Fortune 500 companies, big business in general, know where to go for information. Often private citizens do not.

But during the month of May, you needn't stumble about in the dark, searching for answers to problems or questions in your life. Matthew ("The Answer Man") Lesko has established a toll-free hotline to publicize the revised and updated edition of his Information U.S.A., the book he touts as "the encyclopedic, ultimate guide for direct access to the world's largest source of information, the United States government."

Staffers on the hotline -- 800-USA-0030 -- will give callers the name, address and telephone number to write or call for free answers to any question on any topic. Callers also will hear a (free) plug for the book (1986, Penguin Books, $22.95).

Anyone with a personal computer, modem and access to the CompuServe utility network can reach another Lesko publicity freebie, "the Electronic Answer Man," 24 hours a day during May.

* Among some of the early callers to the 800 number (which begins operating officially tomorrow):

*"The turtle man," from somewhere in the Midwest, who wanted to know "how to capture, cut up, can and market snapping-turtle meat. We found a turtle expert for him."

*"The jelly bean man," checking on the jelly bean market. "We found a jelly bean expert," says Lesko. "He wasn't listed under 'jelly bean' though. He's up at the Census and his specialty is 'nonchocolate panned candy.' "

*"The skunk caller," interested, for good reason, in removing the odor from a skunk-sprayed dog. The County Extension Service people had the answer to that one -- bathe in tomato juice.

Two publications, both available from the Government Printing Office, are the key sources of information for Lesko and other information specialists: Cat1634496359mestic Assistance (for data on financial assistance programs), $30, Stock No. 941-001-00000-9, the 1986 edition will be available in June; and, the U.S. Government Manual (government offices and contacts for information), $15, Stock No. 022-003-01118-8.

Lesko cites a man interested in the health food business who wanted to know more about his potential market.

"A woman down at the Department of Agriculture" had just had a $150,000 market study done on the health food industry. "The report," says Lesko, "wasn't even in final form. She had to photocopy it. The guy in the health food business had himself a $150,000 study nobody else in the industry has seen and it wouldn't even be out for another 6 months. That's an opportunity!

have information that other people don't have or before other people. You can get that information. It's there and it's free."