Listed below are some of the sites that we have found to have comprehensive, useful information for people interested in starting a business or in improving their existing businesses.
A comprehensive site with articles written by smart, passionate, accomplished people who are experts in their field. You'll find information about business practices, general business, industry specific information, and small business.
These advertising to sales ratios can help you benchmark your advertising spending by showing the average amount that businesses in your industry spend on ads. Covering dozens and dozens of industries, the reports show advertising as a percent of sales, advertising as a percent of margin, and ad growth percentage.
American Express Open for Business
Use this commercial site to network with other small business owners, find articles, resources and tools for your business, and get tax help.
Association of Bay Area Governments
ABAG is an association of 100 cities and the nine counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, and Sonoma. It is a regional planning agency working to help solve problems in areas such as land use, housing, environmental quality, and economic development.
Bay Area Council
The Bay Area Council is a business-sponsored, public-policy advocacy organization for the nine-county Bay Area. It proactively advocates for a strong economy, a vital business environment, and a better quality of life for everyone.
A comprehensive free resource of small business information. Packed with dozens of guides, tools and techniques on starting a business, financial management, internet business, sales & marketing, personnel, international trade, and more.
Articles, tools and resources designed to walk you through the process of writing a business plan as quickly and easily as possible.
If you are just getting started in business or branching out into new areas, it can be hard to understand the associated terms and concepts. With over 20,000 definitions, you can search this site for a specific term, or choose a general category [e.g., accounting & auditing, e-commerce, agreements & contracts, etc.] and read a definition for any word.
Business Performance Dashboard
So how does your business measure up? The Business Performance Dashboard is a first step in answering that question. This tool from Entrepreneur.com can help you compare your business to the average business in your industry and of your size and age. Once you have that information, it can help you pinpoint areas in need of improvement and those of excellence.
California Association of Business Brokers
A professional trade association whose members are actively involved in assisting their clients in selling, buying, and evaluating businesses.
California Chamber of Commerce
The California Chamber of Commerce is the largest, broad-based business advocate working at the state and federal levels to influence government actions affecting all California business. This site links to local chambers of commerce.
California Community Colleges Economic and Workforce Development Program
Ten initiatives provide a variety of solutions for business development and workforce training needs to strengthen on-the-job performance and business competitiveness.
California Department of Consumer Affairs — Licensing and Permit Information
Information on types of state licenses required and how to obtain them. DCA licenses in more than 100 business and 200 professional categories, including doctors, dentists, contractors, cosmetologists and automotive repair facilities. It includes 40 regulatory entities that establish minimum qualifications and levels of competency for licensure. They also license, register, or certify practitioners, investigate complaints and discipline violators.
California Department of Finance
This web site provides economic forecasts, county profiles and economic indicators for the state’s fiscal matters.
California Electronic Job Listing Service
This California state service is an Internet system for linking employer job lists and job seeker resumes.
California Employer Advisory Council
The CEAC and local Employer Advisory Councils (EAC) are recognized and accepted by employers and government as the premier information resources for the employer perspective on employment and other workforce development issues.
California Employment Development Department
A direct link to job placement and referrals, unemployment insurance, disability insurance, employment and training, labor market information, employment taxes and more.
California Employment Training Panel
ETP is a California State agency that funds training that meets the needs of employers for skilled workers and the need of workers for good, long-term jobs.
California Healthcare Foundation
Everything small business owners and their advisors need to know about offering health insurance. An unbiased resource on cost estimates, tax savings, coverage options, legal rights, and more.
California Labor Market Information
Information by geographical area, subject or industry including occupational and career information, employment by industry, wages, and industrial classifications.
California Legislative Information
Provides daily updates on the State Legislature including: Today's Events, Bill Information; California Law; Your Legislature; Legislative Publications; Legislative WWW Sites; Legislative Counsel; New Features.
California Secretary of State/Business Service Center
This Web site includes information on types of business structures, filing requirements, name availability, status requests, copies/certificates. File a Statement of Information for your corporation online. Check records online for Corporations, Limited Partnerships and Limited Liability Companies.
California Small Business Association
The California Small Business Association is is a grass roots, volunteer driven, non-profit small business advocacy organization and their mission is to provide small business with a meaningful voice in state and federal government. In addition to advocating for small business, CSBA offers benefits and discounts for member businesses, including health care, long term care, and retirement plans.
California State Library
California's public research library that helps meet the knowledge and information needs of the population.
California Service Center
Created through a partnership between the State Board of Equalization, Employment Development Department, Franchise Tax Board and the Internal Revenue Serve. A one-stop shop for the small business community with links to various government and non-government sites that provide business owners research information and resources on different aspects of starting, running and closing a small business in California.
A free resource which businesses, citizens, schools, nonprofits, and governmental entities can use to match those who have unwanted materials with others who may want those materials. Materials exchange promotes the reuse and recycling of items and materials that might otherwise be thrown away.
