Selected Core Resources

Sponsored by the BRASS Education Committee

Small Business

Maintained by
Penny Scott
University of San Francisco
plscott at

See the BRASS Best of the Best Business Web Sites (Free Resources) page on Small Business for quick links to selected, highly-useful resources on this topic.

Scope | Important Terms | Frequently Asked Questions


This section will deal with those aspects of small business information that are most commonly sought after by library patrons. This includes, but is not limited to the following: how to start a small business, business forms, franchising information, and business plans.

All definitions are taken from Small Business Sourcebook,
Fourteenth Edition, Gale Group, New York, 2001.

Angel investors - Affluent individuals who contribute large amounts of capital in the early stages of a small business, often expecting a high rate of return.

Business license - A legal authorization issued by municipal and state governments and required for business operations.

Business name - Enterprises must register their business names with local governments usually on a doing business as (DBA) form. (This name is sometimes referred to as a fictional name.) The procedure is part of the business licensing process and prevents any other business from using that same name for a similar business in the same locality.

Business plan - A document that spells out a company's expected course of action for a specified period, usually including a detailed listing and analysis of risks and uncertainties. For the small business, it should examine the proposed products, the market, the industry, the management policies, the marketing policies, production needs, and financial needs. Frequently, it is used as a prospectus for potential investors and lenders.

Credit Rating - A letter or number calculated by an organization (such as Dun & Bradstreet) to represent the ability and disposition of a business to meet its financial obligations.

Equity partnership - A limited partnership agreement for providing start-up and seed capital to businesses.

Feasibility study - A study to determine the likelihood that a proposed product or development will fulfill the objectives of a particular investor.

Franchising - A form of licensing by which the owner of the franchise distributes or markets a product, method, or service through affiliated dealers called franchisees. The product, method, or service being marketed is identified by a brand name, and the franchisor maintains control over the marketing methods employed. The franchisee is often given exclusive access to a defined geographic area.

Home-based business - A business with an operating address that is also a residential address (usually the residential address of the proprietor).

Incorporation - The filing of a certificate of incorporation with the secretary of state, thereby limiting the business owner's liability.

Incubator - A facility designed to encourage entrepreneurship and minimize obstacles to new business formation and growth, particularly for high-technology firms, by housing a number of fledgling enterprises that share an array of services, such as meetings areas, secretarial services, accounting, research library, on-site financial and management counseling, and word processing facilities.

Industry financial ratios - Corporate financial ratios averaged for a specified industry. These are used for comparison purposes and reveal industry trends and identify differences between the performance of a specific company and the performance of its industry. Also known as Industrial averages, Industry ratios, Financial averages, and Business or Industrial norms.

Local development corporation - An organization, usually made up of local citizens of a community, designed to improve the economy of the area by inducing business and industry to locate and expand there. A local development corporation establishes a capability to finance local growth.

Marketing plan - A plan for promoting the goals of a business, including market research, and plans for outreach, advertising and distribution. A marketing plan is often part of the larger business plan.

Partnership - Two or more parties who enter into a legal relationship to conduct business for profit. Defined by the U.S. Internal Revenue Code as joint ventures, syndicates, groups, pools, and other associations of two or more persons organized for profit that are not specifically classified in the IRS code as corporations or proprietorships.

Proprietorship - The most common legal form of business ownership; about 85 percent of all small businesses are proprietorships. The liability of the owner is unlimited in this form of ownership.

Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) - Volunteers for the SBA Management Assistance Program who provide one-on-one counseling and teach workshops and seminars for small firms.

Small business - An enterprise that is independently owned and operated, is not dominant in its field, and employs fewer than 500 people. For SBA purposes, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) considers other factors (such as gross annual sales) in determining size of a business.

Small Business Administration (SBA) - An independent federal agency that provides assistance with loans, management, and advocating interests before other federal agencies.

Small business development centers (SBDC) - Centers that provide support services to small businesses, such as individual counseling, SBA advice, seminars and conferences, and other learning center activities. Most services are free of charge, or available at minimal cost.

