How To Turn An Idea Into A Business

I have an idea for a product that mothers with young children could use. What steps should I take to make my idea into a business? You’ve taken the most important step: identifying your product and customers. Next you should check out the competition, and make sure your product is unique. If it isn’t, find […]

Federal Loans And Grants For Women Entrepreneurs

I am interested in starting a holistic healing and help center with massage, water therapy, yoga and tai chi. I have done some Internet research on grants and loans available to women, but I keep finding sites that charge for this information. Do you know of a source with direct access to federal loans or […]

Federal Quotas For Import-Export Businesses

I am an American living in China. I would like to start a business selling hand-knit sweaters made here, and my main market will be the U.S. (I’ll sell online). My question is, do I need to have a quota to open my business? Yes, you do need a quota, or permission to import a […]

How Do I File A Patent?

I have invented a new mobile device. I’ve documented my invention on paper, dated it, put it in a sealed envelope and sent it by certified mail to myself. What’s the next step to take to protect my invention and then begin to market it? Forget the old tale about mailing a dated description of […]

Should I Incorporate My Business – What Are The Advantages?

I want to start a Web-based consulting company with a partner. I’ve heard many conflicting things about corporations, limited liability companies and partnerships. I don’t know whether I should incorporate or not. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each business form? Incorporating offers a number of advantages over other business forms. Following are the […]

Small Business Disputes And Litigation

Unfortunately, there are many chances to get involved in a legal dispute while running a small business. Every interaction with an employee, vendor, customer or another business creates the possibility of a future legal conflict. You need to know what to do if a dispute arises. Choosing a Good Lawyer If you decide you need […]

Deciding Whether To File A Lawsuit – Should You Sue?

Even though you or your business may have been “wronged” in some fashion, it does not always mean you should file a lawsuit and sue to protect your rights. Deciding whether to sue is a decision that should be made only after careful, objective thought and consideration–weighing the costs and risks involved in filing a […]

How To Find The Right Lawyer For Your Business

For one reason or another, you find you need a lawyer. Perhaps the business is new and you’re wondering if you should formalize an agreement with your partner. Or maybe you’ve outgrown your home office and want to lease or buy commercial space. Or a troublesome customer is threatening to sue. How can you find […]

The Benefits Of Buying A Business Franchise

Purchasing a franchise can be a good entry strategy for entrepreneurs. It eliminates many of the headaches associated with starting a new venture from scratch. It is also an opportunity for you to benefit from the experience, knowledge, expertise and support from a franchisor who has successfully tested and proven a business concept in the […]

The Basics Of Running A Small Business

Getting a small business up and running can be complicated, but it is only the beginning. Once the business is operational, there are many steps you need to take to ensure it runs smoothly. Business Insurance Every business needs insurance to protect the business and its property from damage and lawsuits. There are many different […]

Things To Consider When Doing Business Online

Small businesses are the most rapidly changing sector of business, and the proliferation of electronic commerce is evidence of entrepreneurs’ rush to meet growing market demands. Small businesses are tapping into the Internet to conduct business and to reach new customers. Business As Usual Whether you’re starting an Internet-based business or taking an existing business […]

Succession Planning For Small Business Owners

If you own an interest in a business, whether it’s a sole proprietorship, partnership or corporation, you need an estate plan. You’ve probably put a lot of time, energy and sweat equity into your business, and you probably did it without giving much thought to how you would separate yourself from the company when the […]

Legal Restrictions On Advertising

Many issues arise when you create an advertising program for your small business. When preparing an advertising program, it is essential for you to be certain you do not violate the rights of other businesses or individuals; there are government regulations on advertising. Care should be taken to work with an attorney skilled in advertising […]

Ensuring Your Business Is Accessible To Disabled Individuals

Every business that provides goods or services to the public is considered a public accommodation and must comply with accessibility and nondiscrimination requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In addition to preventing employment discrimination against individuals with disabilities, the ADA prohibits the exclusion of individuals with disabilities from everyday activities, such as shopping […]

Warranties And Consumer Protection Laws

Over time laws have developed to protect consumers who receive faulty products. There are several different methods of protection, including: warranties, consumer protection laws, and product liability lawsuits. Warranties You may be warranting certain attributes of your business’s products whether you realize it or not. The rules that govern warranties have been embodied in the […]

