Small Business Tips

Ownership Post Archive
Featuring articles on the topic of owning a business including balancing work/home life, entrepreneurship, proprietorship, insurance, revitalization, health/well-being, preparation, commitment, style, success stories, opportunities and more.
Revitalize Your Stagnant Business

When you first started your business, the excitement was raw and tangible. With every step forward everything in you wanted to jump for joy, though you contained yourself (most of the time). Your dream was becoming reality. Your business was seeing success. Life was just plain good.

Fast forward a few years. Same dream, same business, but with a different feel. You’re still making money and still a success, but the excitement is all but gone. So, what’s the deal?

When a business is in its first years, you are establishing a structure. The problem is, once that structure is established, everyone thinks that it shouldn’t change — to stick with what you know (because that’s the easiest way). It becomes a comfort zone and no one wants to depart from a comfortable location. Besides, very few people deal well with change.

Continue Reading: “Revitalize Your Stagnant Business”


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By Michelle Cramer
Thursday, October 19th, 2017 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Operations, Ownership |

How Accessible are You?

Customer service is a key element in the success of your business. That’s not news to anyone. But a crucial element of customer service, that business owners often overlook, is being readily accessible to your clientele. That can be a challenge, but technology lends a hand in making it possible.

Continue Reading: “How Accessible are You?”


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By Michelle Cramer
Thursday, September 21st, 2017 @ 12:06 AM CDT

Customer Service, Marketing, Ownership |

Communicating Competence

>When you encounter a potential client, investor or business associate for the first time, you want to make a great impression upon them. Though your personality has a lot to do with it, people often judge by what they see first rather than what they hear. So it’s important that you portray competence in your business industry not only in your knowledge and performance, but also in how you convey yourself.

Appearance
When you walk up to a potential client, it’s probably best that you “look the part” that would be associated with the type of business you are in. However, you don’t want to look sloppy either, just because you are in something like the construction business. Leave the disheveled look when you’re actually doing the dirty work, but not for your initial meeting with the client. Though many businesses these days carry a more casual element to “dressing up,” so you don’t always have to wear a business suit, you should still look nice, in dress slacks or a skirt and a nice shirt. Good hygiene, of course, is also important.

Continue Reading: “Communicating Competence”


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By Michelle Cramer
Tuesday, September 19th, 2017 @ 12:02 AM CDT

Ownership |

Preparing Your Business for Impending Disaster

Last week, the wildfires in Southern California received top billing on the news nationwide. While many people tragically lost their homes, there is no doubt that some also lost their business in the fires.

Many of us will never have to face out of control wildfires as a risk factor for the destruction of our business, but natural disasters of every kind span the nation. Anything from wildfires, to tornadoes, ice storms (which caused some devastation in my home town last winter), to hurricanes, there are a number of possibilities that can damage to your business. And you need to make sure you’re protected.

Insurance Coverage
First and foremost, be sure that your business (just like your life, health, home and vehicles) is insured. And, be sure that your business insurance covers disasters that are common to your area of the nation. If you live in the Midwest, be sure that tornado damage is covered. If you live on a coast, be sure that hurricane damage is covered, etc. Additionally, though wildfires tend to be more prevalent in the California area, fire damage can happen anywhere, so be sure, no matter where your business is located, that you’re covered if there is a fire.

Continue Reading: “Preparing Your Business for Impending Disaster”


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By Michelle Cramer
Sunday, September 17th, 2017 @ 12:05 AM CDT

Operations, Ownership |

Learning From Experienced Entrepreneurs

We all have regrets – it’s just a fact of life. But we learn from those experiences, much like the flourishing entrepreneurs interviewed in Entrepreneur.com’s article If They Could Turn Back Time. Kristin Edelhauser Chessman interviewed nine successful entrepreneurs and asked them, if they could do it all over again, what they would focus on more during the startup process.

Their feedback reveals important steps that everyone starting their own business should know.

Have startup funds available. Whether you save up to start your dream job or find investors, it’s best to have funds available for spending on marketing and supplies rather than limit your options in the beginning.

Continue Reading: “Learning From Experienced Entrepreneurs”


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By Michelle Cramer
Friday, September 15th, 2017 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Ownership |

Leaders as Strong Public Speakers

Have you ever had a boss that wasn’t very articulate? He was often quiet and kept to himself. When he did have something to say, you often couldn’t follow due to his mumbling, incongruent sentences, or even elevated vocabulary. Oh, you nodded your head in agreement, but the conversation got you nowhere, and did nothing for your motivation.

As a leader, it’s important that you are able to communicate with your employees/followers in a way that is clear, concise and motivating.

A strong public address should do the following:

Continue Reading: “Leaders as Strong Public Speakers”


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By Michelle Cramer
Thursday, September 14th, 2017 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Ownership |

Discerning Truth From Lies

It’s an unfortunate part of everyday life. People lie. Though we’d all like to believe that every business person out there is honest and trustworthy, that is just not the case. And the lies they tell can often have a severely negative effect – not just emotionally, but also in cost to our business.

I tend to be a trusting person. I give people the benefit of the doubt and assume, until proven otherwise, that they’re telling the truth. That may be a great policy in regard to friends and family, but when it comes to keeping my business up and running smoothly, I’d be better off to be skeptical and watch for the signs that someone may be pulling the wool over my eyes.

Fortunately, there are some indicators you can watch for that will clue you in to someone who may not be telling you everything:

Actions
There are many ways that our body language can reveal our inner thoughts. Someone who is shy or nervous will keep their head pointed toward the ground. Someone who is excited will move around quickly.

Continue Reading: “Discerning Truth From Lies”


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By Michelle Cramer
Monday, September 11th, 2017 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Operations, Ownership |

Brainstorming Motivation for Your Employees

Have you ever been to a business meeting that, though the intention was to come up with great ideas for the progression of the business, turned out to be a total flop? Attendees were bored, few ideas were shared, and everyone left the meeting feeling like it was a waste of time? Obviously, such events are a very little benefit to the development of your business, and there are few ways you can remedy that . . .

Meeting Time Equals Play Time
In other words, make the meeting fun. Don’t let everyone go wild of course. It needs to be organized play time, so to speak. For example, start things off with a game. As a suggestion, I read how one business owner asked his employees to write down something no one else knew about them prior to the meeting. When the meeting started, he passed out the responses and the employees had to guess who belonged to each, providing a little fun and humor to get things moving. Another employer brings tinker toys and tangram puzzles to get cognitive juices flowing. Not only do such ideas make the meeting more enjoyable, but they help your employees to relax and be more comfortable around each other and you.

Continue Reading: “Brainstorming Motivation for Your Employees”


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By Michelle Cramer
Friday, September 8th, 2017 @ 12:04 AM CDT

Motivation, Operations, Ownership |

The Business of Dating While Owning a Business

You are a young and successful business owner. You already have many of the things you set you mind to accomplishing – a steady and lucrative income, success at a dream . . . there’s just one important thing still missing – a successful relationship in your personal life. But who has time to make that happen?

