Succeeding in Your Business from Creators Syndicate Creators Syndicate is an international syndication company that represents cartoonists and columnists of the highest caliber. en Wed, 19 Feb 2020 03:02:36 -0800 Succeeding in Your Business from Creators Syndicate c5ce546fd3d8a0eb52f9ae1c76350fde Should You Be a Guinea Pig for a New Franchise? for 02/18/2020 Tue, 18 Feb 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>"I was downsized from a corporate job about a year ago. I have never run my own business before, but I am realizing now there is no future for me in corporate America (I am over 50 years of age), so I am looking at entrepreneurial options.</p> <p>"My outplacement firm recommended that I consider buying a franchise. The problem with franchises, though, is that the really good ones are too expensive.<p>Updated: Tue Feb 18, 2020</p> f1c5188a3e8e4aa1b72b3be15597d072 Fool Me Once, Shame on You. Fool Me Twice ... for 02/11/2020 Tue, 11 Feb 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>"A couple of years ago, I was employed as the marketing director for a small, family-owned business. For several years in a row, this company saw huge increases in annual sales as a result of my efforts. Unfortunately, the owner died, and the owner's son who took over the business fired me for no reason and put his girlfriend in my position. I got another job and am doing very well, but I just got a phone call from my old company making me an offer I 'can't refuse' if I return to my old job. The girlfriend is no longer with the company, although the son is still CEO, and they've hired a new manager, so I don't have to report directly to the guy who fired me. The salary and benefits they're offering are very attractive, and I like the new manager a lot &#8212; he seems to be a real straight shooter. I'm tempted to accept their offer, but I'm worried that history will repeat itself. Is there any way I can protect myself against that happening again?"</p> <p>Years ago, when I worked on Wall Street, we had a saying: "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me." You are an extremely brave soul to even consider returning to a company that treated you like dirt.<p>Updated: Tue Feb 11, 2020</p> effda336646ee80e8159b994a1558514 Wikis and the Law for 02/04/2020 Tue, 04 Feb 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>"I'm widely considered an expert in a particular field and thinking of contributing an article to Wikipedia &#8212; the online encyclopedia &#8212; as a way of promoting my consulting practice. What are the legal ramifications of contributing to a Wiki, and how do I protect myself against liability?"</p> <p>For those who don't know, a wiki is a collaborative website on which anyone can contribute content and edit other people's content. The best-known wiki is probably Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia with almost 3.8 million entries in English.<p>Updated: Tue Feb 04, 2020</p> a4decb04b10cd14cfc7a98907cd41893 The Greatest Motivator, and How to Harness It for 01/28/2020 Tue, 28 Jan 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p><span style="background-color: initial;">We're almost at the end of January, and I'm willing to bet most of you have already given up on one or more of your New Year's resolutions.</span><br></p> <p>The key to success with any resolution &#8212; personal, business or otherwise &#8212; is will power. We all start out with the best of intentions, but when you set a goal and fail to reach it, it's nearly always because you quit at some point.<p>Updated: Tue Jan 28, 2020</p> a3f779c5df11f08e4aec6b2c12445dbf The Three Essential Small-Business Skills for 01/21/2020 Tue, 21 Jan 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Having worked with over 20,000 small businesses and their owners over the course of the past 40 years, I see patterns that many other people aren't privileged to see.</p> <p>I see patterns in the businesses that succeed, and I see patterns in the ones that crash and burn.<p>Updated: Tue Jan 21, 2020</p> 9034bd5ceaec2e2990e121efc13d0b6b No 'Right to Be Forgotten' in the U.S. for 01/14/2020 Tue, 14 Jan 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>"I am a 40-something professional with a somewhat unusual legal problem.</p> <p>"While I am well-established in my profession, I moonlight as a semi-professional musician in my area, performing at local bars, clubs and restaurants. I released a CD of my music last year, which has been very well-received, and I'm starting to build a real following on YouTube and other social media sites.<p>Updated: Tue Jan 14, 2020</p> b27684de3fc1c9f753ff6c7fef02a891 Tax Law Changes for 2020 for 01/07/2020 Tue, 07 Jan 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Each year brings new changes to our Byzantine tax system, and 2020 is no different, with recent federal and state laws making the tax landscape more challenging than ever for small businesses and their owners.</p> <p>Here are some tax law changes you need to be aware of in 2020.<p>Updated: Tue Jan 07, 2020</p> 7f98601a2466f29d56f7643d6138ccef My Entrepreneur of the Year Nomination: Part 2 of 2 for 12/31/2019 Tue, 31 Dec 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Entrepreneurs are today's American heroes, and that's a good thing. But too many people have an unrealistic picture in their heads of how things are going to go. They think that being a successful entrepreneur means they will be universally loved and rewarded, both financially and psychologically, and that everything will go on without a hitch as long as they find the right idea.</p> <p>Anyone who's ever run their own business &#8212; especially a startup in an emerging industry or field of technology &#8212; can tell you it doesn't work like that. <span class="column--highlighted-text">Being an entrepreneur is not about being loved, being secure or being happy. </span>There are days, weeks, months and years of sheer terror and existential despair as the obstacles and roadblocks come at you one after the other, leaving you hardly any time at all to react, much less prepare for the next tsunami of even bigger challenges. <p>Updated: Tue Dec 31, 2019</p> bb9b3be8718d2544fd16430aa439052e My Entrepreneur of the Year Nomination: Part 1 of 2 for 12/24/2019 Tue, 24 Dec 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>"Like the guy in Psalm 130, I am writing to you out of the depths of despair.