Start-up financing - Financing provided to companies that have either completed product development and initial marketing or have been in business for less than one year but have not yet sold their product commercially.

Venture capital - Money used to support new or unusual business ventures that exhibit above-average growth rates, significant potential for market expansion, and are in need of additional financing to sustain growth or further research and development; equity or equity-type financing traditionally provided at the commercialization stage, increasingly available prior to commercialization.

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    Where do I find basic information (e.g., financing, market research, site selection, legal requirements) on how to start a small business?

U.S. Small Business Administration. Various publications.

This federal agency produces many reasonably priced publications which are useful for those interested in starting small business ventures. Look for these in depository libraries, and other libraries serving business clientele.

Small Business Sourcebook. Gale Group, 2001.

The purpose of this two-volume resource is to provide sources of information that will facilitate the start-up, development, and growth of specific small businesses. It covers over 300 specific small business profiles and about a hundred general small business topics. Small business programs and assistance are provided for the U.S. and its territories, as well as for many Canadian provinces. U.S. federal government agencies and offices that specialize in small business issues, programs, and assistance are also listed. Other useful information provided includes: URL addresses; company and personal e-mail addresses; licensing information for specific small businesses; Internet sites and online services for small businesses; chambers of commerce; better business bureaus; and new finance resources for those looking to start or expand their businesses.

Encyclopedia of Small Business. By Kevin Hillstrom. Gale Research, 1998.

This two-volume set provides over 500 essays arranged alphabetically on a variety of small business topics including: Business Proposals, Employee Termination, Franchising, Direct Mail, Internet Commerce, Budgets and Budgeting, Barriers to Market Entry, Advertising Strategy, Partnership Agreements, Relocation, and much more. At the end of each essay the reader will find a brief listing of resources for further reading.

How to Set Up Your Own Small Business. American Institute of Small Business, 2001.

This resource includes useful and practical chapters on such topics as: market research, site selection, financing, business law, advertising, bookkeeping, salesmanship, insurance, business plan, franchising, and accounting. Written in a lively and interesting manner, this set provides basic guidance for those individuals contemplating starting a small business.

Small Time Operator. By Bernard B. Kamoroff. Bell Springs Publishing, 1999.

Subtitled How to Start Your Own Small Business, Keep Your Books, Pay Your Taxes And Stay Out of Trouble! Authored by a CPA, this paperback is written in a breezy style, and covers basics such as business location, financing, legal structures, licenses and permits, business plan, bookkeeping, taxes, and intellectual property.

Legal Guide for Starting and Running a Small Business. by Fred S. Steingold. Nolo Press, 1999 (5th edition).

This is intended to be a "self-help book designed to answer most legal questions you're likely to ask in starting and running a business." Chapters include: "Tax Basics for the Small Business;" "Franchises: How Not to Get Burned;" and "Representing Yourself in Small Claims Court." Volume 2 contains sample legal forms.

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    How do I find out about franchises?

Bond's Franchise Guide. Source Book Publications, 2001.

Formerly published as The Source Book of Franchise Opportunities, this annual directory lists over 2,000 franchising opportunities, with in-depth profiles on over a thousand of these. Over 50 industry groups are represented. Names, addresses, and telephone/fax numbers are provided on over 1,000 additional active North American franchisers. Useful for those individuals seeking investment and/or ownership opportunities in franchises.

Franchise Opportunities Handbook: A Complete Guide for People Who Want to Start Their Own Franchise. by LaVerne Ludden. Park Avenue, 1999.

The book's Directory of Franchise Opportunities lists franchises by industry (from Automobile Repair & Maintenance and Pet Sales & Supplies to various types of restaurants and retail establishments). Information provided includes a description of the business, franchise fees, equity capital needed by the franchisee, and types of assistance provided by the franchiser. A Directory of Small Business Development Centers is also included.

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    Are there organizations that assist minorities and women to start small businesses?

