Small Business Resources

As an entrepreneur, I know how difficult it is when you need help but don’t know where to turn or who to trust for advice.  Here’s the SocialMediaOnlineClasses.com Small Business Resource Guide, a primer on the big issues facing business owners and where to turn for help.  Bookmark this page so you can return to it when you need help. I’ve collected the resources I’ve used and wished I knew about when I started my own business.  Good luck!

Choosing a Web Hosting Company

SMB Guide:  How to Choose a Good Web Host Provider

Guide to Building a Small Business Website Using WordPress:  How to Select Hosting

Inc.’s Guide to The Perfect Host

Here’s my story in hopes it will help you:

I now have five total websites, and they’re all hosted with the original web host I chose from day one.  We’ve been through a lot together, and I’m grateful for all of their help.  Why did I choose this particular web host and how have they helped me?

  • They were recommended by WordPress as a blog hosting company that works well with their blog tool
  • They offer a 5-minute WordPress installation
  • They have online help when I get stuck, including videos
  • They have live, English-speaking technical support staff available 24/7, so when I’m really in a bind I get can answers
  • They helped me figure out how one of my websites was hacked into AND they fixed the problem for no charge! (A web developer I had hired to add a shopping cart to my site had used shoddy techniques and left my site open to hackers.  Ugh!)
  • They’re affordable, have never had a service outage, which makes my business available 24/7

Who are they?  Bluehost.com, and I’ve been with them for over five years and counting.

Website Design

Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can use a Facebook page as your main website.  Give your business credibility by having a well-designed website, the 21st century version of an online business card.  If people can’t find you on the web, you’re losing business, period.

Inc.’s How to Design the Best Website for Your Business

5 Steps to Building a Business Web Site that is Social, Content-Rich, and Makes you Money from SBA.gov

10 Tips to Make Your Business Website Rock

Technology on a Budget

How can you keep costs down while still getting the technology you need to run your business?  Open source software, cloud computing, and staying lean.  Great articles here.

Ultralight Versus Lean Startups

13 Terrific Cloud Services for Small Business

50 Must-Have Small Business Apps for iPhone and iPad

Getting Funded and Getting Paid

Many mega-banks and small community banks are backing away from small business lending, but loans are still out there to be had.  It can be tough to navigate the maze of SBA resources, but it’s worth it.  I secured an SBA loan for the second printing of my book after my community bank turned me down, but it wasn’t easy.  It took six months of solid determination, filling out massive amounts of paperwork, and constant follow-up calls.  Here’s where to go for help.

Search for Business Loans, Grants, and Financing at SBA.gov

5 Tips for Not Getting Ripped Off by a Credit Card Processor

Indie GoGo (create a campaign to fund your small business and use social media to spread the word.  You keep all funds you generate)

Kickstarter (tagline:  A new way to fund and follow creativity.  Similar to IndieGoGo, but you keep the funding only if you meet your goal.)

Marketing

Promoting your business can be a full time job, and keeping up with the latest social media tools is nearly impossible.  Here’s how to stay ahead of your competition and market efficiently.

Social Media Crash Course

6 Elements of Your Social Media Strategy

Entrepreneur Guide to Sales and Marketing

Wall Street Journal’s Small Business Marketing News

Government Resources for Small Business

The U.S. government is serious about providing assistance to entrepreneurs.  Know why?  Because small businesses pay taxes, and more profitable you are, the more taxes you pay.  That’s a good thing. Don’t complain about paying taxes:  that means your business is doing well, and you probably got there with the help of the SBA, SCORE, or other government agency.  If you’re not there yet, or need help in getting there, here’s where to start:

Small Business Administration website: SBA.gov

Small Business Development Centers. These university/college-based offices partner with the SBA to provide educational services to aspiring and growing small business owners.  Their budget is far greater than SCORE’s and provides more services.  I was made aware of SBDCs by my SCORE mentor, who actually recommended their educational programs.  He said they have much bigger budgets and more resources than SCORE.  SBDCs exist in all 50 states, and if I can find one in a rural mountainous area, you can too!

SCORE website. SCORE offers excellent mentors and counseling.  My own SCORE mentor guided me through the process of getting an SBA loan.  Definitely take advantage of the leadership here.

Lastly, check out my growing list of online courses to help you get started with your entrepreneurial venture.  Classes are instructor-led, on your own schedule, and I’m available to answer your questions when you get stuck.  Look forward to seeing you in class!

Top Ten Reasons to Choose Us:

  1. Take classes on your schedule, 24/7, on the road, at home, or at work.
  2. Our classes are affordable.  You can take all of our courses for the price of just one at our competitors.
  3. Find the most up-to-date content all in one place. Don’t waste hours trying to find what’s current now.  Social networks change so often even their own online help is outdated.
  4. Get answers to your questions. We offer office hours and we’re online, in classrooms, everyday.  Our instructors are here to help you.
  5. Assignments build your skills as you learn. One webinar does not make a training course. We offer a well-rounded curriculum including written lessons, video tutorials, and assignments.
  6. Take courses from teachers who aren’t geeks. We’re real people with our own small businesses.  Often the technical experts are not the best people to teach others how to do what they do.  We are!
  7. No hard sell. We want you to learn and be successful.  We don’t like overly aggressive sites that won’t give you anything until you hand over your email address.
  8. Individual consulting or courses: choose your best fit. We offer online courses, individual consulting, and a combination of both.  Your business is unique and your training needs are too.
  9. Most experience of any online training site. Maria Peagler, founder of SocialMediaOnlineClasses.com, has been a technology trainer since the introduction of the personal computer in the 1980’s.  She specializes in making complex topics simple and easy!
  10. We’re business owners just like you. All of our instructors are small business owners wearing many hats just like you do.  No thought leaders here: just solid courses from people who have done it themselves.

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