Granted, I can’t say that I understand completely where someone in that position may be coming from, since I started pursuing my entrepreneurial dreams after establishing my family. But many entrepreneurs start pursuing their business dreams so young (early twenties), that, by the time they feel comfortable with the path their business is on, they realize that they are still somewhat alone while many of those around them have gotten married and started families.

In all seriousness though, if having a family is something that is important to the future you see for yourself, the task at this point can seem arduous. Especially if your successful business takes up nearly every waking hour of your day. You may get noticed, after all you’re successful and easy on the eyes, but rarely do the dates turn into relationships.

If you’re at a point in life where you are ready to find a balance between running your business and finding that right person, here are some tips to get you on your way:

Continue Reading: “The Business of Dating While Owning a Business”


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By Michelle Cramer
Friday, September 1st, 2017 @ 12:08 AM CDT

Ownership |

How to Buy Back the Business You Sold

There are many entrepreneurs out there who move on, selling the business they created from nothing to a larger company. The sale happens for any number of reasons: the owner just couldn’t make ends meet but there was a market for the product, the owner was ready to move on to something else, or the company had reached a plateau that only a larger company could overcome.

Often these entrepreneurs have a change of heart and want to buy their business back. Many times this is because they just can’t let go and are disappointed in the way the new owners are handling things. On the other hand, the new owners may not be as pleased with their purchase as they anticipated and may even offer to sell the business back. Regardless of the reason, an entrepreneur looking to buy back his previously owned business shouldn’t dive right back in without doing a little leg work first.

Continue Reading: “How to Buy Back the Business You Sold”


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By Michelle Cramer
Friday, August 25th, 2017 @ 12:09 AM CDT

Money, Ownership |

Hard to Find Employees

It’s getting harder and harder to find good help these days. And there are many factors contributing to the problem that you, as a business owner, need to be aware of.

First of all, there is an increased number of young people seeking jobs that require more brain skill than brawn skill, which is making an increased shortage of employees for the manufacturing industry. Mechanics, engineers, freight and delivery truck drivers, machine operators and construction workers are some of the hardest positions to fill.

Another issue is a lack of adequate compensation for the demanding job. Teachers, for example, on a national average really get gypped when it comes to their annual salary and benefits. Though many seek a teaching career for the joy of the work, rather than the pay, there is also a lack of valuable, qualified teachers all over the nation because many just can’t afford such limited pay to support their own families, no matter how much they love to teach.

Continue Reading: “Hard to Find Employees”


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By Michelle Cramer
Friday, August 18th, 2017 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Human Resources, Ownership |

How and When You Should Pay Yourself

As a business owner, there are many things you have to worry about. Bills, supplies, meeting customer demand, hiring employees you can count on, choosing the right price for your product… the list goes on and on. One thing that may seem to be moved to the back burner in the midst of all of these concerns is yourself, more specifically, the personal funds you get out of the company.

So, how and when do you pay yourself for all of your hard work? Let’s first focus on the when.

When
To make things easier on your company’s budget, it’s best to pay yourself when you pay your employees. For example, if you pay your employees bi-monthly, then you should be paid on the 15th and 30th as well. This makes for easier accounting for the business, and leaves no doubt as to what you can expect.

Continue Reading: “How and When You Should Pay Yourself”


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By Michelle Cramer
Thursday, August 17th, 2017 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Money, Ownership |

How You Know It’s Time to Grow

Those of us that own a business know that, at some point, there will be cause for expansion. This can be both exciting and scary. Exciting because it only means that our business is doing very well and demand for the product/service we provide is growing. Scary because it is practically common knowledge that, next to tapping into the wrong market, the transition from a small business to a not-so-small business is one of the top reasons businesses fail.

There are some clear indications that it is time to expand your business, and being able to recognize those signs will help to eliminate some of the anxiety that accompanies such a change, since you will know it is necessary.

New Challenges
One of the first signs that your business is in need of a change is the fact that you are facing challenges and struggles that you have never faced before. There may be an overwhelming feeling that your losing control of the business.

Continue Reading: “How You Know It’s Time to Grow”


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By Michelle Cramer
Thursday, August 10th, 2017 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Operations, Ownership |

Avoid Getting Gypped by Fraudulent Web Designers

Everyone knows that, in order to have a truly successful business these days, you need to have a website. Typically, as your business is just getting started, most entrepreneurs will design their own website through a web hosting program online, many of which provide services at an inexpensive monthly cost, usually between free and $50, depending on the quality.

For example, for the photography business I started this year, I designed a website with Microsoft Office Live, through their basic free program. The site templates are practically all the same, but have different colors and navigation bar locations to choose from. I don’t have to know any of the website programing lingo or anything, I just select from a pull down menu. Pretty basic, but it accomplishes what I need at this time.

However, once my business takes off and begins to grow, I plan to have my website designed by a professional so that it can have all the bells and whistles that I really want my clientele to have access to. And this is typical. As small businesses continue to grow, the demand for web designers increases. But beware, there are many out there that are simply trying to pull the wool over your eyes and make a quick buck, with no regard for you or your business. In fact, the Council of Better Business Bureaus reported 1,971 complaints against web designers or web design companies in 2006, up from just 603 in 2003.

In order to protect your business from being swindled by these wannabe web designers, it is a must that you do the following:

Continue Reading: “Avoid Getting Gypped by Fraudulent Web Designers”


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By Michelle Cramer
Sunday, August 6th, 2017 @ 12:06 AM CDT

Ownership |

The Balance of a Leader

From the time I was a little girl, my mother had this look. If I was not behaving in the manner she approved of, all it took from her was “the look” (and occasionally my name spoken in a not so flattering tone) and I’d straighten right up. That look has carried on to me. My husband says I try and use on him sometimes (though he doesn’t like to admit that I’m usually successful) and even our dog, a 95 pound lab/dane mix, will hang his head in shame when I give him “the look.” It must be an acquired skill.

Equally as important as “the look” in getting my point across, is the affection. Though we don’t have any children of our own just yet, I have a great deal of experience with them from working in daycares and children’s ministries at church. And one of the most important things I’ve learned is there must be affection and love in your discipline. With my nephews, for example, when they stay over at our house and get into trouble, we discuss what they did wrong, how to improve in the future, and always end with a hug and “I love you.”

Being a good, strong, dependable leader is all about balance. Being a leader is not a one-sided position. You cannot be rough on your employees and never show them any tenderness. And you can’t be easy on everyone and never show them any discipline. You have to have a balance of both.

