10.1 General Advice

Internet business resources are enormous, and growing all the time. The section can only be a small selection of many sites worthy of inclusion.

First, some general advice. Many sites claiming to be independent in fact live off commissions, and therefore promote the programs and services best paying them, a situation that applies particularly to hosting comparison sites. Software reviews don't always cover the whole field, moreover, and programs that worked flawlessly on test machines may not on yours: operating system differences and currently installed software can interfere. You must:

1. Shop around: many programs allow a free trial: test everything thoroughly on all machines.

2. Do detailed Internet searches looking for problems: 'programname / service /opportunity review/problems/scam', etc.

3. Investigate the service or software supplier. Anything playing a key role in your company is a potential point of weakness, and if the software house goes out of business so may you. Open source software is more reliable than commercial in this respect, but also tends to be more limited and requiring of IT skills to get the best from it. A free Perl script is far from free if you have to employ a programmer to get it working properly.

4. Play safe. Buy the software that's sold tens of thousands of copies and is supported by an enthusiastic user's club and help site rather than something 'tailor-made for you'.

5. Test, monitor, analyze and improve. A two percent improvement over the competition may seem modest, but will aggregate to a commanding lead over time. An improving profit margin also provides the resources to further improve your goods, service or marketing approach.

6. In the listings that follow we suppose you can use the Internet search engines and directories intelligently to locate the products and services needed, and so restrict ourselves to
a. alerting you to alternatives,
b. noting what to look for, and
c (occasionally) providing full listings when search is difficult or tedious.

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