Dr. Laura, America's #1 Relationship Talk Radio Host
On: SiriusXM Stars Channel 109
Call 1-800-DR LAURA (1-800-375-2872) 11am - 2pm PT
Image 01 Image 02
Blog
05/07/2010
IconShould You Use A "Do It Yourself" Incorporation Service? Cliff Ennico www.creators.com "I'm thinking of setting up a corporation or limited liability company (LLC) for my small retail business, but the attorneys around here charge a bloody fortune to do the paperwork. I surf the Web a lot, and I see countless Websites that offer to set up a corporation - usually in Delaware or Nevada - for under $200. This seems like too good a deal to be true. Are these services legitimate and, if they are, what am I not getting by using one of these instead of an attorney?" There is nothing wrong with using a "do it yourself" service to set up a corporation or LLC, but be careful. An online service may give you a brochure or DVD illustrating the differences between corporations and LLCs generally, but they won't give you one-on-one advice. That's considered "practicing law" or "practicing accountancy", and only a licensed professional can do that. When looking to set up a corporation or LLC for your small business, it's best to consult with a lawyer AND an accountant to determine the type of entity (corporation, S corporation or LLC) that will give you the most legal and tax advantages. Once you've settled on a particular entity, though, you can (if you wish) go to the online service and save some money getting the paperwork done. Just remember that if they make a mistake, you can't sue them for malpractice. There are some pretty reputable online incorporation services now that are giving the legal profession a run for its money. Intuit Corp. (which publishes the QuickBooks(r), Quicken(r) and TurboTax(r) software products) recently acquired MyCorporation Business Services, Inc. (www.mycorporation.com), a Calabasas, California based incorporation service. Other major players online are LegalZoom (www.legalzoom.com) and BizFilings (www.bizfilings.com). There's even a franchise called "We the People" (www.wethepeopleusa.com), that prepares incorporation and other simple legal documents, with 166 brick and mortar locations in 29 states. But beware. There are a lot of "fly by night" incorporation services that will take your money, file a generic incorporation form with your state Secretary of State's office, and leave you to figure out the rest. When looking at a "do it yourself" incorporation service, you should ask six questions: Will they register your entity with the Secretary of State's office? Virtually all online services do this, but if they're charging less than $200, that's probably all they're doing. If you're incorporating in a state other than your own, will they help you find a "registered agent" to act as your local mailing address in that state? Most online services do this, but will send you the bill for the registered agent's service fee (usually $150 to $250 a year). Will they provide you with the internal corporate documents (such as bylaws, minute book, corporate resolutions, and share certificates) you need to run your business day to day? Some services do this, but most do not. Will they give you notice of filing deadlines on an ongoing basis? Only the better services do this. Will they register your entity with the IRS and get you a taxpayer ID number? Again, only the better services do this. And finally: Will they help you register your entity for state and local taxes (including sales taxes, since you are a retailer)? I'm not aware of any online service that will do the actual registration for you, but some will tell you that this is a necessary step, and the better ones will offer you some assistance (such as a link to your state tax authority's Website) to make sure the job gets done. Until steps number 1, 5 and 6 have been performed, you are not legally incorporated, and it will be only a matter of time before you receive a nasty letter from a government agency saying you owe them something. Even using one of the very best "do it yourself" incorporation services, you will probably have to hire an accountant or attorney to help you with step # 6. One more thing: I've said it before in this column and I'll say it again -- there is absolutely no reason for a small business to be incorporated in Delaware or Nevada unless it is physically located in one of those two states. Forming a Delaware or Nevada entity when you're actually doing business in Wisconsin will not protect you one bit from Wisconsin state and local taxes, and you shouldn't believe anyone who tells you otherwise. Cliff Ennico ( cennico@legalcareer.com ) is a syndicated columnist, author and host of the PBS television series 'Money Hunt'. His latest book is 'Small Business Survival Guide' (Adams Media, $12.95). This column is no substitute for legal, tax or financial advice, which can be furnished only by a qualified professional licensed in your state. To find out more about Cliff Ennico and other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit our Web page at www.creators.com . COPYRIGHT 2006 CLIFFORD R. ENNICO. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

PERMALINK | EMAIL | PRINT | RSS  Subscribe
05/07/2010
Icon"Pulling" Your Customers On The Internet: Part Two Cliff Ennico www.creators.com Once you have optimized your Website for search engines, you don't just sit there waiting for the "hits" to happen. It is now time to engage in "search engine marketing" - creating ads for your Website that will appear next to the search query results when someone is searching for the stuff you sell. Internet marketing expert Catherine Seda ( www.searchmarketingmastery.com ) recommends that you start with "pay-per-click" advertising on Yahoo!, as it's easier than Google for new advertisers to figure out. When you buy a "pay-per-click" ad on Yahoo!, Google or one of the major search engines, you are "bidding" for placement on that engine's search results. You create a short (usually less than 50 words) ad, tell the search engine how much you are willing to pay for each "click" from the ad to your Website, and that's pretty much it. When a person is searching for something you sell, and they see your ad, they "click" on the link to your Website, and the search engine automatically debits your credit or ATM card for the amount you indicated (full disclosure: most search engines charge a minimum monthly fee, currently $5 for Yahoo!, whether you get any clicks or not). Simple enough, right? Well . . . Let's say I decide to place