The number of websites dedicated to helping entrepreneurs is incredible: there are always new sites, to the point that it can be hard to keep track of them. However, I have a few favorites. There are some tools I absolutely rely on for everything from marketing to billing, some blogs I read constantly and a few resource sites that I consult for all sorts of small business issues.
If you are an entrepreneur of any kind, it doesn’t particularly matter where you are in the process. Whether you’re just starting out freelancing in your spare time or you have a thriving business and you’re looking to expand, there are always new resources that can help you along in the entrepreneurial process. These sites are a great starting point: they’re all good resources and you may not have explored all of them.
- Startup Nation: Startup Nation offers entrepreneurial advice from a whole slew of people who have been there and done that — and have the business to prove it. The site has advice on just about every aspect of creating and running a startup.
- IttyBiz: This site is an especially valuable resource if you’re looking to start an online business, but it’s got tons of great information on marketing in general.
- Lateral Action: For creative types, like graphic designers, writers and such, there are some special challenges that come with running your own business. Laterlal Action offers up advice specially targeted to those fields.
- Freelance Switch: FreelanceSwitch has all things freelance — business advice, ideas for staying productive and far more. Even though the title says ‘freelance,’ there’s plenty of good information for anyone running their own business.
- Escape from Cubicle Nation: Leaving a cubicle in favor of starting your own business isn’t easy, but this blog helps support such escapees.
- Young Entrepreneur: Young Entrepreneur focuses on the challenges that younger entrepreneurs face when they start business. It’s also got some great profiles of young entrepreneurs.
- Small Business Labs: It isn’t easy to predict the trends that will affect small business, but Small Business Labs goes the extra mile to help entrepreneurs figure out what’s coming next.
- Basecamp: There’s a reason that Basecamp and 37signals other tools are so popular — they work better than a lot of the other options. Basecamp is the company’s project management tool. 37signals also offer Highrise (CRM) and a few other great tools.
- Blinksale: There are quite a few online options for invoicing. Blinksale is one of the most recommended options, in part because it works well with other tools like PayPal and Basecamp.
- Skype: Skype is a popular choice for making phone calls online, but it has a lot of bells and whistles (like video conferencing) that make it a far more useful tool for a small business than you might expect.
- LinkedIn: LinkedIn has come in handy for me many times. It’s an easy way to find contacts for a wide variety of purposes, as well as get answers and advice on all sorts of business topics.
- Zoho: For a full suite of business tools, including CRM, invoicing, project management and databases, check out Zoho. All of the tools have at least some level of free use, perfect for an entrepreneur bootstrapping a business.
- RocketLawyer: If you aren’t sure where to start with the legalities of running your own business, RocketLawyer provides free forms as well as help with all sorts of legal documents.
- Google Docs: At least when you’re starting out, Google can be the easiest way to share documents, manage your business’ calendar and far more. It may not be a long term solution, but it can help you get started without spending a ton of money.
- SBA: The U.S. Small Business Administration is a treasure trove of information for entrepreneurs. In general, the SBA’s focus is helping entrepreneurs create long-lived small businesses, but there are also some great resources for folks further along in the process. If you aren’t in the U.S., there’s still some valuable information on the site — and you may find a similar agency where you’re living.
- SCORE: If you find yourself in need of mentoring from an entrepreneur who’s already been through it all, SCORE can help you find a mentor. The organization is an amazing source of free business advice.
- Freelancers Union: The Freelancers Union offers a long list of resources for freelancers — and the Union’s definition includes a pretty wide variety of entrepreneurs as freelancers. Among the information you can find on this site is health insurance options that don’t require quite the expense of other non-employer options.
- Entrepreneur: For a huge collection of information on starting and running your own business, start with Entrepreneur. The company behind the site also runs Women Entrepreneur — a good resource for women looking at entrepreneurship.
- BusinessWeek Small Business: Business Week has been a solid source of business information for years. The magazine’s small business site is an equally solid resource.
- About.com Entrepreneurs: About.com offers a regularly updated resource on entrepreneurship. It’s got links to all sorts of other resources, both on About.com and elsewhere on the internet.
- Entrepreneurship.org: The Entrepreneurship.org site is run by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation to provide global resources for entrepreneurs.
These sites are only a starting point, of course. They’re the resources I use myself — and I know there are thousands out there I haven’t seen yet. If you’ve got any resources that you’d like to recommend to entrepreneurs, I’d appreciate it if you would share your links in the comments.