Here's a sad reality for any home-based entrepreneur hoping to use the Internet to save time and money on essentialbusiness matters: there is so much junk floating around in cyberspace relating to so-called HBOs (home-based offices)that Web surfers are much more likely to waste both time and money than to save them.
A case in point: The Web site of the American Association of Home-Based Businesses seems promising at first glance.The trouble is, the site consists mostly of a pitch to attract members at $30 a year for benefits -- such as membershipin a discount-travel association and low-cost office products that are easily found elsewhere. The advice offered by thesite is along the lines of "invest in a sturdy, four-drawer file cabinet" and "limit the number of papers in each manilafile folder to 20." Hmmmm.
As a general rule of thumb, home-based business owners will find high-caliber advice -- and good bottom-line payoffs-- from the best Web sites that serve larger businesses. After all, most issues relating to finances, marketing, raisingcapital, and the like are relevant to all growth-oriented companies.
Still, if you are searching for specific HBO advice, try visiting these three sites:
www.hoaa.com will bring entrepreneurs to a business organization that charges a $49 annual membership fee. But in this case membership brings a number of real advantages: low-cost health insurance, UPS discounts, hotel and car-rental savings, and -- an unusual but appealing benefit -- inexpensive rates for using a collection agency to pursue slow-paying customers. For those Web surfers who want to browse but not buy, the site also boasts a high-quality network of Internet links to legal, government, and other relevant sources.
www.iii.org is not devoted purely to the home-based business community but is a good source of insurance information. Visit this site to learn the basics before you comparison shop for insurance policies or brokers.
www.homeprofessionals.com has plenty of strikes against it. Serious home-based entrepreneurs may be put off by the hokey products that the site markets, including some cutesy-poo coffee mugs and "homework" posters. But there's one good reason to check out this spot: its comprehensive list of books that address various challenges for home-based business owners.