Entrepreneur and snowed in?

Omar Wani
Here are 5 websites you can check out while working from home “Information is the fastest selling good for entrepreneurs today”- my partner and I are talking about what really matters to budding businesspeople out there.

What adds juice to the punch is the fact that there is more than sufficient information available to the keen eye searching www on topics varying from finance, markets, acquisition and supply chain and all that ‘information that China holds close’.

From the online world, Google is indispensable for me. What is striking is the level of precision with which searched keywords find a response, as opposed to Yahoo, which in my experience brings you round the wicket. I haven’t been patient to go through to look for a third option.

So, for the budding entrepreneur if we were to do some thinking and help out with websites that would be useful for them, besides the usual Facebook and Gmail conversations, one would tend to frame the requirements across five areas: Idea Generation, a source for relevant Tools, sourcing or use of Finance, looking at world markets from a brand & money lens and something for the ‘soul of the business’.

Here is our list- to enrich our business readers with accessible information – come sun, or snow.

Ideas
If you are the sort of person to leave idea generation to others, or someone who is brilliant at getting things done in your own style – www.springwise.com is for you. They’ll send you 10 ideas in your mailbox each month. Creative work that varies from finding solutions on saving the kitchen space, storing spices, to having the best goggles for swimming under water – they have what it takes to really spot creative stuff across the globe and bringing it to you. You’ll then have to see how it fits your market.

Springwise.com has a sister concern- Trendwatching.com. Another brilliant website that features branding and creative trends each month. They’ll show you how viral marketing can change your entire positioning strategy- may be our Retail Colleagues in Polo View can try some of these innovative tactics to share their discount prices & or sale terms with customers within 100 ft of their shop. With the sms service up and running, this is a channel worth exploring.

The Tools
A banker’s favorite area is to ensure your documentation is in place – business plan, marketing tactics, breakeven-forecast, and all the other models you never thought about. This one – www.smetoolkit.org is an international website that gives you everything. The India page (www.smetoolkit.org/india) which is promoted by ICICI Bank will give you customized tips and insights to ‘what is expected’ and required by the country’s small and medium sized businesses.

If you are a startup or a running micro firm, this is for you. The tools on this website will allow you to be great at your product and be able to speak in the ‘business jargon’ with the right sized plans without the need to hire an MBA. A good relationship manager who deals with your account or a friend who’s good with numbers should be able to guide you through it.

For Finance
Here’s the big one. Micro entrepreneurs often don’t have a starting point to see where they can find incentives, especially those that the Central Government sponsors. A good website (not so from the appearance) would be to look at www.idbi.com. The website gives you a range of products that may service your requirements. An IDBI Branch will also share a copy of central funds available to you through various schemes. J&K Bank has customized certain products for apple, saffron and handicrafts (www.jkbank.net).
The information that you receive from these institutions is purely to understand the financial obligations that your business will have to make in terms of interest rates, credit periods & quantum of finance. You will have to negotiate at your own terms though – with a well prepared project plan.

News & Markets
For the elders in the market, January is a good time to look at the bourses. Check out www.in.com – a single one time free registration will not only give you an email address but also access to other Network 18 websites, including www.moneycontrol.com. Moneycontrol gives you heads up on the markets, company information, running scrips and an opportunity to configure your own portfolio. Once you input the mutual funds and shares you own, it automatically keeps a track on your stocks. The next time you log in, you instantly know the weather – up or down is signaled by a green or red giving you the pulse of the day. Plus the NFOs and IPOs flow in to your mailbox, if you want it that way.
This is for the market addicts… with or without investments, this is a good source to get some information on how the markets behave. Please take informed decisions.

And finally, for the Soul
This one is a blog and a new favorite – http://www.entrepreneursoul.co.cc/.  With titles like ‘The Problem is the reward for success’ and ‘Get rid of prejudices’ – this pick has been featured for two reasons.

One, for the times that you feel low and you start to question your abilities. Some of these blog posts will really give you simple solutions to problems that seem big and complex. And two, one day, it would be great to start your own blog… express your ideas, share your experiences, help other startups find the right kind of counseling in your region or industry and inspire your near ones to do bigger things.

Here is wishing you a very enterprising week on the world-wide-web!

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