May 9, 2010 |
Dear Karen: How can we improve sales? Answer: Track sales performance. See where your sales leads originate and which ones are most effective. You can't identify what's working if you're not monitoring it closely. "Identify the real drivers of your business, and stop throwing away money on what's not working," said Jeff Solomon of Leads360, a Los Angeles software firm. "Chances are, one or two sources generate the bulk of your revenue." Instruct your sales staff to respond to inquiries within five minutes, send follow-up e-mail and stay in touch with potential customers.
December 15, 2009 |
Dear Karen: I am writing a screenplay and plan to shoot the film next fall. When should I open the LLC? Answer: Unless you are seeking private investment, there's no need to form a business entity immediately, said Jeffrey Unger, founder of EMinutes, a law firm that focuses on small-business and entity formation. "We have so many situations where the LLC is formed, the plans fall apart, and then the entrepreneur is stuck with the LLC. This is particularly true in entertainment," Unger said.
December 27, 2010 |
Dear Karen: Is the tax credit for hiring formerly unemployed people going to stay in effect for 2011? Answer: The Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act, or HIRE Act, was signed in March as part of President Obama's $18-billion jobs bill, but it expires at the end of this year, said Brandon Edwards, chief executive of the Tax Credit Co. in Los Angeles. The act provides businesses with an exemption from Social Security payroll taxes for every worker hired this year who had been unemployed for at least 60 days before the hiring.
February 13, 2011 |
Dear Karen: I don't know who can build my website. Suggestions? Answer: Start right and hire a professional rather than a moonlighting student, said Erin Presseau of New England digital marketing agency SilverTech. "Think about what website you envision for your new company and put your initial requirements on a list," she said. If you'll rely on the Web company to formulate business concepts, look for a "digital or interactive agency," Presseau said. If you simply want someone to build a website to your specifications, look for website design and development firms.
June 21, 2010 |
Dear Karen: I'm looking for venture capital funding for a biotech firm. Any suggestions? Answer: Don't waste your time approaching generic investment firms. "There are venture capital funding groups devoted specifically to life sciences endeavors, and such funding groups are a good starting point for biotech start-ups seeking investment dollars," said Eva Jack, managing director of venture capital firm MedImmune Ventures. And be persistent. U.S. venture capital investment fell by nearly half last year compared with 2008, according to the MoneyTree Report, a study from the National Venture Capital Assn.
July 4, 2011 |
Dear Karen: Our business always has a backlog of payments due. How can we cut it? Answer: Offer incentives to decrease collection time. You might try giving a 2% discount for payments received within 10 days of invoicing, said John Formento Jr., an analyst at Sageworks, a financial information company. Examine your customers' payment history and contact slow-paying customers to work out a schedule. "If necessary, decline further credit offerings to them," Formento said.