Expert Advice for Nothing

Two new websites are dedicated to getting new businesses off the ground--and they don't charge a dime.
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This story appears in the June 2010 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

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."


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