Collecting Payments From Customers

There are several ways to deal with collection problems, ranging from preventive action to initiating a lawsuit. If, as a business owner, you are fortunate enough to deal with people who always pay their bills on time, the remaining portion of this section may be of no interest at all. If, however, you have experienced […]

Types Of Insurance Needed For A Small Business

Business insurance protects the contents of your business against fire, theft and other losses. All businesses need to purchase a number of basic types of insurance–some insurance is required by law; others simply make good business sense. Remember, when buying insurance, it is important to understand the terms of the insurance, including any limitations or […]

The Basics Of Starting A Nonprofit Organization

Some entrepreneurs start charitable nonprofit organizations, designated as 501(c)(3), that qualify for exemption from federal income tax. With a nonprofit organization, the entrepreneur identifies a need in the community that is currently not being addressed. An example is an organization that solicits contributions to form a loan pool for minority and female business owners who […]

The Benefits Of A Limited Liability Company

A limited liability company (LLC) is a business form that combines the limited liability features of a corporation with the tax advantages available to the sole proprietor or partnerships. An entrepreneur conducting business through an LLC can shield his or her personal assets from the risk of the business for all situations except the individual’s […]

The Different Types Of For-Profit Corporations

A corporation is a legal entity that has been created to do business. It can be taxed and held legally liable for its actions. The corporation is a separate entity from those who founded it. For tax purposes, there are two basic types of for-profit corporation: A regular corporation, known as a C corporation, which […]

How To Choose A Partnership Type For Your Business

You may choose to join forces with one or more other people to own and operate your business, as a “partnership,” in legal terms. There are two types of partnerships: General partnership, in which each of the partners has personal responsibility for all debts and liabilities of the business; and Limited partnership, which requires filing […]

Why Choose A Sole Proprietorship Business Structure

You may choose to own and operate your business individually, as a “sole proprietorship,” in legal terms. Essentially, a sole proprietorship is a business that is owned by one person. This is the easiest type of business to start, and the one that most solo entrepreneurs select to get off the ground. A sole proprietorship […]

Choosing The Right Legal Form Of Business

There are four common ways to own and run a business in the United States: Individually, known as a sole proprietorship With one or more people, in a partnership, which may be either a “general partnership” or a “limited partnership” By filing with a state government to form a corporation, which may be either a […]

An Overview Of Starting A Small Business

The old American dream of owning and managing one’s own business is alive and well–stronger now than ever before. Latest statistics show that one out of every three Americans is involved in a new or small business. Many of these businesses are small home-based or virtual companies that are revitalizing the U.S. economy and employing […]

Small Business Finances And Taxes

Every business needs money to survive, and every business must pay taxes on its earnings. Managing your finances and taxes can be very complicated. Financial Planning Of course you need money to start your business, but raising capital is not always easy. Before you can begin the process you must plan your business’s financial future. […]

Financial Planning For Small Businesses

One of the first steps in any business is financial planning. If you know where your financing is coming from, you need a plan to manage it. If you need to raise money, financial plans will help you determine how much money you need and the best way to get it. The Business Plan The […]

Types Of Small Business Taxes

Because you are a business owner, you have a dual role when it comes to taxes. On the one hand, you serve as a tax collector, taking payroll deductions for federal income tax, Social Security and other taxes from your employees, taking sales tax from your customers and turning them over to the correct government […]

How To Keep Track Of Business Income And Expenses

Even if you hated math in high school, keeping a good financial record of every one of your business transactions–whether it’s checks received or cash receipts for highway tolls paid while traveling on business–is a basic necessity. After all, every entrepreneur wants to know how much money his or her business is generating both before […]

How To Get Financing For Your Business

Finding capital is a standard problem for most entrepreneurs. Raising money is an art. Fortunately, it is one you can learn. It is critical to gain knowledge of the money market, the people in it and how to interact with them. Your ability to raise money depends on the soundness of your venture, your sales […]

Tips And Strategies For Buying A Small Business

The entrepreneurial trend is here to stay and expanding worldwide. However, a new model of entrepreneurship is emerging–the buyout entrepreneur. This individual buys a business instead of starting one from scratch. Many entrepreneurs are finding that big returns come from the growth and revitalization of existing businesses. The number of businesses for sale is increasing, […]

Hiring And Negotiating With Service Providers

When you consider all the areas in which you must make decisions, nothing can be as time-consuming or as important as determining your service providers. If your phone system does not work correctly or your office equipment does not perform as promised, you risk losing business as well as looking unprofessional. The list of service […]

