Free beginner guides for entrepreneurs. Pic by James Jordan.

7 Free Beginner Guides for Small Business Entrepreneurs

It’s hard work trying to find the time to develop a new business idea, create a business plan, build a website, create content, marketing, promotions, networking, investments, and everything else that has to get done.

That’s why, particularly for new and aspiring entrepreneurs, it’s even more important to get up and running as efficiently as possible with as little time, effort and cost as possible. Knowing the best way to take your idea and turn it into a successful startup doesn’t have to be a long hard slog. In fact, with the right advice and guidance you can be up and running in no time at all.

Here's our list of complete beginner guides designed to help you with setting up the online component of your new business:

  1. How to start a business
  2. How to make a website
  3. Website builders
  4. Online marketing
  5. Email marketing
  6. How to blog
  7. Marketing strategies

Learn everything from how to choose the right Web platform, the basics of internet marketing, email marketing, how to blog (specifically for business purposes), along with a host of advice and tips on marketing strategies, basic technical knowledge, and plenty more.

1. How to start a business (complete beginner's guide)

how to start a business
Getting ready to dive into the deep end and become an entrepreneur? Starting any new business (big, small, home based, whatever) can exciting and fun; but it does require research, structure, discipline and persistent effort.

Here’s a list of topics covered in the guide:

  • Ideas
  • Business plans
  • Working out how to make money
  • Startup
  • Launching
  • Marketing
  • Networking
  • Working with money
  • Becoming operational

In addition to a solid practical focus with links to plenty of step-by-step guides and other useful online resources, this guide is also full of useful advice and wisdom to help first time entrepreneurs avoid many of the common pitfalls associated with startups.

2. How to make a website (complete beginner's guide)

How to create a website
This step-by-step simple guide to creating a website is for entrepreneurs who want a professional site with great design and functionality that's easy and cheap to make.

Here's an outline of what you'll learn:

  • Costs
  • Important concepts
  • Find a domain name
  • Ways to create a website
  • Understand your site's requirements
  • Choose a Web platform
  • Choose a Web host (if required)

The guide is full of factoids and bits and pieces of useful advice on everything related to creating a website. Including advice on how to choose the perfect domain name – without overpaying or inadvertently choosing one that has been penalized by Google, or blacklisted in one way or another.

3. Website builders (complete beginner's guide)

Beginner guide to website builders
Benefit from this compilation of research data into the top website builders; comparing and ranking them on everything from responsive design, to SEO, value for money and even overall popularity.

In case you didn’t already know,

A website builder allows anyone to build a site without knowing anything about the Internet, programming or Web design.

Here’s what you’ll learn:

  • What is a website builder?
  • Why use a website builder?
  • Top website builder comparison reviews
  • How to select the right website builder
  • Getting started guides
  • Website builder SEO comparison
  • Website builder responsive design comparison

After providing plenty of background and insight into the characteristics of each of the major site builders, you’ll be able to follow along with a complete setup guide to actually get your site online and running in a matter of minutes – regardless of whether it is a blog, professional site or online store.

4. Online marketing (complete beginner's guide)

Online marketing beginner guide
Online marketing can be a completely overwhelming task for small startups. There are myriad different segments, audiences, tools, services and channels to learn about - all with their own quirks and idiosyncrasies.

What you’ll learn in this guide:

  • Understand users & revenue streams
  • Motivation for content and social networking
  • How to build a following
  • How to be influential
  • Networking
  • How to be creative

While most of this guide focuses on a bird’s eye view of marketing on the Internet, there are links to drill-down guides that focus on more specific aspects in detail – in particular email marketing and blogging (content).

5. Email marketing (complete beginner's guide)

Email marketing beginner guide
Email marketing is a popular and effective online strategy for small businesses (as well as large corporates). Like all marketing strategies, email comes with its own set of strengths and weaknesses - but it can also be dangerous for unwary companies.

What you’ll learn from this guide:

  • Why use an email marketing service?
  • Top email marketing service roundup
  • How to create high converting emails
  • How to grow a mailing list

If you’re not yet convinced about whether or not an email marketing strategy is right for your startup, I’d urge you to remember the old marketing adage, “The money’s in the list”. Email marketing has time and again proven to be one of the most sustainable and reliable forms of online marketing there is.

6. How to blog (complete beginner's guide)

How to blog
Learning how to blog is an important business skill that can increase page rankings in Google and bring plenty of traffic to your website.

What you’ll learn in this guide:

  • How to find and understand a niche
  • How to put together a blogging business plan
  • How to write for the Web
  • How to grow a blog
  • SEO
  • Costs & revenue generation
  • How to avoid common pitfalls

Here’s a great definition of a blog to get you started:

A blog is a marketing platform that utilizes quality content, targeted at a specific audience to create social influence, engage readers, build organic search traffic, and generate profits.

7. Marketing strategies

Marketing strategies and ideas
Coming up with marketing ideas for small business can be a challenge. With the wide array of options available, it is important to invest time and money into the most effective marketing ideas to bring the highest returns.

With over 22 creative marketing strategies (complete with guides, how-tos, and plenty of other resources) that you can use, plus links to plenty of other marketing resources and updates coming in all the time, it’s worth checking back on a regular basis to get new inspiration.

Here are a few of the ideas listed:

So that’s the full list of guides for small & home business entrepreneurs and startups to get setup online. Within those guides are plenty of additional advice on virtually every other aspect of starting a business – with everything from how to come up with great business ideas to more advanced strategies in SEO, marketing, writing, networking, PR, business planning and more.

What other resources have you used to help start your own venture? Share your suggestions in the comments.

Small business ideas by students. Pib by Melissa Petrie

Universities and colleges across the U.S. are brimming with new business ideas from student entrepreneurs that can be a fantastic source of inspiration for every aspiring entrepreneur, from school right the way through to retirees looking to start their own business.

We want to shine a light on the creativity and innovation being demonstrated at universities across the nation by students with a passion for entrepreneurship and sharing new ideas.

The best part?

Gap in the market startups. Photo by Robert S. Donovan

Being an entrepreneur is one of the best vocations in the world because it encourages you to view everything as an opportunity for innovation. And, once you have an idea, you have to challenge it. Break it down. Make it better. Throw it away. Start again. Fail. Fail. Fail. Until you succeed.

Whatever you can imagine, you can do. Provided you have the drive and determination to see it through.

University business startup competitions. Pic by tableatny

Starting a business can be a daunting task - often made all the more difficult by a small advertising/marketing budget and an insufficient network of contacts to help get things off the ground.

It's a good thing then that there is always one fantastic, free strategy to generate some high-quality buzz and exposure for your startup that will not only put your idea in front of plenty of the "right" people, but also, potentially, lead to some much-needed funds, influential connections, and media coverage.

I'm talking about university business competitions.

Real world elevator pitch example. Pic by Joe Penniston

Our earlier article on how to pitch big new clients touched on the importance of a good elevator pitch, and how this 30 - 60 seconds of info can mean the difference between success and failure.

I wanted to follow this up by showing how real-life entrepreneurs and startups used their own, unique elevator pitches to win new business or capture valuable publicity.

Top ideas from university entrepreneurs

Encouraging younger people to become involved in entrepreneurship by holding business idea competitions is, in my opinion, one of the best ways to innovate our way out of the current financial doldrums the world finds itself in.

The creativity and energy exhibited by the students who enter the top business idea competitions from around the U.S. have shown the rest of us just how easy they can make it look when it comes to generating a new idea, putting together a plan, and pitching it to the world like pros.