As a sometime professor of entrepreneurship, I'm frequently approached by would-be entrepreneurs for help in fleshing out their business plans. While I enjoy doing this, it could very easily become a full-time job! I've therefore put together a resource list for new entrepreneurs that are free or very low cost, to use during the business definition stage of their ventures and to help them get those first few critical transactions going. Here are some of the resources I point people to: Small Business Development Centers Small Business Development Centers are usually associated with universities. These offer training and consulting services, courses, and sometimes contacts and connections to venture capitalists and angel investors. The main web page, including a location locator can be found here.
Score is a program also sponsored by the Small Business Administration that uses retired and experienced executives to counsel new entrepreneurs. Their main directory page is at Score.org
You can also refer to http://www.businessfinancing.org which provides a great overview of various financing options available to startup businesses.
Entrepreneurship programs at universities
Most universities have a program of study in the area of entrepreneurship – often in connection with their business schools. Look up the university web site to find whether your business might be suitable for a student project or for student consulting.
Angel Investor Groups
Here is a great guide to a number of angel investor groups who are interested in early stage technologies. Angels are often experienced entrepreneurs who can take an idea forward on an advisory/mentoring basis.
Most states and cities have an office of technology assessment and advancement. These are not national, but local. Most regions also have economic development agencies who can sometimes help. Be on the lookout for entrepreneurship networks, as well.
Many universities have offices of technology transfer that will work with entrepreneurs to commercialize university technology.