Get Free Business Advice

Many free, online resources can help answer your business questions. While some sites are skewed towards single-person startups, you can still find a community to help an established, larger business.

The U.S. Small Business Administration is densely packed with information. You can learn basics about writing a business plan, establishing a trademark, and managing business operation. You'll find ways to apply for government financial assistance, loans, and tips on applying for grants.

The nonprofit, SCORE, takes this kind of assistance to a personal level, offering free, online or local counseling. You'll be able to talk with people who have already been through situations you face for the first time, getting invaluable tips. In addition to many other resources, the site also hosts a range of template documents, such as a bank loan request and profit-and-loss projection.

I've also been impressed with the discussion on Intuit Community. Sure, some message board banter skews towards Intuit products, but you'll find even more people ready to talk about any parts of a small business. Just a few of the current conversations center on hiring people, building customers, and--of course--managing finances. Or you can ask your own question, and expect replies from the knowledgeable community.

Zack Stern is a freelance writer and editor based in San Francisco.

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