Categories: Getting Started

To Build a Growth Business, Connect to the Cloud

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on August 12

In 1985, Sony was king. In 2011, it's Apple. Why the turn of fortunes? I contend that Apple was quickest to recognize that products as we knew them in 1985...

Embrace the 'Lean Startup' Model

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on August 04

The lean startup model eliminates waste and focuses on customer feedback to build a product or provide a service that people want. The model requires business owners to focus more...

Think Like a Designer

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on July 11

If not for the emergence of design thinking, some of the world's most innovative companies might not have the edge they do now. There are 10 tools that I teach...

What to Expect When You Start a Business

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on May 23

There are plenty of articles on how to start a small business, but few on what to expect. I started my first company 16 years ago and wish someone would...

Start Your Business with the Right Mindset

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on May 20

As a new business owner, you have taken the risk to launch yourself into an adventure that can be extraordinarily rewarding, challenging, and terrifying. Your ability to manage yourself through...

Dealing with Startup Challenges in India

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on April 29

India's 1 billion people and 9 percent annual growth are attractive to nearly any business, as are the 380 million new Internet users that will come online there by 2015....

What's Your 'Affordable' Loss?

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on April 08

Loss? Are we nuts? Don't we know your new venture has the potential to make you richer than Warren Buffett? We sincerely hope it does, but all new ventures involve...

It's Not a One-Person Show

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on February 28

As you expand your startup business past the garage stage, it's important to know when you can no longer go it alone. How to draw top talent to complement your...

What to Outsource as a Solopreneur

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on February 22

For most businesses, the two largest slices of the budget pie are people costs (salaries, benefits, and so forth) and office space. The only way to eliminate these costs is...

Set Up an Office for Your Home-Based Business

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on November 23

Starting a home-based business can be both challenging and rewarding. As your business takes off, you'll face several challenges, including how to create an effective workspace. Although your new, home-based...

Turn Your Passion into a Business

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on November 19

Everyone is passionate about something. We all dream about converting that passion into a real business that can make money. Our company, ProBatter Sports, grew out of my personal love...

Basics for Aspiring Business Owners

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on November 16

There is a lot you must know to be successful, yet few of us who own small businesses have the opportunity to attend a good business school. My advice: 1....

Focus on the Familiar

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on August 04

For entrepreneurs just beginning professional service practices, prospecting can inspire both trepidation and anxiety. Where do you start? One great rule of thumb is to focus on the familiar. We...

Potential Pitfalls in Partnering

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on June 28

In my consulting practice, I have worked with several entrepreneurs who have taken the concept of partnership too lightly—making commitments too quickly and jumping into relationships before being sure they...

The Value of Partnerships

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on June 25

For entrepreneurs looking to build a new business or expand an existing one, a strong partner can be key. For a company such as a consumer product business seeking to...

To Find an Unmet Need, Use Lead User Analysis

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on February 09

Ruth Stafford Peale once said success will come if you just "find a need and fill it." But how do you find a need or—even better—an unmet need many customers...

Determine When To Start Your Own Business

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on December 30

As the economy has gotten progressively worse, more people are unsure of their future employment. One trend I've seen is an increased willingness to take personal risks and open one's...

Incorporate Online to Save Money

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on July 08

When starting a company, many entrepreneurs plan for the obvious startup costs like advertising, furniture, and equipment. But some leave the document-filing work to their lawyers and suddenly discover that...

Four Startup Basics

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on March 24

It's no secret the economy is slumping. I have told the companies I'm involved with that for 2009 let's not worry so much about growth as much as maintaining the...

Business Plan Readers No Longer Believe the Hype

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on March 20

As investors and lenders continue to tighten their purse strings, it is more important then ever for small business owners seeking capital to create credible business plans. What business owners...

Deciding Which Opportunity to Pursue

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on December 15

Investors consider hundreds of businesses before making an investment decision and they learn to do so objectively and with discipline. Business professionals must do the same when they too are...

Making the Most of Your Business Plan

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on October 24

Here are five hints on how to make the most of your business plan: 1. Take the long view and do long-term planning. Map out where you want to be...

Effective Business Planning

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on October 23

When your business is still in the planning stages, it is important to know your mission. Start by clearly defining your business idea and being able to articulate it succinctly....

Steps to a Successful Product Launch

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on September 17

For most successful entrepreneurs, the idea is the easy part of starting their businesses. The challenge is getting the idea-turned-tangible-product to market. While tenacity, patience, and consistency are main ingredients...

Rallying Resources to your Business Idea

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on June 23

Every year, the executive team at Grow Utah Ventures reviews over 300 business plans. Traditionally, entrepreneurs have focused on making sure they have a well-written business plan. However, we've found...

Learn from Your Competitors

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on May 07

To be competitive in a new market, you don't want to start from scratch. The quickest way to learn how to be successful is to check the playbook of your...

