Business Resources

Associations - Businesses

American Marketing Association
The official website of one of the largest trade organization of the marketing industry, this page includes articles on marketing and advertising, as well as links to advertising firms, jobs, and more. Founded in 1937, the AMA currently has more than 30,000 members.

Biotechnology Industry Organization
BIO is the world’s largest biotechnology organization. Their site contains information related to the biotechnology industry, from a basic definition of “biotechnology” to information about lobbying efforts, current developments in the field, and biotechnology job opportunities.

National Retail Foundation
The NRF is the world’s largest retail trade association, which represents large and small retailers, including corner stores, Internet merchants, and everyone in between. It has recently been focused on a campaign to move employees from thinking of retail as just a job and more of a career. The site includes resources for everyone working in and with retail, from industry information and lobbying efforts to an industry directorand biotechnology job opportunities.

Software & Information Industry Association
The SIIA is the principal trade association for the software and digital content industry. Their website includes a guide to upcoming events, market research, public policy, and a guide to the CODiE Awards that the organization sponsors. It does not provide unified industry career listings, but advertises its own positions.

Associations – Directories

American Society of Association Executives
This meta-association of association professionals attempts to bring organizations together to leverage their combined influence to create positive change. Executives from more than 10,000 organizations are included. The website offers an educational program (ASAE U), its own private social network (Collaborate), and a huge database of association jobs at all levels from internships to C-suite.


BizStats is a huge repository of free business statistics, including industry financials, profitability-risk reports, and more. Although the information is largely public data, BizStats’ formats often make the data more clear and accessible, and sometimes it uses the raw data to perform original calculations.

Business Directories

Hoover’s Inc
Hoover’s is one of the oldest and most trusted commercial data companies, offering proprietary information that covers millions of people and companies in thousands of industries. They have a unique identification system for companies, a worldwide network of sources, and a trademarked system for transforming raw data into “decision-ready insight.”

Business Plans

The following free resources can help new business owners to write their business plans.

How to Write a Small Business Plan
This basic resource on American Express’ Open Forum provides a good overview and links to more detailed articles.

BizPlanIt primarily offers to sell business planning resources. Free resources are actually limited to their blog, but people who need help can buy sample business plans and even hire help writing a plan.

CLP's Business Plans Index
A large index of business plans and related resources maintained by the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. Truly the best resource available for people who are looking to write a business plan.

Entrepreneur Magazine’s Business Plan Index
An index of Entrepreneur Magazine’s business plan writing tools, which includes a considerable amount of information on planning and creating business plans.

Small Business Association: Starting & Managing a Business
The SBA provides many resources for people considering starting their own business, including writing a business plan.

Competitive Intelligence

Fuld & Company
This is one of the leading firms in competitive intelligence. Founded in 1979, the company can help business owners understand competition and see both threats and opportunities that they may not have been able to identify otherwise.

LLRX Competitive Intelligence Database
LLRX is a one-woman Web journal focused on law, IT, marketing, communications, and other industries. Although individually compiled and small, the database is astute and can help individuals crack some tough CI problems without hiring a research firm.

Strategic and Competitive Intelligence Professionals
SCIP is a trade organization for the CI business and includes information about the industry as well as a directory of companies that may be able to provide CI services.

Economic Development

This site is designed to help people find relevant data at the state and local level. With data organized by provider, by collection, and a nicely selected “ten best sites,” this is a good way to cut through search clutter quickly to find the stats you’re looking for.


Entrepreneur Magazine
The magazine’s website is loaded with tons of information on entrepreneurship. Though the quality is variable, the size of the database makes it a must-visit for entrepreneurs.

Inc. Magazine
Inc. Magazine’s website also has many articles on entrepreneurship. It is aimed at a lower tier audience with more kitschy and linkbait articles that don’t always pay off on their promises, but a good resource nonetheless.

Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation
This foundation, established in the 1960s is dedicated to the vision of a society of engaged, active, and economically independent individuals. The website helps fulfill that vision by offering numerous complex, detailed reports that go far beyond your average listicle. When using the resources on this site, expect to be challenged, but also expect to be rewarded.

Financing Resources

Small Business Administration’s Loans & Grants Page
The SBA’s page offers a guide to numerous resources that can provide financing to small businesses, including its own. It also offers guidance on how to seek and apply for loans and grants, as well as resources about managing debt.

Entrepreneur’s Finance Articles Index
A listing of the magazine’s articles on the subject of finance.


