you fancy sweats and slippers to a business suit? Maybe you and a few
others decided to go it alone, rather than working for The Man? Your timing
couldn't be betterătoday's small businesspeople have more tools at their
fingertips than ever before. The Internet boasts a goldmine of valuable
information that's free for the asking. Following are the top 10 best
Web destinations for small businesspeople.
1. Small Business Administration
Home Page: http://www.sbaonline.sba.gov
The home page of the Small Business Administration should be your first
stop. You'll find links to local resources and comprehensive articles
on all aspects of business in the Online Library. Free online counseling
is also available by SCORE (the service corps of retired executives) and
online courses teach everything from Power Point to how to create a business
2. Nolo.com Home Page:
Before you drown in a sea of business law dictums and changing tax laws,
visit the companion Web site for Nolo Press, publisher of a variety of
self-help law books. You'll find a helpful legal encyclopedia, tips for
small business and much more. Be sure to check out business software downloads,
and the list of more than 500 FAQs, and free downloadable legal forms.
3. The Intellectual Property
While we're on the topic of law, you also need to know how to protect
your intellectual property. Discover what's protected, what's not, and
how to safeguard your work at this site. Included are news, events, and
forums specifically addressing intellectual property law and vital facts
regarding patent, trademark, and copyright law.
If you haven't yet opened your business, consult Garage.com. Everything
from startup advice columns to news stories will give you the information
you need to get the ball rolling. Links to other resources help you expand
your searches, while visitor forums allow you to exchange advice with
5. Venture Capital Online:
We all know it takes money to make money, and who better to help you make
your first million than a benevolent venture capitalist? Based on specific
investment criteria, this site helps match venture capitalists with entrepreneurs.
The site also helps you target your search depending what stage you're
in: idea, planning, or growth.
6. The Marketing Resource
Marketing is an ongoing process for any company. At the Marketing Resource
Center, you can enter information about your business into the BusinessFind
search engine and Business Classifieds to find networking opportunities.
To read up on the nuances of marketing, research the listings in the articles
library. The message board allows you to exchange marketing ideas with
other businesspeople from across the globe.
7. Benefits Link:
Too many people view the cost of establishing a benefits package a detriment
to starting a new business or working for yourself. It doesn't have to
be that way. Benefits Links is a free online publication that includes
information on every kind of benefits topic, from audits, IRA and health
plans, helping you find what's right for you. The Q&A column includes
smart answers to a variety of questions and the keyword search feature
allows you to target your queries in the site's archives.
8. The Idea Cafe:
Idea Cafe is dedicated to helping people who own their own businesses
promote their businesses. Both informative and fun, this site balances
meaty advice for how to grow your company with detailed instructions for
how to fold a paper airplane.
If you haven't already figured it out, the Internet itself is an essential
business tool. Webmonkey provides tutorials for information on how to
do everything from writing HTML to designing the architecture of your
site. Written by experts employed by the venerable Wired Digital empire,
you're in good hands with the monkey.
10. The Firm List:
But if you're looking for a pro for the job, consult the Firm List. This
site provides a guide to Web design and development firms in 53 countries.
Search by keyword or browse by a geographic area to find the perfect firm
for your company.