Yesterday I had the pleasure of spending all day with about 90 people who teach and advise entrepreneurs and small business owners at various Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) around the country. This was as part of the annual conference of Small Business Development Centers, starting today in San Diego.

The conference reminds me of something I say frequently in ask-the-expert emails and answering questions about entrepreneurship: when in doubt, if you live in the United States, and you want some help with your business like advice or classes or workshops, you should probably go first to your nearest SBDC.

The SBDCs are full of good people with real-world business experience, who are there to help startups and small business. They are funded in part by federal, state, and local money, and in part by the reasonable fees they charge for workshops and classes and counseling. I’m amazed at how many of the people I meet in the SBDC conference have been through it themselves, meaning that they tend to be veterans of their own small business experience.

How to start? Where to find financing? How to keep the right records, do the books? Marketing? Sales? Admin? Ask your nearest SBDC how they can help.

It’s a very good group and a very valuable resource for the starting entrepreneur. I’ve recommended them before but I don’t do this often enough. Today is a good day to do it.

Tim BerryTim Berry

Tim Berry is the founder and chairman of Palo Alto Software and Follow him on Twitter @Timberry.