Tips For Choosing The Right Location For Your Business

Before you can start a business, you need to decide where to locate that business. This decision will depend on many factors, including what type of business you are starting, what type of customers or clients you are expecting and what you can afford. There are a few things to think about when deciding where […]

How To Come Up With A Business Name

The name of your business should give people an idea of the type of business you are in, and be distinctive enough that people will remember it. If that isn’t difficult enough, in addition to thinking up the perfect name, you must also take a number of steps to ensure the name is original and, […]

Special Minority Programs For Entrepreneurs

Generally, contracting opportunities with the federal government are available to any business, but there are special programs to encourage participation by small businesses, small disadvantaged businesses and women-owned businesses. Often the government will limit competition for contracts to small or minority-owned firms. An increasing number of awards are also limited to women-owned businesses. These are […]

Coming Up With A Great Business Idea

An abundance of venture opportunities exists in various industries with growing markets such as computer technology, the Internet, children’s products, ethnic products, specialty boutiques and pet pampering. Just a few of today’s hot venture opportunities are described below. First, determine where your interests lie and match them to your experience, skills and contacts. Then match […]

3 Steps To Starting A Mail Order Business

I want to start a mail-order based business, so, I ordered a kit that offers advice on what items would be lucrative to sell on the Internet. The company offers a money-back guarantee if purchases are not satisfied. Does this sound like a “get rich quick” scheme that will never amount to much, or should I […]

Finding Short Term Bridge Financing For A Company

I am in the process of purchasing two rest homes, and I need a bridge loan until I can get HUD financing in place. I need to borrow $100,000 for approximately 60 days, which will be returned at the closing with interest. I was recently divorced and my husband left my two college-age children and […]

How To Present The Competitive Analysis In A Business Plan

When creating my business plan, how should I present and lay out the competitor-analysis section? And for my customer and market analyses, I need statistics on the estimated number of people studying in MBA programs in the U.S. An analysis of the competition provides critical data in a business plan because without knowing the competition, […]

When To Ask For A Promotion At Work

I want a promotion, but my boss won’t make a decision about who should become office manager when the current person retires at the end of the year. Should I be aggressive in my approach, or do you recommend I wait and see? A friend of mine recently called to tell me he was stewing […]

How To Find The Right Career Coach

How can I find a career coach in the offline world? In what way can a coach be helpful? The new breed of coaches are more like business consultants. They focus on working with managers to set goals and maximize performance – on the job and in their personal lives. Coaching these days is not […]

Should I Tell A Potential Employer That I Am Pregnant?

I am three months pregnant — not showing — and out of a job. Is telling a prospective employer I’m pregnant a guarantee I won’t get a job? Is not telling deceitful? First of all, congratulations. But you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place, and your belly is expanding by the minute! Not […]

Planning Your Long-Term Career Goals

My boss keeps trying to schedule a meeting to discuss my long-term career goals. Frankly, my goals have nothing to do with him, his company or anything else I’m doing right now. I think he sees a future for me here, but I definitely do not. Should I tell the truth? Before your big meeting […]

Taking A Job Overseas – The Advantages Of Working Abroad

I’ve been offered a good management assignment overseas. What would accepting the position do for my career? Is leaving headquarters a good or bad career move? I’m looking in my crystal ball — and I’m seeing good things. Though the costs and benefits of each situation are unique, jumping over the Atlantic — or some […]

Re-Entering The Workforce When Older And Wiser

I am 40 years old and have just begun my second semester back at college pursuing a degree in teaching special education. I took time off from working to raise my children. Many people say I’m wasting my time because I’ll be nearly 45 years old when I graduate and no one will hire me. […]

Providing Job References Without Alerting Your Current Employer

My last employer is out of business, and I can’t use my present employer for references because I don’t want them to know I’m leaving. My previous job referrals are more than 10 years old. Should I ask present co-workers? I’m afraid that someone might tell my boss. No worries. You’ve got a lot of […]

The Best Time To Ask For A Raise

I am up for a six-month evaluation soon and I think I deserve a raise. Is it crazy to ask for a raise after only six months? It’s never crazy to ask for a raise if you’ve got a good argument as to why you deserve it – and if your employer is doing all […]

How Long To Wait Before Contacting A Potential Employer

How long should I wait before calling or emailing a potential employer a second time? Are there any guidelines for phone inquiries and messages? Thanks so much. This is always a tough one. It’s a bit like walking a tightrope. You don’t want to seem uninterested, but you don’t want to hound people and make […]

Should I Lie About My Salary History In Interviews?

