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By Russ Kratowicz
People with anything on the ball will survive this nonsense. They take control of their fates. Some go to better jobs or strike off on their own. This month's column is dedicated to this group, the entrepreneurs that create jobs and save the world as we know it.
Early phases of entrepreneurial adventures include research, getting started and expansion. As you know, the raison d'etre for this column is to point you to relevant, free, non-commercial Web resources that don't require user registration.
The Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership Clearinghouse on Entrepreneurship Education is a non-profit organization funded by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. It was created as a joint project of the University of California, Los Angeles and the Kauffman Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership. A long name, but impeccable credentials, no?
A searchable database contains information on entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial education. Check out the free CELCEE publications. The CELCEE Digests are short articles covering many topics. The EdInfos are abstracts of articles published by others. Contact the original publisher or author for a full copy. The site is found at http://www.celcee.edu/products.html.
Entrepreneurism is about finding and filling a hole in the market. To get a taste of what creative people are doing, visit http://www.ideacafe.com/, a site operated by Ideacafe LLC, Grants Pass, Ore. It appears to be for, by and about female entrepreneurs. But, hey, business is business, money is money. In our enlightened economic and social system, it matters not who brings home the bacon. Turn off your preconceived notions of what constitutes an entrepreneurial business. Explore and enjoy. The better material appears on the left side of the home page.
For example, Cyberschmooz is a bulletin board. The section on running your biz gives good, concise, but not necessarily profound, advice. The Fridge--Biz Info on Ice is presents business tips. Legal--Biz Forms accesses spreadsheets and forms for those focused on a product or service and not on technicalities. If you base your system on this feature, run it past your attorney and accountant to verify its utility in the real world.
Another resource is at http://www.essortment.com/in/Careers.How-To/, where you get five pages of entrepreneurialism-related links, each of which yields a brief article. The topics ranging from starting a babysitting business to organizing a labor union. Pagewise, Inc., Austin, Texas, put a lot of material on this site, but you'll be selective, I'm sure.
What do I want to be when I grow up? A lot of people are still asking and questioning the significance of how they spend 40-plus hours each week. One Web site helps find answers. Saddle up the old browser and head off to http://www.pathfinders.org/ for material posted by Pathfinders Association, Alexandria, Va. Specifically, I direct your attention to Career Change Tools & Resources, as well as Career Columns. They give you permission to question the deeper meaning of work.
Motivational speakers abound because some of us in the unwashed masses need inspiration to get off the dime. Martin Sawdon, from Coaching-Works, is one of these motivational people. He's big on top ten lists. You know--ten ways to increase creativity, ten reasons to speak up and ten more to keep quiet. The best is the ten indicators you're in the wrong job. There's little probability that someone in the right job will bolt the corporate confines and go entrepreneurial. You can access Martin's Top Tens at http://plaza.powersurfr.com/coachingworks/creat.htm.
Entrepreneurs are different from the rest of us. They make significant things happen, a skill many people lack. Before you quit your day job, do some self-examination of your drive for financial independence. In his article, Tim Waterstone describes the personal traits that define an entrepreneur. These include the ability to motivate, a concrete vision, skill with numbers and a deep interest in the financials. Waterstone's piece, Anatomy of an Entrepreneur, is found at http://www.sfb.co.uk/speakers/timwaterstone/article1.shtml.
Get another helping of food for thought from The Center for Excellence in Entrepreneurial Development, which posts Entrepreneurship: Do You Have What It Takes?, an article by Elena Fawkner, at http://www.hittpansophism.com/articles/2001/04/index07.html.
Hector V. Barreto and his crew at the U.S. Small Business Administration produced a pretty decent site. Click your way over to http://www.sba.gov/ to sample the wares. Entrepreneurs go here for information about the dreary subjects--patents, signage, business licenses, government regulations, and some not so trivial topics. The site offers access to quite a bit of shareware, but a lot of it uses DOS format.
The site has one nice feature, though. If you click on a primary option found on the home page, the left side of subsequent pages shows a list of the available subsections of your primary choice. The concept is almost like providing a contextual menu of further choices. You won't get lost here.
This site comes to you courtesy of Patsula Media, Edmonton, Alberta. Smallbusinesstown.com, found at http://www.patsula.com/, offers the would-be entrepreneur something of value. About 2/3 of the way down the page you find free online guidebooks, a link to 91 online guidebooks to help you name your company, design a logo, write a mission statement and more. On the left is a link to something called 3S Accounting Software, a free, full-featured 32-bit accounting software with G/L, A/R, A/P, invoice/order entry system, bank reconciliation and automated check printing. Design your own reports, business forms and financial statements. Export the reports directly to MSOffice and Corel WordPerfect Suite.
PlantServices.com is an MRO (maintain, repair, replace, retrofit, overhaul and operations) resource site that features problem-solving articles and editorials for plant maintenance professionals.