What can be branded? Names of businesses, associated logos, taglines, slogans, names of products, and even product shapes, sounds, smells, and colors can be part of your brand.
Obtaining financing from a bank or lender for your small business can be quite the task. That’s why it’s important to know when it’s the right time to do it. You may not get the results you want if you do it at the wrong time. Depending on your business goals and objectives, you may want to borrow money right away or bootstrap for as long as possible and borrow money later on down the line. Below are 4 questions you should ask yourself (and answer) to determine if you’re ready to borrow money for your small business (especially if it is a startup).
If the headline of this piece makes you nod in agreement, you’ll be surprised by what we have to say. Have you noticed, for example, that some of the most successful websites today, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google Images offer infinite scrolling? The truth is, the last time people had any difficulty scrolling was before the turn of the century, and the idea that websites should keep their information “above the fold” is an outdated myth.
Managing the people side of a growing business is often just as difficult as managing operational challenges. From finding top talent to establishing and building a company culture, the human side of a business is a constant work in progress.
As businesses grow, one consideration leaders must wrestle with has to do with what is the best organizational structure. How many layers will the business have? At what point are other leadership roles outside of the CEO required? Answering these questions is essential if the business wants to continue to grow.
The world of “social media” has become a confusing crowd of personal and business pages, almost too many to name. There’s Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn, not to mention Instagram, Tumblr, Yelp, and more. When online articles talk about the Top 10 and Top 15 Social Networking Sites, you know you’re in trouble. Who has the time? So here we are to tell you about Google Plus, aka “Google+,” and to encourage you to establish and use a Google Plus business page. Why invest your time in this social platform over some of the others? Well, the fact that it’s from Google should provide your first clue.
If you are considering getting a patent, you should be familiar with the items that must be included in a patent application. Below is a detailed outline of the material you will need to prepare to patent your new invention.
Obamacare was promoted to the approximately 5.8 million small business owners in the U.S. as a mandate which would not apply to them, nor result in a penalty if they chose not to offer health insurance to employees. Unfortunately, for those same small business employers who previously offered health insurance coverage as part of an employee’s total compensation package there is no place to hide. Premiums are skyrocketing.
In the last six years, millions of Americans have lost their jobs and found it exceedingly difficult to find new ones, even after putting in decades with the same company. Many forward-thinking individuals among the unemployed have concluded that creating their own businesses and jobs may be their best hope for working again. The entrepreneurial spirit is still alive and well in America!
Finding money to grow a business has changed tremendously since the great recession. Whether sourcing capital in the form of debt, equity, or something in between, also known as mezzanine, it’s safe to say entrepreneurs have more multiple options than ever to pursue. That doesn’t make the task an easy one to accomplish. Unfortunately for the entrepreneur, the additional options have only served to increase the confusion surrounding their need for cash.
Most individuals who consider themselves entrepreneurs believe they must start their own business to earn the title. However, what some do not realize is that the entrepreneurial spirit can be fulfilled in a variety of ways, not the least of which is purchasing an existing business. The following is a list of advantages for buying a business over starting one from scratch.
People often overlook the attitude of the buyer and how greatly it can affect the outcome of the deal. Confidence is key.
You have endured multiple meetings with potential buyers. You’ve written dozens of emails and suffered through several rounds of negotiations to secure the best price and deal structure. At last you have decided on the offer to accept. That’s the worst of it over then? Think again – you have yet to experience the joys of due diligence and sale contract negotiation.
If you’re going to start up, you are bound to fail. This is not a primer to make sure you succeed, as there are many factors that can contribute to failure. But these are the biggest reasons why most startups fail.
A business plan is critical to the success of any business. And, if the plan is frequently reviewed and updated, it becomes increasingly valuable over time. It provides valuable historical information to help a business owner make decisions on the future direction of the company.
If you’ve grown a valuable business, there is no doubt your employees are a big part of your success. You also know that hiring, training, and managing a great team of productive employees is a difficult task. And keeping your best employees is yet another accomplishment! But the painful truth is your competition would be very pleased to hire away your best employees.
Check out the website of your favorite fast food chain and you will see most have multiple business entity structures noted in the fine print. For a large business, this practice has been commonplace for decades. It involves layering one form of a business entity either alongside or in conjunction with an operating business.
An intellectual property rights owner (licensor) authorizes certain rights to another (licensee) in exchange for an agreed payment in the form of either a fee or a royalty, or some combination of both.
When optimizing your website for search, you might wonder: Am I creating a site for search bots or for real people to use, and is there a difference?
According to the Fair Labor Standards Act there is a distinct difference between an independent contractor and an employee. This difference lies mainly in the way they are paid and the way taxes are withheld. Understanding the difference between them and times when both are appropriate to use can help business owners determine which is best for their situation.
The legal definition of a trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of goods and services. Most commonly we think of names and logos, but marks also include taglines, slogans, and even product shapes, sounds, smells, and colors.
To the business owner with a website, what happens in a Google search is a mystery. Why doesn’t your site show up when you do a search? What’s the magic formula for getting to the top of Google?
Often, business owners ask me one of those “quick questions” – what can I do to maximize the sale price of my business? The answer? Not as simple as you may think. But there are 4 factors that can increase the value of your sale price.
Entering into a new contract is an exciting time for any company. The agreement is signed with the hope that it will grow the business and result in a long, mutually beneficial relationship with the other side. While such optimism is warranted, the importance of entering into a legally sound contract is critical to the protection of your business.
The DBA is often misunderstood, but it can be a valuable way to structure a business and gain some protections of your rights as a business owner. However, you need to make sure you know the limitations of a DBA to protect your intellectual property and trademark rights.
