When running a small business, resources to help you plan, maintain and succeed in your business are pretty plentiful. Yet, like many other things in life, some are better than others. Knowing which ones work, or offer the most useful information, can often be like looking for a needle in a haystack. So here, in no particular order, are my Top 5 resources for small businesses.
Small Business Administration
Although primarily for the North American market, the Small Business Administration, or SBA, continues to offer one of the best support networks for small businesses everywhere. Now over 50 years old, the SBA promotes free competitive enterprise so that even the smallest business can succeed. They offer numerous invaluable services, including sourcing financing for your project, expert advice from successful small business owners themselves, SBA programs on employment and business laws, special interest business groups and much, much more. If you are serious about starting or running a small business in America, this should be one of your first ports of call.
Almost every small business starts off as an entrepreneurial idea. Sure, it may turn into a large multi-national conglomerate (just look at Richard Branson and his Virgin empire), but 8 times out of 10 any small business starts as a one-man band. So the information to be found at Inc.com is well worth your time. Offering you the opportunity to sign up for free and advertise your business via IncBizNet, Inc.com is designed exclusively for small businesses to find like-minded business people and network. The site also allows you to host a blog, post free press releases and much more. For any small business owner it is an excellent starting point.
Just like the name says, All Business is a fantastic website that has pretty much everything and anything you need to help you start, run and expand your small business. The site is very well laid out and shares expert advice on franchising, labor laws, marketing and advertising and how to complete legal forms, as well as offering tutorial videos from experts in your industry. It even has a Business Purchase Free Quote Center, enabling you get a free, no-obligation quote from vendors that sell the products you need.
Microsoft Small Business
Okay, so it might seem strange to recommend a behemoth like Microsoft - yet as much as he is often a figure of fun for many, Bill Gates is one of the key proponents of helping small businesses get off the ground. Whether it is making anonymous donations to thousands of small businesses with great ideas, or providing excellent small business tools with his various software solutions, his Microsoft Small Business Center is an extremely useful stopover for any small business owner. One of the prime reasons for this is that it is truly international - simply select your country from the menu, and you will be taken to a hub that is full of the business information you need. With articles, tips and software all leading to your success, the Microsoft Small Business Center should be added to your bookmarks today.
With the Internet playing such a large role in allowing more small businesses the chance to start up in the first place, the Smart Biz website is a well of information for online resources. This includes useful information on how to choose an e-commerce partner (very important if you are selling anything from your website), what software is best to run your back office, what telecom networks are best for your business, what advertising or PR agency [http://www.pressreleasepr.com/] to use and much more. Although you can certainly take some of the advice on display here and transfer it to your offline business, Smart Biz is perfect for the online entrepreneur or small business owner.
While there are literally thousands of small business resources, I have found that these offer the best choice and knowledge, particularly for free resources. Of course, if you find they are not for you, a quick search on Google will soon get you where you need to go. But for anyone looking for online resources to help you get started whether your small business is online or bricks-and-mortar, the companies listed here are some of the best.