Volume 4, Number 25 -- June 27, 2007

Microsoft Provides Free Tools for Launching a Small Business

Published: June 27, 2007

by Alex Woodie

Thinking of starting your own business? There are a lot of decisions to make, and a lot of hoops to jump through. To help ease the pain and learning curve a bit, Microsoft this week launched the Startup Center, a free online guide at designed to walk small-business owners through the steps they need to start their own business.

The Startup Center Web site covers a range of topics small business owners must face when starting a business. For example, the Web site provides a rundown on the plusses and minuses associated with different types of business structure, such as sole proprietorships, general partnerships, limited liability companies, and C corporations. Other regulatory topics covered include getting the proper licenses and registrations, understanding taxes, and shopping for insurance.

But that's not all! Any company needs a space, whether rented office space or a home office, and the Startup Center provides tips on making this less painful. Other topics covered include designing a brand, setting up sales and marketing, handling finances, and, finally, hiring employees.

Microsoft isn't going it alone with the Startup Center--it's also brought along three of its partners, Bank of America, FedEx, and MasterCard. Startup Center users will be presented with the opportunity to purchase cash-flow management solutions, business intelligence, and other programs from MasterCard; financial and payroll management software, small-business checking and credit card accounts, and an online health insurance platform from BofA; and shipping and office-related solutions from FedEx and its subsidiary, Kinko's.

Cindy Bates, general manager of U.S. Small Business at Microsoft, says the new Web site will be a boon to small businesses. "Visitors to not only learn how to launch their own business, but are immediately equipped with real-world tools to help them succeed," she says. "By combining extensive knowledge from four companies that have an established commitment to the small-business community, we are creating a comprehensive experience on the Web for new small businesses."

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Editor: Alex Woodie
Contributing Editors: Dan Burger, Joe Hertvik,
Shannon O'Donnell, Timothy Prickett Morgan
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