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By Karen C. Cheney
JANUARY 31, 2000


Informed Sources: Where to Go on the Web for Information

Bookmarks recommended by analysts and your peers for entrepreneurial managers

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You've got information overload? We talked to dozens of small-business owners and analysts to find out what Web sites gave them the most useful information on tricky tax questions, booking travel, and hiring.

Keeping tabs on tax laws: The online version of print magazine Small Business Taxes & Management (www.smbiz.com) has few frills. But with daily updates on pending legislation, news on recent IRS rulings, and helpful articles on documenting expenses and taking advantage of tax credits, it's certainly worth a bookmark. Another bonus: The online version is free. If it's forms you want, go directly to, the Internal Revenue's site for small businesses, www.irs.gov/bus_info/index.html. You can download the most commonly requested forms and keep track of filing deadlines by logging onto the small-business calendar.

Finding short-term workers: You've probably already turned to such well-known job-board sites as www.monster.com and www.careersite.com., where you pay a monthly fee to advertise your openings online. It's often a much cheaper and more effective alternative to running newspaper ads, many entrepreneurs say. For help with temporary projects, two other sites to consider are www.icplanet.com and www.guru.com. Both let you search for independent contractors by city and job category and, in the case of icplanet, by available dates.

Going places: If you're planning a business trip, there's no shortage of travel Web sites to help you with the task. In our book, the least-cluttered, easiest-to-use site is www.biztravel.com, run by brick-and-mortar Rosenbluth Travel. Like many of its competitors, this site lets you book hotel rooms, rental cars, and flights (and even charter planes). But it also focuses on business needs and provides crucial updates on events that could disrupt travel, such as possible airline strikes. It will also call your pager an hour before your flight with flight status, gate number, and the weather report in your destination city. If you have time, consider surfing over to The Weather Channel's www.weather.com for a five-day forecast. Then locate a comfortable cyber cafe in the city where you'll be staying at www.cybercaptive.com/cybercaptive. In December, the database held listings for more than 4,000 cyber cafes and public-access terminals and kiosks in 135 countries. We found nine in Calcutta.

Staying in touch with peers: If you want to find out what your colleagues are paying their employees or learn about strategies for obtaining venture capital, stroll over to the forums at http://edge.lowe.org. This site, run by the nonprofit Edward Lowe Foundation, also offers free tools, such as budget spreadsheets and profit-and-loss statements, and it boasts a powerful search engine that trolls for more than 3,000 electronic documents on such topics as finance or marketing.

To keep tabs on minority events and businesses, www.mbnet.com has a business directory of 7,000 companies, which you can search by business category, product name, or location. You'll also find links to minority publications and a calendar mentioning events like the January Minority Business Opportunity Trade Fair in Los Angeles.

You have to join the National Association of Women Business Owners to use its site, www.nawbo.org. But with a nonvoting membership that costs just $50, you'll get access to an online directory of members — plus a bellyful of political news and info on the association's lobbying efforts.

If yours is a family business, don't feel left out. You can learn how to prevent squabbles and tap other resources at www.fambiz.com. The site offers a daily e-mail newsletter and has links to all the university family business programs, such as the Loyola Center for Closely Held Firms.

News you can use: Fill out a profile at www.individual.com, and you'll get a daily e-mail with the news that's most important to your industry. "I have no time to read newspapers, so this site has saved me," says Aliza Sherman, Internet guru and former president of Cybergrrl Inc., a Web site development company in New York City. You can ask for the headline alone or request a small summary of the story. With the extra time you'll gain by using this site, you may even be able to squeeze in a video. Where will you learn about the newest releases? You guessed it: www.blockbuster.com.



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