Ideas & Solutions for Entrepreneurs


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Start-up Resources

The mechanics of starting a business are generally the same whether you are starting a bakery or a software business. In this section, I've identified many valuable Web sites in the hope that they can help you get your business up and running with reasonable efficiency.

Business Plans
Forms and/or templates available at all sites in this section.
American Express offers a step-by-step workshop, advice by e-mail, and informative tips on writing your business plan.
BizPlan Pro gives you a Web-based program and outline to help turn your idea into a viable business.
Jian Software has published well-respected business planning programs for years, and many of its tools are free to use online.
Small Business Association presents a good outline and an overview that is well suited for planning a small businesses.
Dun & Bradstreet lists thousands of vendors, searchable by service, category, and location.
Europages is an extensive directory of European businesses.
Thomas Register helps you identify which tasks to outsource and screen more than 150,000 registered suppliers.
Employment Basics
** Indicates free forms and/or templates are available.
U.S. Department of Labor helps you learn about and comply with current federal employment statutes.**
Winning Associates, Inc. provides an article explaining the essential role of employee handbooks.
Expert Guidance
Bootstrap Austin is a forum for discovering and propagating the unique path and rules associated with bootstrapping a company.
Idea Cafe covers all the basics for getting your idea off the ground, from e-commerce design to logo-embroidered apparel.
SCORE offers free counseling and other insights from a network of retired executives.
Small Business Development Centers pool local, state, and national resources offered by public and private organizations.
Software and Information Industry Association, formerly SPA, is an excellent trade group serving technology businesses.
National Business Incubation Association helps young firms survive and grow during the risky start-up period.
Be the Boss has a partial directory of active franchises, listing basic information such as minimum investment.
AAFD offers membership in a non-profit trade association for franchisees and dealers.

Government Sites

Securities and Exchange Commission holds federal filings on public companies in an online research database.
Small Business Administration is a rich gateway to loans, networking, and other resources.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics offers data on productivity, compensation, living conditions, and other labor measures.
U.S. Census Bureau gives you basic demographics on the U.S. population — great for market research.
U.S. Department of Commerce issues reports on the latest economic indicators.
U.S. Treasury features business and individual tax filing statistics from the IRS.

Intellectual Property

** Indicates free forms and/or templates are available.
Delphion lets you search and view patent documents from the U.S. and other major industrialized nations.
Small Business Administration defines patents, trademarks, and copyrights and their relevance to the entrepreneur.**
U.S. Copyright Office shows you how to register for protection of your company's original works.**
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office gives you a detailed and authoritative overview of their application process.**
Wells, St. John, Roberts, Gregory & Matkin, a Washington law firm, provides a layman's overview of the patent process.
Laws & Permits
** Indicates free forms and/or templates are available.
California Trade & Commerce Agency describes the state's requirements for various business licenses.**
Entrepreneur Magazine has basic contracts for non-disclosure, work-for-hire, and other needs.**
Internal Revenue Service gives you a wide range of information about your tax responsibilities as an employer.**
Quicken Small Business answers basic questions about which permits you need for doing business in your state.
Regional Resources
U.S. Chamber of Commerce can direct you to a chamber in your area for information about local business concerns.
Software & Books
Entrepreneur Magazine stocks several popular how-to books for those starting or running a small business.
Jian Software has programs and templates that can help you with everything from employment contracts to marketing plans.
Nolo Press is a long-standing leader in books and publications for the do-it-yourselfer in business and personal matters.

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