Five Cool Resources for Small Businesses in Hot Water
(FeatureSource) It doesn’t take much to scald a small
business: disputes that just can’t seem to be resolved, website security
breaches, on-the-job accidents that send insurance rates soaring. A number of
issues can singe your business. When the heat is on, business owners need to
know where to find help. And fast.
Today more than 26 million Americans operate small businesses, and millions
more will start over the next five years. Nearly all of those entrepreneurs
will find themselves in a sticky situation at one time or another. Knowing
exactly where to find solutions for problems can make the difference between
success and failure.
“All businesses face challenges,” says Daniel Kehrer, nationally
syndicated business columnist and editor of “The 100 Best Resources for Small
Business” (BizBest Media, $19.95 at www.bizbest100.com). “Those that
conquer their challenges have access to the best connections to solutions,
which ultimately boosts profits and gets things done.”
With over 20 years of experience as a business journalist, publisher and
author, Daniel Kehrer is one of America’s leading experts on small business
and entrepreneurship. He writes a nationally syndicated column on small
business and has been a frequent guest on business-related radio and television
programs. His company, BizBest Media, publishes resources and solution
information that set the standard in the industry.
As a business owner and journalist, Kehrer has spent decades sniffing out
resources that can provide solutions for the unique challenges faced by small
businesses. Here are five:
1. The American Arbitration Association (AAA) is a not-for-profit
organization that offers alternative dispute resolution (ADR) services,
helping resolve over 200,000 cases yearly. AAA provides a forum for hearing
disputes via 34 offices nationwide and use broadly accepted rules and a roster
of 8,000 impartial experts to help resolve cases.
You must find the right resources and connections to keep things running
smoothly for your small business. “There’s a gold mine of help in every
area,” says Kehrer, “You just have to know where to find it.” Don’t let
your business get singed.
Most disputes use mediation and arbitration, but even less formal methods
like fact-finding, mini-trial and partnering are being used more by small
firms. AAA has excellent ADR publications, plus downloadable forms that can
help you head off disputes in the future.
2. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) helps resolve business disputes
by using common sense alternatives to expensive legal actions. Programs are
run through local BBBs under the direction of the group’s national umbrella
organization, the Virginia-based Council of Better Business Bureaus.
BBBs offer several levels of help, from informal advice to structured
mediation and arbitration. The BBB’s Dispute Resolution website explains how
it works. A program called BBB Care helps small businesses and their customers
quickly address disputes at low cost and without attorneys. More than 100 BBB
offices nationwide offer the program. Bureau staff will work with you and the
people involved to help resolve the dispute.
3. McAfee Security delivers world-class software and service
solutions that help small businesses secure and protect their computers and
make their technology work better. McAfee’s well-regarded anti-virus,
security, encryption and desktop optimization products include VirusScan,
SpamKiller, Personal FireWall, EasyRecovery and QuickClean. Prices for most
products range from $35 to $99. In addition to “over-the-counter” retail
security products, McAfee also offers security services by subscription via
4. Norton AntiVirus from Symantec ranks among the world’s most
trusted anti-virus software. It repairs common virus infections automatically,
without interrupting your work. It also scans and cleans both incoming and
outgoing e-mail and defends against script-based viruses, even between virus
Also, Norton Personal Firewall is an easy-to-use program that keeps hackers
out and your data in. It helps protect confidential data in e-mail, Microsoft
Office attachments, websites and instant messages. Symantec offers both
AntiVirus and Personal Firewall as a bundle for $79. They also have a line of
related products to provide Internet security and help solve common computer
5. The National Safety Council (NSC) is an excellent source for
workplace safety advice and information. This nonprofit operates under a
federal charter and is one of the nation’s leading safety resources.
NSC offers posters and banners, safety publications, software, training
programs, videos and more. Their website has helpful information for small
businesses in areas such as repetitive motion injuries, emergency care,
ergonomics and compliance with standards set by OSHA (Occupational Safety and
Health Administration). NSC also offers an emergency preparedness package and
info on proper use and handling of chemicals.
If you have employees who drive as part of your business, the NSC’s safe
driving manual can be especially helpful. Consulting services are also
available. Annual membership of $215–$300 includes discounts and additional
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