And there are many areas in which a balance is needed as a leader, such as the following:

Continue Reading: “The Balance of a Leader”


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By Michelle Cramer
Thursday, July 27th, 2017 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Human Resources, Ownership |

Enhance Your Image Through Your Words

Stress – it can get the best of us. Especially when there are stacks of papers and files on our desk that never seem to get smaller. Unfortunately, too many of us, from the low man on the totem pole to the big-wig on top, openly profess our frustrations to anyone that crosses our path.

As professionals, we must keep in mind that what we say effects how people view us – both our capabilities and weaknesses. What follows are some phrases that definitely don’t enhance your image, and what would be a better approach to the same situation, regardless of the frustration brewing within.

Continue Reading: “Enhance Your Image Through Your Words”


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By Michelle Cramer
Friday, July 21st, 2017 @ 12:06 AM CDT

Motivation, Ownership |

Lease or Rental Agreement… That is the Question

So, you’ve made some investments in rental property? A very popular business venture these days, as you can never go wrong with investing in real estate (well, almost never). As you begin the process of finding tenants, one question that you must address is whether to use a Lease or a Rental Agreement for your property.

First, you must determine what type of market the property will appeal to. If it’s a residential home, such as a single family house, duplex or apartment complex, then your market will likely be those that are looking for a place to settle down for a while and stay put. For this type of property you would want to offer a Lease.

However, if your property is in the heart of the business district, close to a college campus, near a military base, etc., then a Rental Agreement may be the best option for you. Most especially if you are having a hard time finding someone to rent the property in the first place.

Let’s examine what each agreement consists of so you have a better idea of what would work best for you:

Continue Reading: “Lease or Rental Agreement… That is the Question”


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By Michelle Cramer
Wednesday, July 19th, 2017 @ 12:05 AM CDT

Ownership, Ventures |

Scheduling Time to Relax

Seems a bit like an oxymoron doesn’t it… “scheduling time to relax?” But in this hectic world full of non-stop busy schedules for both family and business, scheduling time to relax is the only way we’ll ever get around to actually relaxing.

Relaxing is a crucial part to keeping our positive attitude and joy in life (not to mention our sanity). Here are some easy things to implement into your life in order to find some time to take a breather:

Continue Reading: “Scheduling Time to Relax”


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By Michelle Cramer
Wednesday, July 12th, 2017 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Ownership |

When You Feel Like Quitting…

Owning your own business can be quite stressful and, sometimes simply overwhelming. We can often get caught up in those emotions and let them drag us down. Our thoughts turn to calling it quits – giving up all together on the dream we once had because it has just become too much.

But maybe, before turning those thoughts into action, it would be better to try and change our perspective a bit. Here are few things to check yourself on before throwing in the towel:

Continue Reading: “When You Feel Like Quitting…”


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By Michelle Cramer
Tuesday, July 11th, 2017 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Motivation, Ownership |

The Importance of Being Assertive

Point blank: if you’re an entrepreneur, or plan on becoming one, you have to be assertive. Now, please know that I don’t mean aggressive, which is completely different. I mean knowing what you want and what your limitations are and being able to express that in a confident and respective manner.

When you start a business, many people will ask you for favors. Your friends and family may sometimes expect freebies of the product/service you provide. Business partners may request you to take on one of his/her tasks because their “to do list” is just too full. Some customers may expect you to practically hand-deliver the product they order to their door yourself.

Continue Reading: “The Importance of Being Assertive”


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By Michelle Cramer
Saturday, July 8th, 2017 @ 12:03 AM CDT

Ownership, Startup |

Outsource Your Chores and Errands

There just aren’t enough hours in the day, at least for most, to get everything accomplished we would like to. Our priorities tend to focus on the businesses we own, as well as our family and social lives, and we tend to never get around to picking up the dry cleaning or mowing the lawn.

Well, some fellow entrepreneurs recognized this need in their own lives, decided to do something about and DoMyStuff.com was born. The basic premise is that buyers (a.k.a. busy people) post a task they need done, such as mowing the lawn, and assistants (local individuals or businesses willing to do the work) bid on the task. The buyer picks the best bid, which aren’t just about how much the assistant would charge, but how they would get the job done.

Continue Reading: “Outsource Your Chores and Errands”


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By Michelle Cramer
Sunday, July 2nd, 2017 @ 12:06 AM CDT

Ownership, Ventures |

Facing Change as an Entrepreneur

Change – it’s an obvious part of life. Usually, in our everyday hustle and bustle, it comes in small kinks here and there. But when you own a business, changes come in waves on a regular basis. And how you come through change, for better or worse, all depends on how you deal with it.

Here are some tips for dealing with the everyday changes of being an entrepreneur:

Continue Reading: “Facing Change as an Entrepreneur”


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By Michelle Cramer
Thursday, June 29th, 2017 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Ownership |

Retirement for the Sole-Proprietor

When you go solo and start your own small business, it can often be hard to save for retirement. Yes, there are options like Roth IRAs, but as your business grows, the maximum contribution of $5,000 doesn’t always seem to be the best option.

Additionally, savings accounts have a meager return on the precious funds you’ve worked so hard to earn. Wouldn’t something like a 401(k) plan that many corporate employees get to take advantage of be nice?

Well, cheer up because the option is out there. In fact, it has been since 2001, but only now are sole proprietors becoming more aware of it’s benefits as the kinks have been ironed out. It’s called a “solo 401(k)” (a/k/a “solo k,” a/k/a “uni-k“). This retirement option is strictly limited to sole proprietors without employees.

Continue Reading: “Retirement for the Sole-Proprietor”


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By Michelle Cramer
Sunday, June 25th, 2017 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Money, Ownership |

Tips for Running a Successful Seasonal Business

Spring is in full swing and summer isn’t far behind. Seasonal businesses such as landscaping and swimming pool cleaning are beginning to see a huge boost in sales. As the seasons change, their sales will creep downward, while businesses like ski resorts and Christmas stores will have a large upswing.

When you own a seasonal business, it’s important to know how to maintain an income year round to support you and keep the business alive.

Budget, Budget, Budget
First and foremost! What’s coming in and, more importantly, what’s going out? Know your capabilities. Don’t only budget for the months that business is good, but budget for the entire year. There are bills that have to be paid all 12 months, whether business is good or bad, such as utilities, taxes, maintenance, and rent.

You also need to consider how much you depend on the seasonal income for your daily life – food on the table and a roof over your head. If the seasonal business provides enough income for you to live off of all year, know what you need to get by each month and set that amount aside as soon as you can when the cash flow begins.

The Off-Season
Some seasonal entrepreneurs just take the off-season as an opportunity to have an extended vacation, and I bet it’s really nice. Others are busy bodies and need to have something to do all the time (like me). Unfortunately, however, some seasonal businesses don’t provide enough income to sustain the whole year. If you’re one of the later, then consider expanding the products or services your business provides.