Entrepreneur’s Franchising Articles Index
A listing of the magazine’s articles on the subject of franchising.

Franchise Direct
A company that seeks to connect investors with franchisors, along with numerous objective assessments of the opportunities presented. Founded in 1999, this is one of the leading online directories to franchise opportunity.

Franchise Registry
This website links franchisors to lenders. It helps franchisors find SBA information and lenders get underwriting information to facilitate connecting franchisors and franchisees to lending products.

An online directory with nearly 3000 franchising opportunities, as well as original information about many aspects of the franchising business.

Global Data

A searchable database of statistics and reports compiled by the U.N., with information that gives a deeper representation of the world climate beyond mere economic indicators.

The World Bank Data
A listing of data from The World Bank, primarily focused on developing countries, but with a global scope. Organized by country, topic, indicators, and more, it’s a daunting collection, but detailed and informative.

Government Resources

Federal Business Opportunities
This resource contains listings of nearly 24,000 opportunities for companies and individuals to work for or with the federal government.

Internal Revenue Service Small Business Information
The IRS’ guide of tax information for small businesses and self-employed individuals. It contains information on properly filing taxes and taking advantage of tax incentives that can help make it easier on new businesses.

Business USA
A comprehensive resource for businesses with colorful quick-reference tabs on every topic from starting a business to exporting goods to complying with new healthcare laws. The information is written to be accessible to everyone and easy to navigate, an excellent resource for people who might be intimidated by the dense language on other government sites.

The US Patent and Trademark Office
The official site of the USPTO, including information on how to file patents, as well as a searchable database of existing patents and trademarks.

Small Business Administration
The SBA’s official site that contains information to help small businesses start, compete, and succeed in the modern business environment. Full of comprehensive guides that cover every aspect of a business.

Hiring, Staffing & Recruiting

CNN’s Cost of Living Calculator
This resource helps both job candidates and hirers to determine how salaries compare in different areas. Although it offers limited locations in each state, it’s a good starting place.

Sperling’s Best Places to Live
This is a large database with information about many communities in the US. Although the compare tool is tricky to use, the overall directory contains great information about a community you may be considering relocating to.

A comprehensive resource of salary data for jobs across the country, but it requires a subscription to get salary data. Free trials are available.

This site compiles a lot of data to give a free report on your salary as it compares to other professionals in your area. It can take time to go through the data, but you get a report at the end without having to make an account.

Human Resources

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
The EEOC has information about equal opportunity employment law, standards, and current news.

Department of Labor
This is the huge overall website for this large branch of government. There is a wealth of information here, but it’s general (and often promotional) in nature and may not be as valuable for people with specific questions.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration
OSHA deals with workplace safety issues and complaints. This is where you would go to find out if your company is violating workplace safety standards, report your company, or to find general information about workplace injury statistics.
The Department of Justice’s guide to the Americans with Disabilities Act. It provides guidance to employers and employees about the requirements and remedies offered under the law, as well as news about complaints and settlements.

Industry Research

Census Bureau's North American Industry Classification System
Information on the numerical codes used to classify businesses for statistical purposes.

This is a free guide to business valuation aimed at business appraisers, though it is written with a wider audience in mind.

Securities and Exchange Commission Official Filing Portal
This is the entrance to the SEC’s Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval system (EDGAR), where all companies are required to file regular reports. There is a lot of publicly available information about companies here.

Investment Analysis

Value Line
An online database of independent research information that claims a high degree of accuracy and is presented in a variety of easy-to-read formats. It includes both public and subscriber-only content, although the former is either scanty and not especially useful or directed at educating you about purchasing and using their products.

Yahoo! Finance
A news outlet that covers the finance sector. People can create portfolios and follow news related to specific investment opportunities.

Google Finance
Less flashy than Yahoo! but containing basically the same information, only synced with your Google account.

The website of the large research investment firm, it contains tons of company-specific information. Use Morningstar's independent and trusted stock, fund, and ETF research, ratings, analyst picks, and portfolio tools to better manage your investments.

A site that contains great financial information, but also a large selection of general news items. For more focused business information, check out their Businessweek.

An online directory of lawyers and law firms, with ratings, but also marketing advice for lawyers.

A huge database of lawyers, as well as legal questions and answers. Sponsored by a marketing firm for lawyers.

Market Research
This site compiles annual reports made by corporations to their investors. All the information here is available elsewhere, but the compilation and organization of reports makes for convenient research.

