Sure, the basketball team is a cellar dweller. But if you’re looking for a place to run a small business, Oklahoma City is the top metro area in America, says a survey by CNNMoney.com. It’s affordable (rents are second-lowest in the U.S.), the economy is diversified (government, education, energy, medical research) and, CNN says, it’s full of wealthy oilmen eager to throw money at enterprising young companies. Or if you’re not OK with that location, you might consider high-tech center Huntsville, Ala., CNN’s number-one midsize metro for small business. Or Billings, Mont., which, at population 152,000, ranks as the best small city for small business. But is still the bustling hub of the Spokane-Fargo axis.
Site makes it easy to lawyer up. In these tough times few small-business owners can spare the cash to keep an attorney on retainer. Then again, in these tough times more small-business owners need legal advice on a wide range of topics, from payment disputes to divorce. (No, wise guy, they’re not the same thing.) But where do you go when you need a lawyer? The yellow pages? Google? Late-night TV? You could ask a friend. But we tried that once and…well, let’s just say that friendship was nice while it lasted. Or here’s another idea: a Web site called LawBidding.com. It aims to make it easier to find affordable counsel when you need it. You just go to the site, post your problem (confidentially), then attorneys from around the U.S. place bids on the work. Other sites offering a similar service include LegalRiver.com (sophisticated) and LegalMatch.com (a little cheesy).
Free marketing advice? Thanks, mate. While few would argue that Mark Geragos will serve your interests better than, say, Joel Hyatt, you might reasonably question the value of a high-priced marketing campaign. Especially if you’re old enough to remember New Coke. Or Clairol’s Touch of Yogurt shampoo. If you want to avoid mistakes like those (or at least avoid paying for them) check out Marketing Donut, a British site full of free marketing advice for small businesses. You’ll find expert articles on many basic topics, including search engine optimization, writing an advertisement, and holding an event or exhibition. Along with an interesting forum where marketing professionals and business owners exchange views on topics like PowerPoint presentations, social media strategy and, our favorite, the viability of meat-flavored yogurt. (Hey, just because it didn’t work for Clairol…)