is the official business link to the U.S. Government. Business.gov is managed by the U.S. Small Business Administration
(SBA) in a partnership with 21 other federal agencies
. This partnership, known as Business Gateway, serves as an incubator of technologies designed to improve the delivery of services and information to the nation’s small business community. Originally launched in 2004, Business.gov provides a single access point to government services and information to help the nation's businesses with their operations.
Business.gov was launched in 1997 as the U.S. Business Advisor by the National Technical Information Service
of the United States Department of Commerce
. The U.S. Business Advisor aimed to improve interaction between businesses and government agencies by providing a single resource for finding tools, how-to guides, frequently asked questions, current items of interest, and information on doing transactions with the federal government.
Business.gov was re-launched in May 2004 as a Presidential E-Government Initiative SBA assumed management oversight of Business.gov in partnership with 21 other federal agencies. This partnership, known as the Business Gateway, established Business.gov as the single access point to government services that help the nation’s businesses with their operations. The content of the site was primarily aimed at starting, growing, and managing a small business, with an emphasis on government assistance programs and services available from SBA and other federal agencies.
Business Gateway officially re-launched Business.gov on October 12, 2006 as a web portal targeted at helping small and medium-sized businesses find, understand and comply with government regulations. The change in focus away from general business advice to regulatory compliance addresses a unique need unmet by other government-to-business programs and commercial services serving small business owners.
Reducing Regulatory Burden for Small Businesses
Business.gov provides a platform for online services -- feature articles, interactive compliance tools and a specialized, Google-based search engine -- that help small businesses reduce significant regulatory burdens.
All businesses, large or small, are subject to legal and regulatory burdens. Small businesses face the greatest burden of all. Research conducted and documented by the U.S. Small Business Administration, Office of Advocacy revealed the following:
- Very small firms with fewer than 20 employees spend 45% more per employee than larger firms to comply with federal regulations.
- These very small firms spend 4.5 times as much per employee to comply with environmental regulations and 67% more per employee on tax compliance than their larger counterparts.
- Businesses with less than 20 employees spend an average of $7,647 per employee to stay in compliance.
- Firms with fewer than 500 employees represent 99.9% of the 25.8 million businesses in the U.S.; the most recent data show there are only 17,000 large businesses.
- Small businesses generated 60-80% of net new jobs annually for the last decade.
- Small manufacturing firms pay double the cost of larger companies to stay in compliance with federal regulations.
- Small businesses must also comply with labor and safety regulations.
According the U.S. Census Bureau
, three quarters of all U.S. business firms have no payroll (i.e., businesses with no employees). Most are self-employed persons operating unincorporated businesses, and may or may not be the owner's principal source of income.
Large corporations typically have legal and human resources personnel to handle compliance with government regulations. The majority of business firms – being self-employed individuals -- necessarily seek outside counsel or handle these issues themselves. Business.gov aims to help the majority of business firms by providing a single source for learning about which regulations apply to specific business, how to comply, and how to remain in compliance when managing and expanding a business.
Small Business Paperwork Relief Act of 2002
The Small Business Paperwork Relief Act (SBPRA) of 2002 requires federal agencies to designate one point of contact to act as a liaison between the agency and small business concerns. SBPRA also requires the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), in conjunction with the Small Business Administration, to publish on the Internet a list of compliance assistance resources available at Federal agencies for small businesses. In accordance with the SBPRA, Business.gov has published a Federal Compliance Contacts
page which gives the names, phone numbers and e-mail addresses of individuals at federal agencies that can help small business answer regulatory and legal questions. Business.gov also publishes Small Business Guides
that include links to federal, state and local agency resources that help small businesses meet their regulatory requirements.
Features and Services
Small Business Guides
Business.gov’s Small Business Guides
provide feature articles and links to authoritative, government resources that help small businesses understand which regulations apply to them, how to comply and how to remain in compliance when managing and expanding business operations. These guides are intended to provide a one-stop shop for regulatory assistance, and include links to fact sheets, guidelines, forms, interactive tools, training resources, and compliance experts.
Small Business Guides cover a wide-variety of business topics and industries. There are specific guides for the self-employed and home-bases businesses; resources for women, veteran and minority business owners; and a portal for non-profits.
State and Local Guides
Unlike other federal e-government initiatives
, Business.gov includes federal, state and local government information so business owners don’t have to know which level government to go to in order to obtain licenses and permits and comply with other laws and regulations. The state and local guides provide access to programs and services that help small business owners start and expand their operations while complying with state and local laws.
Federal, State and Local Contacts
Business.gov provides direct line contacts
to federal, state and local personnel who are available by phone or e-mail to answer questions about complying with government regulations.
Answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Business.gov provides links to FAQ databases
from across the federal government in which regulatory agencies provide answers to common business issues. Business.gov's FAQ Directory is organized by topical area making it easier to find information relevant to a user's specific business area.
Doing Business with the Federal Government
The Business.gov Small Business Guide to Government Contracting
provides links to information that helps small to medium sized business understanding how to contract with the federal government and locate business opportunities.
Business Search Engine
The Business.gov search engine uses Custom Search Engine Business Edition
, filtering only federal, state and local government websites and pages that are relevant to small business owners.
Permit Me is an interactive search tool that provides a single place for business owners to obtain licenses, permits and registrations needed to run their businesses. Currently, Permit Me only includes information on general licensing requirements and information ten different business types.
Business.gov Gadgets for your Site
The Business.gov Toolkit
is a "gadget" that you can place on your website or iGoogle homepage, and get immediate access to essential online tools and resources to help you run your small business.
Business Gateway Content Partnership Program works with industry, trade associations and other government agencies to provide authoritative information that helps small business comply with government regulations.
Model for Government-to-Business Websites
Business.gov serves as a model for other government websites by fulfilling the goals of the President's Management Agenda
. Business.gov reaches across all levels of government, aggregating and presenting business-oriented content in a manner that makes government transparent to the end-users. Business owners no longer have to visit multiple websites to understand which regulations, programs and services apply to them.
Business.gov strictly adheres to all requirements and guidelines for Federal websites, including those established by the E-Government Act of 2002, the U.S. Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) Policies for Federal Public Websites, and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 regarding website accessibility. The site also strictly follows requirements of the Privacy Act, the Federal Information Security Management Act, and other privacy and security requirements.