SHARK TANK-Helpful or Harmful for Start-Ups?

The hit TV show "Shark Tank" helps start-ups get started. Would-be business owners come on the series to solicit money and help from a panel of five heavy-hitting entrepreneurs. After giving a pitch and going through a grilling, the contestants find out if they'll get funded or not and how much equity they will have to give up. On the air for five years and counting, "Shark Tank" is an entertaining and successful show. However, as a founder of 16 start-ups, my criteria for evaluating potential businesses differs from most of the panelists—I often find myself arguing with the screen. 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 »

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 »

Pricing For Profit

One of the most important aspects of launching and growing a successful product is correct pricing, one of the major components of profits. The right price gets you an order and maximizes your chances for reorders. The wrong price—on the low side—leaves valuable profits on the table. The wrong price--on the high side-- may decrease your orders, your chances for getting reorders, and invite competition. This may not appear to be a Bootstrap strategy. It is included because a high percentage of businesses do not give enough attention to this important profit element. They too quickly determine price by their costs or by what competition or perceived competition is doing. The result is that profits are left on the table, or more succinctly, you are depriving yourself of precious cash...your life blood. Read more »

U.S. Embassies: An Out-of-the-Box Entity to Help a Small Business

The United States has an embassy in almost every country in the world. You can go to the State Department website www.state.gov for a list of all the countries and the contacts there. The Embassy is an out-of-the-box entity for a Small Business source. My personal story in utilizing a U.S. Embassy was when I had my watch company and acquired a license for an Elvis Pressley watch. I had noticed earlier that many retailers sold musical Mickey Mouse watches, and my research showed that these watches were made by Seiko, which owned a patent on the musical part of it. Seiko was a Japanese based company. Read more »

Cash Free Ideas to Beat Competition

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, retail stores, food stores, homes, computers, music, etc., for your dollar. This extends into the industrial sector and personal services. Here are some non-cash ideas to help your small business better compete. Read more »

A Perfect Gift for Small Business Entrepreneurs

Small Business blogs were my first encounter with social media. The goal was to share my hard earned knowledge with existing and wannabe Small Business managers to ease their path to entrepreneurial success. If successful, I was hoping that they would then consider buying my book, Bootstrapping 101. However, I was warned not to sell my book in the blogs. I have followed that advice for some 90 blogs. Now, I would like to blatantly try to sell you on purchasing it for yourself or someone else who fits the bill. Why? Read more »

Entrepreneurs-Time To Be Thankful

Whether you’ve had a difficult year in this current environment or have been one of the fortunate ones and prospered, it would serve you well to pause and take stock of all the things you should be thankful for. Be thankful you are in your own business and your own boss. Millions of people aspire for the same. Be thankful for all your customers without whom you would have no business.... Read more »

The Mission Statement – For Small Business?

The mission statement is something very different from the business plan. Mission statements set the moral and human goals to which your company is supposed to aspire. In many cases, they also state higher order business goals, such as a corporate commitment to maintaining an annual compounded rate of growth of a certain percentage. Mission statements are most often associated with large corporations—an effort to get thousands of people to pull in the same direction across a far-flung corporate empire. But I think a mission statement is a good thing for a small business as well, and it’s something that should be developed at the outset. Read more »

BLOCKBUSTER IDEAS NOT REQUIRED

The starting point for any new venture or product is the idea. What product or service will our business offer that will be a winner? A great many people can’t get past this idea phase. It seems to me that many of them stall out because they are waiting to hit upon some kind of revolutionary new idea - a concept of such power that it will appeal to everyone. They want bells to go off in their heads. They want brilliance. They want a blockbuster idea. Read more »

DON’T BE BULLIED BY YOUR LAWYER

8 THOUGHTS IN DEALING WITH A LAWYER   There are many occasions in the life of a Small Business where a lawyer is needed. . .a rental lease. . .a royalty contract. . .an employment contract. . .a business partnership. . .an investor, a lawsuit, etc. Small Businesses rarely have a full-time lawyer and staff, […] Read more »

Listening Is Different Than Hearing

Why is it that in most business and social encounters the mouth is employed much more than your two ears? Many people think they are listening when they are just hearing. If your ears are healthy, hearing is an automatic anatomical response to sound in your vicinity. It takes no effort or skill.   On […] Read more »

10 Tips to Build Better Trust in your Business

Trust Builds Confidence   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 […] Read more »

No Can Become a Yes in Selling

Would you believe NO can get you a good Yes? Yes, it’s true; sometimes NO is the keyword for successful selling. In all negotiations and selling which falls into that category, you need to understand the other person’s needs, job responsibility, and goals. One of the major responsibilities of a buyer is to get the […] Read more »

ENTREPRENEURS–TIME TO BE THANKFUL

Whether you’ve had a difficult year in this current environment or have been one of the fortunate ones and prospered, it would serve you well to pause and take stock of all the things you should be thankful for. Be thankful you are in your own business and your own boss. Millions of people aspire […] Read more »

HIRING AND FIRING—DIFFICULT TO DO

Your Growth Can Depend on It   Most small business owners will agree the quality of the people they hire is critical and can help make or break their company. It however, is not an easy task to find and hire the right person, particularly if you have a limited budget. Here are some things […] Read more »

Outsourcing Turns Fixed Costs Into Variable Cost

Low monthly overhead could save your company during a cash crunch. A fixed cost is one that your business incurs whether or not it makes any sales. An example is rent: It has to be paid every month whether or not you’re generating any income, and it’s the same every month. A variable cost, by […] Read more »