If you own a Christmas store, consider selling decorations for the other holidays throughout the year. In landscaping, a job that sees little to no work in the winter? How about putting your decorative skills to use and offering Christmas decorating and lighting services. If you own a farm, expand your crop to include spring, summer and fall crops, and maybe even consider building a green house to grow crops in all year.

Another option, if you own a camp, ski resort, or theme park and enjoy your time off but need the extra income, is to have registration deadlines that include registration fees, a couple of months before the camp opens (or incentives to buy season passes several months in advance). This helps to distribute your income over a longer period of time, making it easier to get by without giving up the vacation period.

Use Time Wisely
If you have the opportunity to keep your time-off, use it wisely. Take the chance to provide regular maintenance or repairs to the equipment you use, without dipping into your work season. Also, use the down time to budget for the next season and year ahead. Another great use of the off-season is marketing your business, whether it be through fliers, direct mail, or phone calls. Whatever you choose to do with that time, be sure and budget for it.

If you own a seasonal business, do what you can to enjoy it. The off-season can provide a great opportunity to spend time with your family and pursue other passions. Do what you can to preserve that by running your seasonal business efficiently and successfully.

Related Reading:
• Entrepreneur.com: Running a Seasonal Business


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By Michelle Cramer
Monday, June 12th, 2017 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Operations, Ownership |

What Makes Women Entrepreneurs Different from Men?

Over the past few years, there has been a surge in business startups by female entrepreneurs. Today I’m going to discuss how the way women run things may be a bit different from how men play the game.

Stronger Focus on Values
It’s not that men don’t put values in the front lines of their company, but most women entrepreneurs make it the number one priority over everything else. According to Margaret Heffernan, who recently wrote How She Does It: How Women Entrepreneurs Are Changing the Rules of Business, women think about what their business will stand for before they start planning anything else.

Will Ask for Help
Many men (not all) have difficulty asking for help when it comes to something like their very own business. Pride can sometimes get in the way. But most women don’t have a problem admitting that they’re not sure how to accomplish a certain task or what needs to be done next in the building-a-business game. This can sometimes provide an advantage in a well-spring of knowledge from sources that help ground their business more quickly.

Focused on the Working Environment
According to Heffernan, male entrepreneurs see their businesses as a machine, while female entrepreneurs see it as a living organism. I can see where she’s coming from. Men may be more likely to take the position that “bad parts” (employees) can easily be replaced with new and better functioning ones. Many male entrepreneurs may overlook the fact that the “parts” are going bad because the machine as a whole is not in great condition. Some may take the position that a new employee here or there will help to make the business function better, rather than examining the whole business under a microscope to see if there may be underlying problems.

Women entrepreneurs tend to be on the other end of the spectrum with the perspective that, if the environment their employees are in isn’t working, then the entire “ecosystem” of the business, if you will, could collapse. Basically, women entrepreneurs focus more on making sure the work environment is comfortable to obtain the best performance from their employees, rather than expecting the best from their employees despite the work environment.

Strength of the Business
Women entrepreneurs tend to focus on building a business so strong that it could function completely and successfully without them. Men build strong businesses, but often want to make sure they are always part of the central element that keeps things going. According to Heffernan, women entrepreneurs are more like the “conductor of the symphony – the person who doesn’t make the noise, but pulls it all together.”

Source:
• BusinessWeek.com: Men Dominate, Women Orchestrate


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By Michelle Cramer
Monday, June 5th, 2017 @ 12:03 AM CDT

Ownership |

Top Movies About Entrepreneurs

In honor of the 79th Annual Academy Awards, which airs on ABC, I thought I would bring to your attention Entrepreneur.com’s Entrepreneurs in the Movies, a list of 13 movies that embody the entrepreneurial spirit. The list even inspired a film festival at Chapman University in Orange, California.

Though I won’t discuss all 13 movies, I wanted to touch on some of my favorites on the list.

High Fidelity
This movie reveals every entrepreneurs innate desire to start a business directly connected to something they love. Rob Gordon, played by John Cusack, taps into his passion for music and opens a record store all his own. Pretty cool job if you ask me. And the movie’s pretty great too.

The Aviator
Entrepreneur.com refers to Howard Hughes (Leonardo DiCaprio) as a “serial entrepreneur,” and I love the image that portrays. If only we all had the guts to dive into something as hardcore as he did, even if everyone around us thinks we’re nuts (despite the fact that Hughes sort of was).

Based on the actual life story of Howard Hughes, we see the many hats he wore, and wore well, of director, producer, head of RKO Pictures, creator and owner of Hughes Aircraft (which included designing airplanes), and major shareholder (which resulted in his control) of TWA. Despite his extreme eccentricities, “serial entrepreneur” couldn’t have described him better.

Forrest Gump
Dey’s uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. That- that’s about it.

Ah, dear Bubba. Who can blame Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks) for being inspired by his dear friend to start Bubba Gump Shrimp? With a ratty old shrimping boat and a depressed friend (Lt. Dan played by Gary Sinise), Forrest Gump is the only fictitious movie on the list to result in the start of an actual company, with Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Restaurant & Market spanning 15 locations in the US.

And my personal favorite movie on the list…

Ghostbusters
Their luck runs out and their careers in the academic field are over, but nothing will get them down. Instead, the charming businessman Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), the devoted scientist Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis) and the supernatural historian Raymond Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) start a business hunting ghosts.

There you have it, my top picks from the Entrepreneurs in the Movies list. Which is your favorite?


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Baby Boomers Expected to Lead Business Boom

By Michelle Cramer
Sunday, May 21st, 2017 @ 12:02 AM CDT

Ownership |

Baby Boomers Expected to Lead Business Boom

Baby boomers, those born between the years 1946 and 1964, represent 75 million of the nation’s population. And, in 2008, the first of that generation will hit the early retirement age of 62. Many boomers, however, don’t plan to retire. The new wave of business start-ups that is expected in the next couple of years will probably not be headed-up by 20-somethings as in recent years, but, rather, by potential retirees.

I Dream of Ownership
Of over 2100 people surveyed in a Yahoo poll conducted last year, 55% checked “own my own business” as the work they would prefer to do late in life. And 37% of those plan to start their businesses in the next five years. Ten percent of the general population owns their own business and, as a basis of comparison, 16% of baby boomers do. They make up 54% of all business owners.

Is there something in the water these days that has caused the boomers to keep on working through their golden years? You could say that. Many have a love of labor (who would of thought). But overwhelmingly it is their desire to be free and independent. Baby boomers are known to have what is called a “Peter Pan Complex.” They reject growing old in the traditional fashion, instead seeking new stimulations and challenges in their lives.

I can’t help but think about those commercials for retirement investments that talk about how, these days, retirees are looking at retirement in a whole new way. Instead of sitting in the rocking chair watching TV and darning socks, boomers reaching retirement age are taking motorcycle trips across country, skydiving, and just overall living the life they always wanted to. Why not add starting a business doing something you love to the list?