an ad for "small business attorney" on Yahoo! I create a wonderful ad, and offer to pay that search engine ten cents (the minimum amount for ads on Yahoo!) each time someone clicks on my ad. My ad will appear on Yahoo!, all right, but on page 50 of the search query results for "small business attorney". How many times have you searched for something and looked at the 50th page of the query results? To get anywhere with search engine marketing, your ad needs to appear on the first or second page of the query results. For that to happen with my "small business attorney" ad, I would have to pay the search engine about $50 per click. That can add up to a significant bill each month in a real hurry, and there's no assurance that anyone who "clicks" my ad and gets to my Website (triggering a $50 fee for the search engine) will actually buy something once they get there. So how do you get around that? Simple - make your ad as narrow and targeted as possible. While a ten-cent ad for "small business attorney" won't get me anywhere, a ten-cent ad for "NY small business attorney" will get me on page two of the query results. If I raise the ante to 25 cents, I'm on page one. Of course, that narrows the range of "searchers", but the ones looking for a small business attorney in New York are the ones I really want anyway. I will get fewer "hits" from the search engine ad, but (hopefully) a higher percentage of serious folks who will actually contact me once they get to my Website and see how truly wonderful I am. Once you've listed some pay-per-click ads on Yahoo!, what next? According to Seda, if you're selling services, start "blogging". Create your own "blog" (or Weblog) to show that you're an industry leader. By sharing helpful information (or just some wild, crazy and cool stuff), you will invite blog readers to hire you. On the Web, nothing beats "buzz marketing" - a friend, colleague or someone other than my Mom or my PR person who tells you "hey, Joe, you've got to check out this guy's crazy blog. He's a little off the wall, but he really gets what we're trying to do here!" For advice, start with "Blogging for Dummies" by Brad Hill (Wiley, $21.99) and "Blog Marketing" by Jeremy Wright (McGraw-Hill, $24.95). If you're selling products, look for Websites with already heavy traffic, and try to become their "affiliate" - they let you have an ad on their home page in exchange for putting an ad on your home page (plus perhaps some cash). For example, if you're selling antique toys from the 1800s and early 1900s, an ad on the Antique Toy World magazine's Website ( www.antiquetoyworld.com ), will be worth its weight in gold. Here's a tip: look for high-traffic Websites that are offering stuff that complements, but is not the same as, your merchandise. One of the most successful Web merchants in the "vintage art poster" market doesn't sell posters at all, at least not on the Web. Rather, he makes and sells the high-end "acetate free" folders you use to store vintage posters that you don't want to frame and hang on your wall. Just about every "vintage poster" Website has a link to him - because all vintage poster collectors needs these folders -- and I don't think he paid more than a few dollars (maximum) for all that advertising. And if you ask him nicely, he does have a few really good posters in the "back room" he might be willing to part with . . . Finally, since you are selling clothing, housewares, or any sort of collectibles, you should seriously consider opening an eBay Store (stores.ebay.com). For a monthly fee starting at $15.95, you can list dozens of items on eBay, and for a little more eBay will even help promote your eBay Store to the major search engines so you don't have to figure out the finer points of "pay-per-click" advertising yourself. Have you ever searched for something on the Internet and had someone's eBay Store or auction listing pop up as one of the top listings? Enough said. A new book, "Launching a Successful eBay Store", by Ron Mansfield (Pearson Education, $24.99), gives you all the details. Cliff Ennico ( cennico@legalcareer.com ) is a syndicated columnist, author and host of the PBS television series 'Money Hunt'. His latest book is 'Small Business Survival Guide' (Adams Media, $12.95). This column is no substitute for legal, tax or financial advice, which can be furnished only by a qualified professional licensed in your state. To find out more about Cliff Ennico and other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit our Web page at www.creators.com . COPYRIGHT 2006 CLIFFORD R. ENNICO. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

PERMALINK | EMAIL | PRINT | RSS  Subscribe
05/07/2010
Icon"Pulling" Your Customers On The Internet: Part One Cliff Ennico www.creators.com "I am a small one person business selling football-related collectibles. I have had my own Website since 1992 -- almost one of the first people to have a site. Over the years, of course, technology has drastically changed, and my positioning on internet searches like Google has dropped significantly as more and more people are getting into this game. How can I improve upon this without spending an arm and a leg? Do you know of anyone that can offer improvements and make those changes on an existing Website? I would ideally love to get a focus group to critique my Website, but I know that can run into a small fortune. Do you have any ideas, suggestions or references to help out us small guys? Hold on a second - you have had a Website since 1992, and only RECENTLY has your position in the search engine rankings gone down? Must be one heck of a Website . . . There was a time, not too long ago, that I used to think the phrase "Internet marketing" was a contradiction in terms. Traditional marketing is all about "pushing" products to consumers, and on the Internet you cannot "push" or force viewers to see things they don't want to see. An entire industry of software products - from antispam filters to "pop-up" blockers - has sprouted up overnight for the specific purpose of preventing marketers from getting their messages through to you when you're online. You cannot "push" on the Internet, but what you CAN do is "pull" them to your Website. On the Web, the consumer runs free like a wild stallion, going wherever its head takes him. You are the one who must "corral" the free-range consumers and lead them to your water. When people go looking for stuff on the Internet, what do they use? A search engine, of course. That's where your advertising focus should be - letting the