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Recently, Forbes and the Milken Institute ranked Central Oregon as the nation’s Top Overall Performer in small metropolitan markets as measured by population growth, job creation and economic expansion. We are fortunate to have an amazing collection of collaborative expert resources here, many of which are free of charge or available at low cost to small business owners. You can have an effective network of advisors to help you help your business by building a customized group of peers, volunteers and professionals.
At SCORE Central Oregon, we see that the most successful small businesses are often the ones which take advantage of these local sources of advice and information. Here are some of the organizations you can use to help you start faster, grow smarter and accomplish more.
First, be sure to register with SCORE for free mentoring at centraloregon.score.org. Our volunteers will help you find the most appropriate, effective, local advisors and partners for your type of business and your desired growth path. We can also point you toward free local workshops and national webinars targeted to your needs. Our mentors have over 800 years of combined experience in all industries and company sizes. We’ve walked in your shoes, shared similar fears and had our own dreams.
Another great community resource is the Deschutes Public Library. Check out their free Book A Librarian program where you can get individualized assistance with research for your business niche and your potential customer base. For more general business advice, go to the Library’s Business Resources page.
If your company is in the Traded Sector, consider joining EDCO — Economic Development for Central Oregon. They are a local nonprofit which encourages economic growth in general and job growth in particular. Members can take advantage of their Stable of Experts to receive specialized advice. EDCO also sponsors Pub Talks throughout the year with topics of interest to small businesses.
For help from peers, explore Opportunity Knocks. This is a nonprofit service which provides facilitated peer groups that meet on a regular basis to share ideas and encourage strategic thinking.
Also, look into the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at COCC. SBDC provides individualized advising and classes for local small businesses.
Consider joining your local Chamber of Commerce in Bend, Redmond, Sisters or Sunriver to take advantage of recommendations and local marketing resources.
Your SCORE mentor can also help you find local CPAs, attorneys, insurance agents, digital marketing experts and other professional partners. Build a network of specialized experts who will not only answer your specific questions, but also tell what you don’t know you need to know to grow and thrive.
Finally, here is a quote from one of my most successful startup clients. When asked how her informal board of advisors had helped her succeed, she said “Working with this expert network gives my head permission to do what my heart knows is right.” I can’t think of a more positive endorsement or a better reason to keep doing what we do to serve our community.
Ed Weiser has been a local SCORE mentor since 2014. He also volunteers for Deschutes County Search And Rescue and is an Interpretive Ranger for Deschutes National Forest. Contact Ed at linkedin.com/in/edweiser