Want-to or Have-to?
Many boomers are going into business for themselves at retirement age out of necessity rather than desire. It’s the only way they will have an income during the latter part of their life. An unfortunate 90% of 45-54 year olds have less than $250,000 saved up for retirement. That equates to less than $10,000 annually to live on for 30 years.

You may be asking what the baby boomers have to offer that can lend to their success as entrepreneurs. Well, the typical stereotype associated with those reaching retirement age generally doesn’t apply to the boomer generation.

Baby Boomers:
1. are better educated that previous retiree generations.
2. are more willing to take on challenges.
3. have more funds available that younger entrepreneurs because they typically don’t have kids at home to support and have their mortgage paid off.
4. have more time available to develop their business correctly.
5. have years of experience in the real world.
6. have a vast network of connections from, frankly, years of being a part of this world.

I can’t help but cheer the boomer generation on. That’s what retirement should be… doing what you love. And why not make money doing it to support you in the years ahead? And let’s not forget, the successful businesses to come from the boomer generation will help the rest of us too, by creating new jobs, decreasing the tax burden and aiding the economy.

All I have left to say is, in the words of the 20-something generation to which I belong: “More power to ya!

Sources:
• AgeTimes.com: Start-Up Explosion on the Horizon
• BusinessJournal.com: Most Americans Dream of Starting Business
• PowerHomeBiz.com: Entrepreneurship and the Retiree
• RealtyTimes.com: Baby Boomers Boost Home-Based Business Market


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By Michelle Cramer
Sunday, April 30th, 2017 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Ownership |

Business Trends in 2007

Ah, the joyous time for New Year’s resolutions. Dieting to getting fit, spending more time with your family, redecorate a bedroom… the list goes on and on. I’ve made more of a commitment than a resolution this year. I plan to start my own business.

I know, it seems kind of odd that I would write all of this information about small business and not have my own. But I have learned so much writing this blog the past few months. Enough, in fact, that I have the confidence to really follow my dreams and start something.

Some 671,800 small businesses started up in 2006, two-thirds of which can expect to be in business for at least two years. So, now it’s our turn. Are you ready? 2007 is our year, right?

Okay, so you may be with me on a positive outlook for starting a business this year, but your enthusiasm may be lacking due to the fact that you don’t know what kind of business to start. We all have ideas, but whose to say that our ideas land in a flourishing market? Don’t worry, help is out there.

The most important key to picking the right business to start in 2007 is to pay attention to the world around you. Find a trend and revamp it to fit your style and a specialized market. If ideas are scarce, Entrepreneur.com is ready for you with their Hot Center — a list of the hottest business trends for 2007. And it’s a long list. You’re bound to find something you would enjoy.

Here are some possible ideas to get you brainstorming:

Home Sales Parties
Many stay-at-home moms are tuning into this trend in order to add a little adult time to their lives, as well as bring in some extra funds. Pick a product you believe in, whether it be makeup, jewelry, spa treatment supplies, home décor, scrapbooking supplies, etc., and arrange to have “parties” at other people’s homes. You get a certain percentage of the profits and your friends who host the party get special incentives as well.

Personal Service Industry
Put simply, saving time for someone else. It could be anything from a grocery shopping service, to walking their dogs, to putting together the scrapbooks others can never seem to get around to (one of the areas I plan to make part of my business).

Writing
If you have the talent, then put it to good use. One of the largest growing internet industries these days is a need for copywriters. Businesses want their webpage text to draw the consumer in, and they need good writers to do that. One of the best parts is that, typically, it’s a freelance job so the possibilities are endless.

Landscaping
This is an industry that will probably never go out of style. People want beautiful yards, whether it be for their home or business location. If you have a talent for sculpting the spectacular from rocks, water and flowers, then you should definitely consider this industry.

Coffehouses
In a category all their own, despite the fact that you can practically find one on every corner. Thing is, if you have a block near you that doesn’t have a coffeehouse, chances are that you could start one there and be very successful. Everyone’s got to have their coffee. And if you can beat the prices and selection of “those other guys,” you’re in business.

I could go on and on. There are so many wonderful possibilities for a successful business in 2007 that, as long as you stick to the trends, you really can’t go wrong.

HERE’S TO A PROMISING NEW YEAR!

Sources:
• Entrepreneur.com: What’s Hot for 2007?
• Entrepreneur.com: 13 Niches to Investigate for Part-Time Business


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By Michelle Cramer
Friday, April 28th, 2017 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Ownership |

MasterCard Global Small Business Survey 2006

Mastercard Corporation has posted an interesting global survey of small business owners and their outlook for the future.

A total of 4000 small business owners from around the world who manage businesses with 1 — 99 employees were polled. A total of 500 respondents were surveyed from eight countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, Mexico, France, Brazil, China, Hong Kong and Australia.

Small business owners around the world have differing views on the current business climate but feel more optimistic (28%) than not (21%) about the upcoming year. They work a little more than 50 hours a week but spend 18 of those hours on administrative tasks. While competition was seen as the top challenge they will face next year, half of small business owners around the world feel that globalization will help their business, rather than hurt it.

The section that stuck out the most to me was the question of what motivates small business owners to run their businesses:

Globally, small business owners say that making enough money to cover living expenses (70%) and having more control over the future (64%) are important motivations for running their own business. Small business owners in Brazil are the most likely out of all those surveyed to say that providing employment (71%) and contributing to society or the community (64%) are important motivations, while small business owners in China are the most likely to say that building something that can be passed on to their family (59%) is an important motivation. Those in the United States are the most likely to say that being their own boss (67%) is an important motivation.

MasterCard Global Small Business Survey 2006


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By Chris Brunner
Tuesday, April 25th, 2017 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Ownership |

The Warning Signs of a Doomed Partnership

Just as in an unhappy marriage, the problems in an unstable business partnership tend to result in feeling unappreciated and ungratified, having unmet expectations and facing events that cause doubt and distrust. Problems left unattended will result in one or both of you dissolving the partnership.

To keep your partnership in tact, watch for the warning signs:

1) Communication Breakdown
If every conversation you attempt to have with your business partner turns into a war of words, then chances are you’re having a hard time communicating. When we’re holding a grudge against someone, we often have a tendency to always go on the defensive. Our ears shut off and our mouth won’t quit. If you can’t listen to each other, then you’re not communicating at all.

2) Everything is a Competition
Your partnership should be a compliment of each other’s strengths and weaknesses, but, when tensions rise, things tend to become competitive rather than complimentary. If you are constantly trying to out-do your partner, rather than work with him, then there’s probably an underlying issue that needs to be addressed.

3) Financial Problems
This can be anything from the business being under financial stress, to different views on how money should be spent, to disagreeing on the division of profits. If money is an issue, than so is something else.

