|An essential element for the small entrepreneur is the ability to easily access business support services and/or business centers which will provide him/her with business information and business support including advisory services necessary to improve his/her personal and organizational effectiveness, and succeed both at home and abroad. This page lists and rates valuable Internet resources which will help start, manage and grow a successfull small business.|
Last updated February 14th 2012
|Sites are reviewed individually and rated mostly according to content depth and value added, while also considering ease of navigation and speed of loading. For each category best resources are listed first.|
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Small Business Administration|
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) was created as an independent agency of the federal government to aid, counsel, assist and protect the interests of small business. Exceptional resource which provides information and advice on starting, financing or expanding a small business. The «Library & Resources» section is very rich leading to key publications particularly the «Small Business Management Series» where business plans for different ttypes of businesses can be downloaded. Do not miss either the section «Take your business global».
Business Development Bank of Canada
The Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) is Canada's small business bank. It's mandate is to help create and develop Canadian businesses through financing, venture capital and consulting services, with a focus on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The BDC's services are available across Canada in both English and French through a network of more than 100 Business Centers. Excellent and essential site for Canadian small businesses . In my view very likely the best advice center I have seen in terms of quality of technical advice ( see the section on cash flow), but of course you might think I'm biased, as I worked for them 30 years ago !!.
Business Link is the UK government's online ressource for businesses. It contains essential information, support and services and is the place to go to find guidance on regulations and to access government services. Outstanding site extremely well designed and easy to use. What I liked best was the way it has separated services into services for start up and services for growth and improvement. Do not miss the section on IT and open source software.
A project of the International Finance Corporation, the SME Toolkit offers free business management information and training for small businesses and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) on accounting and finance, business planning, human resources (HR), marketing and sales, operations, and information technology (IT). The SME Toolkit offers a wide range of how-to articles, business forms, free business software, online training, self-assessment exercises, quizzes, and resources to help entrepreneurs, business owners, and managers in emerging markets and developing countries start, finance, formalize, and grow their businesses. Excellent site.
The US Business Advisor provides small businesses with one stop access to federal government information, services and transactions . It includes sections on business development, financial assistance, taxes, laws and regulations, international trade, etc. Very clear and easy to navigate site obviously designed to respond to small business needs. Excellent site very useful even for non US businesses.
The Small Business Development Center National Information Clearinghouse (SBDCNET) serves as a resource providing timely, relevant research, web-based information, and training services to the SBDC counselors and their clients in the United States and its territories. An excellent site which provides information of interest to the budding entrepreneur and the small business owner. What I liked best is the fact that the site has been clearly structured to respond to the needs and interests of the small businesses. Do not miss their on-line resources, especially the link to publications.
Entrepreneurship.org is an online community designed to build entrepreneurial economies as well as serve as a resource for entrepreneurs, policy makers, investors, mentors, researchers and academics around the world. It features a vast array of content and resources to assist entrepreneurs, business mentors, policy makers, academics and investors through each phase of the entrepreneurial process. The content ranges from resources entrepreneurs need to launch a company to policies and research that has been conducted regarding entrepreneurship. Excellent site. Do not miss the Entrepreneurship Law and Policy Forum sections.
YAHOO Small Business Information
Despite a rather old looking and somewhat unappealing directory structure, it is still an essential site providing a search engine on small business information as well as direct links to organizations, publications, conferences, business opportunities, education, etc.
The Canada Business Network 's objective is to provide small businesses with the resources they need to grow and prosper, including a wide range of information on government services, programs and regulations. Very good and comprehensive site. However I am rather disappointed to see that the "Interactive Business Planner"(which enabled you to prepare a business plan on-line) and the "Online Small Business Workshop" (which was in my view one of the best of its kind) have all disappeared following the government reorganization which seemingly combined three SME support sites into one.
Although a commercial site from PaloAlto Software, this is a very good site providing free full-fledged business plans for all kinds of businesses. You can download sample business plans that have proved successful that you can read and emulate. In addition the corresponding commercial software has received high marks in the specialized press.
Small Business Trends
Small Business Trends is an online publication for small business owners, entrepreneurs and the people who interact with them. Through a network of small business experts the site presents articles on various business topics including marketing and financial management. What makes this site very interesting is the way they look at the various business issues through the new technologies and social media lenses. Very good site. Do not miss the small business radio podcasts.
Claiming to be the world's largest online resource for small businesses, providing essential tools and resources to start, grow, and manage your business, AllBusiness is a site which contains a multitude of news, articles, blogs on a wide variety of small business topics. Very good site although the large number of articles provided is somewhat overwhelming despite the possibility to use an internal search engine. Do not miss the section on free downloads.
Idea Cafe: The Small Business Channel
Idea Cafe is a web guide for small businesses, providing tips and advices as well as pointers to useful resources. What I liked most was the emphasis on down-to-earth practical approach. Despite the space taken by advertising banners it is a very good site. Do not miss the "CyberSchmooz".
Business Owner's Toolkit
The Business Owner's Toolkit is also labelled "total know-how for small business". It's more than just plain marketing "hype" as it includes lots of information, including all the essentials on starting, planning, financing, and marketing your small business. With an emphasis on problem-solving, it offers more than 5,000 pages of free cost-cutting tips, step-by-step checklists, real-life case studies, startup advice, and business templates to small business owners and entrepreneurs. Very much focused on the U.S but still extremely useful for anyone starting or operating a small business.
Bloomberg Business Week
Created by Bloomberg Business Week magazine, this new site offers news and features for small-business owners and entrepreneurs, plus advice, regular columns, and a wide range of business resources. Although very much US focused it is a very good site with a down to earth orientation.
The Profit Clinic describes itself as an "innovative, entrepreneurial, free-wheeling, subversive, no-bull, no-frills, USEFUL site for Small Business" and indeed it is as unorthodox as can be, and very useful as well. A very good site full of australian humor.
LogisticsWorld is a directory of logistics resources on the internet providing information on logistics, transportation, warehousing, distribution, supply, maintenance, manufacturing, etc. An unusual and excellent site. Do not miss the WWW Virtual Libraries on Trucking and Logistics.
Business Resource Center
Business Resource Center is a commercial site providing free resources mostly for new business starters. The Center includes four main sections: getting started, the marketing department, the management center, the financing guide. Basic information but good. Includes a discussion group.
The site includes an online magazine, a Canadian business directory, Canadian specific business resources, a technology centre, and several other promotional tools designed to help Canadians grow their businesses. Despite the obvious focus on Canada it is of interest to anyone wishing to develop his/her own business.
National Fraud Information Center
The NFIC was originally established by the National Consumers League, a nonprofit consumer organization in the United States, to fight the growing menace of telemarketing fraud. An interesting site useful for both consumers and small business owners.