10 Free Business-Boosting Resources You Can Access at the Library
What’s everywhere, free and filled with entrepreneurial goodness? It’s the library! And you won’t just find that help in books.
Kansas City’s library systems are chock full of resources and guidance from experts to help small business owners. Whether you’re wondering if starting a business is right for you or looking to address growing pains in your existing biz, you can find help at a library.
“Libraries provide a place where people can dip their toes into entrepreneurship without commitment,” says Kelly Head, business information librarian with Square One Small Business and Workforce Development Services at Mid-Continent Public Library. “Libraries are a great place to test out what it would be like to be a business owner.”
Personal entrepreneurship guidance
All four library systems in KC – Johnson County Public Library, Kansas City, Kansas Public Library, Kansas City Public Library and Mid-Continent Public Library – offer free physical and digital access to books, trade publications and business publications like “The Wall Street Journal.” But in addition to paper, you can also find people to point you in the right direction.
Hadiza SaAadu, small business engagement specialist with Kansas City Public Library, is one of those experts.
“I work primarily in a one-on-one setting with patrons who have a business idea or who are interested in forming a nonprofit,” she says. “However, I do work a lot with individuals who are more established who tend to have more specific issues.”
For those people with existing businesses, the library has a robust network of entrepreneur support organizations. For folks just starting out, Hadiza directs them to specific resources within the Kansas City Public Library’s Small Business & Entrepreneurship Libguide.
Similar support is available at Mid-Continent Public Library.
“You can email us at [email protected], and we can point you to specific resources, whether that’s a class or one-on-one help,” says Kelly. “On our website, you can sign up with our specialists, too. Our one on ones are an hour long and can be at one of our branches or over Microsoft Teams virtually, whichever works for folks.”
Both Kansas City Public Library and Mid-Continent Public Library offer classes and workshops covering a wide array of topics from how to write a business plan to the ins and outs of intellectual property. Many sessions are offered both in person and virtually. And you can find treasure troves of past presentations on Kansas City Public Library’s YouTube channel and Square One’s YouTube channel.
To stay up to date on upcoming opportunities, check out the event calendars for Johnson County Public Library, Kansas City, Kansas Public Library, Kansas City Public Library and Square One at Mid-Continent Public Library.
Free business resources at KC metro libraries
All libraries offer free meeting and working spaces as well as computer and Wi-Fi access. And these building blocks of business success are just the beginning. Here are just a few of the research tools that can help power your entrepreneurship. And our local libraries offer them for free!
- DemographicsNow is a popular tool filled with info like median income, age ranges and business competition in specific geographic areas. Find it at Kansas City Public Library and Mid-Continent Public Library.
- Entrepreneurial Mindset Training can help you build a business with eight core concepts. You’ll develop action items to immediately apply to your organization. Find it at Mid-Continent Public Library.
- Foundation Directory is a database that can help you identify grant funding opportunities for your organization. Search foundations and other granting agencies in your specific field. Find it at Kansas City Public Library.
- Legal guidance can help entrepreneurs create the forms they need to start and protect their businesses. Find Legal GPS at Kansas City Public Library and LawDepot at Mid-Continent Public Library.
- LinkedIn Learning is a video library of high-quality courses taught by industry experts. Topics include business, IT, marketing, web and more. Find it at Kansas City Public Library and Mid-Continent Public Library.
- Plan Builder is a step-by-step tool that can help you transform your business idea into a full-fledged business plan. Find it at Kansas City Public Library and Mid-Continent Public Library.
- Reference Solutions is a prospecting and email marketing tool. It can help you develop lists of names and addresses and even create a mailer. Find it at Johnson County Public Library and Mid-Continent Public Library.
- Small Business Reference Center offers information and advice on entrepreneurial topics. There’s also robust guidance on how to create a business plan that can lead to funding. Find it at Johnson County Public Library and Kansas City, Kansas Public Library.
- Udemy Business offers thousands of on-demand courses. Learn about management, marketing, IT, project management and more. Find it at Johnson County Public Library and Mid-ContinenPublic Library.
This isn’t a complete list – not by a long shot. Check out the business databases and research available at Johnson County Public Library, Kansas City, Kansas Public Library, Kansas City Public Library and Mid-Continent Public Library.
And here’s a bonus for folks who dream of food. Mid-Continent Public Library’s Culinary Center is a resource for anyone who wants to learn more about culinary entrepreneurship. Get insight on the specific topics that impact food businesses and find out about the commercial kitchens available for use.
No matter your industry, business or concern, you’ll find support at your library.
“There are so many learning opportunities at the library,” Kelly says. “What we’re trying to do is be a place to gather information to help people tackle problems with their businesses. Whether it’s gathering industry trends, business bootcamps, even networking opportunities – we’re pulling in organizations from around the KC metro and connecting people with resources.”
More support for your Kansas City business
KCSourceLink is like a library just for entrepreneurs and the entrepreneurship curious. We can help you check out the programs and people who can help you meet your business goals.
The KCSourceLink Resource Navigator is a go-to database with more than 230 Kansas City-area organizations that are ready to guide your entrepreneurial journey. And KCSourceLink’s Network Navigators can create a free Personal Action Plan just for you; you can also call 816-235-6500 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. M-F. Answer a few questions, and they’ll create your custom, free to-do list with the programs and experts that can help your business move forward.