Site Review | Professional Jeweler

March 23, 1998
Consumer Information Center

Although many problems of independent jewelry store owners are unique from those of most other retailers (such as security and costly inventory), certain concerns are shared by everyone who owns a small business.

The Consumer Information Center of the U. S. General Services Administration is a Web site that owners of any small company can find helpful. It's written in non-governmental and non-legal language, and it's easy to understand and navigate.

The Small Business button opens to a menu of such subjects as "Americans With Disabilities Act: A Guide for Small Businesses," which can help you keep within Federal requirements, and "Copyright Basics," for anyone who has created promotional materials and wants to protect them from unauthorized use by others. "A Guide to Business Credit" offers advice on preparring to obtain loans with details on what is needed for a business proposal. The "SBA Borrower's Guide" is full of information about the SBA's loan programs.

Conducting background checks on employees may get you in trouble if you violate the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The section on "Using Credit Reports" explains how various kinds of background checks can fall under this law if you use a consumer reporting agency. Read the details on how to comply with the FCRA and still get the information you need to make a proper decision on whether to hire a particular individual.

The site also contains a link to previous editions of the Consumer Information Catalog, including a segment on "Running a Small Business." Every entrepreneur faces many decisions each day and, especially in the case of those who have been in business for a long time, many of these decisions are made because "We've always done it that way." But this article can provide a good review and perhaps remind you of a few things to consider or re-consider. In the previous edition there's also a good section on "Selling a Business."

Other links will take you to additional resources for small business, including the Idea Cafe, a "fun approach to serious business." The Idea Cafe Fridge contains a wide range of articles by small businesspeople on topics ranging from starting a newsletter to complying with laws in applicant interviews.

- by Stacey King