An Open Letter to Management of Major US Companies

Dear Managers: The NY Times on May 26th, 2013, in their lead editorial titled “A Is for Avoidance” with a sub-headline of “Apple Is the Latest Example of how American Multinationals Avoid Taxes” continued the demonizing of American business. They specifically mention Apple, Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Starbucks, Hewlett Packard, and General Electric for using aggressive […] Read more »

Partner with Established Brands to Build Your Own

You are known for the company you keep (as well as the company you are). There are several ways to bask in reflected glory. For example, you can run an ad for your product featuring your most prestigious customers. There’s some chance that those customers will kick in some money to support your ad, but […] Read more »

Closeouts. . .A Fact of Life

Even if your product has a long and happy run in the marketplace, it’s likely to reach the end of its run eventually, and leave you with a significant inventory on hand. Welcome to your first closeout! Think of this as an entrepreneurial rite of passage: If you’re in the game long enough, you’re almost […] Read more »

Interpreting the Numbers for Better Decision Making

Entrepreneurs do not love risk and express this dislike by devoting energy and brain power in determining risk and then deciding whether to proceed or not. Before they would abort, the smart Entrepreneurs would first look to minimize or eliminate the risk by Partnering, Sharing, Mitigating, Testing, etc. Analyzing the numbers can be a vital […] Read more »

Profits

Your ultimate goal is to make your product yield a profit. Obvious, right? So much so that it’s not worth mentioning? Well, yes and no. I’m always surprised to discover how many entrepreneurs take their eyes off this ball, elementary as it is. So I’ll go ahead and restate the obvious: The sustainability of your […] Read more »

Solve Your Sales Problem

 Small businesses, particularly in their early stages, have two big problems. Selling is a learnable skill, and you don’t need a sales gene to be good at it. 1)    Access to customers. The business owners are new to their industry, probably inexperienced, and have not developed the savvy to secure appointments with important potential customers. […] Read more »

Managing Your Inventory

 “too much carryover inventory can wipe away all your hard-earned profits and wreck your cash flow” For those who sell products, one of the key challenges in responding to a flow of reorders is keeping a large enough inventory on hand—but not too large. The constant dilemma you face is that you know your customer […] Read more »

Product Knockoffs— One Idea to Combat

If your product is very successful and if you have no legal way of protecting it—which is true, in most cases—then why not knock yourself off before someone else does?  Put yourself in the knockoff artist’s shoes. How would he or she copy your product? In most cases, they will look to make it less […] Read more »

Packaging A Major Factor in the Sale

Many times, the packaging of the product is as important as the product itself. Of course, if you’re making a product like industrial machinery, this may not be true. But in the case of consumer products, packaging can be an overwhelmingly important element. Perhaps the most extreme case involves products bought by collectors, such as […] Read more »

Hiring the Right People

Okay, let’s assume that you’ve got your idea, your business structure, and your money in hand. The next thing you’ve got to get your hands on is good people. In many ways, this is the scarcest commodity of all. Before you hire, you have to figure out:             •           what skills ­you’re looking for, and […] Read more »

Publicity: A Wild Card for Small Business

Publicity is the great wild card for small businesses. Certainly, advertising can be effective. However, a story in the media about you, your product, or your company generally carries far more weight and legitimacy than any paid for ads. Such a story is likely to reach both consumers and any intermediate customers, such as retailers. […] Read more »

TESTING Reduces Risk and Maximizes Success

Oftentimes entrepreneurs–blinded by their belief in their new product idea which is reinforced by their loved ones–lunge full force forward in the production and marketing of their can’t miss product. They will invest in some or all of an optimistic quantity, expensive brochures, displays, molds, public relations campaign, advertising, and more. All this, based on […] Read more »

How Small Companies Can Sell Large Customers

Competition for customers in most industries is extremely intense. This is exacerbated if the customer is a large one and your product is not particularly unique or patent protected. Your customers are also in a high pitched battle with their competitors. This can be seen in your everyday life. Look at the competition in cars, […] Read more »

Finding Ideas to Start a Business

One of the most asked and difficult to answer questions I get when I speak to MBA students is “How do I get the right idea to start a business?” In approaching a reply, I would say at the outset, that there are no simple magical answers or formulas. I would add that most successful […] Read more »

Licensing Can Work for Small Businesses Too

Normally the subject of licensing would not appear in a Bootstrapping context because there usually is an up-front cash payment and a guarantee associated with securing a license. These two factors can be substantial with a high visibility license, such as Mickey Mouse, NFL football, Nike, Armani, etc. However, I bring it up here for […] Read more »

Building Trust

The single most important thing you can do in starting and building a business is to get people to trust you. Trust needs to be earned and takes time, although you can lose it in a second. Telling people to trust you doesn’t cut it. In fact, when people I just meet tell me to trust them, my antennae is up to watch my back. The benefits of being trusted are enormous. People have confidence in those they trust. Read more »

Numeracy – Thinking in Numbers

Managing Your Numbers is Essential for Growth Do you want to do everything you possibly can to ensure the survival and growth of your company? Of course you do. Well, one of the most essential skills that you can bring to your company is understanding, tracking, and using certain numbers. This numeracy–thinking in numbers–is a […] Read more »

Business Incubators Can Be Key to the Success of Qualifying Small Businesses

If you are a start-up company and you qualify, incubators can be a fantastic resource for you in your Bootstrapping pursuit of success. They provide the “help of others” part of Bootstrapping and the “limited resources” component of our initial definition of Bootstrapping (to pursue success with limited resources and with the help of others). Here is […] Read more »

Mentors – Free Small Business Consulting

One of the best ways to start and grow a small business is to get expert advice. I’m not referring here to paid consultants, a luxury that most early stage and small companies can’t afford. (When you can afford the right ones, by the way, they can be an excellent investment.) Instead, I’m referring here to getting a mentor of one kind or another. Read more »

Universities – How They Can Help Your Small Business

Professors at schools prefer to assign real life problems to their students. At most graduate business schools, they assign students singly or in teams to analyze a real company in their city. The other subject areas like engineering, graphic design, advertising, etc., are also looking for real life assignments for their students. If you have a product that needs to be engineered, you can approach the professor teaching that subject to ask if students can be assigned to your project. Read more »