Hoover’s Inc.
Hoover’s is one of the oldest and most trusted commercial data companies, offering proprietary information that covers millions of people and companies in thousands of industries. They have a unique identification system for companies, a worldwide network of sources, and a trademarked system for transforming raw data into “decision-ready insight.”
This is a free guide to business valuation aimed at business appraisers, though it is written with a wider audience in mind.

Compiles market research reports from around the globe. It’s well organized by business sector and market locations, but as with most market research, the reports are pricey for general interest, but appropriate for people with commercial interest in specific market sectors.

ProQuest Statistical Abstract of the US
A subscription service that delivers market information about the US in many sections, from basic population information to price comparisons, economic sectors, and more.


This site offers numerous detailed articles on a full spectrum of marketing subjects. From in-depth analysis to a basic glossary to jobs listings, this is a one-stop shop for marketing research, and the majority of it is free and open to the public.

American Marketing Association
The official website of one of the largest trade organization of the marketing industry, this page includes articles on marketing and advertising, as well as links to advertising firms, jobs, and more. Founded in 1937, the AMA currently has more than 30,000 members.

This site offers hundreds of examples of marketing plans in support of its marketing plan software. They are organized by industry and a few of the most popular are highlighted, but it can still be hard to find one that is a useful example for your business. The examples are very useful, however, in illustrating the basic principles of marketing plans.

Marketing Profs
Marketing Profs is an online education resource for “modern marketing.” It claims to offer quality marketing information by having a team of experts that separate the Internet marketing “signal” from the “noise.” It offers both free and paid content on a full range of marketing issues.


The Wall Street Journal
America’s foremost business publication online. Most of the unique, valuable content is behind a subscriber paywall.

New York Times
The Gray Lady herself, rendered in pixels. A limited number of free articles per month are available.

USA Today
America’s McNews pioneer in its online form. If you thought the articles were too long and substantial in the print form, you’ll be delighted with this even more streamlined online version. There are some good articles in here, but you’ll have to get past the splash pages to find them.

Harvard Business Review
Substantial commentary and detailed articles from one of the nation’s business thought leaders. All free. The only limitation is that some of the pieces might be too esoteric and scholarly, though many of them are surprisingly practical and focused.

CEO Express
A dense, confusing, and image-free aggregator. If you learn how to navigate it (or chip in for the premium service that lets you customize your feed), this can be a useful hub for conducting research, but most of the time you’re probably better off letting a search engine sift through the information rather than spidering your way through this web of links. It’s no accident that the interface includes a Google search bar in the center of the interface.

Financial Times
A detailed newspaper with original reporting and commentary. With free online registration, you get a limited number of articles, but weekly subscriptions are required to get a substantial amount of information from the site.


Google Scholar
Google’s scholarly search engine, it allows you to search only scholarly publications, legal decisions, and patents to find higher quality information on many important subjects. The legal decisions database is extensive and a must-use for anyone writing about case law without access to a law library.

National Institutes of Health Library
An extensive database of health and scientific publications. Links take you to journals, which have a varying amount of information online, though most include abstracts to articles. Don’t forget to check out the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), which indexes all the abstracts in a searchable database.

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
This online library of OECD publications includes both subscription and free content about economic issues facing the world, with a focus on the developing world.

Social Media

Social Media Today
This site contains extensive articles on all subjects relating to social media. Primarily op-ed in focus, there are some quality research articles as well. The quality is very uneven, and the articles are most useful to people who are new to social media marketing.

Social Media Examiner
Don’t let the cartoon appearance fool you: there’s some quality content on this site. More specifically detailed information might make some of these articles more useful to experienced social media marketers, but you’re less likely to get quality big-picture topics.


The following sites offer free statistics compiled by the US government. Because of the bureaucratic nature of the government, the stats can be hard to read and are often segmented for internal convenience rather than external usefulness.

Brings together statistical information from more than 100 government agencies. There’s a lot of information here, but the search engine isn’t helpful at recommending terms and it can take a while to find the information you’re looking for.

Census Bureau
Statistical data from all the US censuses conducted under the authority of the US Constitution. A wealth of information, and timely news features and visualizations make the data more digestible and useful.

Bureau of Labor Statistics
The “Beast of Labor Statistics” might be a better name for this statistical juggernaut. Like the Census Bureau, the BLS has news feeds that try to bring up relevant statistical information, except that it has more of them to try to give a more meaningful segment of data. If you’re lucky, the information you’re looking for will show up in these feeds. Otherwise, you’re usually better off letting a search engine direct you to the most relevant pages, which they often do very well.