Small Business Reference Toolkit

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The Small Business Reference Toolkit is a collection of self-help guides, tutorials, and resources geared to help librarians provide reference assistance to patrons in their community. These resources are all a good starting point for business inquiries, and more resources will be added in the future. 

General Resources

Montana Small Business Development Center (SBDC)

The Montana SBDC provides tools and guidance to help small business succeed. They have ten regional centers across the state with free on-on-one counseling, and low-cost training. They cover topics such as financial analysis, business planning, strategic planning, loans, market research and more. Here are some other helpful resources: 

Montana Small Business Administration (SBA)

The US Small Business Administration was created in 1953 and helps small business owners and entrepreneurs to succeed. They provide counseling, capital, expertise, and resources to small businesses across the country. There are local district offices across the US, with Montana's located in Helena.

  • MT SBA District Office Webpage: This has the contact information for the SBA office in Helena, as well as a list of popular topics and links. 
  • Montana SBA District Office Resource Guide (2020): This is a PDF of the magazine that the Montana SBA produces. It includes success stories, local SBA resource partners, and information on how to start a business, write a plan, funding options, and programs for entrepreneurs, veterans, and more. You can request a hard copy from the MT SBA District Office Webpage listed above.
  • SBA Learning Center: The SBA has a variety of free online courses for anyone to learn how to start and run a business.
  • SBA Startup Costs Online Worksheet (pdf): This is a great worksheet that helps to identify business startup costs.

Innovate Montana 

Innovate Montana connects entrepreneurs with the resources they need to take their ventures to the next level of success in a global economy. They have great resources for those just starting out with a business idea, for established business owners looking to grow, and businesses who are looking to move into Montana. 

  • Get Started - Launch A Business in Montana Resources: This page is nicely divided into Montana resources, and external resources, so you have a wide variety of programs and assistance to choose from. This is also a great list of Montana organizations who work with entrepreneurs. 
  • Innovate Montana Main Page: Use this page to navigate to other areas and topics, such as relocating, or growing your business.

Montana Governor's Office of Economic Development

The MT Governer's Office of Economic Development is charged with supporting the business community and workforce of the state to grow the economy. It serves as a single point of contact for businesses that are interested in relocating or expanding in Montana. Here are the resources related to entrepreneurship:

  • Montana Business Checklist: This resource brings together all of the State of Montana's business permits and licenses in one location 
  • Main Street Montana: Are these the same project?
  • Choose Montana - Work Opportunities: This resource is good for explaining why Montana is a great location for future business opportunities. This webpage has a list of incentives that are attractive to businesses, as well as business resources to look through.
  • Montana Site Selector Database: This reporting tool helps to identify gaps in product availability in geographic locations. You can click on the "Reports" tab, select the type of report that you want, enter in the Area/Location you want to examine and run your report. This would be a good tool to use when doing market research, to see how much competition is in the area for a business.

Montana Nonprofit Association 

Montana Nonprofit Association’s mission is to provide leadership for Montana’s nonprofit sector and partner with charitable nonprofits to promote a sustainable, networked, and influential sector.

  • Organizational Development Resource Library: This webpage has lots of really good form templates, policies, and structural examples for new businesses to look at. Though it is oriented towards nonprofits, a lot of this information is transferable to other fields. 

Native American Development Corporation (NADC)

The Native American Development Corporation was established in 1996. The intent of the organization is to act as a liaison for state, regional, national and international economic development organizations and agencies for American Indian owned businesses in Montana, Wyoming, North and South Dakota. NADC is based in Billings, MT.

  • NADC Main Website: NADC's main webpage has a description of their services, as well as a list of people to reach out to for further consultation.

Montana Business Assistance Bureau

The Montana Business Assistance Bureau is housed at the MT Department of Commerce and seeks to support innovative industries to grow businesses across the state. They provide services to assist with business planning, industry and market research, grants and loans, connecting with local services, connecting to capital resources, tradeshow assistance, and exporting to new/international markets. 

  • MT Business Assistance Burea Homepage: Visit this webpage for a list of programs that are part of the Business Assistance Bureau. Click on each program to read about specific opportunities and services, and to find contact information for program managers and consultants. Business Assistance Bureau programs include:
    • Big Sky Economic Development Trust Fund
    • Certified Regional Development Corporations
    • Export Montana
    • Finance Information Center
    • Indian County Programs
    • MicroBusiness Finance Program
    • Montana Board of Research and Commercialization Technology
    • Primary Sector Workforce Training Grant
    • SBIR/STTR Matching Funds Program 

Accelerate Montana's Rural Innovation Initiative (AMRII)

AMRII was started and funded by the EDA University Center grant program in 2018 to stimulate innovation, job creation, and entrepreneurship in rural and tribal communities across Montana.

  • AMRII Main Homepage: Visit this page to explore AMRII's services, such as booking a startup consultation, engaging with MT's entrepreneur network, schedule and organize an event in your community, and browse and learn from their online resources and tools

Montana Cooperative Development Center (MCDC)

MCDC's mission is to promote and develop cooperatives to meet the economic and community needs of rural Montana. For peole who are interested in forming a cooperative, MCDC has many resources to guide through that process.

Market Research

US Census

The Census Bureau is the leading source of quality data about the nation's people and economy. You can use various search tools to refine Census data to disply different results for locations, industries, and more.

Headwater Economics

Headwater Economics is an independent nonprofit research group based in Helena and Bozeman that works to improve community development and land management decisions. 

Montana Site Selector Database

  • Montana Site Selector Database: This reporting tool helps to identify gaps in product availability in geographic locations. You can click on the "Reports" tab, select the type of report that you want, enter in the Area/Location you want to examine and run your report. This would be a good tool to use when doing market research, to see how much competition is in the area for a business.

Small Business Association

Montana Census and Economic Information Center

The Department of Commerce has a Census and Economic Information Center that has information that can be useful in market research.

Thomas Directory

Thomas has a large database of businesses and suppliers that you can search through and refine by location, company time, diversity status, training, and many more fields. 

Licensing and Registration

Training Resources

MSU Extension Small Business Webinar Series

This webinar series is a FREE interactive learning opportunity for small businesses in Montana sponsored by Montana State University Extension, Small Business Development Centers (Montana Department of Commerce and US Small Business Administration), and the Montana Economic Developers Association.

You can access past and upcoming webinars at their Small Business  Development Webinar Series webpage

SCORE Webinars On Demand (Live and Recorded)

SCORE’s mission is to foster vibrant small business communities through mentoring and education, and is dedicated to helping businesses get off the ground, grow, and achive their goals. 

Montana Programs for Entrepreneurs

Montana Artrepreneur Program (MAP)

The Montana Artrepreneur Program (MAP) from the Montana Arts Council is an art-centered business development program taught by working artists and open to all visual artists. MAP provides college-level instruction, review of practical business tools, introduces the world of business, and encourages the title of "Artist" as a credible profession. 

Montana Main Street Program

The Montana Main Street Program (MMS) from the Department of Commerce is dedicated to bettering the economic, historic, and cultural vitality of Montana downtowns through community development, revitalization, and historic preservation. Communities across Montana can sign up to be members of MMS, and receive special services to assist in community development efforts.

Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) Planning Grants

CBDG planning grants are available to eligible counties, cities, and towns to use for preparation of plans, studies, trainings, or research in many areas. Business Plans and Downtown Revitalization are part of the scope, and could help those involved in community-wide projects

Montana Regional Economic Development Resources








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