If you are a discouraged job hunter or someone who has always wanted to be an entrepreneur, you will be pleased to know that the Internet offers an array of resources to help you find the right path to being your own boss.
Following are 14 online resources that offer assistance to budding entrepreneurs and small business owners. All of the resources are free, unless otherwise noted.
New York State
Many government agencies operate assistance programs for start-ups. For example, New York State has a website that provides general start-up advice coupled with specific information about operating a business in New York State, along with a listing of local resources.
Canada Business Network
The Canadian government operates a website that provides both general information about business plans, financing and business organization.
Business Startup Online Resource Checklist
This organization has compiled resources that assist small businesses in each state.
The U.S. government’s Small Business Administration has a comprehensive set of resources encompassing advice, articles, assessment tools to see if you have what it takes to own a business, in-person mentoring, and training. The SBA also funds small business development centers in all 50 states, usually in conjunction with a college. The agency helps with funding, providing collateral for loans made by local banks. It also helps small businesses qualify as federally approved government contractors.
SCORE is a nonprofit association that is a resource partner of the SBA, helping individuals establish small businesses and grow existing ones. SCORE chapters exist across the country and the association has a network of more than 13,000 volunteers who offer small business entrepreneurs confidential business counseling services at no charge. Its website offers templates for financial statements and business plans.
The site sells third-party books and software and provides short articles on a variety of topics of interest to small businesses including advertising, accounting, finance, marketing and sales. Prices vary from $10 to $40.
Two sections of this website offer information on startup basics and how-to-guides on topics such as structuring a business, raising capital, finding customers, hiring an attorney, and starting a business in a recession. Entrepreneur offers videos as well as articles. The company has a separate magazine, Startups, that covers franchise opportunities as well as tactics for success.
About.com has both a start-up and a small business section. The start-up section contains information on traits of successful entrepreneurs, overcoming fear of failure, and goal setting. The website moderator is a small business owner with over 12 years of experience. The site also links to other resource websites.
The publishers of Inc. magazine offer articles covering topics from writing a business plan to pitching investors, to calculating gross margin. Inc. relies on experienced business writers and quotes numerous industry experts in its articles. Inc. also focuses on growing an existing business.
Business Owner’s Toolkit
This site offers forms, books, and services for small businesses. Premium membership is $39 per year for three books or sets of forms. Users can also get quotes from vendors of various services such as marketing lists, payroll, credit card processing, and website designers.
Investopedia provides a tutorial for business start-ups that encompasses how to choose a business, hiring employees, and filing taxes.
This company provides business-in-a-box software with over 1,500 business document templates. Subjects include real estate, credit, finance, human resources, and marketing. Templates can be edited with MS Office and OpenOffice.org. Price: $200.
StartupBusiness.com offers guides for writing business plans, ranging in price from $70 to $100. A book is $33. The site also offers business templates.
ZoomQa offers a customized program that educates business owners on how to start and manage a small, successful business. Price: $2,295.