Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Online Expert Advice – the Free Answer to All Your Questions

Free online small business expert advice abounds. Wading through copious sage wisdom takes time, so we’ve investigated some of the more prominent sites offering experiential resources.

Once you join, they’ll direct your questions to experts on a wide variety of topics, from women in business to sales and marketing. Read through the previously answered questions to see if there’s any relevance to your question. If not, type your question into the provided submission form, and wait a week. Then check the message boards.

There’s no guarantee that they’ll take your question, but they do offer other information resources, such as free newsletters, personal stories about the small business experience, and over 1400 articles on running your business. Their other resources include more than 200 business templates, two dozen calculators for comparing marketing campaigns, recalculating loan payments, etc, and a bartering service so you can conserve cash. Also, search the “world’s largest” business directory for services near you. Allbusiness allows you to become a part of the directory for free.

American Express provides an online small business help site that also offers free answers to questions. There are fewer advice topics than on Allbusiness, though, and the answers are typically more general. This site also offers online interactive workshops on business plans and website marketing strategies, as well as a quiz to test your vulnerability to employee theft and fraud.

While the services this site provides are less in-depth, they would be a valuable first step for anyone who’s just getting serious about their small business. Be wary, though. There are few links to business solution providers outside the American Express network. >>> Advice for hire is a useful site for those who prefer to try before they buy. They provide, to registered users, a directory of advisors and experts who list their backgrounds and areas of expertise, as well as advisor reviews by former clients. Advice seekers communicate one-on-one with potential gurus via BusinessNation’s messaging system. All advisors provide a free initial consultation, and some provide two or more. If the advisor fills your needs, then you continue the conversation by agreed means.

For additional revenue, or even a career switch, consider becoming an advisor and joining their individual consultation list. They ask only that you “understand the problems of small business owners,” and provide “affordable (working on small budgets) business advice/consulting.”

www.businessnation.comThe National Association for the Self-Employed is a site, by and for small businesses, that also sells advice. Prices for membership range from $72 to $540 per year, with the high end package providing some health, life, and home office insurance. If you join they provide you with a toll-free number for calling in your questions, as well as an email advice service in which you can request either a telephone or email response.

Their archive of emailed questions reveals direct, knowledgeable responses to tricky questions. In addition, NASE is an advocacy group for small businesses, and they’ll email you when your involvement can make a critical difference in your district.

Garrett French is the editor of Murdok’s eBusiness channel. You can talk to him directly at WebProWorld, the eBusiness Community Forum.

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