By Holly Hibner
Business reference: librarians either love it or hate it. Thankfully, Gale’s Small Business Resource Center make’s it easy for us. Seriously – if you haven’t looked at SBRC recently, do yourself a favor and check it out. You’ll thank me later.
My husband and two business partners recently decided that what they really should do for their midlife crisis is open a brewery. He couldn’t just buy a Corvette – he decided to open a small business. He (and both partners) are engineers, so they don’t have a lot of experience opening or running a business. Gale’s Small Business Resource Center came to their rescue. (Well, my rescue if I’m being honest. Who do you think did a lot of the research for them?)
Of course, they needed to write a business plan. Thankfully, SBRC includes the Business Plans Handbook. The partners were able to look at actual business plans of microbreweries. Just type “breweries” in the search box at the top of the main page. There were several relevant results.
Forms are the nemesis of all small business entrepreneurs. There are so many forms for so many business undertakings! SBRC connects to the Gale Legal Forms library, so I was able to get forms to help the guys establish a business partnership, write a purchase agreement on a building, get a liquor license, and even a worksheet in PDF format for twelve month sales forecasting. Just click on “Forms” at the top of the SBRC page to link through.
The guys also needed to learn more about things like marketing and brand imaging, employee benefits, risk management, payroll taxes, and cash flow. They all have a good understanding of economics and business basics (thankfully), but they wanted to refresh their knowledge and dig a little deeper. Small Business Resource Center has a “Business Topics” category right at the top of the page, super easy to find. One click and all of these topics are right there, linked to articles from sources like the Encyclopedia of Major Marketing Campaigns and Small Business Accounting. A glossary of business terms is also right at the top of the database, so you don’t have to go back to the main page to find it.
The “How to” page is also extremely helpful. There are articles from resources like Small Business for Dummies and The Small Business Bible to help you learn how to finance a business, how to write a business plan, how to grow your business, and more.
The best new feature of SBRC is the Google and Microsoft integration. You can save articles right to your Google Drive or Microsoft365 account. You can create bookmarks, notes, and highlights in the articles to easily refer back to the most relevant parts. The business partners can then share these articles, including the notes and highlights, with each other.
Extras are always nice, and Small Business Resource Center even offers videos. We watched a video tour of the de Chutes brewery kickoff party, as well as several other informative and entertaining videos on breweries and the brewing industry. The partners will certainly want to hold a kickoff party for their new brewery, so they got some ideas on how to do it.
SBRC also includes news, magazine, and journal articles on business topics. It also has recommended resources, and even links to web sites with good business information and articles. Of course, you can set search limits and drill down to other recommended subjects within search results. You can also download articles as MP3’s, translate them to other languages, email them, print them, share them on social media, and cite them appropriately with the citation tools. These are tools included in most Gale databases, so the interface is familiar and consistent.
SBRC really is the best place to begin when you are thinking of starting a business. Librarians can refer their small business entrepreneur patrons to this database to help them flesh out what all needs to be done to get their business off the ground. Midlife crisis aside, my husband and his partners were fairly well-organized and had a good idea of what to expect, but let’s be honest – at the reference desk we often talk to people who have a good business concept, but no idea whatsoever about what is involved in getting it off the ground. The Small Business Resource Center is just the ticket to get that foundation of information and then work through the details.