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Small Business

Small Business Archives

Startup Business Rules to Live By

If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, here are 38 rules to live by to make your journey into the business world a little easier.

I read a great post a couple of months ago, written by a friend of mine, for females, that really inspired me (even as a male). As we get older, we begin to see things more clearly. Things we once thought were important become secondary. We start to truly understand what life (and business) is all about.

At my age, 38, I’m not claiming to know everything, nor to be an expert in anything, for that matter, but I do believe I’ve learned a few things. As I approach my 40s, I thought I’d share the lessons (sometimes hard) that I’ve earned–and learned:

  1. Nobody cares about what you say, only what you do.
  2. Funding is not the end, only the beginning.
  3. Once you take on funding, the stress gets worse, not better.
  4. Don’t beg for investment dollars. Someone’s paying to be your partner, not the other way around.
  5. Arrogant and disrespectful investors will never be good partners. Ignore them.
  6. Never, ever, ever, pay to pitch.
  7. TechCrunch is overrated. Unless you sell to startups, it doesn’t do sh*t. It’s good for the ego, though.
  8. Some people care only about people whom they think are popular. They’ll acknowledge you only when you appear to be more connected than they are. Get rid of these people.
  9. Some people like you only for what you can do for them. Pay them no mind.
  10. Accelerators are good only for funding and meeting new friends. Is that what 6 to 8 percent equity is worth to you?
  11. Take a job if you have to. You will not lose your will to be an entrepreneur for doing so.
  12. Take huge risks in your 20s. Take calculated risks in your 30s.
  13. If you have an idea that keeps you up at night, do something with it. If not, it will always be only a dream.
  14. It’s OK to be driven by money at first. Once you have it, you’ll find your true motivation.
  15. Nontechies: If your tech co-founder says it’s going to take three months or more, she’s lying.
  16. If your tech co-founder says she can’t use existing code, cut ties immediately.
  17. If your nontech co-founder says he can’t sell X until you build Y, he’s making excuses for not working.
  18. Sales are everything. Nothing else matters. Nothing.
  19. Learn something new every day. One thing at least.
  20. Write. Even if you don’t publish it.
  21. Marketing isn’t luck. It’s hustle.

 

See more from Dana

 

Exit Strategies for Small Business Owners

Figuring out how to exit a business usually brings up a lot of emotions for business owners. After all, they’ve poured their time, energy, heart, and soul into making it grow and helping it succeed. It’s been their livelihood and life. Of course the thought of exiting the business makes owners uncomfortable.

All the more reason, says Bill McBean, that they should approach this business decision just like any other: Make sure it’s well thought out and based on facts.

“Being in a position to dictate your own exit strategy should be the highlight of your career because it epitomizes the entrepreneurial dream: Go into business, be successful at it, and leave under your own terms,” says McBean, author of the new book The Facts of Business Life : What Every Successful Business Owner Knows That You Don’t (Wiley, October 2012, ISBN: 978-1-1180949-6-9, $24.95, www.FactsOfBusinessLife.com). “Unfortunately, many owners are reluctant to make plans to walk away, and thus, they leave too many critical decisions to chance.”

The truth is, writes McBean, rarely do business owners talk openly about exit strategies for their businesses.

And that’s unfortunate for two reasons. First, if you don’t pick the time to exit, something or someone else will. And secondly, the best time to sell or enact a succession plan is when you don’t have to.

“Always keep in mind the one key difference between the decision to exit your business and every other business decision you’ve made as its owner: Now you need to take into account not just what’s best for the business but also what’s best for you,” says McBean. “Because for the first time since the company began, what’s best for the business and what’s best for you are not necessarily the same thing.”

Here are some things to consider:

Don’t allow leadership to suffer. You haven’t left your company yet, so you need to continue to proactively lead. Especially if you intend to sell the company or pass it to a successor, it needs to remain cutting-edge and competitive.

Be aware that you wear two hats. When creating an exit strategy, it’s important to make sure that you have detailed, accurate information about your company and your plans to exit it so that you can make sound decisions on both fronts.

Focus on your assets. Have an accurate grasp of your business’s assets. Remember, employees, processes, and procedures, as well as customers have value.

When making plans, play the long game. Whenever you can, make your exit plans as far out as possible. This includes three key factors:

  1. Identify who would be your best or targeted buyer.
  2. Assess the value of your business today and compare this to what you want to have when you exit.
  3. Consider when would be the optimal time to exit, business-wise and personally.