Product Inventors: Vital Questions You Forgot to Answer

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on March 07

Some inventors come to me and say, "I have this idea. It's the only one of its kind. It's brand new. No one has ever thought of it! In fact,...

How to Learn About a Franchise's Financial Performance

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on February 01

The information you can discover regarding the financial performance of a specific franchise depends, in part, on whether you are a potential purchaser or simply a curious member of the...

Franchising Still Fraught with Pitfalls Despite New FTC Rule

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on November 14

Ever since Ray Kroc flipped his first hamburger and launched what eventually became the McDonald's () restaurant chain, an untold number of small business owners have adopted the same franchising...

What Is a Foreign Corporation?

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on November 07

A corporation conducting business in one state when incorporated or chartered in another is considered a foreign corporation. If your corporation will conduct business in any state or states other...

Tax Answers for Home-Based Businesses

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on October 24

When you start your own business, your tax situation will change dramatically. Many new business owners get overwhelmed with the tax laws and regulations that govern their new venture. Luckily,...

How Much Money Can You Make From a Franchise?

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on August 31

If you have asked a franchisor this question, you may not have gotten a straight answer (or one at all). The main reason lies in legalities. The Federal Trade Commission...

Don't Buy a Business Plan—Write Your Own

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on August 10

Don't buy a business plan. Develop your plan, write your plan, but don't buy one. Buy business plan software, or books, or blank templates, if you insist. Take a course...

Writing a Winning Business Plan

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on July 25

A sound business plan can mean the difference between a company that prospers and one that flounders. A good business plan communicates accuracy and credibility and generates enthusiasm for your...

Nine Tips for Separating Your Home from Your Business

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on June 21

Working from home can make you long for the days when you had an actual office. Dealing with daily family issues and running a business at the same time can...

How Much Money Can You Make From a Franchise?

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on May 15

If you have asked a franchisor this question, you may not have gotten a straight answer (or any at all). The main reason lies in legalities. The Federal Trade Commission...

Developing a Proposal That Will Get Noticed

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on April 19

A crucial function of running your own business is developing proposals and pitches to increase relationships and close deals. To help facilitate the entire new business proposal process—whether you are...

Surround Yourself With Experts

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on April 16

As an entrepreneur starting a business, it's easy to take everything upon yourself, especially if you're young. Don't. As you get your business strategies in order, take a step back...

Focus Groups: How They Can Work for Your Small Business

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on March 06

It is widely assumed that focus groups are reserved for large corporations that can afford the cost of using professional market research firms. Smaller businesses, however, are now running successful...

The Demo Imperative

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on March 05

Every entrepreneur is faced with a tough choice: Do I demo my new product or service as soon as I can, or do I wait until it's fully polished? I...

Friends and Family Make Good Business Partners

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on February 14

Most startup companies receive the bulk of their seed capital from friends and family (F&F). The best way to make this type of funding work for you is to put...

Redefine Your Vision for the Investor

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on February 12

Whatever vision you have for your high-growth company, you will have to redefine it until it becomes so clear, so undisputedly compelling, that any person investing in your market or...

Choosing the Right Corporate Structure for Your Home-Based Business

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on January 11

One of the first steps in establishing a home-based business idea is deciding which type of business entity you will set up. There are several different categories of business entities,...

What to Consider Before Choosing a Location

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on December 17

Choosing the right location for your small business is an important step for success. Here are some things to keep in mind when selecting your spot: • Find out if...

If You're Making Money, Do You Need a Business Plan?

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on December 14

When Tom Sherburne started manufacturing composite kayaking helmets, he didn't think he needed a business plan. His Auburn, Ala.-based helmet business, Shred Ready, began as an offshoot of his kayaking...

Can a Business Plan Hold You Back?

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on December 12

When an industry is constantly evolving, successful entrepreneurs roll with the trends. Just ask Tony Zoccoli, founder of Nine O'Clock New Media, a Web-development and creative-services firm based in Fremont,...

Traction: The First Goal When Getting Started

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on November 26

When starting a new business, the entrepreneur's excitement and energy are often aimed at grand and lofty goals. Often the siren of starting a new company is the potential riches...

Compiling the Financial Section of Your Business Plan

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on November 16

A solid financial plan should always be included within any business plan. Plans for financing the business today and allowing for future growth should be outlined in addition to ongoing...

Make Your Competitive Analysis Stand Out in Your Business Plan

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on November 14

Before writing the competitive analysis, first identify both direct and indirect competitors. You can locate listings of local businesses, search the Internet for online competition, and seek out mail-order businesses...

Using Your Business Plan to Monitor Progress

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on November 07

You've put a lot of time and effort into your business plan. What happens when it's done? Think of your business plan as a living document and refer to it...

What Is an LLP?