consumers think they have found you, and have made the "free choice" to click on a link to your Website and see what you've got to offer. The first thing you have to do is "optimize" your Website for search engines, so that when people go looking for the stuff you sell, the engine lists your Website as one of the top ten "hits" that show up on the search query results page. This is as much an art than an exact science, and involves picking the most commonly used "keywords" people use to search for your stuff and making sure those "keywords" are embedded in your Website so the search engine "crawlers" can find them. Since you have limited funds, it may be worth your while to learn how to do this yourself. Several how-to books exist on this subject, most notably "Search Engine Visibility" by Staci Thurow (Pearson Education, $29.99), "Search Engine Advertising" by Catherine Seda (New Riders, $29.99), and "Search Engine Optimization for Dummies" by Peter Kent (Wiley, $24.99). If doing anything yourself on a computer gives you the willies, there is a growing industry of search engine optimization (SEO) consultants who for fees ranging from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars can use advanced statistical methods to help identify the keywords that will drive search engine traffic to your Website. A search for "SEO Consultant" on any search engine will yield about 500,000 results, many from computer professionals in India and other parts of the world who may be willing to provide world-class service for a much lower rate than U.S. consultants. The Organization of Search Engine Optimization Professionals ( www.seopros.org ) was formed in 2001 to develop "best practices" and standards for this industry - go to their Website and click on "SEO Consultant Directory" for a list of their members nearest you. Once you have optimized your Website for search engines, you don't just sit there waiting for the "hits" to happen. It is now time to engage in "search engine marketing" - creating ads for your Website that will appear next to the search query results when someone is searching for the stuff you sell. More on that next week . . . Cliff Ennico ( cennico@legalcareer.com ) is a syndicated columnist, author and host of the PBS television series 'Money Hunt'. His latest book is 'Small Business Survival Guide' (Adams Media, $12.95). This column is no substitute for legal, tax or financial advice, which can be furnished only by a qualified professional licensed in your state. To find out more about Cliff Ennico and other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit our Web page at www.creators.com . COPYRIGHT 2006 CLIFFORD R. ENNICO. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

PERMALINK | EMAIL | PRINT | RSS  Subscribe
05/07/2010
IconFive Steps to Get Your Priorities Straight in Business and At Home By: Jill Hart Operating a successful home-based business is a time-consuming endeavor. This is doubly true as work-at-home moms in that we are responsible not only for the success of our business, but for our family as well. We must be self-reliant, self-motivated, and discipline ourselves in order to attain success in both areas. When running a business from home, it's easy to let the phone calls, emails and paperwork keep you tied down, making you feel that you don't have time to take a break or to spend quality time with your family. Maybe you've noticed that you spend a little more time than you'd like in front of your computer or on the phone. Maybe you see your kids acting out, trying to gain your attention. Perhaps you are seeing that this isn't the work-at-home dream you envisioned. You started out with such noble intentions, but maybe the excitement of success in your business has caused you to lose sight of the REAL reason you do what you do each day. It happens to so many of us, but don't worry, help is on the way. Below are five ideas to prioritize your life and business: Be honest - You probably didn't start your work-at-home career to climb the "corporate ladder" of your at-home business. Chances are that you started your business with the best of intentions - to be able to be at home with your children, to contribute financially to your family, or simply to have a little spending money of your own. Take a moment and honestly ask yourself how you've been handling the time commitment of owning a business: Are you spending too much time on the phone, the computer, etc? Are your kids spending more time than usual in front of the TV? Do you snap at your children because of the stresses of your business? Do you worry about your business - to the point that it distracts you when you are with your family? Make a list - Sit down and write out a list of things that you see that you'd like to change. This can be a list of things you can do differently to limit the time you spend on your business; or a list of ways you can "de-stress" so that you can deal kindly with your family. Log your time - Buy a notebook or create a spreadsheet that you can use to log the time you spend on your business each day. Make a column for each day across the top and a row of half an hour increments down the side. Every time you sit down at your desk, write "IN" in the box that corresponds to the time and day. Every time you leave your desk (or complete a task), fill the appropriate box with the word "OUT." At the end of the week, total up the hours each day that you have spent on business tasks. Are you surprised or is it about where you thought you'd be? This can be a real eye-opener and show you in black and white if your priorities have gotten off track. Take special note for how much time you spend on e-mails and things that aren't billable. Diana Ennen of Virtual Word Publishing, www.virtualwordpublishing.com also recommends that you plan ahead and schedule your time. Prioritize things and have the work that will require the most effort and concentration scheduled for your peak time. Try and not get sidetracked and stay on task focusing on what you need to do. You'd be amazed how much more work you can get done by simply changing how you work e-mails. If you only answer them at set hours, you save yourself from being online all day and not accomplishing much. Take a break - If you get to the end of the week and your time log has you in shock; it's time to take a break. If you normally work during the weekend, make it a point to take this weekend off. Shut down your email, turn off the ringer on your phone and shut the door to your office. You'll be surprised at how