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.
September 22, 2009 |
Dear Karen: How can we get a press release published? Answer: Make sure your press release is newsworthy. "If you want to write a press release about an upcoming event, but the event is not open to the public, don't go there," said Hilary Kaye, president of HKA Inc., a public relations firm in Tustin. "Focus on what the event is about; for example, a milestone at your company or a move to a new facility." Don't expect your release to run verbatim; it's more likely to provide background for a reporter-written story.
March 21, 2011 |
Dear Karen: How do I keep my most productive employees from pursuing other jobs? Answer: As employment picks up, small companies often see high turnover. Surveys show 54% of U.S. employees want to look for new jobs when the economy improves, said Kevin Sheridan, chief engagement officer of HR Solutions International Inc. in Chicago. "Don't be complacent; find out what's making your people disengaged and what can be done to retain them," Sheridan said. His research shows that recognition, career development and relationships with managers are key factors.
January 3, 2011 |
Dear Karen: I want to make more overseas sales in 2011. Do I need a foreign distributor? Answer: It certainly helps, said Kathleen Brush, an international business consultant based in Seattle. "Finding a good local partner in the country you're targeting will help you understand business and legal details you would have tripped over," she said. Brush recommended using the Gold Key Matching Service offered by the U.S. Commercial Service. "They do credit checks, criminal checks, they walk you through the distribution process and advise you about what you need to look for" in any country where you want to start selling, she said.
November 22, 2010 |
Dear Karen: How much cash should a small business set aside as a reserve fund? Answer: Because economic recessions are cyclical, having an adequate capital reserve is imperative for small businesses. It's also important to hedge against seasonal downturns and family emergencies or health problems. Just as individuals are advised to save enough to meet personal expenses for three to six months, companies should do the same, said Jim Sharvin, a CPA in Torrance. "Put that savings in a money market fund or a short-term CD. Don't put it at risk at all," he said.
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.