Be ready to market in a whole new way. If you decide to sell your company, in addition to marketing your product and business brand, you will need to successfully market your company. This entire process will require a new focus, because working toward an “end game” will alter some of your objectives and goals, which in turn requires a new business plan.

Strategize like a winner. The ultimate goal is to sell your business for its maximum value and have it structured to minimize the tax bite. Your battle strategy will include figuring out how to showcase your company, making it ready for sale, putting together the information buyers will need to evaluate your business, and much more.

Put your business knowledge to work. The more you know about the market, how competition works, maximizing your assets, etc., the more accurately you will be able to value your company and the easier it will be to justify the company’s overall worth.

“Ultimately, the more you educate yourself and the more you plan, the more likely the exit choice you make will be the right one,” concludes McBean. “Remember, your decisions and focus at this time will determine what your company’s and your own legacy will be. And I don’t believe that’s something you want to leave to chance.”

About the Author:

Bill McBean is the author of The Facts of Business Life : What Every Successful Business Owner Knows That You Don’t (Wiley, October 2012, ISBN: 978-1-1180949-6-9, $24.95, www.FactsOfBusinessLife.com).

Contact
Dottie DeHart
DeHart & Company Public Relations
828-325-4966
Dottie@dehartandcompany.com

Web Site: http://www.FactsOfBusinessLife.com

Small Business Best Bets for 2013 and Beyond

Entrepreneur Magazine - September 2010 Cover

Small Business(Photo credit: Rob La Fave)

For those with fingers on the pulse of the business world, Entrepreneur magazine reveals the biggest trends of 2013 and the directions they’ll take various industries in the future. These movements reflect the wants and needs of a changing demographic in the United States and what’s necessary for entrepreneurs to keep in mind when considering consumers, employees and how business is getting done around them.

“Whether you’re running an established company or hope to start in the new year, it’s crucial to stay in-the-know with what’s happening in business right now to stay competitive—and more importantly, what to expect next,” says Amy Cosper, VP and editor in chief of Entrepreneur magazine. “Being savvy about modern expectations and consumer tendencies can make or break a business, and we’ve got a great look at what 2013 has in store.”

The list looks at the booming trends that will help anchor a business moving forward and thinking ahead:

  1. Big Data – Numbers-based insights
  2. Domestic Production – The comeback of “Made in the USA”
  3. Reimagined Workspace – The office of the future
  4. Fun Company Culture – Adding playfulness to the workplace
  5. Personal-Care Products – Desire for skin enhancement
  6. Spicy Flavor – Turning to food with a bite
  7. Fake Energy – Products giving a boost
  8. Transparency – Building brand trust and loyalty
  9. Creative Financing – Alternative financing methods
  10. Vending Machines – Access to unique products instantly
  11. Digital Doctors – Technology on call

A common thread among the 11 trends to watch in 2013 is that they aren’t fads with short-lived popularity. Instead, they may be seen as business movements built to last even beyond next year. Each trend reveals a synthesis of factors leading to their tipping points, such as changing demographics, widespread availability of certain technologies, shifting workplace and productivity ideologies, and consumer desires.

For example, increased exposure to international cuisines, combined with the growing desire to innovate in the kitchen, have contributed to a population eager to consume—and create—spicy condiments. The popularity of food with a kick has spiked the small hot sauce segment into a billion-dollar industry, signaling the impact that an appreciation for diversity can have in business. Another trend stems from economic influencers and is good news for capital-seekers. While entrepreneurship has become a near-mainstream movement, lending is still tight with banks, leading to demand for financing. So borrowers and lenders are getting creative, and alternative financing methods such as crowdfunding, peer-to-peer lending sites and collateral-free loans are becoming more of the norm.

To read the complete feature on the top entrepreneurial trends, pick up a copy of the December issue on sale at newsstands now.

About Entrepreneur Media Inc.
Entrepreneur Media Inc. is the premier content provider for and about entrepreneurs. Our products engage and inspire every day with the advice, solutions and resources that fuel the bold and independent way entrepreneurs think.

After 35 years, nobody reaches more growing businesses. As the original magazine for the small and midsize business community, Entrepreneur continues to be the definitive guide to all the diverse challenges of business ownership. Entrepreneur.com is the most widely used website by entrepreneurs and emerging businesses worldwide. Entrepreneur Press publishes the books that turn entrepreneurial skills into business success.

