Among the many perks of being a small business owner in New York City are the absolutely FREE services available to you via NYC Business Solutions, part of the city’s Department of Small Business Services. If you aren’t yet familiar with this agency, put them on your radar—not only are they a useful source of business information, they can also provide assistance on everything from securing financing to navigating city permits and regulations for your company.
With centers located in every borough all staffed with extremely helpful advisors, there’s no reason not to take advantage of NYC Business Solutions. Here is a sampling of some of the free services they offer:
Free business courses
NYC Business Solutions offers one of the widest selections of free business classes on planning and operations, financing and accounting, and marketing. Learn the fundamentals of building your own website and managing social media, or perhaps delve into better understanding Quickbooks or intellectual property rights. For immigrant business owners, NYC even offers non-English courses in Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Russian, Haitian Creole, French, Bengali, Urdu, and Arabic. (Impressive!)
Free grants for employee training and development
Investing in your employees’ professional development has many benefits, from improved productivity to making your business more competitive in the market. NYC Business Solutions offers employee development grants of up to $400,000, which can cover 60-70% of costs for the following categories: 1) training on new equipment or software; 2) training on new services and products for new markets; 3) training current staff to take on more responsibilities or get promoted; 4) training to update skills to keep your business competitive.
Free legal assistance
Hiring a good business lawyer can be costly, especially if you’re just starting your own company. For basic legal needs such as selecting a legal business structure, trademarking products and services, and reviewing contracts and leases, NYC Business Solutions can connect you with attorneys who can provide pro bono assistance.
Free financing assistance
Anyone who has ever applied for a small business loan knows just how frustrating these loan applications can be. The paperwork can be utterly daunting, not to mention time-consuming when you’re also trying to run your business full time. NYC Business Solutions will assist you with the entire business loan process, helping you to identify lenders and package together the loan application.
Your business may qualify for certification in New York City as a Minority & Women Owned Business Enterprise, Locally Based Enterprise, or Emerging Business Enterprise. It’s absolutely free to apply and renew for these certifications, and if you are certified, it opens up opportunities for selling to the NYC government. Since the City of New York alone buys $13 billion in goods and services each year, securing a government contract could be highly profitable for your business.
Other free resources include legal assistance, incentives, recruitment, and information on government permitting and regulations. For more information, visit the NYC Business Solutions website.