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Reviews of some popular small business resources

Having a small business of your own is hard enough to keep track since you have many hats to fill in such as doing your own accounting and marketing your business to everyone. But then, there are people who are currently working as a employee and would love to get into their own business but have no idea on how to start one up as well as information that they are looking for. There are some online resources that anyone can read up on in order to get educated about having your own small business whether it is at home or not.

1. SBA (Small Business Administration) A company that are all over the United States that helps small business owners with funding and any other areas that they need help with such as marketing and tax purposes. Everyone who owns their own small business knows about this company since they have been around.

2. SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) Some of these volunteers were once business owners and they give out some free materials on how to get started as well as funding which is basically what SBA also offers. But the thing with this is that they also have classes that you can take which does costs money. The alternative is to book a appointment to meet up with one where it is free and you get away with some free materials in the process.

3. SBRN (Small Business Resource Network) You would be able to subscribe to the newsletters in order to get tips and tricks about starting your own business and listings about other businesses to get into or just to contact. You have the option to ask questions about small business at the site for free. They even state that they created over 3,000 jobs. Worth checking out even if someone you know needs one.

4. Biznik A social networking site which you can network in person. The purpose is to get together with other small business owners in the local area and they are in big cities such as Seattle, San Diego, Los Angeles and Austin for a few examples. Some of these small business owners also have articles that anyone can read about for small business purposes. They always have some events going on in each city and if you love to meet other people that owns one, it is a good way to try to get customers as well. You never know whom you will meet in person if you attend one of them. The company was started by a Seattle couple and have been widespread ever since then.

5. All Business They have different articles which ranges from starting your own to franchising and selling your business. There are even articles about women that are going back to the workforce as well as women and minorities that are business owners.

6. Ladies Who Launch A site that is dedicated to women business owners that wants to get together and celebrate the idea that as a women we can be business owners. If you are one, then it’s a great way to network with other ladies whom you might want to have as your mentor or get some advice about different topics. You can register and get started on networking. There is the webinar, classifieds, and directory sections.

7. Accion USA A company that loans small business funds to women and minority peopleThey even stated that over 40% of the clients are women so women are encouraged to be business owners themselves.

All of these sites should give you the motivation to go after the kind of business that you want. No matter where you are now, there are always resources that you can always check out online that could help you whether to get started, how to decide what kind of business to get into as well as finding someone in a certain field that you might be interested doing before getting into one.

Small Businesses In a Struggling Economy

It is no secret that the recent downturn of the economy has sent ripples through the business world, as well as most people’s lives. But one can argue that one of the entities hardest hit by the current economic climate is small business sector. Often referred to as the epitome of the American dream, and perhaps the key building block of the business world, small businesses have been endangered by the faltering economy, leaving many wondering just how much damage small businesses around the country are enduring and what, if anything can be done to help their survival.

Small businesses are one of the most important sources of innovation and new jobs. A start up business requires someone to have the job of maintaining it, running it, and performing day to day duties. Depending on the nature of the business, this could range from a few new jobs to hundreds. With personnel in place, the business can operate and grow, raising their revenue, which will allow for expansion of the business, an act which in turn requires more jobs.

The economic downturn has at the best restricted progress small businesses and at worst caused them to close down. While the effects vary, one thing remains for sure: without the growth and prosperity of small businesses, the chances of the economy surging again are not good.

Most small business owners have found their own methods of coping with the economy. As the cost of doing business have gone up, many have had to decrease expectations of profit intake, while at the same time trying to “trim the fat” in order to deal with rising energy costs. Another risky, but sometimes crucial move is the raising of prices on the products or services distributed by the business. Raising the prices could turn away potential customers, arguably the worst fate that a struggling small business may face, but at times, a necessary evil in order to keep the business afloat and alive, awaiting an economic upturn.

Small business owners would potentially need to increase their hours, especially those in the retail sector. This strategy would allow more customers to have an opportunity to visit the business and increases the chances of more potential revenue. However, this brings with some difficult aspects. The longer the hours are, the greater the utility bills become. Therefore the owners find themselves evaluating the pros and cons of keeping extended hours, by weighing the potential revenue intake against the rising costs of doing so.

An especially struggling business will be forced to reduce their workforce in order sustain their ability to stay open. This of course, is of no help to a struggling economy, as this adds to an already increasing unemployment rate. The cutting of health care benefits available to employees is another approach small business may be forced to take. Next to lay offs of personnel, this is arguably the toughest decision an owner can make as it drastically affects the financial livelihood of the business’s employees. While the coverage may not necessarily be completely stripped away, a cheaper alternative may be sought, which may prove to be insufficient for the employees who are put in the difficult position of considering the few options they have. They will either risk receiving minimal, or no coverage, or be forced to seek opportunities from other employers who may not be cutting benefits. This hurts the business they currently work for, but that’s what makes cutting benefits a greater risk than reward situation.

