Archive for September, 2007

35 Quick Tips

Topic: Helpful Ideas, Strategies, Top 10| 3 Comments »
  1. Reducing expenses is the quickest way to increase cash flow.
  2. Effective networking requires planning and targeting the right contacts.
  3. Good recordkeeping will save you time and money at tax time!
  4. Use your business contacts and business counselors for perspective and advice.
  5. Always be prospecting for new clients!
  6. Qualify a client before you do a sales presentation.
  7. Can you clearly convey why a client would WANT to do business with you.
  8. Objections are an opportunity to educate your client on your product or service.
  9. People are led, things are managed.
  10. Business education needs to be an ongoing process! Attend a seminar this week!
  11. Ask for referrals from everyone! Even those who don’t buy…yet.
  12. Tradeshow expenses are wasted if you do not follow up on the leads.
  13. Take the time to do it right the first time!
  14. Customer service is not an expense, it is a competitive advantage.
  15. Build your team of advisors and use them!
  16. It is cheaper to keep a good customer than to find a new one!
  17. Don’t make a rule that you do not intend to enforce!
  18. Think globally and creatively…at least once a week.
  19. A goal without a time frame is a wish.
  20. Hold yourself and your employees accountable.
  21. You must take time for yourself.
  22. You can only burn a candle at both ends, half as long!
  23. Share your knowledge with your employees!
  24. It will build a stronger team.
  25. Reward great performance.
  26. Sometimes you need to count to 50 before you respond to people.
  27. Share your vision.
  28. Developing a system allows you to repeat your success.
  29. Writing a business plan proves it wasn’t an accident!
  30. Investment in education is investment in your future.
  31. Be an expert at what you do, and then hire the rest.
  32. Write down answers to the top 5 objections you receive… and then practice the answers.
  33. If starting a business was easy, everyone would be an owner.
  34. Lack of start-up capital is the leading cause of new businesses failure.
  35. Ask yourself once and hour, “Is what I’m doing right now making me money?”

As mentioned, I’m interning at the Disney Entrepreneur Center in Orlando, FL. The E-Center is a public/private partnership dedicated to the development, growth, and success of small businesses. At the center, we have a big flat screen in our entryway that shows news, videos, etc. of things going on in the center. At any rate, one of the things displayed on the screen are the quick one liner business tips written by our Director Jerry Ross. – some of which you just read.  Class dismissed.

Family, Friends, and Fools

Topic: Financials, Helpful Ideas, Startups, Strategies| 4 Comments »

It’s been a while. Here is why:

  • Internship (30 hours per week)
  • Brett Adams Design LLC – my company (50 hours last week)
  • Two classes
  • College football season tickets
  • Pro football season tickets
  • My ice hockey league
  • 192,837,490,823,749 other things

It’s been really tough juggling everything, but I will have you know I’m working on a killer post for late this week. It’ll be so big it might not even be navigable.

Today, however, I’m going to take a few minutes and talk to you about the first branch young entrepreneurs generally shake on the money tree. That is, friends and family along with any other fools willing to get on board. An example of a “fool” would be someone not in tune with the market or industry such as your dentist, mechanic, or mailman.

Don’t get me wrong, these individuals are a great way to go and often times make much more sense than aplying for commercial lending or an SBA guranteed loan. However, obtaining money in this manner often leads to strained relationships and in some cases can rip families apart. Personally, I’d like to avoid that and I’m sure you would too. Below are some tips to consider when approaching these individuals for startup cash:

  • Put it in writing. Every last detail about repayment and usage of funds should be included.
  • You are running a business, so make it a business loa – not a personal loan.
  • Things happen – natural disasters, emergencies, etc. Be sure to add provisions that cover these types of things.
  • Have a business plan? Make it required reading for your lenders. If you don’t have a plan then either:
    • Go write one
    • Or B, thouroughly discuss your company’s goals, ambitions, and forecasts.
  • Create a continuous dialog and discuss potential problems, fears, and issues that are taking place on both sides of the field.

Again, sorry for not being around. Don’t hold it against me. Remember, just like you I’m a student entrepreneur, with the keyword there being student. Class dismissed.

Down to Earth Forecasting Strategies

Topic: Analysis, Financials, Startups, Strategies| 1 Comment »

I haven’t talked too much about financials, and I don’t really plan on doing so today.  I would, however, like to wet your taste buds with some tips on forecasting.  Remember, forecasting is in all reality BS.  Projections can only take you so far but they do help you when setting goals for your small business.

