BIZTIPS - December 4, 2005

Biz Tips: Information at your fingertips
Sunday, December 4, 2005
By Art Hill

Used to be – less than ten years ago – if you needed information or advice for your business, you had only a few options. You could attend a expert’s seminar, read a book, visit a reference library, or talk with an experienced (and trusted) fellow business owner. All these options took time, and some were expensive or unavailable.

It’s still good to talk with an expert like the ones at your Small Business Development Centers. But now you can turn to the Internet for guidance, and sometimes for a complete solution. Even the experts tell you to check the Web first.

Of course, you can always “Google” almost any topic, but unless you’re really good at specifying the right search keywords, you might get a blizzard of related but useless stuff. A good reference librarian can help you search quickly and effectively. At least you’ll be able to ask smarter questions.

Here are a few Web pages you can use for targeted business information.

The Oregon Small Business Development Center Network site http://www.bizcenter.org is being completely updated for re-release in January, but even the current version has good business basics like the “BIZ TOOLS” worksheets for standard financial analysis.

Some newer sites really shine. Visit http://bizstats.com/index.asp to generate a standard financial statement for your type of business. For example, select “Retailing – Restaurants and Drinking Places” and enter your approximate annual gross revenue. Up pops a typical financial statement that includes average profitability and expenses for similar businesses across the country.

Interested in finding funding for your business? Go to http://sbdcnet.utsa.edu/SBIC/finance.htm and click on “Finding Financing for your Business.” Despite a couple of broken links, the same site also has good information on valuation of your business for sale or acquisition.

Finally, let’s look at a site that clearly and simply explains when a person can be paid as an independent contractor, and when you must hire them as an employee. Start at http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/index.html then click on the first topic, “Self Employed Individuals or Independent Contractors.” Then click on “Who is Self-Employed?” Not only will you find the IRS definition of an independent contractor, there’s even a link “employees vs. independent contractors” in the last paragraph for more detail.

Contact us at the number or e-mail address below for an updated list of useful sites. If information is important to your business and time is money, you can now have more of both – right at your fingertips.


Content © 2005 East Oregonian