refreshing this will be. Use this time off to re-evaluate how you need to be spending your time. Try to plan out when you can work on your business without losing out on time with your children. If your children are in school, make it a point to stop working when they get home. If your children are still small, maybe you can limit work hours to naptime or, if possible, have a grandparent watch them once or twice a week to allow you a bit more work time. Plan an activity - Now that you're ready to make a change in your routine, why not plan an activity once a week? This can be an outing with your child or just something simple like setting aside time to make cookies together. If possible, find another work-at-home mom and hold one another accountable to keep to your new schedules. Make a weekly play date where your children can spend time together - you can talk business if necessary or decide to make it a "no business talk allowed" discussion time. The years that you have at home with your children are a gift as is your business. The time necessary for each will be different for every family and situation. Take the time to find what works for you and set your schedule accordingly. Make it a point to evaluate your priorities every few months to make sure that your time is spent properly. The rewards will be well worth it, when your family not only is proud of your accomplishments in your business, but also more importantly your accomplishments as their mom. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Jill Hart is the founder of Christian Work at Home Moms, CWAHM.com . This site is dedicated to providing work at home moms with opportunities to promote their businesses while at the same time providing them spiritual encouragement and articles. Visit http://www.CWAHM.com for additional information. Jill and her husband, Allen of CWAHD.com (Christian Work at Home Dads) reside in Nebraska with their two children. "Permission Granted for use on Dr.Laura.com." More >>

PERMALINK | EMAIL | PRINT | RSS  Subscribe
PERMALINK | EMAIL | PRINT | RSS  Subscribe
05/07/2010
IconWhen Your Business Crosses State Lines Cliff Ennico www.creators.com "We run a number of limited liability companies in New Jersey that provide financial services. We have a number of partners who live in New York, do business out of their homes, and see New York customers in their home offices. Just yesterday I read that New York is adopting a new law requiring LLCs in New York to publish a 'legal notice' in local newspapers or else lose their legal status. Does this apply to us?" It depends on whether you are legally "doing business" in New York. Generally, unless you have an actual office address in New York, you are not doing business there legally. As long as your New York clients get all their mail from New Jersey, and mail all their payments to New Jersey, and your employees' home addresses do not appear anywhere on your business cards and stationery, you're probably not "doing business" in New York. In this case, though, it's a close call, because it sounds like you've got employees working full-time in New York and using their home offices as local "branches" of your business - from a New York customer's perspective, you sure LOOK like you have an office in New York, even though you legally don't. New York and New Jersey have signed an "interstate compact" requiring companies in one state to collect the other state's sales, use and other taxes when dealing with customers in the other state, whether or not they are legally doing business there - you're probably not doing that. I also have to believe that New York's banking authorities will be concerned about the quality of financial advice your people are giving to citizens of New York, and may want to subject your New York personnel to whatever licensing requirements apply in New York. To be safe, I would register your New Jersey LLC as a "foreign" LLC in New York and publish the legal notice - the cost is only about $200 if your employees work in counties outside of New York City. And hire an attorney who's familiar with New York consumer protection laws relating to financial services. "I set up a business in Nevada thinking it's going to save me money on taxes, but doing more research showed that it's not true. Is there a way I can transfer it to my local state without having to pay all those set up fees? Or do I need to close business there and open a new one in my state?" The short answer is "no". There are two ways you can transfer your Nevada business to your home state - you can either register the Nevada business as a "foreign" entity in your state (see previous answer), or you can set up a new entity in your home state and merge the Nevada business into it. Either way, though, you will have to pay fees ranging from $200 to $1,000. The better solution may be to simply dissolve the Nevada business and set up a new one in your home state. In most states, the taxes and fees for setting up a local, or "domestic", legal entity are lower than they are for registering a foreign (out of state) entity, and you will save a couple of hundred bucks by doing this. "How would plans to relocate in another state in the future affect my decision to incorporate an LLC in New York now? Would I pay business taxes to both New York and the state I will eventually end up in? Are taxes based on the legal address of the business or where the LLC is, or is it where you operate regardless of where your clients are?" If you're planning to move to another state in the VERY near future (within the next year), then I would hold off forming an LLC until you are settled in your new location, and then form one under that state's law. Otherwise you will be paying taxes and filing tax returns in two separate states, which makes no sense. If your move to another state is sometime more distant in the future (say, the next two to five years), then you should form a New York LLC now to get the protection from legal liability. When you do eventually move, you would shut down your New York LLC (fairly easy to do) and set up a new LLC under the laws of your new state (see previous answer). That's the best and most efficient way. "I am a non-US resident living in a foreign country. I am thinking about forming an LLC in Delaware. The Registered Agent allows me to use his address in Delaware for legal documents, bank accounts and correspondence with the IRS, but cannot be used as a mailing address to be posted on my company Web site. I found three mail forwarding services, one in