From the February 1999 issue of Entrepreneur

Hiring employees is always full of risks, but the business that unwittingly hires a child molester, drunk driver or other breed of felon can find itself facing crippling costs if victims sue the criminal's employer. How can you ferret out the personal history of new hires? Pay a visit to Background Research International (BRI), http://www.investigator.com/1b.htm Costs vary with the scope of the investigation, but BRI says they usually run between $75 and $600. It may be money you can't afford not to spend.


To contact Robert McGarvey, visit his Web site at http://members.aol.com/rjmcgarvey

Spread The Word

Want to send out a newsletter that keeps customers, prospects and vendors informed about your business, but don't have the time to maintain a mailing list? Visit Cheetah Mail (http://www.cheetahmail.com), which will distribute a newsletter and also provide forms that let subscribers get on (or off) your list. Text is distributed in a spiffy hypertext format that looks good and allows you to easily incorporate graphics (your company logo, for instance). The cost? Cheetah Mail's services are free, if you give them your OK to insert an ad in your newsletter. Or you can pay a fee and have material go out containing only your own ads. Our advice: Try the free version. Shift to the pay-as-you-go plan only when response warrants it.

Net 101

Are you getting the results you want from your Web site? Make sure you're making the right moves by reading "The 10 Biggest Blunders That Businesses Make On The Web" (http://www.gigaplex.com/10top/10blund.htm) by Jerry Lazar, president of Lazar Productions, a Los Angeles Web consulting company. With reminders to fully plan any Web site before going online and exhortations to research the competition's sites and always take into account the Web's global reach, this short article, originally printed in Interactive Age magazine, serves as a powerful reminder of how easy it is to go wrong with a Web site--and how easy it can be to do it right.

Other People's Money

Need a loan? Head over to Lenders Interactive Services (http://www.lendersinteractive.com), where you'll be walked through an easy-to-use form that asks you questions about your business and the type of financing you're seeking. You're then given the names of business lenders that might suit your needs. There's even an option to request that certain lenders contact you directly.

Do you have worries about the trustworthiness of potential lenders? You'll find a good tip sheet, "How To Spot Bogus Lenders," at http://www.datamerge.com/news/archives/bogusonly.html

Express Lane

Credit card companies are racing to erect Web sites, and one of the most informative is American Express' Small Business Exchange (http://www.americanexpress.com/smallbusiness). Here you'll find lots of excellent free information on everything from creating a business plan to snaring new customers. And you don't have to be an American Express customer to use these resources. For American Express corporate cardholders, a mouse click lets you check the status of your account; another click lets holders of merchant accounts see where they stand. Want to open a credit card or merchant account? Use the online applications to get a quick response.