To learn more, visit entrepreneur.com.
To advertise, please contact us at entrepreneur.com/mediakit.
Follow us on Twitter at @EntMagazine, and like us on Facebook at facebook.com/entmagazine.

CONTACT: Lisa Murray, Entrepreneur Media Inc., lmurray@entrepreneur.com, +1-949-622-5220

Web Site: http://www.entrepreneur.com

New Business Owners Top 10 Regrets-Video

New Business Owners

 

A lot of new business owners, and I mean brand spanking new never been in business before new, make a lot of mistakes when first starting that new business. They’ll look back sometime down the road and realize that things could have been a lot easier for them in the beginning if they only had a little more insight. The video below will help you get through some of the rough parts with a few less bumps and bruises.

Most small business owners have the same goal and that is to increase revenues with new business. In an average or stable economy there are already enough road blocks to make that a difficult undertaking. With today’s economy it’s even worse. But now there is a different way to increase your business and quite possibly increase it a lot. You’ll have to jump through some hoops but it may be worth it

IBM and several other large corporations have launched a directory where small businesses can get listed to do business with large corporations.

Called the Supplier Connection, the site is open to U.S. small businesses.

If you are wondering what “small” means, it means your business has to have less than $50 Million in revenues or fewer than 500 employees.  You have to provide products or services in chemicals, construction, consulting, financial services, auto parts, HR services, information technology, marketing communications, market research, printing, software or security (for the full list, see the Supplier Connection website).

Some of the large corporations that are involved along with IBM include JP Morgan Chase, Kellogg’s,  Pfizer, Caterpillar, Citi,  JohnDeere, AMD and Facebook.  The U.S. Small Business Administration has also gotten behind it.

But Is It Realistic for Small Businesses?

When I first heard about this from Laurie McCabe’s site, I thought it was a great idea. I was excited and decided to try it out.

What I discovered is that the paperwork and requirements are daunting.

First, let’s talk about the paperwork.  Bureaucracy is a huge barrier to growth for small businesses — even the perception of heavy bureaucracy is a barrier.  According to the Wall Street Journal, one business owner reported that completing a Supplier Profile is “not a one-hour routine” but takes commitment.

Most small businesses don’t have anything near the 500-employee limit for this program — instead, think 5 employees.  That is a much more common size for a small business.  In a 5-employee small business, there’s rarely anyone you can assign who will have all the knowledge to complete the paperwork.  The business owner will likely be handling the paperwork himself or herself, probably in the evening (since that’s the only time available).

Beyond the paperwork is the whole issue of whether you can meet the system’s mandatory requirements.  I started filling out the application and managed to get through the first four steps out of 9, in 20 minutes.  ”Hmm, that’s not so bad,” I thought.

Then I got to step 5, the Environment section. It stopped me cold.  For instance, how many of you could say “yes” to the following?

  • Does your company have a Corporate Responsibility and Environmental Management System, which measures performance, sets goals, and discloses results?
  • Does your company define, deploy, and sustain your corporate responsibility and environmental management system through your engagement with your suppliers?
  • Does your company cascade this set of requirements to your suppliers who perform work that is material to the products, parts and/or services being supplied to your customer?

In all, there were over 20 questions about environmental, ISO9001 and ISO14001 compliance, 16 of them required fields to answer.

Very few small businesses with under say, 20 employees, could say yes to the above questions.  And what if you answer “no”?  Well, you are required to specify the exact day, month and year when you plan to be in compliance.  In our business we  have no plans to create environmental policies and systems.  Being an Internet publisher we shut off lights when we don’t need them, recycle paper and soda cans, avoid printing emails and documents unless absolutely necessary, and use power management options on our computers and other equipment.  But we do not write corporate policies about those actions — we just do them.

Our suppliers (other small businesses and entrepreneurs) would laugh — or cry — if we asked them if they complied.   There’s no way that even if we wrote policies and systems, that we  could “cascade” that requirement to our suppliers.

So that was the end of my attempt to complete the application.  I gave up.

Some Bright Spots

On the other hand, I do see positives with this program:

The whole process can be difficult to accomplish and may not be for every business out there, but if you can make it work, think of the possibilities.

One of the hardest things to accomplish with today’s economy is for the small business owner to get financing for business expansion. Staying in business is tough enough but financing a new startup or securing funds to grow your business is difficult at best.  Here’s a video about a company that specializes in finding those needed funds in a very unique way, and it doesn’t matter whether you’re located in  Africa or America.