4) Dominance Issues
If you’re fighting for control of the business, then you are probably not happy with the way your partner is managing her share of the responsibility. When you try to do everything yourself it comes down to a trust issue. There is something that has caused an inability to trust your partner’s productivity.

5) Different Goals
It’s safe to assume that, when you started the business, you and your partner had the same vision for the future. But, as time progresses, those goals may change and differ. That in itself is not a danger, but the inability to compromise and combine your visions is.

Keep your eyes open for the warning signs and meet issues head-on before they become problems. And, if things look bleak, you may want to consider going to a partnership coach before calling it quits. More often than not, an unbiased mediator can help put your business partnership back on the path to success.

Sources/Resources:
• SelfGrowth.com:Is Your Partnership About to Crash and Burn?
• NextLevel.com: Business and Professional Coaching


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By Michelle Cramer
Thursday, April 20th, 2017 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Ownership |

Mompreneurs: Balancing Work and Motherhood

We are society of hard-workers, and moms are no exception. Unfortunately, because of a woman’s innate longing to care for her family, the combination of motherhood and work often produces a ting of guilt. Though every situation requires different solutions, here are some tips for helping to balance your job and your family.

Explore Your Options
There are a number of possibilities when it comes to working when you have children that you may not have even considered. If applicable, take time to talk with your spouse and consider the following:

• Can you revamp your work schedule by changing the hours or how many hours you work?

• Can you do part or all of your work from home? Is there another job opportunity that will allow you to work from home, or could you start your own in-home business?

• Look at your family budget — is there any way you can cut back on work during the first couple of years of your child’s life?

Become Forever Organized
Once you’ve determined that you are going to work, in whatever way that may be, it is very important that you get organized and stay that way. If you work at home, organize your work environment. Working at home does not allow for time to search through stacks of paperwork to find a specific receipt or to fumble through a desk of debris to find a pen. You can use all the time you can spare.

Get organized, such as using a filing cabinet, so that everything is easy and sufficient. And always be sure to childproof your home work space if you have little ones. Consider designing a play area in your office so that you can spend time with your children without crayon marks ending up on your papers.

You should also organize your schedule. Your time with work and family must be balanced; otherwise one or the other will be left wanting. If you work from home, you must first realize that you will usually not be able to keep normal business hours. Map out your time with a pocket calendar or blackberry that has both your personal and work appointments on it.

Make a list of your goals, both for work and family, for each month. Then, break your list down by weeks and then by days. Be committed to getting the things on your list done, tackling them one day at a time. This will allow for daily accomplishments that will aid in keeping your moral up. Also, consider scheduling a day, weekly or bi-weekly, in which you only spend time with your family. Work will always be there tomorrow, but each stage of your child’s life is short. Take a little time away from work to enjoy those precious moments.

Cut Yourself Some Slack
Don’t expect too much of yourself when it comes to having a spotless house and a home-cooked meal on the table every night. Your priorities are your family and then your work. Though you want to avoid becoming a slob, housework can usually wait until tomorrow. Don’t wear yourself ragged trying to get everything done at once. In order to relieve a bit of stress, consider doing the little things in the evening before bed, such as getting out the kids clothes for the next day or getting the coffee pot ready. You’ll be glad your morning is a bit less chaotic when that alarm goes off.

And don’t be afraid to ask for help, because, as we all know, that’s what family is all about. Sit down with your spouse, and even your kids (providing they’re old enough), and figure out a logical way for everyone to share the load. Determine what household chores could be done by other members of the family to give you a bit of a break.

Take Care of You
Be sure not to forget about yourself and your personal needs. Taking care of yourself is crucial because, if you’re not happy and healthy, then that reflects negatively upon your family and your work. Guard your mental and physical health by using your calendar to schedule “me time.” You may have to get up before everyone else to get in a little work-out and a bubble bath, but if that’s what it takes, it’s completely worth it.

Consider having an evening out with the girls once a month while dad stays home with the kids. There are lots of possibilities, and you must implement something for the well-being of you and your family.

These four steps are only the beginning. Keep in mind that balance isn’t always something that you necessarily obtain, but it should always be something that you are striving toward. And you’ve found a good place to start.

So how do you make it work? Share you thoughts.

Sources:
• Entrepreneur.com: 10 Tips for Balancing Work and Motherhood
• FindArticles.com: The Working Mother’s Dilemma

Resources for Working Moms:
Working Mother Magazine
WorkingMom.com
Working Mom’s Refuge


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By Michelle Cramer
Friday, March 31st, 2017 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Ownership |

Stronger Business Through Honest Communication

Employers often expect honesty from their staff, but usually don’t provide the environment in which employees feel like they can be honest. It is more likely that an employee will simply tell you what they think you want to hear.

Unfortunately, this attitude does not provide a stable work environment and can often harm your business in the long run. You can’t be everywhere at once, so you depend on your employees to tell you when something is wrong. If they do not feel comfortable being completely honest with you, then there is a lot of information you could be missing.

One of the key elements to maintaining a successful and growing business is to create an honest workplace environment by implementing the following as a part of your business structure:

Define

Provide your employees with your definitions and expectations of honest communication in the workplace, such as:

• Always state the facts, without attempting to interpret “why.”
• Take a deep breath and don’t let emotions cloud your judgment.
• Don’t point fingers or place blame.
• Talk to the person you have a grievance with about the situation.
• Ask open-ended questions to stimulate productive conversation.
• Work together to determine possible solutions.

Clarify

Make the vision and goals of the business clear. Have monthly staff meetings to set those goals and determine the strengths and weaknesses of the business over the last month. Encourage your employees to participate in determining what those strengths and weaknesses are.

Clarify your expectations for your employees, providing a structured environment that they can depend on to be consistent and reliable.

Encourage and Motivate

Tell your employees that you value them. When someone does a great job, let them know that you appreciate their hard work. Don’t assume that they realize it on their own.

Show your employees that you value them. Compensate them for a job well done by providing a deserving salary. Also consider performance bonuses and annual or semi-annual raises when they have showed themselves loyal and productive.

Provide a comfortable working environment by developing relationships with your employees. Don’t treat them like your subordinates, make them feel as though they are part of the team.

Ask for both positive and negative feedback. Let them know that their thoughts matter to you.

Set an Example

Be reliable. Consider your employees’ best interests and provide a structured and consistent environment.

Be attentive. When your employees come to you and have something to say, give them your full attention (schedule a meeting if you have to) and hear them out. Don’t make any decisions before hearing everything they have to say.

Be authentic. Practice what your preach. If you expect honest communication from your employees, then you have to provide the same to them on a regular and consistent basis.

Be inspiring. Convey your passion and dreams for the business. Let them see that you enjoy your work. Show them that every aspect of your business is important to you, especially your staff.

