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Expert Advice for Nothing

Two new websites are dedicated to getting new businesses off the ground--and they don't charge a dime.

Online resources for cash-strapped entrepreneurs abound, and new ones are springing up all the time. Two of the latest--one from a couple of veteran entrepreneurs, the other produced by a national nonprofit group--are offering the kind of specific answers and advice it usually takes a consultant to get.

Give them a whirl, and put the saved $700-an-hour fee toward a good office chair.

Your Free Consultant
Silicon Valley veterans Steve Hoffman and Naomi Kokubo recently launched Founders Space , a free site that functions like a road map to starting a business--especially one in the tech space.

Entrepreneurs sign up and submit any questions they have about starting a business. Hoffman and Kokubo then find the appropriate advisor--say, a lawyer, marketing specialist, venture capitalist or accountant--and get the answer for the whole community. Recent queries include: What's the easiest way to create a logo? Are interns really that helpful? How do I make my next press release a success?

"We just kicked off in beta, and the site will evolve over time," says Hoffman, who has three venture-backed companies under his belt. "But the real focus will always be to help avoid costly mistakes, and connect founders with top talent in Silicon Valley--who they might work with in the future."

You can't put a price on the value of networking. Good thing you won't have to.

Your Free Tutor
SCORE , the business counseling organization, has teamed up with Fortune 500 companies including HP, Microsoft and Google to form an educational website at aimed at helping small-business owners make the most of what they do online.

Where do they fall short?

"Maybe they're not marketing via e-mail, or they've got a web presence but aren't taking advantage of e-commerce opportunities," says Ken Yancey, SCORE CEO. "Maybe they don't know how to use Twitter to improve customer service."

To that end, the consortium's expanding home page--the site just launched in April--offers workshops such as one on e-commerce, as well as tutorials, articles and podcasts.

"Whatever it is," Yancey says, "we want business owners to know how to achieve it."


Jennifer Wang is a staff writer at Entrepreneur magazine in Southern California.

Like this article? Get this issue right now on iPad, Nook or Kindle Fire.

This article was originally published in the June 2010 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Expert Advice for Nothing.

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