Web-Based Services

Every once in a while a company comes along that ?kicks it up a notch? and leverages the awesome power of the Internet to solve some long-standing problems for entrepreneurs. Here are two cool, new Web sites that you should know more about.

Are you thinking about buying a franchise? Are you worried that you will not find the right ?fit? with your skills and interests? Are you afraid of dealing with franchise brokers because they deal only with a limited number of franchises and you are concerned they will try wherever possible to fit your ?square peg? into one of the ?round holes? they have available? Then you should check out www.ezmatchfranchising.com, which uses behavioral matching technology to match entrepreneurs with the franchise of their dreams. ?We intend to do for franchising what eHarmony.com and other dating sites have done for couples,? says Chris Delaney, CFO of EZMatchfranchising.com. ?We are the only Web site that provides a behavioral assessment questionnaire specifically designed to help some twenty million adults annually who seek to find a franchise.?

There are franchise portals on the Web, of course, but most of these are merely directories of franchises organized by product or service type. So, for example, if you love ice cream, you may think you are a good fit for an ice-cream franchise. By looking at these other Web sites you can find a list of franchises that specialize in ice cream. But Delaney points out that an ice-cream business may be a terrible choice for you: ?How do you feel about working seven days a week, supervising minimum-wage employees with a sixty percent turnover rate each year and starving during the winter months? That?s what an ice-cream business is all about.?

While EZMatchfranchising.com offers a traditional franchise directory for those who know what they?re looking for, it also offers a behavioral assessment survey for those who don?t. You fill out the free ?personality report? describing your interests and skills, as well as answering questions such as ?do you mind working weekends?? and ?do you prefer working alone?? Delaney says the process takes about 10 to 15 minutes on average. When you hit the ?Send? button, up to 10 franchises pop up that meet the criteria you specified in the survey. You can then click through to look at a longer one-page description of each franchise. Your information is automatically sent to the franchise, which will contact you via e-mail to continue the discussions.

The site currently does not charge either franchises or prospective franchise buyers for using the site, although there is a small charge to franchises for forwarded leads.

Any businessowner who?s been cheated by a customer who fails to pay bills knows how difficult it is to get justice from the small claims court system or the Better Business Bureau. Along comes www.uradeadbeat.com, which uses Web 2.0 social-networking technology to solve an age-old problem: how to give a deadbeat a proper ?black eye? in a quick, cost-effective manner.

?For $9.99 a pop, you can post a complaint about anyone who has cheated you. The site then generates an e-mail to the accused and/or sends an 8.5 x 5.5 inch color postcard in the U.S. mail, notifying the accused that they have been added to the ?Deadbeat List.? The accused is given the chance to rebut the accusation, which is also posted. Posts are never taken down. A dialogue back and forth can go on for as long as both parties participate. The ?Deadbeat List? is searchable, so people can check on businesses or individuals they may associate with.

Just be sure everything you say in these postings is 100 percent accurate, or else you open yourself up to a libel lawsuit.