An interesting and amusing questionnaire that will help you determine the value of a start-up business. Valuing a startup is intrinsically different from valuing established companies. Startup valuations are largely determined based on qualitative attributes. This valuation model produces reasonably good valuations. Of course, every situation is different, so results may vary.
Center for Business Planning
This library of resources contains links to hundreds of sites offering research materials on every area of planning a business including: venture capital, new products, market analysis, competitive analysis, production management, tax problems, legal issues, financial statements, writing a business plan and much more.
Centers for International Trade Development (CITDs)
CITDs are the state's top source of trade assistance. CITDs offer a variety of free or low-cost programs & services to assist local companies in doing business abroad. These include one-on-one technical assistance and consulting, market research, training and educational programs, trade leads and special events.
Enter a county, city, or zip code – or browse by state – to find pages and pages of information on U.S. places. Included are statistics on everything from age and income to ancestral heritage; from population change due to commuting to crime rates; from most common occupation to climate trends.
Developed by the non-profit Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the site provides original articles, written by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs, and aggregates the best of the best content on the Web related to starting and running high-impact companies.
Federal Business Opportunities
The single government point-of-entry (GPE) for Federal government procurement opportunities over $25,000. Government buyers are able to publicize their business opportunities by posting information directly to FedBizOpps via the Internet and commercial vendors seeking Federal markets for their products and services can search, monitor, and retrieve opportunities solicited by the entire Federal contracting community.
Federal Technology Center
The Federal Technology Center is a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote economic development by facilitating technology transfer between government and the private sector, and by helping small businesses successfully compete for government contracts.
Intuit’s Learning Center for Small Business
Contains helpful articles on starting a business, running a business and growing a business. Topics include finance, managing employees, and attracting customers.
Built for small-business owners, by small-business owners. Simple, easy access to business information for today’s business owner. Templates and worksheets provide help with loan applications, taxes, employee relations and government contracts. The site also provides links to such resources as federal agencies and local chambers of commerce.
Microsoft Small Business
Provides a variety of services for small businesses, including details about how to promote business online. Contains advice, guides and news.
My Own Business
Free, nonprofit site designed to take potential entrepreneurs and first-time business owners through an online course in the basic do’s and don’ts and how to avoid failure in starting and operating your own business.
A massive central data source and a handy way to graphically compare nations. You can generate maps and graphs on all kinds of statistics with ease. If you are considering expanding your business anywhere in the world, this is an incredible resource to begin researching a country or determining where your product might find the best new markets.
Nolo is the nation’s leading provider of do-it-yourself legal solutions for consumers and small businesses.
North Bay Biz
Monthly magazine dedicated to exclusive coverage of business in the North Bay area of California (Marin, Napa, and Sonoma counties).
North Bay Business Journal
A weekly publication and online business news for the north San Francisco bay area counties of Napa, Sonoma, and Marin.
Northern California SBDC Network
A regional program that services 14 counties with nine centers located in: San Jose, San Francisco, Aptos, Concord, Oakland, Santa Rosa, Fairfield, Napa, and Eureka. Each Small Business Development Center provides management counseling, technology advising, training, and reference resources for small businesses and entrepreneurs.
This Sonoma County daily newspaper includes current news and archive files by subject.
Resource Guide to Financial Opportunities with State Government
Guide for small businesses about finance opportunities from the State of California Controller’s Office. Includes all state funding programs.
The American Bar Association developed this website as a resource for business people launching ecommerce enterprises and for businesses venturing into online sales. First-time entrepreneurs and established small to medium-sized business expanding their horizons should find helpful information on this site about selling goods and services online.
State-owned, non-bank financial assistance. Access to federal and state loan programs for small businesses.
Santa Rosa Junior College
Widely regarded as one of the finest community colleges in the state, Santa Rosa Junior College is known for its academic rigor, its outstanding vocational training programs, superb faculty, comprehensive student services, and excellent facilities.
SBDC Technology Assistance Program
As part of the Northern California SBDC Network, TAP specializes in improving business operations by providing no-cost technology consulting and low-cost training to help small businesses build technology awareness. TAP also facilitates and supports the technology implementation process.
SCL Biz: Everything Business in Sonoma County
SCL Biz is a production of the Sonoma County Library and is provided as a service to the business community. The Library's goal is to help budding entrepreneurs start a business; to help established businesses grow; and to help all business people manage their operations by using the extensive resources of the Library - materials in print, online, audio, and video, all available to our patrons free of charge. SCL Biz will also keep you informed of business events of all kinds in Sonoma County.
The Service Corp of Retired Executives offers informational sites along with online expertise in starting and owning a business.
Sonoma County Purchasing Division
Thousands of products and services are purchased annually for the continuing conduct of County business. The Purchasing Division purchases and leases goods, contracts for professional services, engages independent contractors and contract for construction services on behalf of the County and its Departments. The Purchasing Division also manages personal property declared surplus to County needs. The County of Sonoma uses an online purchasing system for bidding and issuing purchase orders.
