Another Government Website for Small Business

Posted by: John Tozzi on October 28, 2011

Earlier this year, the wonks at the Government Accountability Office looked at how much different government agencies replicate similar efforts. For example, the federal government has 80 programs that deal with economic development across four agencies.

Today the White House announced plans for a new federal website to help small businesses and exporters get government resources. The site, called BusinessUSA (no URL yet), will be created within 90 days. The goal, according to Small Business Administration chief Karen Mills, is to help business owners connect with the right agencies regardless of where they start, which she calls a “no wrong door policy.” The site will eventually include relevant information from state and local governments and the private sector. “We need to make it as easy as possible for [businesses] to find answers to their questions,” Mills said on a conference call with reporters.

That sounds a lot like the goal of existing federal portals such as Export.gov and Business.gov (which has been decommissioned and moved to the redesigned SBA.gov). The White House admits in its press materials that the current setup isn’t ideal, saying that BusinessUSA will “reduce the confusing array of websites that exist today.”

Isn’t building another website, though, another example of government re-inventing the wheel? U.S. Chief Information Officer Steve VanRoekel says not. “We have a very strong goal to not do duplicative efforts across these sites,” he says. The new portal will roll up existing content into a central site, rather than replicate what’s already spread among several places, he says. Business owners can check back in 90 days to whether that works out.

Reader Comments

Ned Jones

October 31, 2011 2:52 PM

Is a new site really needed. Why hire new people to populate the information on a new site? Just fix the existing site!

The url is very important to being located by potential users. Business.gov actually sounds like a site where I could go for information about doing business with the government, but SBA.gov sounds like it is only connected to SBA information.

It sounds like there needs to be different sites (properly named) to achieve different goals; Export assistance, Government $ assistance, Doing business with the federal government, etc.

Chuck Blakeman

November 2, 2011 9:35 AM

"U.S. Chief IAnother example of government saying something and just hoping people will believe it's true. "The new portal will roll up existing content into a central site"...

Really? The reason Business.gov was moved over to the SBA.gov site and the SBA.gov site got such a huge overhaul at taxpayer expense, was so that the new SBA.gov portal would roll up existing content into a central site...

BusinessUSA.gov is simply taking all of that, reversing it into duplicate sites and calling it now improved, and rolled up.

Does this sound like a typical government project to you?

And really, what is the government involved in entrepreneurialism in any way? Nothing could be more oxymoronic.

I don't want my government acting enterpreneurially. They are missing the one element that makes it work - a profit motive. So when they try it, it ends up looking like this website mess.

An entrepreneur would have gone out of business flip-flopping and redesigning these sites all over the place (Business.gov was also redesigned before it was folded into SBA.gov). But the government gets to put out a press release and tout the third or fourth groping attempt at this as a great new initiative we should all be proud of.

Nothing is less entrepreneurial than a government without a profit motive and wads of other peoples cash to spend without accountability. Please just protect me and stay out of my way, and stop spending my money doing things you have no business doing (which includes bailing out giant corporations who then use the cash to squash small businesses).

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About

What's it like to run your own company today? Entrepreneurs face multiple hurdles new and old, from raising capital and managing employees to keeping up with technology and competing in a global marketplace. In this blog, the Small Business channel's John Tozzi and Nick Leiber discuss the news, trends, and ideas that matter to small business owners. Follow them on Twitter @newentrepreneur.

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