red-tape.jpgThere's something new at business.gov, the official online business link to the U.S. government: community. OK, starting a blog site isn't that new an idea generally. But the business.gov blog, which just got going in July, offers a unique opportunity for small business owners to learn how to do business with the feds.

The site includes a variety of independent experts in business topics, but the majority of the bloggers on the site to date are more than a half-dozen federal employees with the Business Gateway program, including program manager Nancy Sternberg. Business Gateway is a partnership of 22 federal agencies striving to make their information easier to access...and now you can blog with their managers? Sounds like a real time-saver.

With all the new federal funding floating around from the stimulus bill, this seems like a great place to maybe get a quick answer if you're stymied on how to apply to get stimulus funds, apply for an SBA loan, or about anything else governmental. They have verticals on startups, licenses and permits, finance and taxes, business growth, regulatory compliance, state and local issues, and resources organized under 18 industry-specific verticals.

Not enough small businesses even look at trying to snag government contracts if you ask me. Hopefully, this blog will help demystify the process.

The business experts are also top-notch -- two I've quoted in my own Entrepreneur magazine stories also turn up on business.gov, Barbara Weltman, and franchise "king" Joel Libava. Solid advice there too, but the secret sauce has got to be the quick access to government managers who may be easier to reach through the business.gov community than through their voicemail.

You can also build a profile on the business.gov community--just another busy Web site where you could have a free online presence.