From the March 1998 issue of Startups

When Louise Kursmark, owner of Best Impression in Cincinnati, decided to promote her resume preparation business on the Web, she used her desktop publishing skills to design the site herself. To make sure months of planning and design work didn't go to waste, Kursmark chose her Internet service provider (ISP) carefully.

Whether you design your own site or hire a professional, carefully interview prospective ISPs before uploading your site. Here are some questions to ask:

  • How much server space will I have? "It's important to check what your limits on graphics will be before you start designing your site," explains Kursmark.
  • How much access will I have to my site? If you plan to update your Web site regularly, you want an ISP that allows you enough access to make necessary changes.
  • What kind of technical support will I receive? When you're a small-business owner without a support staff, tech support becomes even more vital.
  • How does the ISP handle system failures? Backup systems should be in place so your site doesn't go down if the system fails.
  • Is forms hosting provided? This allows site visitors to use fill-in forms to communicate with you.
  • How long has the ISP been in business? You want an ISP that will stick around, so choose one that's been in business at least one or two years.

Donna Chambers is a freelance business writer and small-business owner. She can be reached at donna9412@aol.com

Many Happy Returns

With April 15th fast approaching, you may find yourself in need of some last-minute tax advice. Try visiting the IRS' Web site, The Digital Daily, at http://www.irs.gov

The Digital Daily's home page looks like a newsletter, complete with front-page articles. Proclaimed to be "faster than a speeding 1040-EZ," The Digital Daily is attractive and entertaining. The really good stuff, however, is at the bottom of the home page, where there are links to useful materials:

  • The "Tax Information for Your Business" link takes you to information on tax calendars, electronic filing and other tax help for small-business owners.
  • Try "Tax Topics for Business" for articles on more than 30 tax-related subjects, from business use of your car to electronic tax filing. The articles include links to other relevant IRS publications.
  • Get on the mailing list for Digital Dispatch, a free e-mail newsletter of upcoming dates, information on new forms and publications, and what's new on the IRS Web site.
  • In "Tax Trails," answer yes-or-no questions to get advice tailored to your individual situation. For instance, providing the answers to four questions on your operations lets you find out if you can take the home-office deduction.
  • If your business uses an Employer Identification Number, click on "Your Business Tool Kit" to download a packet of federal forms and publications.

You can also download copies of tax regulations and IRS publications and forms, link to your state tax site to download state tax forms, and comment on proposed regulations. This site also provides a countdown to the big day--so you'll always know how many days are left before April 15th.

Small Wonder

Smart retailers don't waste counter space that can be better used to display merchandise. That's why NCR Corp. has introduced the compact NCR 7453 point-of-sale terminal, which is 39 percent smaller than standard terminals, to save you precious space.

Point-of-sale terminals perform all the functions of cash registers, including scanning bar codes, and they even track your inventory.

The NCR 7453 is designed to start small and grow with your business. You can customize your terminal by choosing from a variety of peripherals, including cash drawers, displays, keyboards and printers. Because you choose only the peripherals you need, you won't waste money on features you don't use. And as your business grows, you can easily upgrade without having to purchase a completely new setup. Cost: $3,500 to $7,000, depending on the options you choose.

Contact Sources

Best Impression, http://www.yourbestimpression.com

NCR Corp., (800) 746-4722, http://www.ncr.com