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No Need to Re-invent the Wheel!
Have you ever felt like your question was really original, and no else has ever had a question just like it? We've probably all felt that way.
However, chances are you question was asked before, and you can learn from the experiences of others.
Check out these categories:
Start-up Planning & Investor Funds
Operations & Accounting
Marketing & Sales
Web Design, the Internet, & Social Media
What are the "keys to success" for your business. Have you identified them?
What are the benchmarks for similar businesses in your industry?
What is your online strategy? How does your Internet presence help promote your physical presence and brand in the community?
Small Business Information Resources; a Comprehensive List
Listed below is a comprehensive source of information resources compiled under 3 main categories of Planning Tools, Sources of Data, and General Sources. Each of these 3 categories is broken down into subcategories and detail lists under the navy blue headings. While Northern Illinois SCORE has made every effort to insure the accuracy of this list, we can not be responsible for changes in the URLs or the content on these references.
We wish to acknowledge and thank the Business Librarian at Milner Library, Illinois State University for first publishing this list!
The Feasibility Study
Developing the Business or Marketing Plan
Analytic Tools for Planning
Economic & Market Information
Franchising Information Sources
Laws and Regulations
Sources of Funding
Books and Articles
Cooperative Feasibility Study Guide
A brief guide from the USDA for rural agricultural cooperatives, but contains a good outline of a feasibility study useful for many applications.
Starting a Small Business: The Feasibility Analysis
A good basic guide from Montguide, a pulication of the Montana State University Extension Service.
Feasibility Study Outline
An outline for conducting a feasibility study, with links to information on feasibility studies in general and when to do a feasibility study and how to use the results. From the Ag Marketing Resource Center at Iowa State University.
Business Plan Outline
Outline from the Howard University Small Business Development Center.
Provides 60 free sample business plans, and offers for sale Business Plan Pro, with over 400 plans.
Business Plans Handbook
A continuing set of volumes compiling actual business plans developed by small businesses throughout North America. They are available in some libraries, and selected plans are also available from a free web site.
Guide to Writing a Business Plan
Online guide provided by the Missouri Small Business Assistance Center.
SBDCNET- Small Business Information Center
Links to helpful sites and to specific business plans for various types of small businesses. The nearest SBDC site is the Illinois Small Business Development Center at the EIGERLab in Rockford, IL.
Small Business Planner
Set of links from the Small Business Administration (SBA).
For books in libraries, use the subject heading MARKETING PLANNING or BUSINESS PLANNING when searching the catalog.
SWOT Analysis - The most popular analytic tool. Web sites that explain it:
Strategy - SWOT analysis -- Brief overview from tutor2u.com.
SWOT Analysis -- Overview from MindTools.
SWOT Analysis -- Overview from NetMBA.
SWOT Analysis -- From QuickMBA.com.
SWOT Analysis: Lesson -- From Marketingteacher.com with samples.
SWOT analysis method and examples -- Good overview, with comparison to PEST analysis.
Other useful tools:
Porter's Five Forces - Web sites that explain this analytic tool:
Porters Five Forces by Themanager.org
Porter's Five Forces - A Model for Industry Analysis by QuickMBA
Strategy - analysing competitive industry structure by tutor2u
Search data from Census Bureau sources, including the Census of Population and the Economic Census.
Consumer Expenditure Survey
Bureau of Labor Statistics data on spending patterns.
County Business Patterns
Gives the number of employees, establishments, and payroll by SIC codes. Published annually; updates the Economic Census.
Economic Census Bureau of the Census.
Economic Statistics - U.S.
A library guide that includes many free web sites.
MSA Business Patterns (NAICS)
Data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
A portal to governmental statistics. The most relevant data will be found in the State of the Nation portion under the Manufacturing and Industry section near the bottom of the page. Many libraries have this database.
Statistical Abstract of the United States
Data on all subjects collected by all branches of the federal government. Includes sources for all data presented.
State of Illinois
Information on Illinois state departments, agencies, and the legislature with access to the educational institutions and libraries in the state. Also visit the web sites for the local newspaper and local governments and chambers of commerce.
Every Franchise & Business Opportunity
Directory of franchising opportunities.
Franchise and Business Opportunities Rule
Compiled by the Federal Trade Commission, focusing on regulations and regulatory issues.
Directory of franchising opportunities.
Directory of hundreds of franchise opportunities.
Primarily a directory of franchising opportunities.
Information on franchise opportunities, advice, and guidance provided by Entrepreneur.com.
Directory of franchising opportunities.
Extensive information on buying a franchise and franchising your business. Includes links to franchise opportunities.
Industry Specific Business Guides
Industry-at-a-Glance and Business Profiles provided by the Missouri Small Business Development Centers. The focus is on industries in the state of Missouri, but much of the information is national.
Most industry analysis tools are available in libraries, either in print or online. Major publishers of such information are Mergent's and Standard & Poor's.
For current laws at the state and federal level, consult the legal component of Lexis-Nexis Academic in a library.
Other useful resources include:
AllLaw.com - Legal Topics - Business and Corporate
Articles, forms and links to resources on a variety of business law topics.
Federal government business law resources.
The Company Corporation
Provides information about the costs, structures, and taxes involved in incorporating.
FindLaw Small Business
Provides forms and model documents, links to other resources, and more.
Handle Legal Concerns
Information and links for small business law from the Small Business Administration.