Nevada, one in Texas and one in Florida. If I use these mail forwarding services for my LLC in these states, does it mean I am doing business as a foreign company in those states? For example, if I use the Florida mail forwarding service, do I need to register in Florida as a foreign company?" The short answer is "yes". Your mail forwarding service would be a legal business address in the state where the mail forwarding service is located (see first answer). You would have to register your Delaware LLC as a "foreign" LLC in that state, and register for that state's state and local taxes. Be sure to get a good tax adviser here, as you (or your U.S. bank) may also have to "withhold" taxes on amounts you take out of the LLC checking account and remit to your home country - see the instructions to IRS Form W-8ECI and IRS Publication 519, "U.S. Taxation of Aliens". Also, be prepared to answer a few questions if someone from U.S. Homeland Security contacts you, as an overseas business with no legal presence in the U.S. other than a "private mailbox" might raise a few eyebrows in U.S. intelligence circles. Cliff Ennico ( cennico@legalcareer.com ) is a syndicated columnist, author and host of the PBS television series 'Money Hunt'. His latest book is 'Small Business Survival Guide' (Adams Media, $12.95). This column is no substitute for legal, tax or financial advice, which can be furnished only by a qualified professional licensed in your state. To find out more about Cliff Ennico and other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit our Web page at www.creators.com . COPYRIGHT 2006 CLIFFORD R. ENNICO. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

PERMALINK | EMAIL | PRINT | RSS  Subscribe
05/07/2010
IconA Mystery Partner, and Tony Manero's Boss Cliff Ennico www.creators.com "I recently made an offer to buy a small business in my town. The seller seems like a great guy, and has been very co-operative so far in opening his books to me. The seller has been traveling a lot lately, though, so when I visit the store I find myself dealing with a guy named 'Joe'. I had assumed that Joe was just an employee or manager of the store, but yesterday when I was chatting up one of the other store employees she referred to Joe as the seller's business partner. I checked the Secretary of State's office, and Joe is not listed as a member of the seller's limited liability company (LLC) that runs this business. Should I be concerned about this, and what is the most tactful way to bring it up with the seller?" As readers of this column know, one of the biggest problems facing new businesses is the inadvertent or accidental partnership - a situation where two or more people are working so closely together that the law treats them as partners whether or not they intended one. Although Joe may not legally be the seller's business partner, there's a good chance Joe may have some real partner-type rights if the business is sold. Whatever you do, make sure you buy the "assets" of the seller's business, not his ownership interest in the LLC - just because Joe is the seller's "accidental" partner doesn't mean he's going to become yours after the deal closes. Then, speak to both Joe and the seller (preferably not at the same time), and ask each of them what their business relationship is. If Joe says he's a partner, point this out to the seller and insist that both Joe and the seller sign non-compete agreements before you buy the business. Otherwise if Joe's not happy with the deal there's a good chance Joe will quit the day after you buy the business and open up a competing operation down the street. "I run a small pack-and-ship store, and frequently have to hire college kids to pack the boxes and load the trucks because it's really hard in my area to find people willing to work for $20,000 a year without benefits. There's this one kid working for me who really gets under my skin. He's a good employee overall - he always shows up on time, he always dresses appropriately, he's polite and courteous, and the customers love him. The problem is that when he needs time off for something, he doesn't ask me - he TELLS me he's taking the afternoon off and just walks out of the store, leaving me in the lurch. I really like this kid, and I don't want to lose him - at least until he graduates -- but I also want to show him who's boss. How do I do that?" Simple. Go to your local video store and rent a DVD of "Saturday Night Fever" - that's right, the 1977 movie about discos, John Travolta, the Bee Gees and white polyester suits. Readers of a certain age will recall that Travolta plays Tony Manero, a wisecracking Brooklyn kid who works in a paint store by day and dances his heart out at the local disco on Saturday nights (hence the movie's title). What many readers - even disco buffs - probably don't remember is a scene in which Tony needs the afternoon off on a Saturday to help his girlfriend-slash-dance-partner move into a Manhattan apartment. Tony's boss, who's normally very supportive, refuses to give him the afternoon off on such short notice, explaining (quite rightly) that Saturday is the busiest day of the week and he needs every pair of hands he can get. Tony flies off in a rage and exchanges some extremely harsh words with his boss, who fires him on the spot. Nothing unusual about that, except that the following Monday Tony goes into the store to pick up some personal items he left behind, and his boss offers him his old job back as if nothing had ever happened, saying "we both got a little hot about this. Let's just put it behind us, Tony, because you've got a real future here. The customers love you." There's a lot of wisdom in that scene about dealing with employees, especially young people who are "wet behind the ears" when it comes to business skills. You need lots of patience, and have to be willing to forgive the occasional outburst of emotion, in order to do what's right for your business. It sounds to me like your employee sincerely cares about doing a good job, but hasn't learned the discipline of keeping regular hours. And you can't really blame him -- many colleges today have thrown fixed schedules out the window, and allow students attend classes when they want so they can engage in internship and other work-study programs. Some, like this kid, probably assume the "real" world of business will be just as flexible. I would sit down with this kid and say something like "I'm happy to give you time off when you need it, without pay of course, but I'm setting a strict policy from now on