NET.COLUMNS: The Internet for Small Business – II

In last week’s column, we saw how e-mail can play a vital role for communications. This week, we look at how the Internet
can be used as an information resource.

The information that companies look for can be broken down into three categories: news (broad business news, as well as trade-specific, from India and abroad), directories (to identify companies in different countries, given a product), and finally trade enquiries (what are the business opportunities for import/export).

1. News

Most Indian and international publications now have a website. For business news from India, the three major business dailies are on the Net:
The Economic Times
The Financial Express and
Business Line. You can also create your own customised newspaper at
SAMACHAR, a sister site of IndiaLine. For international business news, recommended sites are
International Business Week,
Fortune, and

2. Directories

Numerous Web sites are geared towards business directories in a particular category, country or region. Yahoo has country-specific directories (eg. for Canada, Britain, Japan) as well as sub-directories for most countries of the world.
Altavista and
InfoSeek, among others, are useful search engines which allow you to search for Web sites by company category or product; these require some skill and experience in handling due to the large volumes of hit rates. Traders may find more value in Web sites of trade information companies like Kompass and Dun Bradstreet.

Asian Web sites are well-catalogued on a Web site called
Access Asia. For a more India-focused search, khoj and
123India offer useful business directories.

3. Trade Enquiries

There are some services which go beyond listing potential trade partners, to actually allowing traders to post information about current import and export leads. In India, the
Federation of Indian Export Organisations, the National Centre for Trade Information, and the
Electronics and Computer Software Promotion Council are planning to launch trade promotion activities via e-mail and the Web. The Tata Donnelly exporters’ directory is also on the Web.

The European Business Information Centre already reports some successful trade enquiries between India and Belgium conducted via its Web site. Other useful sites include
TradePort, the
U.N. Trade Point Network, and
Trade Compass.

In next week’s column, we examine how small businesses can use the Web
for marketing, with their Website as a starting point.

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.