Free online resources offer tools for success

Diane Schwenke
Diane Schwenke, GJ Chamber

The staff at the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce recently attended a conference of chamber professionals to recharge our batteries and get ideas on how to serve businesses even better in 2012. 

While at the conference, I visited some old friends with which the chamber has partnered for years and rediscovered why the Grand Junction chamber pays to have a section on our Web site titled Tools for Business Success.

This section of the chamber Web site links current business owners as well as those interested in starting or owning a business with an incredible array of Web-based resources, most of which are free, that can help you work smarter rather than harder and help you run your business more effectively and profitably.

There are literally hundreds of resources available that are searchable by industry type or topic. Here’s just a small sampling of what you’ll find:

28 Days to Better Selling: This Web site offers short video clips to improve your sales results over 28 days. Each video is 10 minutes long and designed to tweak your selling techniques for better results. Originally, this was a daily e-mail program with daily assignments developed by However, they have now set it up as a self-paced program, so you can go through all or some of the sessions at your convenience.

Researching companies online: Do you want to conduct online research to learn more about your competitors and industry? This is a tutorial to show you how. It includes how to find company news, review public opinion, find company financial information and more.

If you need help with any of this, the Mesa County Public Libraries offer assistance. Finding out about your competitors has never been easier!

Marketing checklist for small retailers: Do you want to be successful over the long term? Using this marketing checklist can help you realize that goal. It was developed by the Ohio State University Small Business Development Center and includes a checklist on customer analysis, buying, pricing and promotion. After completing the checklist, if you want to work through any of the questions, you can contact the  Business Incubator Center in Grand Junction at for free assistance.

Fraud prevention checkup: Did you know that employees of small businesses are less likely to report theft and fraud by managers than employees of large businesses? Plus, small businesses are less likely to have systems in place to prevent fraud. The American Society of Fraud Examiners offers a fraud prevention checkup you can use to determine your risk.

How does your industry affect your profitability? Sometimes it’s good to take a step back to see how your industry affects your business. This publication by Purdue University shows you how five factors affect your profitability: bargaining power of suppliers, bargaining power of buyers, threat of new entrants, threat of substitutes and rivalry among competitors. The publication includes self-assessments and questions to ask about your business.

What can your office do to promote sustainable business practices? The Partnership for a Sustainable Georgia has developed the Sustainable Office Toolkit with seven modules. These include waste reduction, environmentally preferable purchasing, energy conservation, water conservation, alternative transportation, green building and corporate social responsibility. This is just one of many green resources on the Tools for Business section of the Grand Junction chamber Web site. We also can connect you to the Chamber Greenback$ program, where there is funding available to help you get started.

For even more information you can use, go to the Chamber Web site at

If you can’t find what you’re looking for, click on the live chat button — something we downloaded for free from Business Tools for Success — and chamber staff will help you navigate your way through this valuable tool.

As long as we are talking about online resources, I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention the great online business databases the Mesa County Public Libraries makes available to anyone with a library card. Premium A to Z provides access to data that goes far beyond the typical business needs.  I particularly like their Business Premium Database, which gives you recent reports for major national and international companies.

The Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce wants businesses to succeed, and using resources like Business Tools for Success and Mesa County Public Libraries databases will help you do that. And did I mention? It’s free.