that any employee who needs time off has to give at least 24 hours' notice so that I can make sure the store is properly staffed". Be sure to make it clear that this kid is not being singled out -- this is a policy that will apply to all employees, and he won't be penalized unless he fails to give the required notice. If he storms off in a huff, be prepared to "forgive and forget" if he shows up next week asking for his job back. If he doesn't come back, there's always another nice college kid who needs a part-time job. As for Tony Manero, it's a good thing he turned down his boss' offer and went into dancing - he'd probably be wearing an orange apron at Home Depot today instead of that wonderful white polyester suit. Cliff Ennico ( cennico@legalcareer.com ) is a syndicated columnist, author and host of the PBS television series 'Money Hunt'. His latest book is 'Small Business Survival Guide' (Adams Media, $12.95). This column is no substitute for legal, tax or financial advice, which can be furnished only by a qualified professional licensed in your state. To find out more about Cliff Ennico and other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit our Web page at www.creators.com . COPYRIGHT 2006 CLIFFORD R. ENNICO. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

PERMALINK | EMAIL | PRINT | RSS  Subscribe
05/07/2010
IconBeware of "Wolves In Partner's Clothing Cliff Ennico www.creators.com "I have spent the last two years of my life building a specialty publishing business. I'm a pretty creative person, and have developed some ideas for a line of e-books on various types of hobbies. I've interested a number of large corporations in providing marketing support for these projects, and am in the process of negotiating some big-figure 'strategic alliances' with these companies. Despite what I've accomplished so far, I feel the need to partner with someone who really understands the business of publishing to help me make this company the success it should be. For the past couple of months, I've been in discussions with an ex-publishing executive. He seems to be a lovely person, and he really knows his stuff. I've invited him to a couple of 'pitch meetings' with some big companies to discuss sponsor deals. I've paid his expenses, and he reviews and critiques the PowerPoint presentations I prepare before each meeting. His suggestions are very helpful, and I usually end up following his advice. But during the actual sessions he doesn't contribute much. When I ask him to contribute more to the effort, he says he will do more as soon as we 'work out a suitable arrangement' for him to come on board. Last week he finally sent me a written offer to join my management team. He says he can't put any money into my company right now, but is willing to provide 'sweat equity' as the Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer of my company, with 50% of the stock in my company, a seat on my board of directors, and the right to purchase my 50% of the company he is not happy with my performance in running the company. To be fair, I would also have the right to buy out his 50% stake if I am not happy with him down the road. Also, he insists his attorney, who is also his brother-in-law, draft the documents to make this deal happen. I'm not wild about this, of course, but I am worried that I need somebody like them on board to attract the type of investors and partners I will need to make this business a success. What should I do?" First of all, I agree with your conclusion that as the "creative genius" of this company you need to balance your management team with some "business types" who can communicate well with the corporate "suits" who will be making the big sponsorship decisions. That shows real maturity on your part, as investors - particularly venture capital types - will look at your management team very closely to make sure you've got someone who "worships the numbers" on board before they will part with their money. Also, investors are very reluctant to put money behind "one man bands", because if something bad should happen to that one man, the music stops playing. You will definitely need to bring on one or more partners to make this business realize its full potential. The gentleman you describe in your e-mail is not, however, the right person, and you should not make him your business partner on the terms he has recommended. Make no mistake: this guy is out to steal your company. People like this gentleman are a bit like Wimpy in the old "Popeye" cartoons - they will "gladly pay you Tuesday for the price of a hamburger today." That is, they promise you everything, but they won't agree to do anything until you give them a significant chunk of your business up front. Right now, this person has given you only a few hours of his time that he can easily write off. He is refusing to put money into your company, and you have reimbursed his expenses so far, so he has no "skin in the game" - he has taken no risks, he has nothing to lose, and he hasn't really shown any real commitment to your business. What recourse will you have if you bring him on as your 50% partner and he doesn't deliver what he promises? Once you make someone your partner, there is only one way you can get rid of him - you must buy him out at whatever price he considers fair. Once this company takes off and becomes successful, that will be a significant chunk of change. I especially don't like his asking for the right to boot you out if he's not happy with your performance - you could end up working like a dog building this business only to have him pull the trigger and force you out in the cold for a pittance just as you're becoming successful. And with his brother-in-law drafting the documents, you just KNOW the terms will not be favorable to you. If you really feel this person is worth serious consideration as a partner, here's my advice: don't make him your partner until he proves himself. Offer him a "finder's fee", where he gives you his time and gets a percentage (5% to 10% is customary) of any cash you receive from any sponsorship, strategic alliance, or other deal he helps to make happen for your company. That keeps you in control of the business, compensates him generously for his time, and gives him a stake in your success. It also gives you a chance to look at him very closely and determine if he's worth "bringing on board" as a partner down the road. If he freaks out at this offer, and accuses you of acting in "bad faith", don't let it get to you - he has shown you his true colors, and you don't want him in your life under any circumstances. Tell him (professionally) to enjoy the rest of his life, and start looking for other candidates. As your Mom told you back when you had your heart broken in high school, there's plenty of fish in the sea. Cliff Ennico ( cennico@legalcareer.com ) is a syndicated columnist, author and host of the PBS television series 'Money Hunt'. His latest book is 'Small Business Survival Guide' (Adams Media, $12.95). This column is no substitute for legal, tax or financial advice, which can be furnished only by a qualified professional licensed in your state. To find out more about Cliff Ennico and other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit our Web page at www.creators.com . COPYRIGHT 2006 CLIFFORD R. ENNICO. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

