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Small Business
Startup research on the Web
June 29, 2000: 5:39 p.m. ET

Get online for the information you need before you pour money into the startup
By Jane Applegate
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NEW YORK (CNNfn) - Dear Jane: I am looking for information on the aftermarket for light truck accessories. I want to start a business in my area but need current industry information.

No matter what kind of business you want to open, you must do extensive market research before spending any money. Just about every industry on the planet has some sort of trade or professional association serving its members. In the past, you had to go to the reference library to look up contact information in a big trade association directory.

Now, you are just a few clicks away from the information you need to succeed. Start by putting your subject into the search engine of a major search site like Yahoo, Lycos or Alta Vista. Be as specific as possible or you will be presented with thousands of entries. Look for contact information for the trade association that serves your particular interest. The automobile industry is massive and has many trade groups serving big and small business owners involved.

Contact the group directly to request information about trends, start up costs, etc. You might also look for a franchise that will get you into business quickly. The National Restaurant Association, for instance, publishes a workbook about starting a restaurant, so I'm sure other trade groups have similar tools and resources for novices.

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