A copyright protects the particular ways by which people expressed themselves. A copyright gives an owner the exclusive legal right to reproduce, publish, sell, or distribute an original creative work.
In part 1 of this series, we discussed the various options to incorporate multiple businesses while keeping each business as a separate entity. But what if you want to keep all of your businesses under one roof?
Profitability is directly related to a company’s gross revenue, particularly as it relates to its varied customer types. What does gross revenue mean to your company’s profitability? Everything. Let’s back up to review the concepts we’ve covered in previous posts so we may explore gross revenue further.
One of the most common questions I get from small business owners is, “when do I need an employee handbook?” In a perfect world, an employee handbook would be part of the startup protocol, but that usually isn’t the case. In the midst of building a website, working on business development and actually putting together a sellable product, writing policies and procedures is not top of mind.
In the recent Apple-Samsung case, the jury found that Samsung infringed six of Apple’s patents. While we think of Apple as having such technological superiority, three of the patents that Samsung were found to infringe were design patents. Unlike utility patents which cover any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof; design patents cover any new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture.
Proprietary information such as customer lists and recipes are intellectual property. However they are not formally protected in the same way as are trademarks, copyrights or patents. These and other types of confidential information can only be protected if they are treated as trade secrets.
I continue to be surprised as I meet with entrepreneurs who truly regard Venture Capital as their Holy Grail. It’s as though they are looking for a Super Hero to make their dreams of entrepreneurial success come true. But having spent more than a few sessions on the entrepreneur’s side of the table in negotiations with venture capital firms, I know better. And it seems there are others who share my opinion!
It takes a special kind of person to start a business: a rare combination of drive, ambition, creativity, tenacity and impatience for action. But even within the community of business experts and entrepreneurs there is a special breed of person known as a “serial entrepreneur.”
As I listen to the stories told by many entrepreneurs, it reminds me of the dangers they face in part because of their own abilities. Many entrepreneurs are literally jack of all trades. They are very good at doing many things! This trait has allowed them to strike out and start their own business. How in the world could this trait be bad you wonder?
Intellectual property is a concept that is not obvious to most people; you probably have heard of it, but what is it really? Intellectual property is the result of human ingenuity and creativity and the law provides mechanisms through which creativity can be protected. Intellectual property can be broken down into three parts.
When you started your small or family business you more than likely developed a business plan. In this plan you laid out your purpose, vision, and strategy in great detail. As your business grew you created contracts, invoices, marketing materials, and other documents, all on paper, so that you had written evidence to signal agreements, to showcase your work, and to provide the necessary leverage should you ever have needed it.
A patent is a governmentally granted monopoly that gives an inventor the exclusive right to make, use, or sell their invention for a limited time, in exchange for disclosure of that invention. There are three types of patents: design patents, plant patents, and utility patents. Generally utility patents are being referenced when you hear the word ‘patent’ and these will be the focus of the rest of this article.
If you have the opportunity to buy or sell a business, negotiating the terms of a letter of intent (an “LOI”) is one of the first and most critical steps in the process of completing the transaction. A well-written letter of intent provides a valuable foundation for a potential transaction as it captures the parties’ intentions with regard to the structure, timing and material terms of the transaction. An LOI often imposes significant obligations on each of the parties, and consequently is typically the product of fairly intense negotiations between the parties.
Did you ever hear the story of the businessman who was pulled over by a State Trooper? When told he had been going more than 20 miles per hour over the limit, the man gestured toward the traffic zipping by and quite reasonably observed “Officer, everyone out there is doing the same thing!”
Unimpressed, the trooper asked a question of his own. “Sir, have you ever gone fishing?” “Yes, of course,” the speeder answered, somewhat confused by the turn of conversation.
“Well,” continued the officer as he handed over the ticket, “did you ever catch all the fish?”
The Great Recession has been a great teacher for many seasoned entrepreneurs. Those who have survived have been the ones willing to truly look at their businesses objectively. And in doing so, they have learned many lessons.
For every entrepreneur, a smooth transition of business ownership will be of importance at some future point. The Buy Sell Agreement deals with a specific exit strategy case. An agreement by and between business owners, it establishes a mechanism for the purchase of ownership interests following the departure of an owner due to a triggering event (i.e., death, divorce, disability, retirement, etc.).
If indeed, a greater amount of profit remaining at the bottom of the Profit & Loss Statement is what a business owner is striving for, then one should consider undertaking this exercise before attempting to grow the business by increasing sales.
Understanding a company’s operating results is an important factor for a business owner to determine the value of a business. However, the operating results must be placed in the proper context by comparing them to results of the industry as a whole. By doing so, a business owner is able to understand how they are doing financially relative to their industry peers. This exercise is known as benchmarking.
How many times have you been to a cocktail or Christmas party, making friendly conversation, when someone in the group asks, “So what do you do?” Most business owners and consultants struggle with giving elevator speeches. Actually, let’s forget struggle and move straight to panic, dread, and sweat. They think, “How could I possibly sum up what I do in 10 seconds?
It never ceases to amaze entrepreneurs how certain seemingly simple decisions, made during the early years of their business startup, can become fatal errors down the road. After meeting with many business owners across a broad spectrum of industries it’s common to find them enduring the consequences of the same, or similar, errors over and over again.
Just a few days before everyone rings in the New Year, I have a ritual that I undertake and enjoy immensely. It doesn’t involve highly caloric food, expensive Champagne or making a resolution. I have shared my New Year’s ritual with successful entrepreneurs and have always received a positive response. It’s really simple. It requires you to ask yourself three questions. What happens next, is up to you.