PERMALINK | EMAIL | PRINT | RSS  Subscribe
05/07/2010
IconFast Fun Ways To Raise Money To Start Your Home Business By Liz Folger, Home Biz Start-Up Expert It might seem begging, borrowing and stealing are the options you have tofunding your home business. However I suggest you not go through route. At first begging might seem like a good idea. The more pathetic you soundthe better your chances of getting what your want, right? It works for threeyear olds usually, why not a 43 year old? It usually doesn't work for the threeyear old and it certainly isn't going to work at all for the 43 year old. Borrowing...yes but if your credit isn't as beautiful as you would like it tobe, most banks will look at your loan application and all of a sudden you'llthink you're a comic. Because whatever you wrote on that loan application hascaused this individual reading it to get the best belly life of their life. Stealing just isn't something that is looked on too favorably in most if notall countries of the world. Depending on where you live you could have fingersand limbs cut off, you could be killed or you could spend some time in a verysmall cell giving you a lot of time to think that stealing probably wasn't thebest idea you've ever had. There has GOT to be a better way to raising money to start your homebusiness and me being the good news fairy that I am I'd like to tell you - you're right!Not only is there better ways to raise money, but there are fun ways to do it too andit doesn't have to take you all that long to raise the money you need. CUT THE EXTRAS To start most home businesses, it doesn't cost a lot of money. Many homebusinesses can be started for under $500.00 and some can be started for much less. One idea is to look at your current spending habits. Cable, phone/cellbills, going out to eat, daily coffee at the coffee shop. Let's take that last example of buying a daily coffee. Most specialty coffees you're paying on average of about $3.00 a cup. If you were to pass on that coffee five days a week for a month you will have saved $80. Do that for a few months and you could be very close to raising the money you need. What about your cable bill? Average cable bills are $50 to $75 a month. Whatif you were to cut out the cable? Not only would you be saving money and reachingthe goal to finance your home biz, but think of all the time you can put into yourhome business idea? It's amazing the time we waste sitting in front of that little box. MAKE THE MONEY Maybe you don't like the idea of cutting anything out, or maybe you want tocombine the above and raise the money yourself to put yourself on the fast track togetting your business started. The goal is to raise your money in just one to three months. The sooner thebetter. It's amazing what you can do for a few months if you want something badenough. Think about something you already know a lot about. Gardening Art Music Health/Fitness Cooking Finance These are just a few ideas. Think about what you like to do and have a lotof knowledge in. Remember, just because you know a lot about this area, others will notand they would love to pay you for your knowledge. Think about teaching a 4 week workshop on your area of expertise. Offer aHealth/Fitness program. It could be geared towards women who want to be ready to wear that itsy bitsy teeny weenie yellow polka dot bikini for the summer. Create for them a work-out plan along with a healthy diet. You could meet with them as a group or individually in their home and help motivate them to reach their goals. If you're thumb can be described as the color of deep forest green you couldthink about putting in gardens and maintaining them through the summer for thosepeople who will enjoy the fruits and vegetables of YOUR labor. Kids are always raising money with car washing, why can't adults? Thinkabout offering a mobile spring cleaning car service. If cleaning is your thing you coulduse that same theme and offer to spring clean or organize peoples home, kitchens orclosets. If it's around the holidays there are lights to be hung on houses (And takendown), there are homes and businesses to be decorated, parties to plan and money to bemade. Everyone is born with special gifts, talents and interests. Use them to makethe money you need to get your home business off the ground. TELL EVERYONE WHAT YOU'RE UP TO People naturally like to help each other. At least most people I don'trecommend asking any ex's. What your about to do is not begging either. You will betalking to your friends and family in a non-whinnying, very confident manner. Explain to them what your goal is and how you plan to reach your goal. Askthem if they would like to help you reach your goal and this is what you can do tohelp them. It's a win win situation for everyone. Whether your friends or family decide to help you reach your goal, ask themfor referrals. This way you don't EVER have to make a cold call. You can contact thesepeople, tell them so and so said to give them a call because they might be interested in theproduct or service you're offering. Again, give them your pre-practiced spiel. HAVE FUN Be sure you pick a way to make money that you naturally enjoy doing. Once you reach the goal you've set for yourself you will have such a renewed sense ofconfidence for yourself. To create for yourself a goal, and reach, is such a wonderful way to give a personal power boost of good feelings. If you would like a free worksheet that gives you additional help infinancing your home business visit: www.bizymoms.com/money.html Liz Folger is the founder of www.bizymoms.com . Bizymoms.com is the leading online resource for work-from-home ideas. The site offers home-based business start-up kits, online classes, e-books, chats and enthusiastic support for moms who want to have it all - a family and a career. Visit www.bizymoms.com for more information. * The author gives permission for the use of this article on DrLaura.com. More >>

