(and yup, if you’re like me, lots of distractions, too)
If the internet is the source of information about nearly everything you can imagine (and things you’ve probably never even heard of), it’s smart to turn there for answers to your questions. Here’s a few websites from the world of nonprofits, governmental agencies, and commercial enterprises:
- As stated on their website, Business.com is a community for “small business owners to connect, exchange advice, and help each other make smarter business decisions.” The site holds a multitude of articles, advice, and tools to help your firm grow. Register on the site (free) to ask questions, share your expertise, and access all kinds of information. Just a sampling: business basics, funding, finding legal advice, growing your customer base, marketing, and human resources.
- As their mission statement says, Business News Daily provides “ideas, inspiration, and solutions needed to help entrepreneurs and small business decision makers succeed.” Like their parent website, Business.com, they give advice on lots of info including marketing and human resources. They have tutorials, too. Sections include Start Your Business, Grow Your Business, Lead Your Team, and Find a Solution.
- If you want to read up on entrepreneurship but don’t know where to begin, try Inc.com’s 50 Best Websites for Entrepreneurs for a quick rundown on interesting websites. You may also want to check out Inc.com itself for free business articles and videos. Sign up for their daily newsletter on their home page.
- The Internal Revenue Service website has a whole section devoted to starting a business and another on taxes for your business. One of their subtopics covers deciding which business structure you should use. There is also a video offered: “Small Business Taxes: The Virtual Workshop.” Be prepared for a long discussion – the video runs more than two-and-a-half hours.
- SCORE is a nonprofit association of volunteer small business owners who stand ready to mentor entrepreneurs and small business owners. The mentorship is free. In addition, their website offers webinars (live and pre-recorded) on a variety of topics. Their Courses on Demand cover a wide range of topics: The Startup Roadmap, Building Your Website, Getting Your Business Online, Developing a Business Plan, Pricing Products and Services¸ various accounting and bookkeeping courses, marketing topics, and Quick Start Business Plan, and many others. SCORE partners with the federal government’s Small Business Administration.
- The Small Business Administration (SBA), an agency within the federal government, helps small businesses with free counseling, SBA business loans, and details on getting certified for federal government contracting. Read their 10 steps to start your business for an overview of beginning your own business.
- While you’re visiting the SBA website, check out their 30-minute small business legal requirements course for need-to-know information on the government’s many legal requirements.
- Check out your state government's website before going into business, or even once you’re set up and open, to make sure you’re in full compliance with all the rules and regulations in place.
- The Balance Small Business website contains a library with more than 7,000 articles packed with information on first steps, managing your business, relevant laws, and taxes. They also provide information on the various programs that may help you to successfully deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
- The U.S. Chamber of Commerce offers a wide variety of programs. They offer several timely online guides aimed at today's business world: The Coronavirus Small Business Guide, the Guide to Small Business Emergency Loans (PPP), and the Guide to Small Business Economic Injury Disaster Loans. You can become a member of the U.S. Chamber or join your local chamber. Find one in your area on the chamber’s directory page.
- According to the polling group Nielson, sustainability is a hot topic not only among the younger set of consumers – the millennials and Gen Xers but also for purchasers across all ages. Consumers increasingly want to do business with firms that keep planets and people in mind. If you want to appeal to the legions of environmentally engaged consumers, you need to present your company as more than a money-making goods or services provider. If you’re interested in what your business can do to combat climate change, the U.S. Green Chamber of Commerce may be for you. In addition to the national organization, there are many local branches. Check out the closest Green Chamber today. I found my local chapter by googling “Florida chapters green chamber of commerce.”
These websites are just a sampling of internet offerings for small business owners and entrepreneurs. Google “small business” or "entrepreneur” to see for yourself the abundance of websites and articles available to you. Just remember to stay alert – there are lots of unreliable sources out there, too.