When you’re starting a business, where do you go to get the help, advice and tools you need? There are plenty of resources out there — so many, in fact, that you might have trouble sorting through them all. We cut through the clutter, selecting 25 essential resources for startup small-business owners.
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1. Small Business Administration. Find information, links and resources to help you start and grow your business, including SBA-guaranteed loans.
2. SCORE. Get matched with an experienced SCORE mentor to receive free counseling and advice, in person or online.
3. Small Business Development Centers. Expert business advisors at the SBDC near you can help with all aspects of starting and growing your business — for free. And don’t forget the Women’s Business Centers.
4. International Franchise Association. Considering buying a franchise? Start your search at this site, which includes information, resources and links to help you find the right one.
5. BizBuySell. Looking to buy a business? This site includes listings nationwide and helps you find businesses for sale as well as business brokers in your area.
6. Bplans. Learn from 500-plus free business plan templates, read useful articles and buy best-selling business plan software Business Plan Pro.
8. The Company Corporation. Make incorporating or forming an LLC easy: This site handles all the filing and paperwork for you.
9. U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Need to file for a patent, trademark or copyright? This site has the resources, answers and tools you need.
10. VentureBeat. Described by The New York Times as one of the best blogs on the Web, VentureBeat covers the venture capital industry. VentureBeat keeps those seeking investment capital “in the know” on who got funded from whom, also providing the latest on hot industries like mobile technology, social networking and green business.
11. CharityNavigator. We all realize how important it is to give back, but it’s hard to know the best (and most legitimate) causes to donate to. Charity Navigator is the nation’s largest charity evaluator, rating and evaluating the financial health of over 5,500 national charities.
12. American FactFinder. Get your market research started with U.S. Census and other demographic data in an easy-to-use form.
13. FedStats. Statistics from more than 100 federal government agencies to help in your market research.
14. IRS Small Business and Self-Employed Tax Center. Stay on the right side of the tax code with the latest tax news and forms.
15. FindLaw Small Business Center. Get legal forms, find answers to common legal questions and even search for lawyers at this site.
16. Employment Law Information Network. Information and advice on federal and state employment law, including guidebooks on and sample policies for all aspects of HR.
17. BuyerZone. Ready to equip your startup by buying business products and services? Visit this site to research your options and connect with sellers.
18. TopTenReviews. Before you buy or upgrade your tech tools, read the reviews here.
19. MarketingProfs. Articles, guides and resources covering everything you need to know about marketing, from creating ad copy to attending trade shows.
20. PRLog. Distribute press releases to major search engines for free at this site, which also offers tools and guides to help you write releases that get results.
21. Evernote. Bid bye-bye to Post-it notes with this app that lets you capture notes, ideas, photos and links in the cloud and search and access them quickly from all your devices.
22. Capturengo. No more typing (or losing key data) with this app that captures business cards and receipts on your smartphone and stores them in the cloud.
23. Vlingo. Make driving and working safer with this free voice interface tool that lets you browse the Web, dictate texts, e-mails and actions, or find contacts by speaking into your smartphone.
24. GoPayment. Boost cash flow and convenience by using your smartphone to accept credit cards on the go, whether at a customer’s location, trade show or event.
25. FreeDigitalPhotos.net. Whether you need an image for marketing materials, business projects or your website, it’s often too expensive to hire a photographer or use a stock photo house. This site boasts thousands of images available for free download and limited use (higher-resolution pictures are extra). Check with the site for any other restrictions.