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Small-business advice: Young entrepreneur wants respect

Also: How to make company files more secure.

January 31, 2011|By Karen E. Klein

Dear Karen: I'm 20, and no one takes my business seriously. What can I do?

Answer: Overcome negative perceptions about your youth by running your company in a professional and serious manner. Don't cut corners on things such as licensing or legal agreements. You may be tempted to design your own website to save money, but unless you can produce high quality, don't.

"I would say it's twice as hard, at least, to be considered a legitimate and stable business" when you are a young entrepreneur, said Andi Enns, a college student and marketing consultant in Kansas City, Mo.

She recommended that you present your youth as an advantage by including compelling stories about your journey into entrepreneurship in your marketing campaign and on your website.

Making documents more secure

Dear Karen: How can I make sure my company files are secure?

Answer: Control distribution of paper documents so that only "need to know" employees see sensitive information such as bids, pricing, invoicing and proposals, said Nick Forcier, chief executive of Large Software, a computer security firm.

Store paper records under lock and key, and shred unneeded documents. Digital documents can be shredded electronically. Digital files that must be retained should be "locked" using an encryption tool. "With an easy encryption documents program, you can lock and unlock and safeguard any digital item or document," Forcier said.

Small-business questions? E-mail Karen at smallbiz@latimes.com.

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