PERMALINK | EMAIL | PRINT | RSS  Subscribe
05/07/2010
IconBreaking Into The "Big Boxes" Cliff Ennico www.creators.com "I'm in the process of launching a specialty food product. I've lined up a contract manufacturer to make the first batch of 5,000. What's the best way for a small business like mine to get into the big retail chains?" No doubt about it, "big box" retail chains such as Targetreg; and WalMartreg; are taking over retail distribution channels for most consumer products. People want the convenience of "one stop" shopping, and they love the discounted prices. But it's tough for small businesses to break into the supply chain when retail is dominated by only a handful of players. First, you have to find the right buyer for your product among the retailer's hundreds of employees. Then, you have to get on the buyer's "radar screen" to review your product. Then, you have to make the pilgrimage to the retailer's corporate headquarters (Bentonville, Arkansas, in the case of WalMart(r)). As a small supplier, you will have to be prepared to grovel, beg and plead to get your product considered, and your pitch will have to be perfect. But here's the kicker. Let's say you do all that, the buyer is absolutely wild about your product, and (surprise!) the buyer actually has the authority to buy your product right then and there without "going up the corporate chain" for further approvals. Here's what she's going to say to you when you're done pitching: "You've really got something here; we're definitely interested. We'll place an initial order of 100,000 units, we need delivery next week, we're going to mark it up 300% and pay you $1 per unit (or less) over your cost, and we want you to take back all unsold inventory if it hasn't sold out in three months." Okay, hotshot, NOW what are you going to do? Is that a sufficient price to pay to get nationwide recognition for your product? A manufacturing run of 5,000 units is simply going to be too small for a large nationwide retail chain. My advice would be to launch the product on a smaller scale, using local retailers, specialty mail-order retailers and online retailers to start with. That way, you can charge a higher price for your product, get valuable market feedback, and recoup at least some of your investment before you gear up for the "mass production" a national chain is going to require. Talk to some of the high-end gourmet grocery stores in your area and get them to carry the product. Not only will the stores generate sales for you, but remember, they're being visited every day by representatives from the larger specialty food distributors. If a "rep" sees your product in a local store and likes what she sees, she probably will want to "rep" your product as well (for a fee, of course). These days to sell any kind of consumer product you have to generate "buzz" among the "early adopter" buyers who always want to be "the first on the block" with the latest new thing. Look for specialty retailers that target these "early adopters". For example, since you have a specialty food product, you simply must do everything you can to get it into Zabar's supermarket chain in New York City ( www.zabars.com ). The people who write articles for the important trade publications in the specialty food industry are always looking to see "what's new at Zabar's", and if they see your product there . . . Don't overlook online retailers. These days if someone has a specialized or "niche" interest the first thing they do is "Google" the Web, and a number of clever Internet entrepreneurs are creating "information clearinghouse" Websites for people with a common interest. Thinking about a line of baked goods for people with food allergies? You couldn't ask for more than a mention on AllergyGrocery.com ( www.allergygrocery.com ). Specialty mail order and online retailers are less likely to order large quantities, and are more likely to negotiate generous price and return conditions, than the big nationwide chains. Some will even "drop ship" your products - they will list them in their catalogues or online, and will order from you only when they receive an order from a customer, so you can maintain control of your inventory. So how you do find specialty retailers? The online "Chain Store Guide" ( www.csgis.com ) publishes several high-priced directories of specialty retailers (expect to pay $200 and up for access to these). Sadly, the classic publication "The Catalog of Catalogs" has been out of print since 1999, but you can find an out-of-date copy at most libraries and it's still pretty good. You can also find specialty distributors through your industry trade association. The National Association for the Specialty Food Trade ( www.specialtyfoodmarket.com ) offers several publications and resources for its members that are not available to the general public. If nothing else, by finding out where other members are looking to source their products, you will know where you need to be to generate the "buzz" necessary to get this product off the ground. Cliff Ennico ( cennico@legalcareer.com ) is a syndicated columnist, author and host of the PBS television series 'Money Hunt'. His latest book is 'Small Business Survival Guide' (Adams Media, $12.95). This column is no substitute for legal, tax or financial advice, which can be furnished only by a qualified professional licensed in your state. To find out more about Cliff Ennico and other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit our Web page at www.creators.com . COPYRIGHT 2006 CLIFFORD R. ENNICO. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

PERMALINK | EMAIL | PRINT | RSS  Subscribe
Make an Appointment
Stay Connected
or connect at a place below
Normal Gear
Latest Poll
What's your response to picky eaters?
I'm ONLY going to make 1 dinner
If they will eat it, then I will make whatever I need to
Archives  |  Results
Programs
About Dr. Laura
Letters
E-mail of the Day
From Listeners
Audio & Video
YouTube Videos
Stay at Home
Parenting
Relationships
Simple Savings
Work at Home
Tip of the Week
Subscription
Membership
Help & Support
Family Premium Help Center
Podcast Help
Contact Us
Legal
Terms of Use
© 2018 DrLaura.com. Take on the Day, LLC
Dr. Laura is a registered trademark of Take On The Day, LLC.
Terms & Conditions  |  Privacy Policy
Powered By Nox Solutions