One of the most challenging aspects of starting or operating a business is keeping pace with laws and regulatory requirements that often shape how you run your business. Matters of compliance aside, often equally as challenging is trying to keep pace with the available resources and programs that can help you succeed.
No matter how well you are networked or believe you are plugged into the ins and outs of running a business – the landscape is always changing. New tax laws, zoning requirements, loan programs and, of course, inevitable market shifts can often throw what you thought you knew about doing business into a state of flux.
This is not to say that change isn’t good. Business growth is also change, and brings with it a host of operational consequences.Whether you are expanding into another city or state, embracing e-commerce, or changing your business structure to reduce your liability, you have more than enough to keep you on your toes.
Easy-to-Use Web Tools Connect Business Owners with Government Services and Information
Getting access to the right tools and resources to help you proactively keep pace with change can be time consuming and sometimes costly. The good news is that in addition to the wealth of public information and resources available on the Business.gov site, the Business.gov team has developed and is constantly refining a host of Web services and tools that connect small business owners directly with government services and information.
Powered by Google, these Web tools (known as Business.gov Gadgets) not only draw from data across government – such as information on federal, state and local financing programs – but they also channel expert insight and discussions from the Business.gov Community and the Business.gov Social Media network.
The results are one-stop Web apps that can be added to your personal iGoogle page or, if you are in the business of providing services, counseling or other advice to business owners, you can add them to your own external Web site, much like an RSS feed.
Currently Available Business.gov Web Gadgets
Three Business.gov Web gadgets are currently available:
1) Tools for Small Business Gadget – This comprehensive gadget includes a Google-powered search tool that allows you to search for government information that can help you run your business including loans and grants, licenses and permits, and more. It also integrates advice and discussions from the Business.gov Community as well as video tutorials.
2) Small Business News Gadget – If you are a fan of the blog articles (including articles from experts such as Rieva Lesonsky, Tim Berry and Anita Campbell), discussion forums, and Business.gov’s Twitter* content, this gadget gives you immediate access to current topics that are popular in the Business.gov Community.
3) Tax Information Gadget – Staying on top of your tax obligations is a constant task. This tool can help by giving access to current tax information, resources and advice.
Business.gov Web Service API
In addition to these gadgets, Business.gov has also created a series of Web services (APIs) that makes the vast amount of data that the site assimilates even more readily available to developers. Using Business.gov’s API, software developers can build new applications and mashups using authoritative information from federal, state and local government agencies. Introduced as part of the government’s Open Government Directive (OGD) you can read more about these APIs and their limitless application in this article – “Business.gov Makes Public Data More Accessible Through Web Services“.
Other Small Business Online Productivity Tools
Other online applications from the government that can help you increase your business productivity include:
- Loans and Grants Tool – This online tool matches your business to available government financing options.
- Permit Me Tool – Find out which permits and licenses your business needs with this handy tool.
- Business Search Engine – Connect to the right government information easily, from regulatory forms to financial and technical assistance programs, without visiting multiple agency Web sites.
The Business.gov Social Media Network
You can also follow Business.gov on the following social media sites:
Small Business Matters is brought to you by Business.gov to provide helpful and easy-to-understand tips for small and home businesses, including direct links to resources that help business owners to navigate the government maze. Business.gov is sponsored by the U.S. Small Business Administration to provide small business owners with access to federal, state and local government resources from a single access point. Business.gov creates a dialogue among business owners and the organizations serving them, making government resources and information more accessible to the nation’s small business community. The U.S. Government and the U.S. Small Business Administration neither endorses nor guarantees in any way the external organizations, services, advice, or products included in any external website links. Furthermore, the U.S. government neither controls nor guarantees the accuracy, relevance, timeliness or completeness of the information contained in non-government website links.