No, this is not your typical regurgitated list of business websites you find listed in every business publication available online. This is my personal list of favorites that have helped me with my business career. While some people will simply give you a list of publications such as the New York Times or Business Journals, I wanted to show you a list of the most useful online business publications and websites that I have found great benefit from.
There is nothing wrong with the major publications and websites of the world. I am a regular reader of Entrepreneur and Inc. as well as a few others. However, reading these publications is like reading your morning newspaper. The information is great but is often set aside until you read the same or similar article in another publication.
So here is my list. If I missed a site that you use on a regular basis, please let me know in the comments. Who knows? Maybe I will use it and add it to the list.
The top website on my list is BusinessTown. It is full of information for business owners and those thinking of jumping on the entrepreneur train. Why BusinessTown? Simple answer is “it’s all in the video.”
As a disclaimer, I have written several articles for BusinessTown but the possibility of writing for them is not what attracted me to the site. It was the endless video content that is set up to help everyone in business; from people just thinking about starting a business to C-level employees of Fortune 500 companies.
Founded by Harvard Business School graduate Bob Adams, the site has hundreds of videos that cover topics such as deciding between starting your business or franchising, how to create a unique selling proposing, and leadership videos that are both instructional and inspirational.
So, as opposed to reading similar content over and over from major publications such as Business Insider or the Wall Street Journal, you can simply sit back and watch a video with personalized content to meet whatever topic you are trying to learn.
Quora is where you want to turn when you need an answer. Sometimes, you can find your answer there due to someone else previously asking. So what is Quora? Consider it like the “Ask Jeeves” or “Yahoo Answers” of the business world.
With Quora, you won’t get any of the Yahoo Answer replies. In fact, you must have a valid login (using your real name) and accept cookies to use the site. It is full of experts and entrepreneurs who are more than willing to give their advice on business issues. Need an answer? Simply login and present your question to the community.
Quora has become a go-to source for many people because of the level of expertise you can receive. Some of the people answering your questions could be Netscape founder, Marc Andreessen, or Facebook VP of Advertising, Andrew Bosworth. Kind of beats Yahoo Answers in my opinion.
Founded by two former Facebook employees (Adam D’Angelo & Charlie Cheever), the site has become one of the top 100 most visited websites in the world. How’s that for a business knowledge database?
CrunchBase is a project of TechCrunch, one of the most popular tech publications you will find on the web. While most people will tell you to read TechCrunch (and it does have great content), I like to focus more on CrunchBase. Why? It’s a treasure trove of information.
CrunchBase is set up similar to Wikidata or the old Freebase website. You can create your own profile as well as one for your business and search thousands of other profiles. It is an open source contributor platform so people are pumping data into it every day. What type of data? Funding rounds, names of founders and investors, web addresses, news related to companies and more.
You can search and contribute for free and also receive email alerts about people or companies you follow. As Big Data is now the buzz word, CrunchBase is a step ahead of most. If you are looking for data to help your company, this is a great place to start.
On a side note, CrunchBase has tremendous SEO power. If anything, make sure to add your company to the site as the profile on CrunchBase will land high in search results.
When you think of the U.S. Small Business Administration, you think of a brick and mortar office you walk into with a business plan and seeking help. While this is true for the most part, the SBA does much more. They have many classes in your local area that help you with things like marketing, funding, etc.
What’s great about SBA.gov is that most of the information you would normally get in person can now be found online. They have an online learning center which takes you through courses on financing, government contracting, managing a business, and marketing. You can also find answers to basic questions such as how to start a business, how to write a business plan, and information on SBA loan programs.
The great thing about the website is you no longer need to call and make an appointment to see someone as most of the information is right there online. However, the website does allow you to schedule an appointment with a local office if you so choose.
I will warn you up front that Udemy will cost you money to get the best benefit but it is worth every penny you pay. Udemy is a website created in response to the massive open online course movement and allows experts to create and market courses outside of the traditional learning environment.
Okay, that sounds like a sales pitch so let me break it down a little better for you. Basically, the site is filled with short how-to courses that teach you everything you wanted to know about business (marketing, social media, business plans, etc.). Instead of spending weeks on a college course, the Udemy course breaks down everything you need to know in a “crash course” style. That way you learn what you need without having to listen to all the other BS you would from a traditional professor.
Just think if you could go back and shrink all your college classes down into a few hours. In addition to purchasing courses to increase your knowledge, you can also create and market your own course if you have an expertise.
6. Content Marketing Institute / Convince & Convert
Now we get into the websites that generate content that will help with marketing. I lump Content Marketing Institute and Convince & Convert together as they go hand in hand. Both talk about content marketing and how to convert website visitors into customers.
The Content Marketing Institute was founded by Joe Pulizzi, who is considered one of the industry leaders in content marketing. In addition to advice from Pulizzi, the site accepts expert authors as contributors who provide advice on content marketing. CMI also has an annual conference that is attended by thousands.
Convince & Convert was founded by Jay Baer, a content marketing influencer and brand advisor with as much clout in the field as Pulizzi. The site offers much of the same as CMI but also has an educational section with podcasts, white papers, and webinars.
I use both of these together, as, if one site doesn’t cover something in depth, the other one will. The diversity of authors also helps bring in different points of view to help you maximize on your content marketing efforts.
Final Thought on the Most Useful Business Websites
As with many things, this list is constantly growing. As more and more sites come to my attention and I find them useful, I will be adding them to this list. If I missed your site and you think it deserves a mention, let me know in the comments below.
Featured image courtesy of Flickr.