April 19, 2010 |
Dear Karen: Can you give me some tips for starting a gardening business? Answer: Make sure you are passionate about gardening and knowledgeable about the industry. Be persistent in setting and meeting start-up goals. "Change can only occur when you make a conscious decision to make it happen," said Tamara Monosoff, author of a new book, "Your Million Dollar Dream." Research the top issues for gardening businesses, and write down how you will approach each one. This will be the beginning of your business plan, which you should formalize before you start.
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.
March 10, 2009 |
Dear Karen: I am a student with an idea involving dentistry. How do I get this product off the ground? Answer: Do market research to find out whether someone is already selling or developing your product. Search patents at the website of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, www.uspto.gov. If your idea is unique, build a prototype for testing purposes, said John Mittelstadt, inventor of the TravelRest travel pillow.
October 13, 2009 |
Dear Karen: I am 15 and have created a multiplayer online game. How can I market it? Answer: Social networking sites and online communities are ripe with opportunities. They probably already attract your target customers and are mostly free. Establish a social networking presence with your professional persona and keep it updated, said Richard Stanton, chief executive of Bintro.com, an online business matchmaking service. "What you provide will in most cases leave a permanent record, so think twice before you share your particulars," Stanton said.
May 16, 2011 |
Dear Karen: Can you explain the new use-tax law for small businesses? Answer: Use tax is not new, said Brad Graves, an accountant and partner at Haskell & White in Irvine. Longstanding tax law requires consumers to report and pay use tax on goods purchased from out-of-state vendors, such as online retailers, who do not collect California sales tax. What is new is the 2010 requirement that taxpayers with more than $100,000 in business gross receipts register with the state's Board of Equalization.
January 31, 2011 |
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.