Blog Articles

18 Underrated Resources for Small Businesses

We asked a range of small business leaders, from CEOs to directors, for the underrated tools and resources that they recommend to help small businesses grow and thrive.

Anna Coucke

by Anna Coucke - April 19th, 2024

A man sitting at a table working on a laptop.

Small businesses often have limited resources, so finding tools and ways to grow and expand can sometimes feel impossible. To help your small business thrive, we asked a range of experts, from CEOs to directors, for the underrated tools and resources that they find the most valuable. From exploring grant opportunities to engaging with local business networks, discover the top eighteen under-appreciated resources that could make a significant difference for your business.

Online Resources, Tools, and Data

The internet has a huge amount of resources that are available, but it can be difficult to narrow down the tools that are impactful and cost-effective. Here are some suggestions from small business leaders on the online and data-based resources they recommend.

1. Follow Industry Blogs

"Online blogs are such an underrated resource when it comes to keeping up with industry-specific ideas and trends. Bloggers in specific industries often have niche expertise and deep knowledge. Thus, small business owners can gain valuable insights, tips, and best practices from experts who understand the intricacies of their particular field.

One more underrated aspect of these blogs is that many of them foster a sense of community. Small business owners can engage with other readers, share experiences, and build a network of like-minded professionals. This virtual networking can lead to valuable connections and collaborations.

Lastly, industry-specific blogs often cover regulatory changes and compliance issues relevant to a particular sector, and staying informed about legal and regulatory updates is crucial for small businesses to avoid potential pitfalls!"

Kieran Harris, Managing Director, Senior Stairlifts

2. Harness Open Data APIs

"One underappreciated resource for small-business owners is the wealth of open data available through APIs. Numerous companies offer vast amounts of data this way, which can be incredibly valuable for programmatic SEO to grow a business. In my experience running Steambase, leveraging the ASP.NET Web API to source and analyze data has been instrumental in scaling up.

For instance, any small business, whether it's an e-commerce or a service provider, can find data sources relevant to its niche. They can then use programmatic SEO to build extensive content clusters, significantly scaling their organic traffic and, consequently, their leads. Imagine an international pool-cleaning company utilizing weather and geographical data APIs to create content relevant to different climates and pool types for any region."

Lucas Wyland, Founder, Steambase

3. Utilize Google's Library

"Not many business owners are aware of this, but Google’s Library is a highly valuable resource for small businesses.

When it comes to seeking business resources, Google’s Library is a hidden gem. This library comprises a collection of free online resources designed to empower businesses by helping them acquire new skills or enhance existing ones. It offers a wide range of courses, covering everything from establishing an online store to mastering sales and marketing.

In Google’s Library, you can find a variety of resources. For building a website, it offers guidance on creating your site, getting it recognized by Google, and ways to promote your products there. To attract customers, the Library provides tips on understanding their needs and how to engage them using tools like customer reviews, free marketing materials, and posters. For those interested in learning about SEO, there's a course teaching the basics of improving your website's ranking, including optimizing your site for specific keywords.

To gain insights into your customers, the Library can help you better understand what they care about most. There's also a course on creating a compelling online store that is both appealing to customers and easy to navigate. Additionally, the Library offers a course in digital marketing, covering topics such as email marketing, Google Ads, and tracking ad performance."

Precious Abacan, Marketing Director, Softlist

4. Optimize Google Maps Listings

"As the founder of DanceLifeMap and a dance studio owner for over a decade, I'm still surprised by how many small business owners—dance studios in particular—underappreciate the power of a Google Maps listing. We readily invest thousands into social media and flyers, yet a simple, free Google Maps profile can organically put you on the first page of search results without spending a dime; I’m serious.

All it takes is a little time and attention to start seeing the effect. Simply start encouraging your loyal customers to review your Google Maps profile. Google prioritizes profiles with the most reviews. You’ll quickly rise to the top of local searches, which is often most valuable for a small, local business like a dance studio. I can't count the number of calls I've received directly from my Maps listing over the years.

It does require some regular maintenance—updating hours, answering customer questions, posting photos, and continuously requesting reviews from happy students. But in return, you get a steady stream of new business without expensive marketing costs. It’s that easy."

Roman Bosque, Founder,

5. Analyze Business Data

"Data analytics is a vastly overlooked resource that business owners need to start paying attention to. Simply taking the time to check and analyze the data and insights from your latest campaigns or sales funnel will already give you great insights into your next best course of action. This saves you the guesswork on what to do next in order to increase your sales ceiling or how to scale your operations. Following where the data leads you is the best resource a small business can have because it will save you time, money, and effort."