Most owners are also forced to reduce investments in the future of the business. This can also be a risky move as there is a lot of potential risk involved for the future survival of the business.

Most small business owners try to diversify their business, and look for new, more affordable ways to promote their business’s name. They also try very hard to build up a good brand name in order to acquire new consumers and retain loyal ones. Risk plays a big factor in their survival as well, as some owners are willing to take a financial risk now, in hopes of a soon improved economy, which should pay off in the long run.

Owners will also look to the government for some assistance in the form of tax credits and help in the realm of health benefits. With the necessary help, small business owners will have some additional leverage that should allow them to channel their financial assets and investments more easily and help in securing employment for the business’s staff.

Four Great Green Business Ideas

We all want to leave our world a better place for our children and grandchildren. What better way than to develop a green business around an idea that reduces, reuses, or recycles? These four great green business ideas will get you thinking about how you can create a sustainable green business that will support you and your family, and ensure that you’re improving your bit of Mother Earth. Many of these ideas can be run as a freelancer and contractor. And there are communities for you to market your freelance skills or market your small business.

1. Permaculture Consulting, Design and Instruction

According to wikipedia, “Permaculture is an approach to designing human settlements and agricultural systems that mimic the relationships found in natural ecologies.”

A certified Permaculture Designer will design and integrate holistic home, business and landscaping systems so that the entire setting becomes a self sustaining closed ecology, with the permaculturist taking into account all inhabitants, both human and otherwise. Permaculture designers look at all interconnected aspects of a site, and then weave all the parts into a harmonious whole, with each part helping to support and sustain the other parts. This includes, but is not limited to, natural habitat and indigenous flora and fauna, plant and animal synergies and dependencies, water use and conservation which includes rain runoff and graywater recovery and usage systems, alternative clean energy sources, alternative sustainable building methods, food production, composting and other waste disposal, and weather cycles.

Permaculture is not limited to country or suburban settings, but can also be integrated into urban areas via green roofs, community green areas, composting systems, integration of bird and bee habitat, and other activities.

Permaculturists can work alongside LEED certified Architects, Landscape Designers, Wastewater Reclamation System Designers and Sustainable Building Contractors, to pull disparate parts of a whole into an integrated and well functioning ecology. This will work especially well when integrated into the Transition Towns Initiative. Certified Permaculturists can also teach various aspects of Permaculture.

There are certification courses in various parts of the world, which, as of this writing, run approximately $1,200 in the US and are usually a two week course. Here are a few in the US:

Regenerative Design Institute & Permaculture Institute of Northern California

Finger Lakes Permaculture Institute, Ithaca NY

The Permaculture Project, Stelle IL

2. Wastewater and Graywater Reclamation System Design Professional

With water resources becoming increasingly scarce, designing systems for the recycling of wastewater such as storm runoff, and gray water such as washwater, for the purposes of landscaping and other non-potable usages will be increasingly important. Desalination is also becoming more cost effective and receiving much attention.

According to the National Onsite Wastewater Recycling Association (NOWRA) onsite wastewater systems provide water treatment to homes, businesses and industrial centers. Providing this service is one of the fastest growing markets within North America, Australia and Eastern Europe. These onsite systems support the existing municipal wastewater treatment infrastructure by recycling graywater and reducing the load on sewage treatment plants.

For coastal cities on the west coast of the US, where water is scarce, reuse and desalination are becoming the norm, according to the WateReuse Association.

WaterWise has instituted watersaving recommendations throughout the UK.

Those who currently work in plumbing, heating and other similar building disciplines can expand into this fast growing field and know that, as they build wastewater reclamation systems, they’re benefitting our communities by helping to reduce our tax expenditures on waste treatment, and conserving our water supplies.

3. Battery Rebuilding and Reconditioning Service

Keeping batteries, full of harmful chemicals, out of our landfills is an important endeavor, especially as the use of batteries in hybrid cars, wind generation and solar generation installations, and electronics such as computers and cellphones increases. Rebuilding and reconditioning batteries and battery packs will play an ever increasingly important part of waste recycling as long as energy storage is needed.

Rebuilding involves removing spent cells, recycling the component parts, and replacing them with new cells. Reconditioning is done various ways depending on the composition of the battery. There are some online forums and resources to learn more:

4. Edible Organic Gardening Service

With all the info in the news about our tainted food supply and the dangers of genetically modified food, an organic garden is a great idea for feeding a family better food. But with both adults working, sometimes there isn’t time to fit a garden into the picture.

Starting an organic gardening service is a low cost of entry business that, in an upscale area, could reap big rewards, both in income and in the satisfaction that you’re helping famlies to eat better food. A side service could be provided in collecting organic waste for worm composting, raising red worms, and selling the excess worms to others who wish to create worm compost bins, or to bait shops.

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