  • You are better off selling yourself short than throwing out unrealistic numbers.  Be factual and conservative with your estimates.
  • You arent going to go from making $10,000 to $10 million.  It just isnt going to happen unless something truly astonishing happens in your business or your market.
  • Quantify your projections and dont just pull them out of a hat.  Make clear and concise assumptions.
  • Back those assumptions up with a written list of your reasoning.  Pro forma financials will take your far.
  • Utilize industry specific data and not just general data such as census publications.  Contact your local or university library for assistance in tracking down this type of information.  For those of you in school or who are stupid rich – try IbisWorld.
  • This goes back to the above statements, but it’s important.  Your projections are going to be suspect if your sales or profit margins are higher (or lower) than the industry average.
  • As you progress, compare your forecasts to actual results and determine what went wrong (or right!).

Yes, this was a bit “schoolish” but you are Startup Students!  Class dismissed.

Top 10: Penny Pinching For Your Business

Topic: Helpful Ideas, Strategies, Top 10| 1 Comment »

Note: Welcome to Startup Students. If you enjoy this post, don’t forget to Stumble, comment, and subscribe to the RSS feed!

Today I have a list for you of some great ways to save money as a small business. This is especially useful for those of us trying to bootstrap the next great startup. Without further adieu:

  1. Consider having your customers pay up front or require a deposit. This works especially well for larger ticket items or service providers.
  2. Pay for your purchases on credit and don’t pay them off immediately. Of course you don’t want to get into serious debt right off the bat, but cash is very important to have on hand in the beginning.
  3. Consider leasing your equipment. Laptops, furniture, transportation all come to mind.
  4. Be frugal. Easier said than done but by keeping an eye on your spending you are more likely to survive.
  5. Don’t splurge on an office right away, there is nothing wrong with working at home. I do it, so should you.
  6. One man’s trash is another mans treasure. This goes both ways – sell off your old dilapidated equipment and buy others’ gently used byproducts.
  7. Shop around. This goes hand in hand with being frugal I suppose, but next time you need something dont just hop in the car and buy it. Instead, do a little research on the internet to locate the best price first.
  8. Make sure your liquid cash is not sitting idle. Put it to work for you and earn some interest.
  9. Consider trading your goods or services with other small businesses to save money and benefit both of you.
  10. I could write a whole post on this one and I just might some day. Get ready, it’s good. Never Buy what you can Lease, never Lease what you can Borrow, and never Borrow what you can Steal.

Class dismissed.

A Pricing Strategy for Everyone

Topic: Helpful Ideas, Startups, Strategies| 4 Comments »

When pricing your product or service, you should put some thought into the strategy you utilize. Are you going to undercut your competitors? Would you rather target the upper echelon? Maybe you just want to price with the market. It really depends on what you are offering, but here are some different strategies you could employ.

  • Penetration Pricing
    • This is when you want to quickly get some traction in your market by offering a lower (and sometime insanely lower) price. Benefits would obviously be the quick market penetration. But be careful, you dont want to undercut yourself out of business!
  • Skimming Strategy
    • This is somewhat opposite of penetration pricing. Do you have a relatively new technology that nobody else is offering? Why not “skim” off the customers who are willing to pay more in the beginning. Once demand from the early adopters falls, you can then lower your prices.
  • Follow The Leader
    • Sometimes it makes since to just follow the crowd and price your product competitively. Obvious products here would include commodities.
  • Variable Pricing
    • Do you sell cars or real estate? Do you own an eBay business? If so, you are already using this strategy. Variable pricing involves negotiation and bargaining between your sales staff and the customer
  • Flexible Pricing
    • This works well for service based companies. Do you have government clientel? Then add a couple zeros to the price tag. Have a scaled down solution for commercial use? Drop the price and gaing some market traction.
  • Price Lining
    • If you’ve ever been to the Dollar General you are familiar with this strategy. All the products are offered at the same price. Obviously, this method is easy to manage, but you might get stuck due to its lack of flexibility. Times might get tough in times of inflation or an unstable market.

Hopefully this will help you grasp the basic ideas and maybe even assist you in finding the right strategy for your small business. Class dismissed.