SMALL OFFICE / HOME OFFICE
GET YOUR BUSINESS OFF THE GROUND
Known as “The Official Business Link to the U.S. Government,” this site is a virtual one-stop shop for information on running a small business. Operated by the Small Business Administration, this Smart Stop offers guides on starting and managing a business, government contracting, taxes and a host of other topics. There’s also a helpful tool to determine what types of federal, state and local licenses and permits are needed for a variety of businesses, along with contact information for the appropriate agencies. There’s even a separate section filled with information tailored for home-based businesses, which the SBA says account for more than half of U.S. businesses.
FEEL RIGHT AT HOME
This blog offers commentary and advice for people who work out of their homes. Recent postings included advice on feeling secure in an insecure economy, a video review of telephone headsets, and an alert about “business opportunity” scams. The site also looks at how to avoid the isolation of working from home by co-working, or sharing space with a group of other self- employed professionals. Postings can be viewed by subject, such as “Business Ideas” or “Financing.”
MAKE YOUR SMALL BUSINESS WORK
This Smart Stop offers articles and weekly columns for the small business owner. It features a “Business Guide” with dozens of how-to articles offering advice on everything from writing a press release to analyzing profitability. Other articles are grouped into topics including “Starting Your Business,” “Managing Your Money” and “Government Resources.” The site licenses content from providers such as Commerce Clearing House, the Edward Lowe Foundation and the Kauffman Foundation. You can also sign up to receive a free monthly e-newsletter.
GET A CREDIT CLUE
Way more fun than a lecture, the U.S. Treasury’s interactive site features The Bad Credit Hotel game, which provides information on keeping up a good credit score. The premise is to solve a mystery in a creepy hotel, with the goal of racking up enough credit tips to get to room 850—the perfect credit score—and unlock bonus information. Along the way, you collect clues on debt management, credit history and credit cards by clicking through to different rooms and clicking on key objects in each room. After collecting enough clues, players get to enjoy the secret perks found in room 850.
IT TAKES ONE TO KNOW ONE
Who knows fraud better than a fraudster? Sam E. Antar, former Crazy Eddie Inc. CFO and convicted felon, shares his views and advice on white collar crime, securities fraud, internal controls, Sarbanes-Oxley and more on his blog. The introduction states, “The well-educated, skilled, and experienced accountant is the first line of defense for the capitalist system.” And, toward that end, Antar points out inconsistencies in companies, organizations and governments, offers how-tos on detecting fraud, and muses on wrongdoings. You can browse by the most popular posts, learn more about the Crazy Eddie fraud scheme, check out fraud facts, and find related blogs in his list of links.
YOU DESERVE A BREAK
If you’re looking to kill some time while waiting for a flight or an appointment and have some accounting-related fun at the same time, this Smart Stop is for you. This site offers more than 50 crossword puzzles covering topics such as “Cash Flow Statement,” “Bank Reconciliation” and many others.
KEEP THE CUSTOMER SATISFIED
Drawing and keeping customers is the lifeblood of any business, especially in today’s tenuous environment. This Smart Stop provides practical information on how companies and employees can serve customers and potentially increase the bottom line. More than 1,000 articles are available on topics that include communication, anger management and negotiations. Join an online discussion group to share your expertise with others and to gain more insight. The site also links to www.work911.com, which includes free videos, book excerpts and more that focus on improving your communication skills.