Small Business Resources On The Internet, Part 1

Smaller Web sites have been able to distinguish themselves from larger ones.

By Erik J. Heels

First published 7/7/1998; LegalResearcher.com; publisher: New York Law Publishing Company

The Web is becoming less Web-like every day. Remember how everybody’s personal home pages used to have a list of their favorite links? These are starting to disappear as people increasingly rely on directories and search engines (or “portals” as some have decided they should be called) such as Yahoo, AltaVista, FindLaw, and the like.

But as readers of LegalResearcher.com know, while these mega sites are always a helpful starting point, they cannot cover a particular area as thoroughly as a separate site dedicated to that area.

Which means there is still plenty of room for any law-related organization to set up shop on the Web and create a resource dedicated to a particular legal topic or practice area. This is how smaller Web sites have been able to distinguish themselves from larger ones. It is also how small business distinguish themselves from chain stores. Which is why the business of small business is thriving today. And which is why I’ve chosen to review small business law resources for this issue.

Case in point. When Rick Klau and I formed Red Street Consulting, we had to make many choices about the business, from its physical and/or virtual location, to its legal form. For many of these decisions, we turned to the Web to research our options.

Choosing a name.

Naming anything is difficult – children, companies, products, Web sites, you name it (no pun intended). We had some very simple requirements for the name of our business. First, the name had to be memorable. Second, there had to be a corresponding available domain name. Third, the name should be unique (i.e. not in use by anyone else).

So, for example, searching AltaVista for “green street” turns up over 15,000 pages, which means that there are probably lots of streets named “Green St.” out there. An AltaVista search of “red street” on the other hand, turns up about 500 pages, most of which are references to our business – – the number was next to zero when we first did the search.

Before we decided on the name “Red Street Consulting,” we tried several Web-based random name generators. Web sites such as the Random Name Generator (http://www2.aros.net/~jseeley/randname.html) are designed to produce lists of pseudo words based on vowel/consonant rules. We also looked as password generators (http://www.lilli.com/gpw.html), anagram generators (http://mmm.mbhs.edu/~bconnell/anagrams.html), and baby name generators (http://www.jellinek.com/baby/) to try to pick a name. But our favorite resource is the random band name generator (http://www.yahoo.com/Entertainment/Music/Band_Naming/Random_Name_Generators/), although few of the generated names would make (for us at least) good company names!

Helpful sites for all.

There are several useful small business law sites on the Web from the usual suspects. These include Court TV’s Small Business Law Center (http://www.courttv.com/legalhelp/business/sites.html), Lycos’s Small Business Guide (http://www.lycos.com/resources/smallbiz/0405000.html), the Mining Company’s Small Business Management links (http://management.tqn.com/msubs.htm), and Nolo Press’s small business pages (http://www.nolopress.com/ChunkSB/SB.index.html). Of these, Nolo Press’s is the most in depth.

Then there are those that you may not have considered (the unusual suspects?).

Small Business Taxes & Management (http://www.smbiz.com/) is a semimonthly publication of tax issues affecting small businesses. Topics covered include when you can deduct automobile expenses, planning to avoid capital gains taxes, and the advantages and disadvantages of working at home.

A similar site (and from a company you have probably heard of) is Quicken’s Small Business Tax Guide (http://www.intuit.com/turbotax/taxcenter/ttbill1.html), which contains a wide variety of tax tips on such subject as home office issue, tax traps to avoid, and self-employment taxes.

The U.S. Department of Labor elaws page (http://gatekeeper.dol.gov/elaws/) provides a helpful information for small businesses on how to comply with various federal employment laws. Resources include the Family and Medical Leave Act Advisor, the Fire Safety Advisor, and the Small Business Retirement Savings Advisor.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (http://www.sbaonline.sba.gov/) is also an excellent starting point for those considering starting, financing, or expanding a small business.

MoneyHunter (http://www.moneyhunter.com/) is the online companion to MoneyHunt TV. It contains a great deal of information for entrepreneurs interested in raising money to start or grow a business. And after you’ve perused the site for the free resources offered there, you can sign up to have the MoneyHunter team review your business plan (http://www.moneyhunter.com/htm/analysts.htm).

Success Magazine’s “Electronic Guide for the Entrepreneur” (http://www.successmagazine.com/thesource.html#9) has a helpful section on small business laws and taxes.

And a book that has been well received on the topic is “The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Business Law” (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ISBN%3D0314223169/).

So if you’re thinking of starting a small business – or if you’re advising a client who is – check out what the Web has to offer. You’ll be pleasantly surprised with the wide variety of useful information that’s out there.

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