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Small Business

These Web Sites Will Rev Up Your Enterprise

 by David Cotriss (davidcotriss@wwwiz.com)

           The Internet:  a vast network of computers linking the farthest reaches of the globe.  Since the Internet was first developed, it has become one of the world's most powerful research tools.  No longer do you have to dig through stacks of books and paperwork to find the information you need. Thanks to modern technology, all the help you can handle is just a few keystrokes away.

But many people who recognize the Web's power as a research tool don't realize that it can also be a powerful aid to small businesses. This article will present some sites that can have a great, positive impact on your business. These sites can either increase revenue or decrease costs. Remember, however, that exploring these sites is only half the answer: putting the information to good use is what will make or break your results.

          One of the most valuable aspects of the Internet is the ability to network with others in the same fields.  People who were once separated can now join together to talk about small business issues.  For free marketing help, visit http://www.networx.com.au/mall/secrets/forums.htm.  This site lists dozens of the best marketing forums on the Internet with ratings of their quality. Whether you market on the Internet or not, reading the posts on some of these forums and posting your own questions will provide you with invaluable advice that might otherwise cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars to obtain.

          Another great source for forums is at http://www.forumone.com.  This site enables you to search for forums on every topic imaginable.  For business use, this is great for finding discussion forums on topics other than marketing.  If you run a crafts business, for example, searching for the term ``crafts" will bring up a long list of forums where you can learn more about the subject and find out what people in this market want.  It is truly a valuable tool and best of all it's free.

          No matter what type of business you run, you'll find lots of useful information at http://www.webcom.com/seaquest/sbrc/welcome.html.  This site is packed with reports useful to small businesses and links to many small business resources on the Web.  For example, free reports include ``How to Prepare an Effective Business Plan," ``How to Raise Money to Start Your Own Business," ``Questions to Answer Before You Buy a Franchise," ``How to Get Free Radio Advertising for Your Company," ``Inside Secrets of Free Publicity" and many more.  Other reports cover starting specific businesses, such as ``Writing and Selling Newsletters for Profit," ``How to Start and Operate a Mobile Locksmith Service" and much more.

          Another site filled with useful information for small businesses is at

http://tenonline.org/index.html.  This is the official site of The Entrepreneur

Network, an organization dedicated to helping inventors and entrepreneurs with information and contacts.  Included are individuals and companies looking for new products to manufacture and market, new products you can sell, people looking for investors, providers of business services, articles to help you with various aspects of running your business and links to other valuable business sites.  Along with providing valuable information, the site will help you network with others who have similar business needs and offerings.

          If you need legal help and don't want to pay a lawyer hundreds of dollars an hour, you can turn to the Web for help.  All the help you need can be found at http://www.charm.net/~colwell/lawlinks.html.  Called the ``Lawyer's Guide

to Internet Legal Links," this site is packed with dozens of links to the best legal resources on the Web.  This site is like having an entire law library at your fingertips.  The site includes indexes of legal resources and information, information on current legal issues and court decisions, profiles of law firms and attorneys, government law information, Internet copyright and privacy issue information and much more.  If you have legal questions, this site should provide all the help you need.

          With sales being an important aspect of any business, you'll find

http://www.saleslinks.com invaluable to your selling efforts.  This site has links to more than 300 of the most useful sales resources on the Web, all broken down by categories such as ``skills & techniques" and ``Internet selling." Included are weekly sales tips and links to the 25 most valuable sales sites on the Internet. You can also subscribe to their weekly email sales newsletter containing more sales tips and links.

          One of the most powerful ways to boost the profits of your business is by getting free publicity. By going to http://www.gebbieinc.com you can get a free list of links to more than 8,000 print and electronic media contacts worldwide.  Also included are tips and tricks for getting free publicity for your product or service.  You can even print mailing labels directly from the site for newspapers and TV stations.

          To save money on rush shipping, a great site to visit is

http://www.smartship.com/cgi-ezship/mainccgi.  This site allows you to compare shipping rates on express letters and parcels. The site will find the lowest rate for you.  You can also track packages on the site.  This is an example of the Internet making a once time-consuming task a breeze.  A must if you want to save on express shipping.

 

  David Cotriss specializes in marketing/advertising, about which he's published dozens of magazine and Web articles and offers consulting services. He can be reached at cotriss@inow.com.

 

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