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on November 02

A limited liability partnership (LLP) is similar to a general partnership, except the partners are not personally liable for negligent acts conducted by other partners or employees not under their...

Flying Solo: Sole Proprietorships

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on October 31

The simplest business structure is the sole proprietorship—the IRS's automatic classification for any business started by an individual. Most new businesses with only one owner start out as sole proprietorships....

How Much Personal Background Should You Include in a Business Plan?

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on October 04

Typically, the success or failure of a small business is based on the background and experience of the entrepreneur. If, for example, you are opening a restaurant, it is beneficial...

Picking the Perfect Name for Your Corporation

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on September 22

It is a good idea to start the process with several choices for your corporate name before beginning research to determine whether the corporate name you have selected is available....

Define Who Will Buy Your Product for a Premium Price

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on September 18

One of the greatest challenges a business owner or manager faces is selling the company's product for the highest amount of money. Frankly, it is easier to sell a product...

Entrepreneurial "Freedom" Equals "Enslavement"

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on August 31

People start their own businesses and become entrepreneurs because they dream of having the freedom and rewards that can come from being their own boss. However, after observing thousands of...

Avoiding the Downside of Rapid Growth

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on August 28

If a business has grown more quickly than anticipated, the first reaction may be exultation, followed by contentment to ride the wave and enjoy the fruits of its hard work....

Can You Buy a Business Without a Broker?

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on August 25

Buying a business without a broker is no problem if you know the business-owner or already have a good idea of the type of business you want to buy. If...

Hot New Ways to Become an "Ontrapreneur"

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on August 23

Not so long ago, starting an online business primarily meant creating a Web site and organizing it in a business-like manner. You would create a catalog, add a shopping cart...

10 Marketing Tools for Home-Based Businesses

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on August 16

Owners of home-based businesses sometimes view marketing as an unnecessary expense, but nothing could be further from the truth. Because a home-based business doesn't have a storefront for passers-by to...

Prepare for Problems Before They Arise

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on August 03

All businesses and contracts start out with the best intentions, but a significant percentage of them are bound to fall apart. Prepare for it! Be clear with your partners about...

Small Businesses Are Not Part-Time

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on August 02

Starting your own business is like having a child. It's a long-term commitment you cannot ignore or get away from for any length of time. It's not for everyone, and...

Checklist for Starting a Home-Based Business

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on July 28

Starting a home-based business can be a complicated undertaking. The following checklist covers the most important points that you will need to consider and will help you stay focused as...

How Much Do Angels Invest?

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on July 21

Angels usually target early-stage startups and invest anywhere from $25,000 to $500,000. Angel investors often provide the seed money to get a business up and running while the founders pursue...

The Top 25 Home-Based Business Ideas

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on July 19

If you are thinking about starting your own home-based business, the available options can be almost dizzying. However, there are many tried and true home-based businesses that may be just...

Ten Signs Your Business Is Growing Too Fast

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on June 28

It's easy to get swept up in the whirlwind of activity known as rapid growth, especially when it hits you unexpectedly. But if your expansion goes unchecked, it can be...

Business Overview Section of a Business Plan

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on June 21

Unlike the executive summary, which must be concise, this is where you can elaborate on the details of the business. Typically, this section is used to explain your vision and...

Emerging Markets Overseas

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on June 12

If you're thinking of getting involved overseas, emerging markets present a great source of opportunity -- as well as incredible challenges. But with a bit of strategic planning, small businesses...

Stretching Your Startup Cash

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on June 06

Raising several million for a startup may sound like a lot, but the money can go fast. Here are some strategies to stretch the dollar: First and foremost: Focus on...

Cutting Costs

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on June 02

Real cost-saving strategies for small businesses are based on realism and execution. For example, for online companies that receive limited office visits, spending a large portion of their budget on...

Costs of Incorporating

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on May 17

Many small-business owners incorporate their businesses to protect themselves and their shareholders from liability. That way, their personal assets are safe from business creditors or lawsuits against their firms. Before...

Ten Preliminary Steps to Take Before Writing a Business Plan

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on May 10

Writing a business plan can sound like a daunting task. Once you are ready, begin your business plan with the understanding that it is a work in progress and there...

Automobile Expense Deductions

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on April 25

Automobile expenses are one of the major tax deductions for small businesses, and making the right choice on how to deduct vehicle expenses can save you hundreds of tax dollars....

Where to Incorporate Your Business

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on April 21

There is no law that says you have to incorporate in the state in which you plan to do business. Up until a few years ago, incorporating in Delaware had...

Is Franchising Right For You?

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on April 19

Franchising is a formidable force in today's economy. The International Franchise Assn. reports that there are more than 760,000 franchised businesses in the U.S. today, accounting for nearly $1.53 trillion,...

Setting Your Product's Price

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on April 18

Selling a product or service at the right price is one of the fundamental decisions every business has to make. Most businesses establish a selling price by determining: 1. The...

