Today I came across two separate instances of large technology companies offering free or nearly-free information to new businesses. It is, of course, in their interests to woo small businesses like yours, and if you participate you may become part of their marketing database. But the trade-off is that you get to take advantage of the useful information and resources they are offering.
Online: Hewlett Packard’s HP Small Business Center promotes HP products but is also loaded with free templates and online classes. You need to dig a little in the site. Look in the Create Marketing Materials section for templates for professional-looking business cards, brochures and forms, and listings of 64 free classes on topics from PC Troubleshooting to Run Your Own Direct Mail Campaign to Microsoft PowerPoint 2003 Introduction. I found this site thanks to my newsfeed from Anita Campbell.
Economists like to say TINSTAFL — There Is No Such Thing As a Free Lunch. Well no, but these are almost as good, and almost free.
Live: Microsoft is sponsoring the Invent Your Future Small Business Conference in early May in San Francisco and Silicon Valley locations. Ten different sessions are offered, from Legal Implications of Starting Your Own Business to Office Accounting to Secrets to Small Busines Funding Success. Cost for this all-day event is a mere $25 to register ($35 at the door). My source for this news is Ken Davis’ 4marketeers (free) newsletter.