Minority Enterprise Small Business Investment Corporation (MESBIC)

A federally funded private venture capital firm licensed by the U.S. Small Business Administration to provide capital to minority-owned businesses.

U.S. Minority Business Development Agency.

Part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, MBDA is the only federal agency created specifically to foster the creation, growth and expansion of minority-owned businesses in the U.S. Assistance is provided to socially or economically disadvantaged individuals who own or wish to start a business. Such persons include: Asian Pacific Americans, Asian Indians, Black Americans, Eskimos/Aleuts, Hasidic Jews, Native Americans, Spanish Speaking Americans, and Puerto Ricans.

U.S. Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization.

Department of Commerce agency responsible for "promoting the use of small, minority, and women-owned small businesses in compliance with Federal laws, regulations, and policies." Assists such firms in securing contracts and subcontracts with the Department of Commerce and its prime contractors.

U.S Small Business Association Office of Women’s Business Ownership.

This government site provides links to resources for women entrepreneurs, as well as mentors, success stories, and a directory of educational resource centers for women in small business.


Tools and resources for businesswomen, including business plans, start up information, funding resources, and other tools. Also links to, which provides an online community with message boards, blogs, business profiles and other information with free registration.

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    Where can I find a list of the most successful types of small businesses?

Inc. Magazine

Each May the Inc. 500 list is published, indicating the top small businesses of the year.

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    Where can I locate periodical articles on small business management and best practices?

This site aids in the location of free magazine articles from all over the web by providing a search engine and a categorization of individual articles. This free service assists users in following the most recent articles in specific areas of interest regardless of where they are published. Magazine articles on entrepreneurship and products and services aimed at small businesses are available through the site.


1000 premier business periodicals are searchable in this database. Full-text is available for many of the citations in the database. Excellent for information on advertising, marketing, economics, human resources, finance, taxation, computers, and more. Also provides information on over 60,000 companies.

Wilson Business Full Text

Indexing dates back to 1982, with full text availability of periodical articles beginning in 1994. Topics covered include: Accounting, Advertising, Banking, Building & Construction, Communications, Computers, Economics, Electronics, Finance, Financial Services, Government Regulations, Health Care, High Technology, Hospitality and Tourism, Human Resources, Industrial Relations, Insurance, Investments, Management, Marketing, Occupational Health & Safety, Publishing, Purchasing, Real Estate, Retail Trade, Small Business, Taxation, Technology, and Transportation.

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    Where can I locate statistics concerning small businesses?

U.S. Small Business Administration. Office of Advocacy. Economic Statistics and Research.

Useful site which includes links to such resources as: The State of Small Business: A Report of the President, Small Business Economic Indicators, The Facts About Small Business, Characteristics of Small Business Owners and Employees, Minorities in Business, Women in Business, Firm Size Data by Location and Industry, and Small Business Growth by Major Industry.

Financial Studies of the Small Business. Financial Research Associates, 1991/92-.

This loose-leaf publication provides industry financial ratios and averages for various manufacturing, retail and service industries. These data are provided for companies with total capitalization of under $1,000,000. In addition to current year information, five-year trend data are also included. Business Statistics.

Contains links to statistics on all manner of topics, from employment, to growth, business profiles, demographics, and more.

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    How can I locate names of companies which will loan money to businesses?

The Directory of Venture Capital Firms. Grey House Publishing, 2001.

Over 1,800 domestic and 600 international companies are profiled. Includes name, address, phone, fax, web site, mission statement, industry group preferences, portfolio companies (those that receive venture capital), geographic preferences, average and minimum investments, and investment criteria.

Pratt's Guide to Venture Capital Sources. Venture Economics, Inc. Capital Publishing, 1984-.

The main section lists venture capital firms by state. Information provided for listed firms includes type of firm; managers, staff, and contact people; and investing criteria and preferences (industry preference, geographic preference, etc.). Foreign venture capital firms are listed in a separate section. Indexed by industry preference, and by personal name.