Job interviewers always ask how much money I am earning. Do I have to tell the truth? Let’s get one thing straight: Salary negotiations are a game and the stakes are high. So, how do you win this game? Tell the truth. But remember that the truth is not just what you are currently being […]

How To Hire A Lawyer And Accountant For Your Business

I’m starting a small business on a limited budget and trying to make every dollar count. Is it absolutely necessary to hire a lawyer and an accountant? Like preventive medical care vs. critical emergency care, it’s preferable to get sound business advice up-front that will help you avoid unforeseeable problems in the future. The penalties […]

How To Create A Division Of Your Corporation

My husband and I have an incorporated business. We are considering developing a division that would sell items online for a mail-order service. What are the laws, standards and/or guidelines for creating a division of your corporation? Starting a division of your corporation can be as simple as opening a new ledger sheet to track […]

How To Set Up A Non-Profit Organization

How does one go about setting up a non-profit organization? Is there an online source for more information on this subject, or a government page? While some businesses end up as non-profits accidentally — they just can’t seem to make a profit no matter what — if your main focus is helping others rather than […]

Compensating Employees For Overtime And Extra Hours

Our exempt salaried staff members receive comp time for hours over 45 worked in a given week (normal workweek is 37.5 hours). They’re disgruntled because they think they’re being “used” between 37 and 44 hours. Are they entitled to hour-for-hour comp time for hours worked in excess of 37.5 per week? The time when employees […]

The Best Way To Advertise Your Business Offline

I’m familiar with online marketing methods such as search engine optimization, social media, and pay-per-click advertising. Can you give me some offline marketing ideas? Surprisingly, the most effective advertising is free: word of mouth. Even heavily advertised blockbuster movies rely on audience reviews to build box office. To create buzz, let your customers know you’re looking […]

Starting A Partnership With A Friend – Things To Consider

A friend and I want to start a business together. Do you have any tips on how to make this partnership work? Having a partner means having someone to share the joys of success and the pains of failure with, but be sure that you’re not confusing partnership with a good friendship. You would be […]

How To Move A Business To Another State

I currently have a corporation in New Jersey. I have moved to Florida and have continued to do business under the corporation’s name. Do I have to move the corporation to the state of Florida? Theoretically, while your corporation battles the cold winters in New Jersey, you, as owner, can bask on the beach in […]

5 Signs You Are Ready To Quit Your Job

My husband owns a dump truck business, and I do the bookkeeping. I also have a full-time job outside our home. He is currently expanding, and I feel so stressed out that I am considering resigning from my outside job. How can I be sure I am making the right decision? You need to do […]

How To Protect Your Business Idea

I have the idea, business plan and capital for a business. My problem is protecting my idea. I’m scared that since I have little experience in the field I wish to venture in, if I ask for advice or capital, someone with more experience can take my idea and profit from it. If you have […]

How To Become A Freelance Consultant

For the past couple of years I’ve given friends marketing advice for their start-up or small businesses, ranging from letters of introduction to promotional ideas. Many of my friends have said I should start freelance consulting instead of giving it away. I would love to, but I don’t know where to begin. Never give it […]

The Pros And Cons Of Franchises

What’s the biggest downside to buying a franchise? Cost, pure and simple. If you buy into a proven franchise, the up-front ticket can run high — up to a million for a McDonald’s. If you choose a business that isn’t proven, then you’ve assumed a risk without gaining the benefits of a successful franchise. Another […]

Hiring Someone To Create A Successful Business Plan

I need help with a business plan for a spa and salon. SBA training courses have provided a lot of good information on how to run a business, but I want to start with a business plan. Who should I talk to about writing a successful business plan? Who can I hire to write a […]

Raising Startup Capital For An Existing Business

In order to get your venture fully operational, you need financing. You will need money for equipment, offices, staff, marketing, and supplies. In other words, you need capital to start up. Although similar, seed capital and startup capital should be distinguished. Seed capital, used to fully develop a concept, can normally be funded only through […]

Why It Is Important For An Entrepreneur To Develop A Business Plan

If your networking and contacts find the door to capitalizing your company, the business plan is your key to opening it. It is especially important to entrepreneurs, who can use a solid document to defeat any credibility issues about your management of the venture. Even if you recognize the need for a small business plan, […]

