Online help for would-be founders

First published in the Financial Times on 26th March 2013.

Keeping connected via the internet is more important than ever for entrepreneurs

Starting a business can be lonely, and keeping connected via the internet and online publications is more important than ever.

There are a host of websites and magazines for entrepreneurs, but no one who works for themselves can afford to spend hours a day surfing. So I have selected a handful of my favourite sites to save you time. I have not included typical blogs because there are too many and they are mostly rather personal.

The list is not in order of importance – I suggest you check all of the ones you don’t know to see which you like.

  • Fiverr: A site that allows you to hire a freelancer anywhere in the world for just $5. It claims to be the world’s largest marketplace for small services. Order anything from a website revamp to a business plan. Freelancer: A similar marketplace, concentrating on IT projects starting at $30.
  • Inc: A great US monthly magazine aimed at ambitious owners of growing companies.
  • Quora: A website that solicits answers to important questions from unpaid and often well-known contributors, with an excellent section for entrepreneurs.
  • TED: The website features videos of hundreds of short talks, many of which are about business and innovation.
  • Ewing Marion Kaufmann Foundation: The world’s biggest think-tank devoted to entrepreneurship provides a huge repository of articles and data for every kind of business owner.
  • Business Innovation Factory: Babson College is the leading university for entrepreneurship. This is an offshoot designed to invent new start-up models – the website includes more than 400 videos of entrepreneur stories.
  • Springwise: A weekly email, which picks a dozen of the best new ideas from around the world. A regular blast of commercial imagination.
  • The National Business Association and Federation of Small Businesses:Trade bodies for small businesses in the US and UK respectively. They provide bulk-buying benefits in areas such as insurance, and lobby government on areas such as regulation and tax.
  • Ycombinator: a pioneering school for budding digital founders.
  • Startup Weekendco-ordinates 54-hour events where teams of would-be founders decide if they have a business.
  • Kickstarter: the world’s largest crowdfunding platform.
  • Freelancers Union: a US mutual for independent workers offering advocacy, education and services.
  • British Library Business & IP Centre: A great facility to research markets. It also holds workshops and conferences and is free.
  • Business RadioX: This talk radio station in Atlanta is largely devoted to interviews with entrepreneurs.
  • Angel Capital Association and Angel Resource Institute: Two related entities, which represent US angel investors and provide education to both angels and entrepreneurs about everything from carrying out due diligence to pitching an idea.
  • This sells retail/consumer operations. Flippa: Specialises in selling digital properties. These sites are for those who prefer to buy an existing undertaking rather than starting a new one from scratch.
  • The Real People Behind our Famous Brand Names: An archive of corporate histories, focused on the founders of well-known consumer products.
  • Small Business Trends: Provides down-to-earth information and tips.
  • StartUp Britain: I am biased, but our website is a terrific resource for early-stage UK entrepreneurs. With events and a directory of links, it is a one-stop-shop on taking the plunge.