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Free Business Consulting In Houston
(Is it really? Does it work?)


Do you see all the offers for free business consulting in Houston? Oh, they're everywhere! Radio. TV. Newspapers. Emails. Brochures in your mailbox. Everywhere!

Are they really free? Of course not! Someone, like you, for instance, along with literally millions of other tax-payers, is paying for these "free small business development" consultants and their health benefits and their retirement plans.

And, by the way, who's gas are you using to drive to whatever location. Yours? Is that "free," too? Pffftttt! Someone is paying for that, too. If not you, then a friend, a relative or a sympathetic neighbor certainly is.

Also, who is paying for those offices the "free consultants" are located in? And all the advertising they do? You are, of course and all these other tax-payers, who don't use these free services and would never use them in a gazillion years.

And why do these other tax-payers not use these free consulting services? Oh, let me tell you just a few reasons, Dear Reader, like "You get what you pay for." Or "Free anything is valueless." Or "These people really don't have any hands-on business experience."

Now, if this doesn't make sense to you, let me tell you more about it so that it does. It's called the "experience level" of the people who are providing you these free services. Do they have any actual, tangible, real, authentic, genuine "hands-on" experience with starting, owning or operating their own businesses? No. They don't. Bet you a burger?

Did they have any entrance exams or qualifying certifications to be providing these services? Another big fat "no!"

Does anyone look over their shoulder to make sure they're giving you good advice? Nah. Guess again.

A few final items to consider - what's their actual track-record in getting businesses started successfully? Are they even keeping score? Do they ever publish their percentage of business starts? Can you talk with some past clients who are in business today, who got started with the free service providers? More resounding "nopes!"

How about this? Are they accountable? Do they only get to keep their jobs according to the number of clients who truly get a business launched and then have it still in business after one, three, five years? What's your guess? Come on, you know the answer. It's another "no."

And what about the time you're taking to go meet with these free consultants. Do you put a value on that? If not, you should. It's called opportunity cost and it equates to real money. For instance, is there something else you could be doing with this time to be making real money?

Ok. Picture this scenario: You are absolutely flat busted, in debt over your eyeballs, have no car, no cell phone, no computer, are struggling to keep food on your table, a roof over your head and can't even find a job mowing yards, flipping burgers, waiting tables, throwing newspapers, washing cars, tending bar, sitting children, cleaning houses, running errands, walking dogs, stocking shelves, tutoring students, being a greeter at a big box store or whatever, you've hocked everything you had of any value and all your friends, relatives and neighbors have told you they are totally, completely, finally bottom line tapped out and can't give you another dime, period! This happens.

So, can these free consultants get you a loan? Now that would be real progress. Can they get you a part-time job as a paid intern somewhere? More progress. A grant? That would be wonderful. How about get you an actual client? Oh wow! Woo hoo! Fantastic!!

If the answer to any of these is a "yes," then maybe, just maybe, they are worth your time and and the gobs of tax-payer money being spent to keep them in operation.

But, how about if all they can really do is talk a good game, because they can't deliver what they say they can, and they can only give you encouragement and they will have you start "the business plan." And how about you're not a religious person so you get no encouragement from your mosque, church, synagogue, temple or other such institution, because you don't have one or the faith this works?

Possibly these free consultants have such good intentions, are sincere and aren't merely some political hacks? Does this justify their existence?  If so, maybe we should keep them, no matter how ineffective they are in getting businesses started or how much they are actually costing tax-payers. Because "hope" in a better tomorrow may just keep you going, off the streets and away from a life of crime.

However, if "encouragement" is the sum total of all they can do and you still can't feed yourself or pay your bills, then let's be open to the possibility of an alternative to get rid of this unneeded expense to all of us and have the money actually spent on relieving your immediate situation with continued unemployment checks, job training or food stamps until things get better for you and the country.

You be the judge. Have the free consultants resulted in you getting a successful business started? Let me know, please? Send me an email with "yes" or a "no" and the name of the free consulting group. Completely anonymous. I won't identify you while I'm discussing this "Free Startup Business Consulting" travesty with Washington. Here's my e-dress: cdkring@servicesca.org.

Editorial by C. Dean Kring, who bears sole responsibility for content.

See Failed Incubators, Successful Incubators, Flawed Methodology, Letter to Washington and Memo To SBA

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