We're taking next week off at CNET, so here's a post built to last folks interested in small business.
First, may we suggest you look through our new Best Practices section. We're proud--justifiably, we think--of the business advice we give geared to what small businesses need: solutions. We'll be building it out and adding to it over the coming weeks and launching it in a bigger way come mid-January for Back to Business Month (which lasts well longer than 30 days, for your information; don't ask).
There are plenty of other useful tips and sections all around the Web. This entry is also a little gift, because it has some of the most useful links we've found to small-business news and tips.
Since it's almost 2006, we have to have predictions. We have our own, which we'll get to in a sec, but here are some from others.
Search guru and general tech man about many towns John Batelle thinks Google will stumble but not fall, and that we'll get more free video. Microsoft won't buy the Opera browser but Batelle predicts it will get 5 percent of search traffic, if I read him correctly.
Blogmeister Jason Calacanis thinks a bunch of blog networks will fail, or at least fail to succeed, and that CNET will do some buying and will also be bought.
Marketing man Steve Rubel says we'll see search and aggregation of blog comments, not just blogs.
Lots more available here, on Technorati, through tags. Thanks to Steve Rubel for the link.
Here are some of those promised links:
Business Week does a great job of writing for small business, including this week's piece on how people in small business, such as doctors and accountants, can market themselves. There's also a slide show of young entrepreneurs.
SmallBizTechnology covers what its name implies, including referrals like this one on how Google Base can help boost your search engine ranking.
The Wall Street Journal's Startup Journal isn't so much of a resource or tips center as it is a lot of stories that can give a broader context or be mined for a few useful gems, including this one on retirees starting their own businesses.
Entrepreneur.com often focuses on franchising, but it also has plenty of tips applicable to small business, such as this one on developing an employee Instant Messaging (IM) policy.
Microsoft has a small business area with advice on topics like whether to open a business office outside your home.
Other ones we check on occasion include SmallBusinessCEO, FastCompany's blog and its sister Inc. We check Technorati and http://del.icio.us/ for things tagged with "small business."
Our predictions? Well, mine, really. I see a lot of ferment, continued positive climate for small biz. There's been talk in DC of giving small business more regulatory advantages (or removing some disadvantages that were constructed for big biz), increasing numbers of marketing dollars targeted at small companies, more ways small companies are pooling resources to leverage each others' purchasing power and expertise. It all makes sense, and technology makes it possible.
And I begin to wonder why anyone would work for a larger company. The idea of long-term security is a chimera: there's no such thing as a sure thing, anymore. Even your pension is up for grabs. Small biz provides so much more fun, more humanity, more opportunity, and, increasingly, just as good benefits and tools (our Best Practices section will soon have a story on how small businesses can get big-time benefits through HR services, and we already have stories on how Web services help make them--that is, us--seem much bigger than we are and get a lot done with a very few people).
Here's to a joyous holiday--or at least a restful and rewarding week--and a prosperous new year.