Looking At Partnerships Part Two

pptwHow does a partnership happen? The ways are many, but Susan Caldwell, Ph.D., and Claire Kwan’s venture displays the typical cycle of growth–from an idea, to a feeling-out stage, to a sudden shove into reality. “I was in a dismal corporate environment,” recalls Caldwell, “working for supervisors who were less competent than I was. My career had hit a crossroads.” She laughs. “Then I had an entrepreneurial seizure, I guess.”

Caldwell’s seizure took place in July 1992, while she was working at Baxter Diagnostics in Miami, a company one could describe as a medical IBM. What brought it on was a visit from a computer consultant to the company, whom Caldwell had called to ask about a department communications Continue Reading »

Looking At Partnerships – Part One

lapssTHEY BRING DIFFERENT STRENGTHS TO THE PARTY, COVER YOUR PHONES, AND GIVE YOU someone to talk to over coffee. Sometimes you marry them. Sometimes you divorce. As you’ll see, creating a lasting partnership takes a lot more than saying “I do.”

** The advantages of joining forces with someone are obvious: A partnership offers more security than going it alone, in the form of increased social support, combined assets and talents, and doubled networking possibilities. For entrepreneurs, partnerships offer a solution to some of the vexing problems of sole proprietorship: They allow duties to be divided up, create more opportunities for sales calls and servicing accounts, and free up more time for personal and social obligations, not to mention vacations. Even if you’re not ready to take on a full-time partner, many business owners are discovering the benefits of …

Classic Incorporation Mistakes

cimAs AN ACCOUNTANT AND WRITER, I HAD ALWAYS OPERated as a sole proprietor. But recently I incorporated a piece of my business–writing computer books. You might not think that writing books warrants incorporation, but most computer publishers offer contracts with stringent warranties against errors. Therefore, I needed incorporation so that my financial liabilities in any book publishing ventures would be limited.

In the past I had worked with attorneys to set up large corporations, but my computer book-writing venture was the first time I’d arranged a small-business corporation. Unfortunately, along the way I made some mistakes. When I talked with several entrepreneur friends, however, I learned I wasn’t alone. Opportunities for error are ample when you incorporate a small business. Here’s what I learned not to do from my own experience and that of other entrepreneurs I talked with.

1. Start without a budget. This omission sounds obvious, but it’s too easy for the incorporation process to get expensive very quickly. In fact, it may be that you won’t want to incorporate once you consider the total costs. In my case, total attorney fees at the outset looked to be somewhere between $800 and $1,000. I chipped Continue Reading »

Why Guarantees Can Ignite Your Sales Process

wgciyBack in the 1890s, when John Wanamaker first promised a money-back guarantee on every item sold in his department stores, he had no idea what a powerful business tool he’d developed. His aim was to help the public feel protected from the wide assortment of snake-oil salesmen of the day. Today, quality consultant and former Harvard professor Christopher W.L. Hart preaches a similar strategy, transforming that simple promise into a vital business technique called the extraordinary guarantee. This time around, Hart has shown that the guarantee can have a huge impact on service companies—helping to deliver excellence and win customer loyalty. While Wanamaker’s guarantee reduced the customer’s sense of risk, Hart’s extraordinary guarantee is intended for the company. By promising customer satisfaction, the strategy not only helps to pinpoint what it is clients want, but it forces a company …

Environmentally Friendly Products Keep Shooting The Lights Out

blop

IN 2014 AMERICANS SPENT $510.1 BILLION ON PRODUCTS that were perceived to be eco-safe; gross sales for 2015 are expected to hit $621.5 billion. These figures are no surprise given that consumers are weighing the environmental impact of their everyday products and practices against new greener alternatives.

The government’s pro stand on conservation and preservation is also a key issue. With an ear to the earth and an eye on the future, the following three entrepreneurs are growing successful companies from the seeds of environmental concern. Their stories may generate the spark you need to start your own eco-friendly business.

Jane Klimek, Eco Tech Inc. After learning that many companies don’t bother to reformat disks after one-time installation on their computer networks but, instead, opt to store them indefinitely or simply throw them away, Jane Klimek saw a niche.

Klimek, 36, launched Eco Tech in 1992 to Continue Reading »

Don’t Let The Isolation Of A Home Business Affect You

hbayI AM KNOWN BY A THOUSAND NAMES-CONSULTANT, freelancer, outsource cadet, New Age techno-geek, Lamarr–actually, those are just five. But they all say the same thing–when all the other wage slaves are rushing out of the house to catch the 8:02, I’m pouring my second cup of Belgian Waffle Mist International Blend coffee and checking out who’s on Regis & Kathie Lee. Although this may sound idyllic, you’re probably unaware that watching daytime TV—even just long enough to ascertain that Montel’s guests are “Love-Addicted Finnish-American Meter Maids” is proof you’re legally insane in at least three states.

Many years ago, I worked in a normal office in a normal high-rise building in a normal faceless American downtown. I was a stressed-out, caffeine-slurping, shredded-nerve encrusted jangle of raw meat. But I was normal…compos mentis…one of the guys. I was sane, despite my recent water pipe purchase.

Then I snared that first client. Ah, how I rejoiced. I didn’t see the spiral-eyed golem hovering above the contract, salivating on my signature, and cackling away like an Amway rep. I was innocent. Naive. I went skipping out of my Continue Reading »