SBA: Financing Your Business.

Information on government loans, estimating expenses, sources of income, and other financial information.

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    How do I find examples of business plans?

Business Plans Handbook. Gale Group, 2006.

This multi-volume set contains a collection of actual business plans designed by individuals seeking funding for small businesses throughout North America. Each volume presents about two dozen sample plans covering a variety of businesses. A useful feature is the cumulative index in the latest published volume, outlining each plan profiled in the series. Fictional business plans that have been used by small business agencies as models for clients are also provided. A template is included as a model to help in the construction of a business plan. Appendices include useful listings of associations, consultants, SBA regional offices, Small Business Development Centers, SCORE Offices, and venture capital and finance companies.

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh's Business Plans Index

An excellent collection of very detailed online sample business plans for a variety of businesses, from the traditional to more specialized. Business plans for actual, existing businesses are displayed in bold type.

The Complete Book of Business Plans. By Joseph A. Covello. Sourcebooks, 1995.

This paperback includes 11 actual sample business plans. It concisely outlines the necessary steps to write an effective business plan.

How to Write a Business Plan. by Mike McKeever. Nolo Press, 1999.

Chapters in this book cover such topics as Benefits of a Written Business Plan; Your Profit & Loss Forecast; Your Cash Flow Forecast & Capital Spending Plan; and Selling Your Business Plan. Sample business plans for a service business, a manufacturing business, and a project development are included in the book's appendices, as are blank business forms.

Library of Congress: Business Reference Services Small Business Resources
The following two sites together comprise a resource that covers all aspects of business planning:
BEOnline: Business Plans, Forms

BRS Assists: Business Plans

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    How do I write a marketing plan? Marketing Virtual Library.

This web site is a smorgasbord of information about marketing, including information on conducting market research, promotion, using technology, and more. Also includes tutorials on creating marketing plans, and sample plans.

Includes information and detailed samples of business plans and marketing plans, organized alphabetically by type of business.

Small Business Marketing: How to Develop a Marketing Plan.

In addition to a wealth of small business information, this site also provides guidelines for writing a marketing plan, and a worksheet.

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    Where can I locate business forms?

Business Forms On File. Facts On File, Inc., 1999.

This resource is a loose-leaf collection of forms and checklists used to establish contact with government agencies and to organize business record keeping. The most requested forms from such agencies as the Internal Revenue Service, the Small Business Administration, the Department of Labor, the General Services Administration, and other government and quasi-government bodies are provided. Free of copyright restrictions, the documents are designed for easy reproduction for personal use.

U.S. Small Business Association Forms.

Small businesses require lots of paperwork. This government site provides links to hundreds of forms you may need for your business. Searchable by form number, frequently requested forms, or category. Forms may be filled in online and printed, or printed and filled out later.

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    What are some of the professional associations and organizations related to small business, and how can I contact them?

Association of Small Business Development Centers.

A partnership program uniting private enterprise, government, higher education and local nonprofit economic development organizations. Dedicated to the sound development of small business throughout America. Provides a vehicle for continuous improvement of the Small Business Development Center program, exchange of information among members regarding objectives, methods and results in business management and technical assistance and advocacy of America's small business community.

Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE).

Nonprofit association dedicated to entrepreneur education and the formation, growth and success of small business nationwide. Has 11,500 volunteer members and 389 chapters throughout the U.S. Serves as a resource partner with the U.S. Small Business Administration. Association volunteers serve as "Counselors to America's Small Business." Working and retired executives and business owners donate their time and expertise as volunteer business counselors and provide confidential counseling and mentoring free of charge.

Better Business Bureau.

BBB system in the U.S. extends over 98% of the nation; coast-to-coast, and in Hawaii, Alaska, and Puerto Rico. Assists in the solving of marketplace problems through the use of voluntary self-regulation and consumer education. Core Services include: Business Reliability Reports; Dispute Resolution; Truth-in-Advertising; Consumer and Business Education; and Charity Review. BBBOnLine, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, promotes trust and confidence on the Internet through its BBBOnLine Reliability and Privacy programs.