A free service designed to match the discards of businesses and other entities in Sonoma County with potential users. Any business, nonprofit group, or government agency can list materials they have available or would like to acquire.
Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) Codes
If you know the SIC code for your business or industry, you can research employment, productivity, import/export, etc., for that industry. SIC codes were established in the 1930s primarily to help measure and compare statistical information.
North American Industry Classification System (NAICS)
A more detailed classification system that covers the U.S., Mexico, and Canada, NAICS codes allow for closer comparisons than SIC codes. Almost all business research is easier if you know your SIC and NAICS codes (some agencies and publications, including the SEC, still use SIC).
Small Biz Manager
Reviews, screens and recommends business services and products, and offers marketing tools useful to small businesses.
Small Biz U
Designed specially for entrepreneurs and small businesses, this an online university focuses on money, management and marketing, providing real world tools and information for entrepreneurs.
Small Business Resources
Free, helpful advice from more than 100 small business and internet experts about starting and running a small business.
Sonoma County Economic Development Board Resources
The Sonoma County Economic Development Board (EDB) provides information and referral services to help local businesses to start up, succeed, and grow. Site includes a Business Assistance Guide, Resource Guide, International Resource Guide, Doing Business with the County, Expanding/Relocating in Sonoma County.
Sonoma County Web Developers
A non-profit providing resources and networking for the local web community.
Sonoma State University
Homepage for Sonoma State University a liberal arts and sciences university dedicated to providing high-quality undergraduate education and selected professional graduate programs.
step-by-step advice on opening a business, managing your money, marketing your website, etc.; almost 100 short articles on topics in business financing, models, planning, technology, inventing, web-based, life planning, home-based businesses, marketing, running a business, and sales; community forums, newsletters, and much more.
A statistical database which allows you to research and compare a multitude of different data on US states. You can create pie charts, maps, graphs and scatter plots. They also have thousands of map and flag images, state profiles, and correlations.
Studio One Networks: Real Small Business
Articles from small business experts on Building a Business (starting & structuring), Sales and Marketing (PR, B2B, pricing your product), Managing (hiring, insurance), and Money Matters (employee compensation, tax season, your company’s credit rating). Lots of “practical advice and solutions for today’s small business.
Comprehensive international trade information, trade leads, and company databases. Guides you through the export process.
Tradeshow News Network
Locate tradeshows, exhibitors, and suppliers nationwide.
UCLA, Anderson School of Management, Center for International Business Education and Research
The Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER) is a good place to start if you plan to trade internationally. This link can take you to CIBER sites at 27 other universities across the country.
US Business Advisor
Business.gov is the single access point to all government services and information. This site is designed to help small businesses navigate and understand applicable federal and state rules and regulations. This includes resources on compliance information on Federal rules and regulations; forms that may be either printed or electronically completed and submitted to government agencies; access to state and local government web-based resources.
US Census Information
Very useful census data available for market research.
US Department of Labor
The Department of Labor provides compliance assistance to small business through “elaws”, an interactive exchange that allows small business owners to ask questions about labor laws.
US Environmental Protection Agency
The EPA offers small business advice on how to keep the environment clean and how to comply with environmental regulations.
US Federal Trade Commission
The US Federal Trade Commission enforces federal consumer protection laws that prevent fraud, deception and unfair business practices. The FTC offers creative, practical, plain-language business education publications that are a cost-effective and business-friendly way to obtain compliance with the law.
US Government Export Portal
Export counseling, financing and trade events for small businesses interested in expanding their markets outside of the US.
US Government’s Web Portal
Learn more about the resources of the federal government on the Web. Takes the confusion out of the maze of government websites and helps you find the information you need. Online Services for Business section to find out more about the government and small business.
US Internal Revenue Service
Great information put out by the IRS on what you need to know about taxes and your small business.
US Minority Business Development Agency
Helps minority-owned businesses by actively promoting their ability to grow and compete in the global economy. MBDA programs provide the assistance with access to financing, access to the marketplace, access to education, access to technology.
US Patent & Trademark Office
The United States Patent & Trademark Office site has information on patents and trademarks, including services provided, guides and resources.
US Postal Service
The US Post Office site helps business owners design direct mail pieces. Sign up for “Direct Mail Made Easy” seminars.
US Small Business Administration
Valuable information on federal programs for small businesses as well as loan program details. Complete listing of SBDC’s throughout the country.
US Small Business Administration, Office of Advocacy
Find the latest in government research on small business. Also a resource for updates on upcoming regulations.
Whole Foods Market Local Producer Loan Program
$10 million available annually for low-interest loans to small, local agricultural producers for expansion (e.g., buy more animals or new equipment/infrastructure, expand crops), not operating expenses. Loan amounts targeted between $1,000 and $100,000. Flyer (PDF)