Starting your own business requires an investment of your time and money, as well as a leap of faith. Luckily, you’re not alone in this venture. As small, privately held businesses become more and more prevalent in the online market, new resources for small business owners continue to emerge all over the Internet. To help you navigate your way through them, here’s a list of 10 of the best online resources for small business owners.
1. U.S. Small Business Administration
The SBA is a great resource for small business owners, especially when beginning a new business venture. The SBA website provides extensive information about contracting, counseling, training, starting and managing a business, as well as obtaining loans and grants. Whether you’re starting a business or managing an existing one, SBA.gov provides information about the following topics and more:
- thinking about starting a business
- finding a mentor or counselor
- writing a business plan
- preparing your finances
- marketing a new business
- growing your business
- exporting and importing
As a nonprofit association dedicated to helping small businesses get started and grow, SCORE has focused on education and mentorship for nearly 50 years. Supported by the U.S. Small Business Administration, SCORE provides small business owners with volunteer mentors from 62 industries as well as free online business tools that include webinars. SCORE also offers complimentary business counseling and inexpensive local business workshops.
3. Association of Small Business Development Centers
As one of the most comprehensive small business assistance networks in the United States, the ASBDC helps new entrepreneurs turn their dreams of business ownership into realities. With an extensive list of resources for small business owners in a number of industries, the ASBDC website is a valuable tool.
As the nationwide leading surety bond provider, SuretyBonds.com helps business owners from all fields acquire the surety bonds they need to obtain their business licenses. Because getting a surety bond is a required part of almost every business venture, small business owners should visit the company’s website for countless pages of quality information about surety bonds and the bonding process. For personalized information and bonding help, visitors can simply enter their contact information into the box on each page of the website, and they’ll be contacted by a bond specialist within twenty-four hours.
Inc. is an online venue where entrepreneurs and business owners can find useful information, advice, insights, resources and inspiration for running and growing their businesses. Tied with Inc. Magazine, Inc. provides visitors with the following resources and more:
- How-to guides
- Small business tools (sample forms, job description templates, interactive worksheets, spreadsheets, contracts, etc.)
- Inc. TV
With countless pages dedicated to starting, running, growing and marketing a business, Entrepreneur. is a helpful jumping-off point for business-minded individuals who are interested in all aspects of the entrepreneurial world. Visitors can ask Entrepreneur. experts their burning questions and have them answered on the website’s answers page.
7. The Wall Street Journal’s Small Business How-To Guide
Although it’s just a single page on the massive Wall Street Journal website, this small business how-to guide hosts a plethora of valuable information about the funding, technology, franchising, managing, buying and selling involved with starting and maintaining a small business.
By focusing on the following four ideas, Bplans works to help people succeed in business.
- You are the most capable person to plan, build and grow your business.
- Business planning and strategy isn’t rocket science; we all just need to learn together.
- Planning and running a business can be a lot of fun…really!
- You can be successful in business.
With an extensive list of resources about business finance, business management, how to improve a company’s online presence and more, Bplans is another great resource for small business owners.
As one of the most popular small business podcasts, Smallbizipod provides listeners with news, forums, a blog and a helpful community. Designed to inspire, inform and entertain entrepreneurs, Smallbizipod conducts interviews with real business owners to help other small business owners unlock the keys to success. Recent interviews include Tanya Wheway, John Griffin and Bill Liao.
To save time, money and office space, YouSendIt is a great resource for uploading, downloading, storing and sending large files. As the leading provider of extended enterprise collaboration services, and with millions of users in 193 countries across 98 percent of the Fortune 500, YouSendIt allows users to securely share content, sign documents and access files from any mobile device or computer.
Even though small businesses are becoming the norm in the professional world, getting one up and running requires a lot of know-how and planning. Fortunately, these 10 easily accessible online resources are there to help small business owners on their way.
Sara Aisenberg is a recent graduate of the University of North Texas and a contributing writer for StartUpBizBlog.com.