When starting a business, many people start with Google. That's fine, and it works well when you are looking for a lot of information about a lot of things. But don't forget that the United States government has two websites with thousands of links to help you start and manage your business.
Business.gov is helps businesses do business with the government. While many Indie Business owners are not concerned specifically with that, the site is filled with information and links that are highly relevant for Indies. The United States Small Business Administration website is another great resource.
Based on the most frequently asked concerns and questions I receive from clients and members of the Indie Beauty Network, I compiled a list of the 10 links at these two sites that I think are most useful.
1. How to start a business in your state. This link shows a picture of the nation. Click on your state to link to its small business development center, as well as the SBA's regional office in that area. The right side of the page contains other useful state-specific links for things like name registration and and tax filings.
2. Financing guide. If you are looking for an SBA loan, this guide is a great explanation of how the SBA's Small Business Investment Company program works.
3. Free newsletters. The SBA has a variety of free email newsletters to keep you up to date on everything from women and minority business issues and policies to a newsletter for veterans who are small business owners. They are not all regularly published, but when they are, they generally include great tips and links to helpful websites. See the list and subscribe here.
4. Glossary of terms. You'll never have to wonder what a business related term means again with this glossary. Look up terms as simple as "working capital" and as complex as "acid ratio."
5. Small Business Planner. Whether you are a start up or a seasoned entrepreneur, read this entire section at least once a year. It will help you tighten your future plans and keep your business on track.
6. Free E-Courses. Many of these redirect you to tutorials offered by private companies. For example, the link for writing a business plan took me to Donald Trump University's business plan course. The biggest pain is that you have to submit your personal information to the SBA to get out of the SBA site, and then again when you get to the site whre the training is located. A few of the links don't work but I'm sure someone's monitoring those and that happens from time to time.
7. Franchise Information. The economy being what it is, many people are looking to supplement their income by buying a franchise. A franchise can be very risky, especially if it doesn't have a track record. This link provides overviews of franchsing from the perspective of the franchisor and franchisee. There is also information to help you expand your own brand using a franchise business model.
8. Home-Based Businesses. A ton of articles, tips and links to help you be successful in a home-based business are at your fingertips here.
9. Data and Statistics. The United States government claims to be the world's largest producer of economic, employment, industry and other types of data. Every business owner must be reasonably familiar with things like industry specific statistics, economic cycles, the earning capacity of customers in their niche market, etc., and a lot of this information is easily located right here. Many of these links are also useful to help prepare a business plan.
10. Hiring And Firing Employees. Many small business owners cite managing people as a top business management challenge. While links here take some of the mystery out of the process, every state is different so be sure to visit your state employment commission to make sure you are compliant with their specific requirements.
Did you enjoy this post? Get more by subscribing to my feed, or you can get my posts delivered straight to your email box everyday by entering your email address in the box at the upper right.