USEFUL SITES

SMALL BUSINESS LINKS

Internet.com Has plenty of links to other helpful websites, and Cyberatlas, a collection of global internet demographics and statistics.
IT won't byte A site for sceptics. Speedy and uncluttered, this Business Link site is good value (once you get past the opening page questionnaire). E-business benefits are very clearly set out - from "relationship marketing" to improving supplier relationships - with case studies for each. The index of useful organisations includes telephone numbers as well as e-mail addresses, for instance, and the list of helpful publications are divided into free and paid-for.
whatis?com One of the best places to start for the complete novice. This compendious US site contains a glossary of technical terms "from Accelerated Graphics Port to XQL", common-sense chapters on creating a website and e-commerce strategy and links to expert sites where free queries can be e-mailed.
 

Commercial and trade associations

AskAlex UK business database.
The British Chambers
of Commerce
The website for the British Chambers of Commerce lacks dedicated e-editorial. However it does include the Chambering initiative, a joint venture with the Post Office to offer a digital certification service. Worth investigating.
BTclick BTís portal for its small business customers. This is for the company's SME subscribers and therefore requires registration and a monthly subscription payment.
Business Bureau (UK) This is provided by a private company, Advanced Internet Services. Not terribly big, it includes advice on e-commerce training and online booking, a link-adding facility and promotion for web designers targeting SMEs. Features testimonials from Warrington Chamber of Commerce and Lancashire Police among others.
Business Link Basically an information-only website, the usefulness of which largely depends on your experience and view of Business Link itself. Use it to find out where your nearest Business Link is and the range of services available. There are also discussion groups and bulletin boards. Unfortunately, however, there is little actual help.
Clearlybusiness The small business channel of Freeserve in alliance with Barclays Bank. Advice on entrepreneurialism, business plans and employee management. One useful differentiator is an application for online business forms.
Marketing UK Check the effectiveness of your marketing.
Mondus Small-business website for buying business supplies.
Sage Well-established UK software company, now providing many of its successful programmes as internet modules.
UK plc Combines web design and e-commerce services with extensive directory of UK businesses.
Virginbiz The Virgin groupís portal concentrates on small businesses and ranges from free downloadable guides on e-commerce to complete online sign-up for shrink-wrapped e-commerce packages. There is also an online self-assessment test for companies.

Government

SBS The official site of the Small Business Service (SBS). The SBS, a new agency, promotes itself as the voice of small traders and, refreshingly, users are encouraged to criticise the site and make demands on the home page. The sections vary in quality and detail. There are interesting case studies and no-nonsense descriptions of the aims of e-business, although there could be more extensive links to other sites. The design is uncluttered and fast, although the drop-down menus are not as easy to use as they should be. Also, the day I visited the site, it refused to print out any of the case studies.
UK Department of
Trade & Industry
Essentially brochure-ware for the government, but some useful links onwards and a round-up of government policies towards SMEs.
Small business advice The National Federation of Enterprise Agencies and NatWest have teamed up to provide this site. The backgrounder on e-business is fairly typical, but there is a useful facility allowing queries to be e-mailed to one of 250 local enterprise agency advisers

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(c) Compiled by B V Wood.