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Central & Western Massachusetts and Northeastern Connecticut
National Small Business Week: Free Online Resources for Entrepreneurs
June 03, 2010
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More than 27 million small businesses serve as the backbone of our economy and provide 60-80 percent of new jobs. In the midst of the recession, many small business owners are struggling to stay in business. As part of National Small Business Week, Better Business Bureau wants small business owners to know that they’re not alone. Following are free resources available online from your BBB and federal agencies for small business owners to help them stay afloat in a tough economy.

BBB Data Security – Made Simpler
BBB partnered with data security experts at Symantec Corporation, Visa Inc., Kroll’s Fraud Solutions and NACHA – The Electronic Payments Associationto produce free, easy-to-understand data security guidelines, with checklists and links to data security resources that make sense for small businesses.  BBB’s Data Security – Made Simpler arms small business owners with the information they need to protect their customers…and their business. www.bbb.org/data-security/

BBB TrustBrief
The BBB TrustBrief is a free weekly email for small business owners to help them stay on top of the recent headlines and get the best guidance and expert advice on running a business. You can sign up for a free subscription at www.smartbrief.org/bbb

BBB Tips on Direct Selling
BBB and the Direct Selling Education Foundation have created a series of articles, videos and PSAs to educate direct sellers, their customers and even those considering a career path in direct selling. Free tips and advice you can trust on direct selling are available at www.bbb.org/us/dsef-tips

Business.gov
Business.gov is the U.S. Government's official website for small businesses.  Business.gov provides small business owners with information and resources they need to comply with laws and regulations, and to take advantage of government programs and services to help them start, expand and run their businesses.  http://www.business.gov/

Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
Wondering what kind of proof you need to back up the claims in your ads?  Planning on using email to publicize your company?  Thinking about buying a franchise or business opportunity?  Concerned about your legal obligation to keep information secure?  The FTC has free resources on best practices for complying with the law, many of which you can order in bulk for your employees at no charge.  Written with a minimum of legalese, the FTC offers online tutorials, videos, and more than 100 to-the-point publications created with the small business owner in mind:  http://ftc.gov/bcp/business.shtm

US Small Business Administration (SBA) Small Business Training Network
A virtual campus housing free training courses, workshops and knowledge resources designed to assist entrepreneurs and other students of enterprise. The Training Network makes SBA's business management resources available 24/7. http://www.sba.gov/training/

SCORE
SCORE is a unique federal government resource that utilizes volunteers, both working and retired, with expertise to advise small businesses, lead business seminars, and coach entrepreneurs online. A resource partner of the SBA for more than 40 years, SCORE has helped more than 7 million businesses succeed and stay active in the local and national small business marketplace. http://www.score.org

Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs)
SBDCs provide management assistance to current and prospective small business owners. SBDCs offer one-stop assistance to individuals and small businesses by providing a variety of information and guidance in central and accessible branch locations. The program is a cooperative effort of the private sector, the educational community and federal, state and local governments. http://www.sba.gov/sbdc/aboutus.html

The National Women's Business Council (NWBC)
The NWBC is a bi-partisan federal advisory council created to serve as an independent source of advice and policy recommendations to the President, Congress and the SBA on economic issues of importance to women business owners. The council's mission is to promote bold initiatives, policies and programs designed to support woman business enterprises at all stages of development in the public and private sector. http://www.nwbc.gov

U.S. Export Assistance Centers (USEACs)
USEACs provide export information and development assistance to help small businesses take advantage of export markets, including trade counseling, training, legal assistance and publications.
http://www.sba.gov/oit/export/useac.html

More advice for small business owners can be found online from the Better Business Bureau at http://www.bbb.org/us/Business-Resources/