Carolyn James, Consultant and Trainer, Website Insights

6. Join Industry-Specific Forums

"One significantly underappreciated resource for small business owners is industry-specific online communities.

These invaluable yet underused forums offer tailored advice, networking opportunities, and market insights. For example, in the SaaS sector, communities like SaaS Growth Hacks provide insights from industry veterans and peers, which is crucial for understanding market trends and customer needs.

These platforms facilitate networking, mentorship, product feedback, and partnership opportunities. Small business owners can greatly benefit from these communities' collective knowledge and experience, helping in innovative business strategies and growth."

Madhurima Halder, Content Manager, Recruit CRM

7. Use Free or Low-Cost Email Marketing Tools

"I think one under-appreciated resource for small-business owners is the variety of free or low-cost email marketing tools available. Platforms like Mailchimp or SendinBlue offer powerful tools to connect with your customers and build your brand. My suggestion is to leverage these tools to create engaging email campaigns. This can help in maintaining customer relationships and driving repeat business, which is crucial for the growth of any small business."

Michael Nemeroff, CEO and Co-Founder, Rush Order Tees

Check Local Resources

While the internet has an endless array of resources, don't forget about utilizing local resources. Local small business networks and centers can be invaluable for making connections and gaining insider knowledge. Here are a few that our experts recommend:

8. Engage with Local Business Networks

"One hidden gem for small-business folks is getting involved with their local business networks and chambers of commerce—it's like discovering a friendly neighborhood club that's got your back! These groups offer fantastic chances to meet fellow entrepreneurs, learn the ropes, and even score sweet discounts on stuff you need. Plus, they help your voice be heard when dealing with local officials and can put your business in the spotlight. Think of it as joining a supportive community that can give your business a boost and make navigating the business world a bit less lonely.

Moreover, these local business networks and chambers of commerce can be a treasure trove of insider knowledge. They keep you in the loop about what's happening in your area, from market trends to changing regulations. Being part of the scene also lets you give back to the community by participating in local events and initiatives. Not only does this make you a good neighbor, but it can also earn your business some serious street cred. So, don't underestimate the power of these local connections; they can be a game-changer for small business owners looking to thrive in their community while building lasting relationships along the way."

Kamran Maqbool, CEO, Green Cloud Hosting

9. Access Local Library Resources

"An often under-appreciated resource for small business owners is the power of local libraries. Beyond just books, many libraries have evolved into hubs for business resources, offering access to market research databases, industry journals, and business publications that can be prohibitively expensive for a small business to access independently. 

Additionally, libraries frequently host workshops, networking events, and seminars led by business professionals, providing both learning opportunities and the chance to connect with other local entrepreneurs. Some even have dedicated business librarians who can assist in research or guide you through complex business information. This combination of free access to high-quality resources and expert guidance makes libraries a hidden gem for small business owners seeking to broaden their knowledge and grow their businesses."

James Parker, Co-Founder, LEONID

10. Visit Your Local SBDC

"One underappreciated resource that small business owners should tap into more frequently is their local Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs). Funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration, these centers are a national treasure trove of free or low-cost resources, offering personalized business consulting and practical, hands-on training. Many small business owners aren't fully aware of the extent of services these centers provide, which range from helping craft detailed business plans to offering guidance on marketing strategies, financial management, and navigating legal complexities.

SBDCs are staffed by seasoned business professionals and often collaborate with local universities and industry experts, ensuring that the advice and support they offer are not only top-notch but also tailored to the specific needs and challenges of the local business community. Leveraging these centers can be a game-changer for small businesses, providing them with the tools and knowledge to grow and compete more effectively in their markets."

Ryan Santangelo, Ph.D., Founder and President, Dynamic Media

11. Partner with Academic Institutions

"One underappreciated but invaluable resource is academic institutions and universities. Many offer free or low-cost resources for small businesses, including access to research, student-led projects, and even internships. 

My piece of advice to small business owners is to explore partnerships with local academic institutions. These collaborations can provide fresh perspectives, access to the latest research, and a potential workforce trained in the latest industry practices."

Hardy Desai, Founder, Supple Digital

Utilize Opportunities to Collaborate & Learn

12. Leverage External Expertise

"Small business owners often juggle multiple responsibilities. They don't get enough time to seek external support, but businesses must understand it's a strategic investment in their success. When I was struggling to navigate the complex business world, I reached out to experts in the domain from my past network, who had scaled companies or were sitting in senior positions in large or listed companies.

They provided invaluable advice, helping me overcome obstacles and make informed decisions. They also provided a good network of entrepreneurs. Thanks to their support, my business has experienced extraordinary growth. Tap into external expertise, because the problems you're facing may have already been overcome by other professionals. Their insights and networks can fuel your business growth."