Providing an environment in which your employees feel as though they can be honest with you will allow your business to develop a solid foundation. If the atmosphere behind the doors of your business is not positive, then it will be hard to develop that atmosphere outside them. Honest communication within plays a vital role in building a business that will obtain its goals and succeed.

Sources/Related Readings:
• Smart Business Network: Solid Leadership
• Entrepreneur.com: The Truth?
• NewsWise.com: Honesty in the Workplace Sorely Lacking


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By Michelle Cramer
Saturday, March 25th, 2017 @ 12:04 AM CDT

Operations, Ownership |

Insurance for Small Businesses

Insurance isn’t typically top priority for a small business owner. Since accidents can and do happen it’s better to be prepared than sorry.

Here is a list of different insurance options that a small business owner may need:

• Health insurance is one of the most important insurance options of all, covering your general health and well-being.

• Disability insurance will guarantee income should you suddenly become unable to work because of injury or illness.

• Life insurance will help ensure that your family has the money it needs should you meet with an untimely death.

• Business property insurance helps protect you against loss of inventory or equipment in a flood, fire, or other disaster.

• Comprehensive general liability insurance protects you if someone is injured while on your property.

• Business interruption insurance will help your business recover from natural disasters by paying for operating expenses during downtime.

• Workers’ compensation insurance covers any medical expenses arising from injuries employees sustain while working for you.

Related Resources:
• About.com – Small Business Insurance
• Insure.com – Small Business Liability Tool
• MyOwnBusiness.org – Insurance For Small Business


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By Chris Brunner
Thursday, March 16th, 2017 @ 12:06 AM CDT

Ownership |

Top Entrepreneurial Schools

You may think street smarts are enough to be a successful entrepreneur, but these top entrepreneurship programs are giving students the practical and theoretical knowledge they need to succeed in any venture.

Entrepreneur.com presents their top 10 undergraduate and graduate programs for entrepreneurship:

Top 10 Undergraduate Programs:
1. University of Arizona
2. Syracuse University
3. DePaul University
4. Temple University
5. University of Dayton
6. Drexel University
7. Fairleigh Dickinson University
8. University of North Dakota
9. University of Illinois, Chicago
10. Babson University

Top 10 Graduate Programs:
1. Syracuse University
2. DePaul University
3. Northwestern University
4. California State University, San Bernardino
5. University of Washington
6. University of Arizona
7. Temple University
8. Monterey Institute of International Studies
9. Indiana University, Bloomington
10. University of Louisville


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By Chris Brunner
Friday, March 10th, 2017 @ 12:03 AM CDT

Ownership |

Starting a Startup

According to a survey by Yahoo! Small Business and Harris Interactive, 66 percent of American adults say they’ve considered starting a business. But many never take the leap.

The key word in “small business” is small… your business can take up as much or as little time as you want it to. The art of the start is really about setting yourself up with a system that provides clear direction and keeps you moving forward no matter what challenges you face.

Here are some tips from Cornelia M. Flannery of Entreprenuer Magazine to help steer you in the right direction:

1. Choose a Business That Fits You.
2. State Your End Goal.
3. Identify the Milestones That Make Up Your End Goal.
4. Choose One Milestone From Your List.
5. Identify the Tasks Required to Achieve Your Milestone.

Source:
Start a Business in 10 Minutes a Day


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By Chris Brunner
Tuesday, March 7th, 2017 @ 12:02 AM CDT

Ownership |

Yoga at Your Desk

Owning a small business is typically a stressful endeavor, especially if you are the only one running the show. The daily grind can cause muscles to tense and eventually bones to move out of position.

To relax your mind, body, and spirit … try Yoga. I started a routine at home last week that has really helped to relax my back and shoulder pain as well as helping me sleep better at night.

Most Yoga DVDs are the price of a typical Hollywood movie. My wife purchased “Yoga Zone Intermediate”. A few parts of it are cheesy, but the stretches demonstrated really work.

You can even do Yoga stretches at your desk as a break from work.

Recommended Reading:

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By Chris Brunner
Tuesday, February 28th, 2017 @ 12:02 AM CDT

Ownership |

Entrepreneurial Style

BusinessSeek.biz has published an article titled “Compensating for Your Entrepreneurial Style“.

The author, Glenn Beach, offers a list of important characteristics every entrepreneur must possess to succeed.

1) Ability to see the big picture and plan accordingly;
2) Self-discipline;
3) Ability to use time wisely;
4) At minimum, a moderate drive to achieve;
5) Adaptability;
6) Autonomy;
7) Decisiveness;
8) A feeling of control over your own destiny;
9) Having (energy) drive and enterprise;
10) Motivation to grow;
11) Sense of intuition;
12) Ability to spot opportunities;
13) Perseverance;
14) Problem-solving abilities;
15) Risk-tolerance;
16) Self-confidence;
17) Social skills.

Over the course of running a small business, I’ve had to use or develop nearly every one of these characteristics. Some professions require more development than others.

A website designer’s optimal characteristics for success would be (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 11, 12, 13).

On the other hand, let’s say you operate a restaurant. Your optimal characteristics for success would be (2, 3, 7, 9, 10, 13, 15, 16, 17).

What is YOUR entrepreneurial style?

Recommended Reading:
Wikipedia.org – Entrepreneur
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Is Entrepreneurship Really For You?


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By Chris Brunner
Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Ownership |

NFL Entrepreneurs

In light of this weekend’s Super Bowl game (go Steelers), Inc.com has a slideshow featuring 13 of the NFL’s best post-football entrepreneur success stories. Who says professional athletes don’t perform well off the field?

From Joe Montana to Simeon Rice, many hard-nosed football players have transferred their competitiveness to the business world. Here’s a look at some of the biggest NFL success stories off the field.


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By Chris Brunner
Monday, February 13th, 2017 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Ownership |

Will You Retire?

Retirement is not in the plans of most small-business owners, according to the newly-released Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index.

Eight of 10 small-business owners surveyed said they are happy running their businesses and have no intention of retiring. Almost 4 out of every 10 said the only thing that would force them to retire is poor health.

Forty-two percent of small-business owners indicated they may cut back on work, but would never completely abandon their business. Only 19 percent plan on traditional retirement.

Even though retirement is many moons away for me, I feel that I will fall into the 42% of business owners who will cut back, but not completely abandon their business.


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By Chris Brunner
Sunday, February 5th, 2017 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Ownership |

Building Your Office

“The most productive office is one that is not only comfortable and attractive, but is also functional.”

Last year when I moved my home-based business into a leased office space, I needed to select a new desk setup. I chose a corner desk with a desk extension off the left side. Behind me I have a bookcase/shelf system that holds various decor and books. The ad photo above shows the desk setup that I purchased.

I love this setup not only because it looks great, but also because it’s extremely functional. The setup fulfills every need I had including a comfortable computer position, a desk for writing and stacking and even an attachment to place sticky notes.

