When you’re ready to launch a startup, the name of the game is research. You need to tap every resource you can to learn the ins and outs of business. From securing funding to marketing your business, there’s a lot to consider.
There are hundreds of resources online, but searching for worthwhile sites is time consuming and sometimes unsuccessful. So, we did the work for you.
We’ve put together a list of 34 resources that will play a role in your startup. This list is broken into categories and is meant to be a one-stop-shop for aspiring entrepreneurs.
To start your business, you’ll need a sound business plan. Now, we’ll admit—we are a little biased. But here at Bplans, we make an effort to provide entrepreneurs with the resources they need to start and run successful businesses. On Bplans, you’ll find templates, free eBooks, and articles on how to plan and start your business.
2. Business Model Generation
This website offers a downloadable worksheet called a business model canvas that helps you think through your business idea. The site also offers online courses about business models and value propositions.
3. Founders Workbench
The Founders Workbench has a variety of tools to help you get your startup off the ground. From financial calculators to startup checklists, there’s a whole host of helpful resources on the site.
4. Introduction to Operations Management
As you plan your business, you’ll also want to plan an operational strategy. You’ll learn how to be efficient, track inventory, and manage the quality of your product or service with this online course from Wharton.
5. Health Policy and the Affordable Care Act
With the new Affordable Care Act in place, you’ll need to learn how it impacts you and your future employees. This online course, offered by the University of Pennsylvania, is an eight-week course designed to educate you on the healthcare laws.
6. Edison Nation
If you need a little help with your product development and getting it on store shelves, you can check out Edison Nation. They can help with development and licensing, too.
7. U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
Is your product ready for the big time? Before you launch it, protect it with a patent. You can file all of the necessary paperwork through the website. If your business involves art, writing, or digital media, use the Copyright Office to protect your work.
Need a business mentor? Want advice from someone with startup experience? Turn to SCORE. This site connects aspiring entrepreneurs with business mentors, and you can get free advice on any hurdle that your business faces.
9. MeetUp groups
Whether you need to bounce ideas off someone, or just need to talk with other like-minded entrepreneurs, there’s a MeetUp for you. MeetUps are groups of people that get together in a local area that share an interest. For example, there’s a Business Breakfast Club in Queens, New York. Check out the site to find groups in your town.
10. Networking for Professionals
A combination of online resources and local events, this site combines the best of both the digital and in-person world.
11. U.S. Small Business Administration Loan Programs
The SBA has several loan programs for startups. Of course, there is an application process and strict requirements to qualify for the loans, but it’s worth a quick look to see if your business can benefit.
Paychex is a search engine for business loans. You simply enter your business information and the site gives you a list of lending options.
13. Business USA Finance Wizard
This site is a search engine for federal and state grants. You have to answer five multiple-choice questions about your business. Based on your answers, the site provides a list of possible grants.
There are hundreds of grants listed on the site, but a lot of them have a narrow focus. It’s worth your time to check it out, but there aren’t general “I want to start a business” grants.
14. MoneySmart for Small Businesses
As an entrepreneur, you’ll need a solid understanding of small business finances. To make sure you’re up for the challenge, check out this Business USA site. It offers ten lessons that train aspiring entrepreneurs on the basics of organizing and managing money.
15. Entrepreneurship Through the Lens of Venture Capital
This self-paced class walks you through the process of starting a business from nothing to an IPO. It’s an 11-lecture series, each of which takes about an hour to work through. It’s offered through Stanford, so you know it’s worth your time. Download the free lectures on iTunes, and you’re ready to go.
16. Small Business Tax Center
It’s inevitable—you’ll have to pay taxes. With a business, taxes are more complicated, so use the small business tax center for help.
17. Tax strategies
Inc.com has a comprehensive guide to business taxes. It answers a lot of frequently asked questions in a language you can understand.
Advertising and marketing
The go-to site to boost your digital street cred, Moz can improve your online presence. From SEO to link building, you can create an inbound marketing plan with the Moz software.
Email marketing is an affordable way to reach your customers, and MailChimp is one of the most recognizable email service providers out there. With premade email templates, easy ways to upload your contact list, and guides to help you create successful emails, you’ll have everything you need to get your messages in inboxes.
You’ll likely set up social sites for your business. When you do, use a social media management tool like Hootsuite so you can manage all of your sites and posts from one location. The site also has educational resources to teach you how to maximize your social media presence.
Need to set up a sole proprietorship or a LLC? Aren’t sure which one is right for your business? LegalZoom has guides on its website that can help you decide. Once you make the decision, you can file the proper paperwork through the site to get your business set up. The site has additional legal resources for your business, too.
22. SBA Business Laws
Before launching a business, make sure you know the laws surrounding it. From employment laws to industry-specific laws, you’ll have to comply with a lot of rules and regulations. Learn about federal and state laws on the Small Business Administration website.
Every business needs a website. If you’re ready to hang your digital shingle, but don’t have the coding credentials necessary to build a website, turn to Wix. You’ll find educational articles that outline what your website should have. When you’re ready, you can use the same site to build your business website.
Planning to sell items on your website? Use Shopify to set up an online store. You can set up your entire site with Shopify, or add shopping cart features to an existing site. The site also has a blog that’s full of tips and tricks to boost your sales.
25. How to Start a Startup
This resource is a series of videos that started out as lectures originally given at Stanford last year. The library, which offers 45-minute videos on a variety of topics, continues to grow.
26. An Introduction to Marketing
This 9-week online course will teach you all you need to know about marketing. It’s offered by Wharton, which has one of the highest ranking marketing programs in the states. Oh, and it’s free.
27. How to Make Money Online
Whether your business is solely based online, or just a portion of your revenue comes from online sales, this course can help you maximize your profits. It’s a 12-hour video course that’s free through Udemy.com.
27a. A Proper Introduction to Franchising
If you’ve always wanted to learn about franchising, The Franchise King®, Joel Libava, launched Franchise Business University and is offering this free online course.
Business news sites
28. Business Insider
A site dedicated to business news and changes.
This news-based site is the go-to spot for up-to-date startup information.
A website with business news and informative articles on various topics, including a section dedicated to startups.
31. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
The Lean Startup is a popular book for entrepreneurs. It’s full of advice to start and keep your business on the right track.
32. The Art of the Pitch by Peter Coughter
Every entrepreneur will pitch his or her business at some point. This book can help you pitch your idea to investors, partners, or lenders
33. Purple Cow by Seth Godin
Learn how to market your business in a unique way by reading Seth Godin’s book.
34. The Art of Start by Guy Kawasaki
This book – a new 2.0 version – covers a wide variety of startup topics, and talks about starting a business in today’s digital marketplace.
Have you launched a business recently? If so, what resources helped you the most? Share them with other entrepreneurs in the comment section below.