Outlining a Business Plan

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on April 17

What is most important in a business plan? First, here is what a standard business plan should cover: 1. The company (its legal formation, history, and ownership) 2. What it...

Finding the Structure that Suits You

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on April 07

When deciding on which form of business will best serve your purposes, you should take into account the following factors: 1. Your own personal assets and liabilities 2. Your existing...

Before Buying a Business

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on April 06

When contemplating purchasing a business, you have some major issues to sort through, including: Type of Deal. What kind of deal will it be -- purchasing the assets of the...

Smaller Towns, Higher Quality of Life

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on March 16

Locating in a small town not only has business advantages, but personal benefits as well. Don't forget these quality of life issues when you're choosing your destination: Housing Advantage: There...

Don't Overlook Small-Town Advantages

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on February 07

When you consider starting a new business, you have to consider location. More and more entrepreneurs are recognizing the benefits of starting a business in a small town. A few...

Cover All the Bases

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on January 26

When contemplating and/or pursuing your entrepreneurial ambitions, there are a plethora of things to consider. The loan officer wants to see your business plan, the community wants to know how...

Using Academia to Help Your Business

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on January 23

Colleges and Universities can offer a treasure chest of knowledge to the savvy small business owner. Here are five ways to tap into that source: 1. Volunteer your company to...

False Security About Assets

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on January 09

Don't assume that forming an LLC or corporation will always shield your personal assets. Even if you operate as a corporation or LLC, a creditor can still go after your...

Preparing to Take a Business Plan to the Bank

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on January 01

When you're ready to take your business plan to the bank to apply for a business loan, be prepared. Many people misunderstand what the bank can and can't do for...

Steps to Building a Home-Based Business

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on December 09

1. Start with a plan in mind. Create a simple, informal business plan that addresses the major areas of your enterprise: marketing, cash flow, legal structure, etc. 2. Claim your...

Balance Passion Against Vision and Practicality

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on November 18

Entrepreneurship isn't for everyone. The work is hard, the financial rewards elusive, and the pressures immense. To be even remotely successful, you need to have some basic business skills, be...

Put Your Skin in the Game

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on November 16

Make sure you have a large amount of "skin in the game." Venture capitalists hesitate to invest in companies in which the founders have not sunk a lot of their...

Do Homework Before Bringing the Biz to the U.S.

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on November 04

My advice to anyone considering bringing a business to the U.S. is to really learn the ins and outs of the laws on franchising first. Don't just leave it to...

Finding New Business Opportunities

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on November 03

"We tried a little pilot course early last year on design for autistic children. We got some students in that course who had an autistic brother, as well as parents...

Bring a Map on Your Voyage

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on October 18

I think a good business plan is critical. You wouldn't start a journey without a map. Whether it's on the back of a napkin or in a 100-page document, you...

Never Limit Your Imagination

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on October 12

When Ray Kroc was a milkshake-machine salesman, he noticed that one restaurant, in California, was buying more machines than anyone else, so he went to visit his best customer --...

Location, Location, Location -- and Then Some

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on September 27

Choosing a location for your business or franchise is no different than choosing a neighborhood in which to purchase a home. It makes all the difference in the level of...

Five Rules the Bootstrapper Lives By

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on September 21

Rule No. 1: Sales is the top-priority job. In every company, sales is the only job that must be done well. A lot of companies think sales is a necessary...

Know Your Exit Strategy from Day #1

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on September 15

Unlike their parents and grandparents who waited till their 60s to exit their businesses, today's "cash-out generation" of entrepreneurs exit their successful businesses in their 40s, often to pursue new...

Explore Your Neighborhood

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on September 06

The success or failure of a new specialty retail store is the result of how much time the new store owner spends on developing creative ways to build their business,...

It's O.K. To Start Small

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on August 30

You don't need a lot of money to start a business. I see a lot of people not venturing forth because they think they have to get big-time financing. I...

Opportunity Doesn't Knock -- It Answers

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on August 26

You have to go out and find opportunity. If you're an entrepreneur, it's not going to knock on your door. Opportunity doesn't even know where you live, it doesn't know...

Rent Before You Buy

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on August 24

If you're an entrepreneur looking into office space for the first time, don't even think of buying. You want to rent. Make sure you get a "good guy" clause in...

Only Spend What You Have

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on August 22

I think most small businesses fail because they're overcapitalized. I think it's the worst myth of small businesses. When I opened this bookstore, I did it on what I could...

About

Want to improve the way you run your business? Entrepreneurs, academics, and consultants from diverse industries offer practical advice on a variety of topics each business day.

To submit a tip for consideration, first check our archive of previous tips to make sure you're not repeating a tip someone has already contributed. Then send the tip to Small Business channel contributor Michelle Dammon Loyalka. Because of the volume of material she receives, she may not respond to each individual.

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