How to Be Self-Employed: Tips and Resources for Getting Started

There are many helpful sources on the Internet. We recommend the following:

General Information and Advice

  1. At least one Small Business Development Center (SBDCs) is located in each state. Most have several. It is likely there is one near you. They offer a wide variety of information and guidance to people thinking of starting their own business, as well as to small business owners. Click here to locate SBDC nearest you.

  2. The SBDC also has an information clearinghouse called SBDC Net, a wealth of information and opportunities to connect. Here is a small sample of some of the topics covered:
    • Getting Started
    • Home Business
    • E-Commerce
    • Veterans

  3. SCORE is a nonprofit organization that helps small businesses succeed. They have more than 10,000 volunteers who offer confidential business advice and training. They are working/retired business owners and executives . Their services are provided free, or at a low cost. SCORE is a resource partner with the U.S. Small Business Administration.

  4. Personal Finance. You need to ask specific questions about how self-employment impacts your personal finances in at least the areas of health insurance, buying a home, and saving for retirement. There are pros and cons that may not be immediately obvious without specifically asking for them. For example:
    • Health Insurance
      Health insurance may be more difficult to get when you are self-employed, especially if you have a pre-existing condition. You may also have a limited time to get re-insured after leaving an employer that provides it. . Read our article on Self-Employed Health Insurance.

    • Buying a Home
      If you are self-employed, you will likely have difficulty qualifying for a mortgage, particularly if you have been self-employed for less than two years. This article explains why. If you know you will be buying a home or purchasing commercial real estate, it is smart to know what income documentation hurdles you may encounter.

    • Saving for Retirement
      Self-employed people have some favorable retirement plan options that can offer significant tax savings. The SBA website offers advice about small business retirement planning as does the IRS's Retirement Plans for Self-Employed People. If you hire an accountant, they will also be able to explain your options.

  5. Online business media websites carry news and advice for the self-employed, updated on a regular basis. Popular sources include the Wall Street Journal's Entrepreneur, Forbes.com, and Entrepreneur.com.

Women and Minority Entrepreneurs

See our separate section on resources for women.

SBDCNet

SBA resources for Women's Business Centers

Veteran Entrepreneurs

SBDCNet Small Business Information for Veterans

SBA veterans’ business outreach centers

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