Legal Information Institute
A comprehensive legal web site hosted by Cornell Law School. Especially useful is the "Law about..." section, which contains information about legal topics with inks to federal statutes regulations, and court decisions; state statutes and court decisions; and internet sources.
QuickMBA Law and Business
Information on various legal topics from the American legal system to starting a business.
Uniform Commercial Code
Full text of the Uniform Commercial Code, provided by the Cornell University Legal Information Institute.
Information on funding available from the Small Business Administration.
News and articles from Business Week's Business Exchange.
vFinance.com Search for Capital
Provides links to sources of capital as well as planning aids for small businesses.
Ralph Wilson's Web Marketing Today Info Center
Contains free online articles on Web marketing, including Web demographics and designing an effective Web site.
Andrew Lock's "Help! My Business Sucks"
A witty and useful weekly web TV show with Andrew Lock. Consult with Andrew (Via telephone, to help your business grow faster). FREE to subscribe.
Great source for online marketing resources, marketing articles, online seminars, case studies, conferences and events for Marketing Professionals. MarketingProfs.com is a valuable marketing research tool for anyone who needs advice or instruction on marketing concepts and strategies. Some info is FREE, but most of the webinars require a PAID subscription.
Resource that publishes useful news, case studies, and best practices data about Internet and integrated marketing. Also includes a jobs section where one can search for positions post your own resume. Most services are FREE.
Small Business Computing
Small Business Computing is the online resource for informative software reviews, e-commerce tools, tricks of the online marketing trade, trends and more. This is a discussion forum for all issues arising in e-commerce, or computing issues affecting small business. forums.smallbusinesscomputing.com/
Founded in 1996, eMarketer has become one of the the trusted places to search for unbiased research and trend analysis on digital marketing and media. FREE daily newsletter.
Magazines and Newsletters
An online magazine for small business owners.
Features interactive stories and worksheets, networking opportunities, a free area for entrepreneurs' own web sites, conference and seminar information, other resources, and specially-indexed INC. archives.
Articles, advice, and resources, including sample business plans, from The Wall Street Journal.
Using the search terms STARTUPS or BUSINESS START-UPS as keywords in the catalog will identify few of the books in the collection on this topic. Instead, try the subject headings NEW BUSINESS ENTERPRISES or SMALL BUSINESS or ENTREPRENEURSHIP.
Hundreds of magazines and journals are indexed in the following databases, which are available in many libraries:
ABI/INFORM Global keyword searching on STARTUPS will result in over 24,000 hits and will provide suggestions for narrowing your search.
In Business Source Elite, Premier, or Complete you can do a keyword search on STARTUPS or START-UPS (you will get different results with and without the hyphen) or you can use the subject heading NEW BUSINESS ENTERPRISES. There is a great deal of overlap in these results, but each search also yields unique results. As in ABI/INFORM, this index will provide suggestions to narrow your topic.
Business Assistance - Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity
Provides a variety of links and information on establishing and growing a business.
A portal providing links to government resources, forms, and guides for business.
Information for Small Businesses (SEC)
Provides detailed information about small business and the SEC, government initiatives of interest to small business, and government news.
Small Business Administration
Provides links to many excellent resources on all aspects of starting and operating a small business.
Office of Technology
Provides information on the Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer Research Program (STTR). Also provides a proposal preparation handbook; a frequently asked questions section; solicitations and successful proposals; awards; conferences; the Commercialization Matching System (CMS); management and financial assistance; and investor opportunities (Office of Advocacy ACE-Net).
Office of Women's Business Ownership
Provides links to such resources as the Online Women's Business Center.
Small Business Investment Division
This page provides a directory of SBICs (Small Business Investment Companies) licensed by state, regulatory information, valuation guidelines, SBIC financing statistics, and the Small Business Investment Act of 1958 as amended.
Small Business Planner
An online guide with links to supporting resources.
U.S. House of Representatives: Small Business Committee
United States Senate: Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship
Hearings, press releases, publications, and other resources from the congressional committees.
About.com: Business & Finance
A directory for information and articles on all aspects of business.
Articles and Resources - Small and Home-Based Business Links
Information and articles from Merchantos, a business software company.
BizFilings Learning Center
Provides information on business incorporation topics.
A wide ranging source of information on small business from Entrepreneur Magazine.
The Entrepreneur's Help Page
Tannedfeet.com provides business, financial, and legal advice for those planning to start a new business.
For entrepreneurs starting a business. Supported by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership.
KU Small Business Development Center
Information includes a description of services: one-on-one consulting, seminars and workshops, special events, a resource library, and links to Web resources.
Provides full text "how to" articles on various aspects of small business start-up and management.
Nolo: Business & Human Resources
Nolo, a publisher of legal books and forms, also offers articles on starting a business, ownership structures, and more at its Web site.
The Small & Home Based Business Library
Collection of informational essays and articles on all aspects of small business from BizOffice.com.
Small Business Advancement National Center
From the Universtiy of Central Arkansas - provides a wealth of information on small business.
Small Business Advisor
Provides links and data on a wide array of topics related to small business.
Small Business and Entrepreneurship
A guide to resources from Rutgers University Libraries.
Provides links to a wide variety of resources.
Yahoo! Small Business
The resources section provides information concerning start-ups and the various business functions.
Yahoo's Small Business Information Services
Lists and provides links to small business resources, including business opportunities, education, organizations, publications, financing, directories and more.
ChooseWhat has a business checklist that provides 22 main steps to starting your business. It is a good combination of simplicity and thoroughness and is well worth reviewing.