REDMOND, Wash., Sept. 30, 1999 — It doesn’t take someone with an MBA to know that nurturing a growing business is hard work. Although the Internet offers many ways to help entrepreneurs develop and manage their companies, finding the right tools and services can be a frustrating and time-consuming task. To make life easier for small-business owners, Microsoft today unveiled bCentral ( http://www.bcentral.com ), a Web portal that provides a comprehensive suite of services and resources geared toward starting, promoting and managing a growing company. The site, currently in beta, is scheduled to be fully operational in mid-October, but Microsoft is encouraging users to tour bCentral now, become familiar with its features and offer their feedback.
bCentral is organized around three key activities: starting a small business and establishing an online presence; promoting and marketing online to attract new customers; and managing a business more effectively. Everything an entrepreneur needs — from finding the right Web-hosting company to saving money on office supplies and comparing shipping rates — is just a few clicks away. The site combines the best small-business resources on the Web with Microsoft offerings such as MSN LinkExchange promotional services, business travel products from Expedia.com, and MSNBC industry news to create a full-service portal that helps entrepreneurs get the most out of the Web — while giving them the freedom to concentrate on their core business.
“We did a lot of research to find out how we could help small businesses benefit from leveraging the Web,” said Brad Chase, senior vice president of the Consumer and Commerce Division at Microsoft. “We found that merchants were frustrated with the inordinate amount of static information and stale resources they found online. But when we talked to them about designing a site with services to help meet sales goals, find new customers and save time and money, they became very enthusiastic. So we created bCentral to help drive businesses forward in tangible, measurable ways.”