American Independent Business Alliance.

AMIBA fosters alliances among local, independent businesses. Information on this web site deals with joining or creating your own Independent Business Alliance, or IBA, and includes information and support for independent businesses.

American Small Business Alliance.

ASBA is an advocacy group dedicated to protecting the interests of small business in public policy issues. This web site contains information on issues that effect small businesses, such as health care, taxation and technology, ideas for ways to get involved, and links for further reading.

National Federation of Independent Business.

NFIB is also an advocacy group for small businesses. Provides information on issues and how to get involved, as well as tips for small business owners. NFIB has been ranked the most influential business organization in "Washington's Power 25" survey conducted by Fortune magazine.

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    What are some of the most requested magazines directed towards those interested in small business topics?


Monthly magazine which profiles successful and failed business ventures. Covers specific aspects of starting, growing, and managing a business. Reports on money, management, technology, and marketing. A core title for public and academic libraries.

Inc: the magazine for growing companies.

Monthly publication providing hands-on advice, case studies, and big-picture overviews on the state of small- to medium- sized businesses in the U.S. Full contents of the 14 annual issues of Inc. are posted on the web, with the current issue available to subscribers only. Stories back to 1988 are available for free in the online archives. There are a dozen regional issues which may have slight differences. A core title for public and academic libraries.

Black Enterprise.

For 30 years, this venerable monthly publication has profiled entrepreneurs, businesses, and government initiatives. Coverage includes money management, technology, business news and trends, small business management, career development, and consumer affairs. Examples of specialized topics covered include statistical information on the largest African American owned industrial/service companies in the U.S., and the best cities for African Americans to live and work in.

Hispanic Business.

Monthly publication providing research and analysis concerning the Hispanic market, as well as information on associations and all aspects of starting and growing a small business. Examples of special issues include the annual survey of top Hispanic-owned businesses in the U.S., the top 50 high-technology businesses, and teen demographics.

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    What are the best and most reputable sites on the Internet for small business information?

U.S. Small Business Administration.

Well organized federal agency site, which provides among other things, a business startup kit, financing and SBA loan information, links to numerous outside resources (private and state), online library reading room, and much, much more. This should be one of the first sites to consult.

Small Business Advisor.

Award-winning site developed and maintained by Information International, an organization that advises and assists individuals who are considering starting or who are operating a small business. Provides books, special reports, consulting services, and seminars. Advisor page includes useful links to sections on starting a business, operating a business, marketing, legal issues, Web site and internet marketing. Also has extensive links to doing business with the U.S. government, and state resources.

Yahoo! Small Business.

Major portal to useful small business sites. Subcategories include: Start Your Business, Put Your Business Online, Managing Your Business, Business Centers, Chamber of Commerce, and Buyers' Guides.

CCH Business Owner's Toolkit.

Commerce Clearing House's Small Office Home Office Guidebook comprises most of this highly substantive site. Major chapters include Starting Your Business, Planning Your Business, Getting Financing for Your Business, Marketing Your Product, Win Government Contracts, and Controlling Your Taxes. Business Tools provides links to downloadable checklists, model business plans, forms, and other documents. Human Resource Tools allows enrollment in free e-mail training courses. Self-Help Law Center.

Nolo (Berkeley, CA) has been a publisher of plain-English legal books, software, and forms for nearly 30 years. Everything published is regularly revised and updated by a staff of lawyer-editors. This site provides articles (with a sense of humor!) on almost any legal topic, and has an extensive small business encyclopedia. Check out such features as the Shark Talk Dictionary, or Ask Auntie Nolo. For those desiring more information, there are convenient links to books and software that are marketed on the site.

Small & Home Based Business Library.

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Last updated 03/09/09
Originally created by Les Kong, California State University, San Bernardino
Previously maintained by Doug Highsmith, California State University, Hayward

Sponsored by the BRASS Education Committee