It's all in the mind.

The Internet and major online services – America Online, CompuServe, Prodigy, and Microsoft Network – all offer useful resources for small businesses. But for every site that gives you good information on a potential client, there are 200 more that will waste your time. If you’ve logged on to cyberspace with little more than spiffy new software and a respectable modem, you may feel bit lost among the vast amount of information suddenly at your fingertips.

Business people need help, too!

Business people need help, too!

Our editors have traversed the nether reaches of the online services and the Internet’s World Wide Web and come up with a list of the most useful places for entrepreneurs. Accessing most of these sites costs no more than the amount of time you spend on your online account. Some, like the Web’s Info-Seek, charge extra for their superior content. To further help you, we’ve even highlighted our favorite 10 with a “Top Site” icon. Whether your needs are general or specific, we found resources for businesses of every stripe.

A pretty face wasn’t enough: To make our list, a site had to demonstrate depth of content, accuracy, usefulness, and intelligence. Because infrequently updated or poorly maintained locations tend to contain out-of-date or inaccurate data, we also looked for areas that were clearly well kept by their proprietors.

As the Internet and online services expand, a greater amount of information will appear in more than one place. This is pure gravy for users: The days in which you chose your method of access and stoically endured the holes in its information offerings are fast disappearing. Throughout our list we’ve indicated where information appears on more than one service. By the time you read this, expect such cross-pollination, particularly between the online services and the Web, to be even more common.

Entrepreneur Centers

CCH Business Owner’s Toolkit

Business-consulting firm CCH specializes in assisting small businesses. Its new Toolkit online offering includes a handy and varied collection of advice on hiring, firing, tax law, and other business essentials. CCH is also a good stop for legislative information and news updates.

Entrepreneur Xchange

Do you have knowledge or expertise you’d like to share with an audience online? Are you interested in hearing stories and advice from those who have been there and done that, so to speak? This reader-written column offers a place for entrepreneurs to exchange ideas in a setting much less frenzied than the usual bulletin boards and discussion groups.

The Entrepreneur Zone

The one-stop resource for every entrepreneur, eZone brings America Online’s varied offerings under one roof, taking the place of the older and less robust Small Business Center. We makes our home here with several other content providers. A regular electronic newsletter, In the Zone, reminds you to check in when new content is added. There’s even a Dilbert link.

Entrepreneurial Edge Online

Slick and well organized, this site will bring the budding entrepreneur up to speed on all aspects of getting started. Forty-eight “modules” of tips and advice walk you through starting, growing, and marketing your business. The site also carries Edge, a quarterly journal with suggestions on growing your business. A good collection of links to other home pages rounds out this site.

Women Entrepreneurs on the Web

Regional information makes Entrepreneurs on the Web especially strong. This site is also an excellent resource for all aspects of running a business with links to legal, business, motivational, and networking sites.

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