Chaitsi Ahuja, Founder and CEO, Brown Living

13. Gain Insights from Mentors

"One often overlooked yet incredibly valuable resource for small business owners is mentorship from industry veterans. While tools and technology are essential, the nuanced insights and guidance from someone who has navigated similar paths can be immensely beneficial. These experienced professionals offer a wealth of knowledge, from managing day-to-day operations to strategic planning and crisis management. Moreover, a mentor can provide personalized advice that no generic business course or book can offer, tailored to the unique challenges and opportunities of your specific business. 

Engaging with a mentor, whether through formal business mentorship programs, local business groups, or even LinkedIn connections, can be a game-changer for small business owners looking to grow and avoid common pitfalls. This relationship not only accelerates learning but also provides a sounding board for ideas, helping to refine strategies and decision-making processes."

Andy Gillin, Founding Partner and Attorney, GJEL Accident Attorneys

14. Consider Business Coaching

"I would recommend business coaching/coaches as something that more small businesses should consider. Business coaches are a great resource to help you grow your business. We didn't utilize a business coach until the fourth or fifth year of business, but it's been super helpful in growing the business in all aspects.

Our coach helps us stay on top of our goals and gives honest and unbiased feedback for things going on within our organization. I would highly recommend talking with one to get an understanding of how they can help you, what they can help you with specifically to grow your business, and give you peace of mind."

John Sammon, CEO and Founder, Sixth City Marketing

15. Collaborate with Competitors

"As counterintuitive as it may seem, one of the most underutilized resources for conscious entrepreneurs could be shifting how we see our competition. We're conditioned to guard our intellectual property against rival businesses. But what if we saw them as potential collaborators rather than threats?

In theory, our competition holds puzzle pieces we lack, faces different client challenges, and has developed innovative strategies we've never considered. Rather than a field of threats to monitor, conscious entrepreneurs could cooperate to share strengths while tackling shared problems.

Abundance versus scarcity, support versus secrecy. Easier said than practiced, I know. But cooperation is the future as humanity realizes our deeply intertwined needs. And business can lead this shift.

If we dared view competitors as friends with diverse expertise, imagine the creative integrative solutions that could emerge. We may even build referral routes to provide niche clients with better care. At a minimum, releasing assumptions often anchors me in humility and curiosity, which alone foster the innovation clients deserve."

Mona Kirstein, Ph.D., Digital Strategist, Holistic Coach and Consultant, The Wholehearted Path

16. Learn from Failure

"Embracing failure is one underappreciated but powerful asset for small business owners. While networking and mentorship are valuable, failure can lead to valuable lessons and growth opportunities. By viewing failures as stepping stones toward success, small business owners can foster resilience, adaptability, and innovation within their organizations. 

For instance, James Dyson's persistence and analysis of over 5,000 failures ultimately led to the revolutionary Dyson vacuum cleaners. Embracing failure means creating a culture of experimentation, learning, and calculated risk-taking. Failures should be seen as temporary setbacks rather than permanent obstacles. Encouraging employees to be inventive and providing support and feedback can cultivate an environment of continuous improvement. By embracing failure, small business owners can drive innovation, problem-solving, and ultimately achieve extraordinary success."

Shawn Stack, Founder and Owner, Hallmark Timmins

Find Funding and Grant Opportunities

Seeking funding as a small business can be intimidating, but our experts have some suggestions for small business owners about programs and opportunities.

17. Seek SBA Financial Programs

"Government financial resources aren't exactly overlooked by small-business owners, but many underappreciate some specific programs—like the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). It's an agency specifically set up to support small businesses. They can offer various additional financial resources, like loans, counseling, and assistance programs to small businesses. The way I see it, they can be a valuable ally for small-business owners in navigating the financial aspects of running their businesses."

Joe Chappius, Financial Planner, Tax Climate

18. Explore Grant Opportunities

"There is a ton of free money floating around out there for new and existing businesses if you take the time to get it. By visiting websites like or your state's Department of Development, you'll find there are a number of grants available that don't require you to pay the funds back. Business owners never have to feel like they're alone in funding their business. Most states have a number of resources to help businesses succeed, and they're just waiting for the right person to give it to."

Jennifer Hristovski, Chief Marketing Officer, SprayWorks Equipment Group

Final Thoughts

For small businesses searching for resources, there are many options, from free online resources and local connections to mentorship and collaboration opportunities. By implementing even a few of these suggestions, you can empower your small business to thrive. Remember, there's a wealth of knowledge and support available – you just need to know where to look!

Subscribe to Beyond The Desk to get insights, important dates, and a healthy dose of HR fun straight to your inbox.

Subscribe here