workshop was very topical: “Enhancing Competitiveness and Decent Work in Small Enterprises in Transition Economies”.

DSDM ® Agile Project Framework

The first-generation Agile methods were XP (eXtreme Programming), DSDM, Crystal, Scrum, and a few more. After a few years of practicing, people involved in those methods got together and prepared the Agile Manifesto , which is considered by many as the ultimate truth about Agility these days.

The development of DSDM was led by DSDM Consortium (founded in 1994). It’s been actively developed since then, and there were a few versions of it, including the famous DSDM Atern. The latest version is DSDM Agile Project Framework , sometimes abbreviated as APF , and sometimes referred to simply as DSDM .

DSDM Consortium was re-branded in 2016, and it’s now called Agile Business Consortium .

Differentiating Factors

There’s a fundamental difference between DSDM and the other first-generation Agile methods: They were all designed for small projects with one team, while DSDM was originally designed to support larger projects with multiple teams. This eliminates the need for scaling addons such as those available for Scrum.

Because of its nature, DSDM is more sophisticated than other first-generation methods. DSDM is also very well structured and clear, inspired by PRINCE2 ® and other established methods that were created before them. In other words, it hasn’t tried to reinvent the wheel.


DSDM is completely based on a well-formed philosophy and a set of principles . These have had a significant impact on the Agile Manifesto , and especially the principles behind the Agile Manifesto .

DSDM builds a complete methodology around its philosophy. This methodology has a process with multiple phases which can be arranged in different ways to create various types of lifecycle.

There are certain roles and responsibilities defined in the methodology to match the philosophy, the principles, and the process. This includes the role of project manager , which is an acceptable role in most first-generation Agile methods, but not Scrum.

To facilitate the work of project teams, there are multiple products defined in the methodology. These products are sometimes documents and artifacts like that, and sometimes elements such as models.

Besides the elements above, which are the main parts of the methodology, there are also a few techniques/practices such as MoSCoW Prioritization, timeboxing, modeling, and facilitated workshops.

DSDM Agile Project Framework is fully defined and described in the manuals published by Agile Business Consortium .

Certification Programs

Agile Business Consortium has defined multiple certification programs , including AgilePM ® Foundation and AgilePM ® Practitioner . There are also certifications for business analysis, program management, etc.

Written by Nader K. Rad

This is (and will be) a work in progress: More details will be added in the future, depending on the feedback.

This wiki is developed and managed by an accredited trainer, independent of Agile Business Consortium and APMG. While aligned with their guidelines, it’s not an official resource.


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    Small Business Consulting Program (CBS) SBCP is a student-run organization at Columbia Business School that provides strategy consulting services to nonprofits and businesses in the New York area. They work around the two semesters per academic year: Fall (Sep - Nov) and Spring (Feb - April).

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    Small business consultants give business owners advice on strategy, problem solving, and developing skills. They also come up with resources and lay out a plan to improve an organization's performance. Overall, small business consultants are contract workers that will spot problems, implement solutions, and achieve goals.

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    In addition to deep expertise in your field, starting a consulting business requires knowledge of client development, sales and marketing, contracting, billing, and other operational details. The program will cover topics including: Determining your ideal consulting niche. Effectively communicating your value to prospective clients.

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    The SEMP Approach simplifies consulting for small business and SME consultants into easy-to-manage units, structured by a plan and checklists. It includes a 40-hour video lecture series, exam review, and an extensive 400-page training book. Start learning today! Join Now What's Included with the SEMP Approach Training Program?

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    Small Business Consultant Certification Program The Compass CBS Foundation is a 501(c)3 organization based in Arizona that focuses on developing resources to help strengthen a diverse, inclusive, and sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystem nationally. The Small Business Consultant Certification Program is a capacity-building program designed to train small business consultants/coaches, economic ...

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    SDSU's Aztec Consulting Program, a highly successful, award winning program, started as the Small Business Institute (under an SBA grant). It has served nearly one thousand small and medium sized businesses in the San Diego region since its inception in the early 1970s. Our student consultants, working as a three to five person team, work ...

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    As the largest network of small business consultants in Florida, the Florida SBDC provides access to no-cost consulting, affordable and high-quality resources, innovative tools, and the knowledge of experienced small business experts. We are the most expansive and diverse network of over 250 business consultants and consultants, many of whom ...

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    Strategy Sessions are $300 per hour and include reviewing your documents or materials prior to our session. Individual Strategy Sessions can be 1 or 2 hours. via a one-month Strategy Program - we meet weekly for a month to step through your business goals and challenges, giving you time each week to implement your actions from our session.

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    The Nazarian College small business consulting program has assisted more than 300 small businesses over four decades, including Barclays Coffee & Tea in Northridge. Through the FOUND/LA Local Business Boost and Wells Fargo Bank, undergraduates and graduate students in the Nazarian College have made a big difference to local small businesses.

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    Definition. A platform to consider every element of your business and how best to execute your plans for them. Collaboration. A synopsis of what's exceptional about your business and a way to ...

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    DSDM Consortium was re-branded in 2016, and it's now called Agile Business Consortium. Differentiating Factors. There's a fundamental difference between DSDM and the other first-generation Agile methods: They were all designed for small projects with one team, while DSDM was originally designed to support larger projects with multiple teams.