The good thing about the Internet is that it makes an enormous amount of information available at your fingertips.
The bad thing about the Internet is that it makes an enormous amount of information available at your fingertips. It is like going to Wal-mart to buy toothpaste and feeling a bit overwhelmed at ALL the many different kinds and choices you have -- when all you wanted to buy was just some ordinary toothpaste!
The real question then becomes -- how can you maneuver online to find good and useful information for the purposes of starting your own business? Here are just a few suggestions...
- Trade Association websites: One of the first places to look should nearly always be a trade association website. Most industries have trade associations (i.e. National Restaurant Association) and they can be a wealth of statistics, knowledge and trends -- that can very well impact the development of your business idea. To find your trade association, simply do a google search of the words 'trade association' and whatever industry it is you are entering.
- Find websites 'close to home'. For instance, if you are looking to start a business in the state of Illinois, you might look to the Illinois guide (sponsored by the state government) that includes details specific to that state. Also, check out your local Small Business Development Center or economic development corporation. It is a good place to look for local grant and loan programs that may be of help.
- Entrepreneurship-related magazines: There are many magazines geared to entrepreneurship that have a lot of up-to-date statistics, articles and help by topic that can also be a good starting point. One of my favorites is Entrepreneur Magazine.
- Try the SBA: The U.S. Small Business Administration actually has quite a bit of good, basis information to start with. Check out their small business planner.
- Get some referrals: Pick up the phone or go talk with people to find out what websites they recommend. Word of mouth is usually a great source!
How do you sift through all the information on the web?