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Small Business | SMALL TALK / KAREN E. KLEIN

To Expand Executive Tennis League, Court the Appropriate Sponsors

March 11, 1997|KAREN E. KLEIN

Q: I run an executive tennis league and am expanding it throughout Los Angeles. How can I get a sponsor for the league? Should I approach one of the large- or small-business people who are in the league or try to attract a sporting goods company as a corporate sponsor?

--Cathy Canuti

Cathy Canuti's Executive

Tennis League

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A: Both avenues are probably good, because when it comes to raising funds, the more the merrier. It depends on how big the companies in your league are and exactly how you plan to expand.

Ask yourself a few questions: What benefit will a sponsor obtain from sponsoring your league? Who is your target market? How much money do you need? Are you planning on expanding community by community, or will you promote the league through executive networking groups and professional associations?

Whether you are looking for sponsors from small businesses or national sporting goods companies, they will want the answers to these questions. In effect, they will want to know whether sponsoring your company is a good marketing investment.

By thinking through your strategy and developing a targeted marketing plan, you can determine the most cost-effective way to build your business and will be able to create a package explaining your strategy and related sponsorship opportunities.

One clever way to obtain good marketing advice (and possibly sponsorships) is to ask some of your members to serve as an informal advisory board for your business.

Experienced business people generally love to offer advice when asked for help and may even see the benefit in your sponsorship opportunity without your having to sell them on it.

--Paul O'Reilly

Valley Economic

Development Center

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Q: I envision owning my own liquor store. Many of the classified ads I run across make claims about how much the store will gross and net each month. How can I find out whether these numbers are correct?

--Christopher Smith, Santa Ana

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A: You are right in not wanting to proceed with any purchase until you find out whether the business turns a profit after paying a fair salary to the owner. Before you consider purchasing a business, you will need to do some "due diligence."

This involves doing a thorough review of the financial statements and tax returns of the business going back at least three years. These documents will provide you with the company's financial history.

Then you need to analyze the nonfinancial factors that influence a company's value. Evaluate the lease, the employees of the company, its customer base, its relationships with suppliers and more. These factors will tell you where the company is going.

Only after you have thoroughly considered all these things will you be satisfied that you know enough to make an educated decision on a purchase.

--Gene Pepper

Business Solutions

for Today, Glendale

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Q: I want to get into the mail-order business and am starting my research in the field. I could use the names of any mail-order resources, consultants or publications. What is the best way to break into this business? Can I start on a part-time basis?

--Mr. Ryan, Burbank

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A: The mail-order business lends itself to being part time because there are no fixed hours. What's more, the Internet is helping the mail-order business.

The Internet makes it possible to reach customers less expensively, in most cases, than you can through direct mail and other forms of advertising.

Linda Rohrbach, author of "Mailing List Services on Your Home-Based PC" (McGraw-Hill), says: "I think the Internet will help mail order like the VCR has helped the movie industry. I remember hearing how the VCR would make movie theaters obsolete, but just the opposite actually happened."

Here are some of the resources for mail order that we cite in our book, "Best Home Businesses for the '90s" (G.P. Putnam's Sons):

* Direct Marketing Assn., 11 W. 42nd St., New York, NY 10036; (212) 768-7277. The association offers courses on direct-mail advertising.

* Mail Order Messenger (newsletter), Box 17131, Memphis, TN 38187-0131.

* Profits (online magazine), Carson Services, P.O. Box 4785, Lincoln, NE 68504; http://www.profitsonline.com

* Target Marketing (magazine), North American Publishing Co., 401 N. Broad St., Philadelphia, PA 19108.

Because mail order is so popular, you can also find many titles in bookstores. Some classics are "Building a Mail Order Business: A Complete Manual for Success" by William A. Cohen (Wiley); "The Golden Mailbox: How to Get Rich Direct-Marketing Your Product" by Ted Nicholas (Dearborn); and "How to Start and Operate a Mail-Order Business" by Julian L. Simon (McGraw-Hill).

Look for newer-edition books that include discussion of the Internet.

--Paul Edwards, home business consultant and author of several books on home-based businesses, including "Working at Home"

If you have a question about how to start or operate a small business, please mail it to Karen E. Klein in care of the Los Angeles Times, 1333 S. Mayflower Ave., Suite 100, Monrovia, CA 91016, or e-mail it to business@latimes.com. Include your name and address. The column is designed to answer questions of general interest. It should not be construed as legal advice.

* LEARNING CURVE

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