Major Funding Options For Small Businesses

The money for your business can come from many different places. Most ventures are funded by a combination of sources, including any or all of the following: Personal savings and “sweat equity,” or your unpaid hours, are an expected component of your financing. Even if your company is eventually fully funded, you will inevitably have […]

Tips On Becoming A Better Manager

I am a company director living in Spain. About two months ago, I started a small Web site-designing business with the help of six other people. So far, the business is not running so well, although I’m trying my best to be a good manager. People are starting to get tired and most of them […]

How To Legally Name A New Business

Picking a business name can be hard work: You’re creating your own brand. And with so many names out there already, the task of finding a unique name can require some creative thinking. In addition, you’ll need to meet local legal requirements and find out what domain names are available. Where to start? State and […]

Franchise Questions To Ask Owners Before Buying

What questions are appropriate to ask other franchisees? I’m applying to buy a franchise. As part of the application process, I have to visit several current franchisees. It is appropriate to ask them about net margins, gross sales, and daily units sold? I don’t want them to tell me to mind my own business! In […]

Staff Needed To Start A New Business

You may be going into business for yourself, but you shouldn’t be doing it alone. Even if you have a great idea and the drive to make it happen, you may not have all the skills you need. To fill in those blanks, you need two types of people — specialists and supporters. That’s why […]

Learning To Charge Your Friends For Services

I have a small business startup. Friends often ask me to do work for them, but I have a hard time charging them. Some say they will pay me, but I turn them down. I need to maintain a profit margin, but I keep getting caught in the same cycle. What do I do? Still […]

How To Hire An Accountant For Your Small Business

Finding a proactive accountant — one who goes beyond simply preparing your tax returns — can help chart your financial course and put you in control of your money. Whatever your level of knowledge, accountants can help you better understand your financial situation. “Even in this day and age,” says Debra Simon, a certified public […]

How To Calculate The Value Of A Small Business

How is the value of a company established? I have been offered the chance to purchase a company that has minimal assets but a very lucrative contract that generates substantial cash flow and profit. The problem is calculating the value of the contract. On a straight cash flow, profitability standpoint, it would appear fine. However, […]

How To Determine And Track Business Profitability

The answer to the question “Is your business profitable?” seems like it should be obvious from a quick look at the checkbook or a nod from an accountant. As counterintuitive as it is, small business owners are sometimes among the last to realize that their businesses are unprofitable. Often preoccupied by the necessary endeavors of […]

How To Land A Product Licensing Agreement

How can I get a company to consider my ideas and products for licensing? Do you have any suggestions for convincing an existing company to consider my business’s ideas and products for licensing? Many companies say they can’t consider my ideas for “legal reasons,” yet they accept other people’s products. While many companies do license […]

Maximize Your Print Marketing Campaign By Tracking Results

In the previous article, “How To Plan A Print Marketing Campaign“, we discussed successful approaches to marketing via direct mail, flyers, newsletters, and other print media. Now it’s time to address the bottom line: results. Know What To Measure Before judging the success of an advertising or direct-mail campaign, it’s important to review your initial […]

Tips For Writing A Successful Business Plan

Writing a business plan is one of the most demanding and tedious challenges facing entrepreneurs, invariably taking dozens or even hundreds of hours of executive time. And as your business grows the task becomes ever more daunting, simply because the business becomes more complex; there are more details to cover in terms of planning operations, […]

Solving Small Business Cash Flow Problems

I am having cash-flow problems. Should I obtain a line of credit to cover expenses? A few years ago I started a janitorial company. Originally, I kept my previous job, but last year I began working on my business full-time, and now I’m running into a cash flow issues. Do you think I should get […]

How To Plan A Print Marketing Campaign – Tips And Ideas

Internet marketing is the buzz of the news media and business world. Forrester Research predicts that online advertising expenditures will reach $77 billion by the year 2016, comprising 35% of overall ad spending. Yet despite the Internet’s explosive growth, print is still a great marketing tool for most businesses. After all, many consumers and businesses […]

Managing Large Projects And Resources With Microsoft Project

If you manage large projects or several smaller projects, you need to track how your staff is used, how your machinery and equipment is used, all while keeping up with the project schedule. The goal is to maximize all of your resources so you can maximize your billing and minimize the time it takes to […]