Editor's note: Since 1964, business-management counselors at nonprofit organization
All Under One RoofThe New York Public Library's
The Good Stuff Is FreeMany of SIBL's most devoted users come from organizations like Score, who send their clients in to find data an entrepreneur couldn't get for free anywhere else. SIBL spends about $500,000 a year on subscriptions to electronic resources, says McDonough. "The really valuable information isn't free," she says. "We feel it's necessary to level the playing field for small businesses." At SIBL, any person can walk in off the street and have complimentary access to what could normally cost hundreds of dollars, such as:
Reference USA: This product is fantastic for small businesses looking to do marketing, find clients, distributors, suppliers or create their own mailing lists. Through this tool you can search 14 million U.S. companies and in five to ten minutes download a list of about 100 companies to your USB drive, all for free. Stay longer and you can get a list in the hundreds of thousands; the only limit is your time. Elsewhere you would end up paying about $1-$3 per list item.
MarketReseach.com: This database produces market research reports worth thousands of dollars, says McDonough. Sectors run the gamut from children to Hispanics to the food industry.
- Investment and finance information: Databases like
Investext give financial reports by stockbrokers. Many independent financial advisors that use SIBL databases like Value Line ( VALU) and Morningstar ( MORN) say they couldn't do their jobs without the free access.
- Seminars and hands-on classes: SIBL gives 110 afterwork seminars a year on topics like "Starting a Self-Promotion Newsletter" and active training classes where you can learn, in just over an hour, how to create a distributor list and leave with a list of companies ready to go.