Need a comfortable office chair? They are expensive, but I highly suggest a Herman-Miller Aeron chair. It is by far the most comfortable office chair I have ever sat in (and I’ve tried alot of chairs!). Don’t settle for a cheap alternative!

Recommended Reading:

Consider needs first in office furniture
10 Common Home Office Mistakes
How to Use Artwork to Enhance Any Room


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By Chris Brunner
Monday, January 30th, 2017 @ 12:05 AM CDT

Ownership |

Protecting Your Clientele

Headhunting is a common practice these days.

An employee informs you that he will be leaving his positions in order to take up a new job offer. Soon you learn that this new job offer came from a direct competitor. Chances are, your employee will try to take customers with them.

How can you protect the employee/company/customer relationships that you’ve worked so hard to gain?

Restrictive Covenants – require employees who interact with customers or work with confidential information to be bound by a non-compete or non-solicitation agreement or both.

Keeping Former Employees Away From Your Customers

Recommended Reading:

Nolo.com – Non-compete Agreements
FindLaw.com – Non-compete Agreements
Business Owner’s Toolkit – Non-compete Agreements


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By Chris Brunner
Sunday, January 29th, 2017 @ 12:09 AM CDT

Ownership |

Cut the Clutter!

Look around your desk right now. Feeling a little overwhelmed by all of the clutter? If so, don’t you think it’s time to loose some of that weight by getting rid of all the papers and notes you don’t need anymore?

Nancy Van Valkenburg of Utah’s Standard Newspaper, Online Edition offers the following advice:

The first step is to start making those delayed decisions. … suggests clients sort papers into three piles using the F.A.T. system. The letters stand for File, Act and Toss. … advocate positioning files and tools by proximity based on the frequency of your need for them.

… compare an office to a kitchen. A coffee maker or toaster you use every day may be kept on an otherwise clear kitchen counter.

Things to do: Get organized

Recommended Reading
Five Cures for Office Clutter
Organizing Office Clutter
Tips to Tame the Office Clutter Monster


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By Chris Brunner
Sunday, January 22nd, 2017 @ 12:02 AM CDT

Ownership |

Developing a Reputation

In business a good reputation can carry your company a long way.

Your reputation alone can actually earn new business without spending a dime on advertising. If people know you are good at what you do or that you have a superior product, not only will they come back for more, they may also tell their friends about it.

About.com offers this comprehensive five part article on what you can do to develop your reputation with clients and potential customers in a variety of ways.

1) Be Prolific
2) Be Ubiquitous
3) Be Generous
4) Be Dependable
5) Be Credible

Recommended Reading:
Do What You Say You’ll Do
How to Gain Immediate Credibility
Word-of-Mouth: The World’s Best-Known Marketing Secret


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By Chris Brunner
Saturday, January 21st, 2017 @ 12:06 AM CDT

Ownership |

Investigate the Competition

Trade shows offer a perfect opportunity for a business owner to scope out their competition.

Think about it… all of them gathered in one place at one time displaying their latest and greatest products or services. Even if you don’t speak with a booth representative, you can still walk away with a gold mine of information just by inspecting the booth and taking a presentation packet.

Just by virtue of being at the show, your competitors are sharing the following information:

1) Who they are.
2) What their reputation and image is in the marketplace.
3) Part of their sales and marketing strategy.

For more tips on investigating your competition (including how to get juicy information) please visit the link below.

Source:
TheTradeShowCoach.com


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By Chris Brunner
Friday, January 13th, 2017 @ 12:04 AM CDT

Ownership |

Preparing for Disaster

With the recent hurricane barrage on US coasts, we are reminded that natural disasters can cause more than just property damage.

The winds also can blow in armies of fly-by-night contractors and door-to-door scam artists eager to capitalize on the misfortunes of innocent people.

The California Department of Insurance has put together this preparation guide for yourself and your business in the event of a natural disaster. It focuses on hiring an honest contractor to rebuild your home/business.

Source:
California Department of Insurance


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By Chris Brunner
Tuesday, January 10th, 2017 @ 12:07 AM CDT

Ownership |

How to Survive an Earnout

Earnout – An arrangement in which sellers of a business receive additional future payment, usually based on future earnings.

“As many as half of all small business acquisitions involve earnouts, which generally last from two to four years and range from 15% to 30% of the purchase price (though 50% is not unheard of). Earnouts are particularly common in acquisitions of high-growth companies and those with unproven products. Takeovers of service businesses, in which the entrepreneur’s relationships with clients are crucial, are also likely candidates for earnouts.”

Earnouts can be a very risky transaction. It takes all of the power (and accomplishments) you hold in your company and hands it over to the corporation who purchases the rights. Don’t get starry-eyed by the initial payoff. Negotiate for all you and your company are worth.

Here’s how to protect yourself:

1) Get a lawyer.
2) Get the largest up-front payment you can.
3) Negotiate the targets for the earnout.
4) Fight for sliding-scale rather than all-or-nothing payments.

Source:
BusinessWeek.com


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By Chris Brunner
Tuesday, December 27th, 2016 @ 12:04 AM CDT

Ownership |

Taking Time Off

Go ahead… relax on the beach without a care in the world. Not so fast! What’s happening back home? Is your business being run correctly? Are you still making money even though you aren’t there?

These are questions an entrepreneur must face when deciding to take that much needed vacation.

Veterans of vacation angst say they’ve found ways to make it easier to take time off. They’ve set up their companies so the business can run without the boss there. They’ve armed themselves with plenty of technology to stay in touch — although that can lead to a tug-of-war between enjoying a trip and taking care of business.

Taking a vacation can actually benefit your company by helping you evaluate the method by which you run the business. If something goes terribly wrong while you are gone, you know have a weak link in the system.

A well-run company will easily survive its owner’s absence.

Source:
MSNBC.com


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By Chris Brunner
Saturday, December 24th, 2016 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Ownership |

Choosing a Business Name

Choosing a business name is arguably the most important part of starting a business. Botch this one and it will haunt you for a long time.

A winning business name is more than just a catchy phrase, it should draw business in itself.

Susan Ward of About.com Canada offers these six tips for creating a winning business name:

1) Memorable — but easy to spell.
2) A strong visual element.
3) Positive connotation.
4) Must include information about what your business does.
5) Must be fairly short.
6) Choose your company/logo colors carefully.

[Read more...]

On the About Us page, I tell the story of this company name that originally started as BCT then GFX. Both of these were already taken so I went with GreatFX.

The “FX” sounds like “Effects” giving you “Great Effects”… what you can get by marketing with professional business cards.

Not everyone immediately understands this but many people have. It may be one of the more obscure names I’ve come up with, but it works for me :-)

Recommended Reading:

How To Create a Great Business Name
8 Mistakes To Avoid When Naming Your Business
How to Name Your Business


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By Chris Brunner
Saturday, December 17th, 2016 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Ownership |