In every city you often hear about “hidden gems”. There might be a unique coffee shop, a waterfall that is unknown to most, or a local brewery. But have you ever considered the library to be one that almost every city has? The library is stocked full of more than children’s books and fiction, and most people never take advantage of this resource after their school years. People don’t realize that libraries have loads of valuable information for everyone, including small business owners or individuals hoping to start a small business in the near future.
A Gem for Small Businesses
When you’re running a small business, especially in the beginning, cash is a valuable resource but work still needs to be done. Many new business owners opt to work out of their home in the beginning days to save money but from time-to-time they just need a change of pace or scenery. More-so, they may need a place to meet with others or just for access to resources. Almost every library offers a space to work, free WiFi, and free computer access (if needed). In most cases, you don’t even need to be a member of the library system just to access these basic amenities. Furthermore, if you’re logged into a library’s computer system, you will likely have access to their research databases as well!
Want to upgrade your experience?
For the low cost of free(!) you can take your library experience to the next level. Almost every library system offers free library cards simply by proving residency. With this magical card you can now borrow books and access research databases from home. If you need to read up on the top things every small business owners should know and have already read our blog post, but want additional info, you can easily secure a copy of a relevant book online and go pick it up whenever you have time. Want to research all small business CPAs in the Charlotte, NC South Park zip code? Your library may offer access to ReferenceUSA or some other similar research database that can provide you almost laser-focus information about the type of business you are targeting. Want to read The Wall Street Journal? Head over to your local branch and see if they offer the paper (and maybe digital) version for your reading pleasure! Did we mention this is all free? Plus, these resources are often available from the comfort of your own home with the use of the library website and your library card number.
How does this save you money?
Some tools & resources offered by libraries would be cost prohibitive or budget-draining for a small business. Wherever you live and work, you already pay taxes (one way or another) which is how your library system is funded. Why pay twice for the same thing when this invariable treasure trove of information awaits you? Not only do most libraries not charge for access to their plethora of information but there are services you may not even need to buy into, such as mailing lists, business information, and research journals. Use your library’s incredible resources on starting and running a business, sample employee policies, and subscription-based databases.
In addition to the endless resources that many libraries have available, most libraries also offer free weekly workshops for a variety of consumers, including small business owners! Service Corps of Retired Executives, or SCORE, a large network of volunteers who are expert business mentors, sometimes hold meetings in library conference spaces. You can also find many free classes about using certain computer software packages to increase your efficiency and you might even find the best CPA in Charlotte offering a free class on income taxes at a local library!
Overview of Some of the Amazing Services & Resources Offered
Demographic statistics, trends, and maps
Industry data from nearby and from around the world
Lists of companies in your target market
Lists of competitors in your geographic area
Names of executives to contact
Content for your website, tweets, or newsletter
Classes on using technology to increase productivity
Rooms to rent for business meetings
Access to databases and online learning resources
It doesn’t get any cheaper than free and some of what the library has to offer cannot be had by searching online. Yes, you can find tons of information from Google but not everything you find online is true or even from expert sources. Head to your local library and immediately gain access to published information for many of your small business needs and then contact the best Charlotte CPA firm for guidance about the questions that arise in your search. We’d love to help!