A survey of useful sites for entrepreneurs By SUZANNE BARLYN
The website of the International Franchise Association offers a wealth of information. Among the free features: a search engine for finding details about more than 1,100 franchise opportunities and a course on franchising basics. There’s also a forum where prospective franchisees can talk to each other, as well as an industry expert. For a fee, the site’s Franchise University section offers online courses and a certification program for franchise executives. Costs run from about $50 to $450.
FranchiseHelp aims to provide an independent source of information to prospective franchise owners. Most features are free, including a search engine where users can find companies based on industry, location and their available capital. Articles and webcasts address topics from conducting due diligence to closing the deal. The site, run by FranchiseHelp Holdings LLC in New York, also includes a library of franchise disclosure documents, at $220 per file.
InDinero Inc.’s site helps entrepreneurs manage company finances in real time. Users enter company bank and credit-card account information when they sign up, and inDinero updates data from those accounts regularly. The information gets aggregated on a “dashboard” that users can check to monitor balances and expenses, as well as see financial trends over time. The site can also generate more detailed information, such as how much the business is spending on certain products. The Mountain View, Calif., company says it uses multiple technologies and practices to protect information. The free version of inDinero tracks up to 50 transactions per month; more robust plans cost $29.99 and $99 per month.
ContactMe, from Webs.com in Silver Spring, Md., centralizes contact information for customers and prospects. Along with keeping a record of people’s email addresses and phone numbers, business owners can note details such as when they send out estimates to people in their contact file. Owners can also create a “ContactMe” button to use on their websites; when visitors click on the button, they can send a note but can also enter all of their contact information in a form. The data are then automatically swept into the site owner’s contact file as a new entry. There’s no charge for a basic account, but expect to pay up to $120 per year for service with more flexibility.
Nolo, a Berkeley, Calif., publisher, opened 40 years ago to make the law more accessible.
Small businesses can use TechAgreements for a low-priced glimpse at high-priced lawyering. The website, from Socratek LLC in Lexington, Mass., includes actual agreements used in over 500,000 transactions. Users can read the existing agreements to get ideas about how other companies dealt with similar situations, such as an intellectual-property agreement on behalf of Procter & Gamble Co. Free previews are available for all agreements. Downloading a complete document costs $35.
This free site, from Internet Brands Inc. in El Segundo, Calif., offers easy-to-read yet comprehensive guidance on a range of issues. The site makes information simple to find through hundreds of links that lead to more specifics, including details about tax forms, illegal business practices and protecting consumer information from identity theft.
Want to find a potential investor with a minimum of legwork? ChubbyBrain promises to help.
AngelList is a free networking site for start-up companies and angel investors.
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Some banks cater to niche area such as…