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50 Useful Resources for Starting a Small Business
Starting a new business takes courage. You can take that leap with greater confidence when you have the right resources. To start you on your path, we’ve gathered the 50 best internet resources for small business startups:
- The US Small Business Administration site has extensive resources for starting a small business including how to write business plans, structure a business, register a company, and apply for permits. The site includes free on-line courses and information on local resources.
- Small Business Trends is one of the best online sources for small business owners and entrepreneurs. This award-winning independent small business publication is one of the most popular and informative sites on the web.
- Huff Post Small Business America has articles and blogs that address practical advice, information on new technologies, and political issues that directly affect small businesses in America.
- Inc. is a well-respected business magazine but few people realize it also has a free on-line version. In addition to informative articles, the Business Tools section provides additional resources to start up and small businesses.
- The SelfEmployed is an online newsletter with articles ranging from how to do your taxes to how to hire your first employee. It addresses legal, employment, insurance, tech, and other topics relevant to the self-employed.
- Entrepreneur provides informative articles that address productivity, taxes, marketing, competitors, and more.
- Rocket Lawyer allows you to create one document for free, and has a free 7 day trial. You can also have a lawyer review the documents. You can get a lot done in a week, but if that isn’t enough time there are monthly and discounted fees for additional work.
- Nolo has an extensive collection of articles and information on various business topics. They also have books and legal forms for sale, that you can edit and save before you pay as well as listings of attorneys and their specialties.
- Lawyers.com’s business section has free articles and tutorials, but it also has two unique features. Ask a Lawyer, allows you to ask a question and receive answers from top attorneys around the country. Find a Lawyer includes reviews of the attorneys with the listings.
- LegalZoom.com is an economical option to incorporating your business. The fee-structure is transparent and a basic incorporation is within the reach of most start-up companies.
- Law Guru allows you to ask questions to attorneys and receive answers, all free of charge. You can also read other people’s questions and answers to find the information you need.
Funding – Loans
- The Small Business and Community Development Programs, offered through the US Department of Treasury, have several initiatives designed to help small businesses grow.
- Kabbage is an online lending resource that can create lines of credit ranging from $2,000 to $100,000. It considers assets that banks do not, such as Ebay accounts and Quickbook records.
- Fundbox is a great resource for startups needing a short term loan based on outstanding customer invoices. You don’t have to wait until the customer pays you to get the funds you need.
- SmartBiz SBA Loans can help small businesses obtain loans ranging from $5,000 to $350,000. They have a fast pre-qualification process and are a top rated lender for small businesses.
Funding – Grants
- Business USA is a great place to start your search for grants. It acts like specialized search engine that helps you identify grants for which you are most likely to qualify.
- The National Association for the Self Employed provides grants of up to $4,000 for its members ($120 a year fee) to cover a variety of expenses from marketing to expansion.
- The Small Business Innovation Research Program is operated through the SBA and helps businesses fund research and development projects.
Funding – Crowdsourcing
- Kickstarter is probably the best known crowdsourcing site. Businesses create profile pages and set a funding goal for their projects.
- Indiegogo is similar to other crowdsourcing sites except you don’t have to meet your funding goal to keep the money you raised.
- Onevest vets businesses and investors before money changes hands. This is a site for people with well-developed business plans and serious investors. Due to the background work done by this site, additional fees may be incurred.
Funding – Peer to Peer Lending
- Prosper gives you an interest rate based on your business and you create a listing for investors to use to consider extending a loan.
- The Funding Circle is specifically geared to connect small businesses with investors. You start with a loan manager and are usually funded within 2 weeks.
- Google+ offers many opportunities to market your business, customize ad reach, and assess effectiveness.
- Facebook For Business has a variety of marketing options, from a standard company profile page to more assertive marketing tools.
- Twitter for Business is designed specifically to help small and mid-sized companies reach their target audiences. They provide extensive how-to information for those new to this system.
- WordPress is a free and easy to use site that is most often used to create blogs, however you can share reports, newsletters, and other communications as well.
- Unbounce is a tool you can use to create, modify, and update landing pages for your website or blog to assure that it is attractive to your clients and customers but also track their effectiveness. You can use it to evaluate various campaigns to determine which has the best conversion rates, as well as share sales or special events with your target audience.
- Microsoft Office Image Site helps you find images to use in your blogs and marketing materials.
- Google Analytics has a variety of free resources you can use to evaluate the effectiveness of your website.
- Mail Chimp allows you to manage and deliver newsletters, email marketing pieces, and more. You can customize who receives various communications.
- Alexa is a data tracking tool that by analyzes traffic metrics, demographics and much more. This powerful tool allows you to view important statistics regarding your competitors.
- DropBox allows you to share product details, promotion pieces, reports, and other communications with your customers and clients.
- Zoho offers a suite of more than 20 different online business applications for collaboration, productivity, and other business tasks. It’s extensive and integrated marketing component makes this a go-to site for many small businesses.
- SCORE is an organization that pairs businesses with volunteer mentors to help develop and grow a business. They have over 300 chapters around the country and an extensive array of onsite resources for start-up companies as well as free on-line courses.
- LinkedIn Small Business is a designated membership for small businesses designed to help them use LinkedIn to connect, promote, and network their companies.
- Joining your local chapter of the Rotary Club is a great way to have face-to-face networking opportunities in your community.
- Business Networking International (BIN) can be an effective way to generate referrals and connect with other businesses within your community.
- Volunteer Match is a great way to identify volunteer opportunities in your community. Find something you care about, volunteer and you may be surprised at the networking opportunities that occur.
General Small Business and Startup Blogs
- Startup Professional’s Musing is geared specifically for those who have started a new business. It can deal with some big-picture issues but often focuses on practical advice for those who have recently opened their doors.
- The Accelerators is a blog offered through the Wall Street Journal and is a collaborative effort written by entrepreneurs and small business owners.
- Big Ideas for Small Businesses is written by a tax attorney who provides information on the technical and legal aspects of running a small business in a way that a layperson can understand and use.
- The Startup Starting Line is a great basic blog that addresses many of the questions and issues facing new entrepreneurs.
Marketing and Technology Blogs
- Social Triggers is a blog specifically about how to build and market small businesses. The focus is on how to understand your customers to best reach them through your services and marketing efforts.
- Wasp Barcode blogs focus on business management systems, such as time management, inventory, and schedules. This is a great source for practical information on these topics.
- Small Business Marketing tools section provides specific and practical information on developing websites, creative promotions, and specific tools to use to expand your marketing efforts and improve their effectiveness.
- Cloudswave discusses the best software for small businesses. This includes specific product reviews for everything from marketing to financial software, and how to use it.
Finance and Funding Blogs
- Evergreen Small Business blog is a great resource for startups to learn about managing their money.
- Fundra Ledger is focused on funding and finances for small businesses. The blogs address practical issues of accounting and finance as well as which funding sources may be best for your business.
- Big Commerce blog helps small businesses navigate the world of ecommerce. It answers basic questions, identifies branding resources, and provides ideas on how to stand out in a crowd saturated with ecommerce.
- The Creditera blog focuses on small business finance and funding, especially on how to establish and manage a line of credit.
- Exit Promise is a blog that explains how to sell a small business. It also identifies many free resources to help start or expand a small business.