5 Important Websites for Small Business Owners

Lets face it. There are thousands of websites vying for the attention of small business owners these days. These websites may offer things like newsletters, training packages and marketing techniques, but many great sites can be overlooked simply due to the sheer volume of content available.  These five websites, some new and others established, offer the essential tools and networking opportunities that small business owners need to succeed.

1. Small Business Bonfire
Small Business Bonfire is a community of small business owners who gather virtually to discuss business issues and network with fellow business owners.  The site, which recently migrated to a new platform, provides members with a social networking platform where users can connect with each other VIA their pages, chatting, in forums, or in groups.  In addition, users can access business tools, newsletters, blogs and a virtual library.  Membership at SBB is growing daily. This is a site not to be missed!

2. Entrepreneur
Entrepreneur, which started and still exists in magazine format, is a website packed with resources for small business owners.  It covers such topics as start-ups, money, marketing, etc.  It offers articles and blogs on practically every business related idea, including software and apps, social media and finding prospects.  They also offer special reports, a magazine subscription, and several hundred published books.

3. U.S. Small Business Administration
If you’re in the U.S., the SBA is a critical resource for finding answers related to creating and growing a business.  Looking for a business loan?  Check out SBA Loan programs.  Have questions about taxes? Don’t forget to look through the online fact sheets.  The SBA also provides online training on such topics as starting a business, contracting, and managing a business.

4. SCORE
Score is an organization that provides personal mentoring to small business owners.  Local chapters can match you with a mentor that will assist you in building the best business possible.  Score also provides local and online workshops, as well as templates and tools to help your company move forward.

5. Linkedin
Linkedin might be a well known site, but it should not be overlooked as a valuable networking tool for small business owners.  It is the largest professional network in the world, allowing users to connect with colleagues, join industry groups, follow companies, and search for job opportunities. With over 135 Million members, it has the potential to help you find an entirely new base of clients.

Kate Rose holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy and a minor in comparative religious studies. She has over a decade of writing and editing experience. Kate’s latest endeavor is Eolas Office Solutions, which provides off-site administrative writing, research and administrative assistance to small businesses.

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Tags: small business, small business help

Comment by Dina Eisenberg on January 4, 2012 at 6:42am

Great article, Kate.  You know, I'd add Amex Open to the list.  Lots of good content from SMB that's easy to search, whether you're doing market research or looking for solutions.

Comment by Kate Rose on January 4, 2012 at 8:34am

Thanks for the comment Dina!  I actually considered Amex Open, but with only 5 sites listed, I had to make some cuts.  Next time, I should review 10 sites. :-)

Comment by Francesca StaAna on January 4, 2012 at 3:11pm

I agree with Dina, this is a great list. I haven't heard of SCORE yet, so I'll definitely check it out after this. Aside from AmexOPEN, I think Inc.com is also an awesome site for small biz owners. :)

Comment by Kate Rose on January 4, 2012 at 3:24pm

Thanks for the comment Francesca.  Inc.com is a good one too. I'm going to rework this post eventually to TEN important websites.  Keep the ideas coming!

Comment by Dina Eisenberg on January 4, 2012 at 6:56pm

Francesca, thanks.  Definitely check out your local SCORE office as well.  Typically, the offer free training on topics really useful to startups like business planning or how to prepare to get a bank loan. 

Best of all, you can meet with one of their couselors, usually retired local businesspeople, for free.  When I lived in Boston and launched my wedding entrepreneur coaching site I spoke with someone who had run a bridal salon as part of my market research.

Kate, you're a selective woman and I like that ;)

Comment by Kate Rose on January 4, 2012 at 9:17pm

Dina, thanks for your comments! What do you think? Are there other sites I should have included as well as or instead of these? Let me know!

Comment by Peter Alberti on January 18, 2012 at 10:10am

Hm - I'm surprised you picked SCORE over AmEx Open or Manta.com.  Perhaps they've improved over the years but when I first checked them out for my first "real" business in 1996, they were a bit stodgy.  Not to say that what they do isn't generous and, in some cases, helpful.  But there are quite a few modern business communities out there and I wouldn't have guessed they'd be in the Top 5.

Comment by Kate Rose on January 21, 2012 at 9:00am

Hi Peter, sorry I didn't respond sooner... I've been tied up with a client all week.  It was a tough choice on what sites to include!  Thanks for your input. I'm hoping to expand this post soon, and would like to include more sites.  However, I didn't name the post "Top 5," but rather "5 Important" because lists like these are quite subjective.

Thanks for your comments!

Comment by Carol M. Aldridge on February 8, 2012 at 7:18pm

Hi Kate. This is a great post. I use all of these websites regularly except SCORE. I've been planning to contact my local Chapter to see what they have to offer, and hope to soon. One addition that comes to mind would be Hubspot. They offer a wealth of information on marketing and it's all very easy to grasp and incredibly useful. I would definitely put it near the top of my list of most useful business websites.  

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