</p> <p>"I started a retail business last year involving a hot new technology. We needed some local real estate and found a pretty good location, but when our contractor inspected the space after we signed the lease, he discovered all kinds of environmental and structural problems with the building, which didn't show up on any of the land records. We were able to get out of the lease, after much yelling, screaming and threats of lawsuits, but it cost us a ton of money.<p>Updated: Tue Dec 24, 2019</p> f428048f72c2fdd4119580a2bc37ec3e When an LLC Makes a Subchapter S Election for 12/17/2019 Tue, 17 Dec 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>"I have operated a service business for the past few years as a limited liability company (LLC) and have been quite successful.</p> <p>"My accountant is recommending that I change my LLC so it's taxed like a subchapter S corporation. I understand she is trying to save me money on taxes by doing this, but I'm confused by what I'm reading on the internet. Do I then have to operate as a corporation, with a board of directors, shares of stock and all that?"<p>Updated: Tue Dec 17, 2019</p> 1a072091628e299cb00cefec8b575366 Collecting Your Overdue Debts From a Distance for 12/10/2019 Tue, 10 Dec 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>"Your YouTube video on collecting from deadbeat clients was truly inspiring. I am an electrical contractor who is owed $3,000 from a customer located way on the other side of the state. His business is selling a product made by others and installed by electrical contractors such as myself. He has no business assets, works from home and has no job site work (he may be on a site for 1-2 hours). He is, however, incorporated. I won a small claims court judgment against his corporation, but the court will not enforce the judgment because of the great distance, and I have spent approximately $2,300 for my attorney to get the judgment. Collection agencies will not help either. I am at wit's end. Are there any options I may have overlooked?"</p> <p>First of all, here are a couple of tips about suing in small claims court. <span class="column--highlighted-text">Generally, courts are required to enforce judgments rendered by other courts elsewhere in your state.</span> This principle (known as "comity") is enshrined in your state constitution. <p>Updated: Tue Dec 10, 2019</p> 7ae26d02242e8f992c2d3dbaaf54be1a Breaking up Is Hard to Do (Without an Agreement) for 12/03/2019 Tue, 03 Dec 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>"I am the 80% owner of a limited liability company (LLC) that runs an internet marketing and website design firm. I basically do all of the work; my 20% partner only functions as a part-time intern, gofer, secretary or administrative assistant. We recently agreed that we should go our separate ways. I have five questions about the breakup."</p> <p>Before we answer them, I have to ask: Why, oh why, did you give a part-time admin 20% of your company? You should never, EVER give a piece of the pie to someone unless the person has something unique and significant to contribute to your business success. While not unimportant, admin people should be put on salary, paid a fair wage with benefits when you can afford them, and given a W-2 at the end of the year. Yes, it hurts to use your precious cash to pay their salary and payroll taxes, and they're entitled to unemployment compensation (you ARE making the weekly payments, right?). But it's cheaper in the long run than making them partner because even a small percentage ownership gets really expensive once your business takes off and becomes successful, as yours clearly has. Would you pay a part-time secretary $200,000 a year? Well, that's what 20% of a service business is worth once it makes $1 million a year. Not bad for 10 hours of typing a week!<p>Updated: Thu Dec 05, 2019</p> 55e36a972093b841ff627923cb5a6926 When SAFEs Aren't So Safe: Part 2 of 2 for 11/26/2019 Tue, 26 Nov 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>A simple agreement for future equity, or SAFE, is a contract between a company and an investor under which the investor puts money into the company in exchange for a promise to issue shares in the future upon the occurrence of a triggering event (usually the company's first round of venture capital financing).</p> <p>Like preferred stock or convertible debt, a SAFE enables investors to participate in a company's growth (if it succeeds) and get their money out before other investors (if it fails). But unlike preferred stock or convertible debt, a SAFE avoids the need to value the company when the SAFE is issued. SAFEs are increasingly popular tools in both angel investor rounds and equity crowdfundings.<p>Updated: Tue Nov 26, 2019</p> bfc0d89529d2974cfee5b59b3db2256f When SAFEs Aren't So Safe: Part 1 of 2 for 11/19/2019 Tue, 19 Nov 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>"I am a successful entrepreneur who has decided to make an angel investment in a small startup company.</p> <p>"I asked for preferred stock in the company, but the founders have offered me something called a SAFE instead. I've read the paperwork, and I confess I'm a bit confused about exactly what I'm getting. Reading about SAFEs online, it sounds like they're pretty controversial. Can you say a few words about these in one of your columns?"<p>Updated: Tue Nov 19, 2019</p> 5be7004df26d2c65492672d9c709ef9a Locking up Your Suppliers When Selling Online for 11/12/2019 Tue, 12 Nov 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>"I have been selling merchandise on eBay and Amazon for some time. I would like to build a 'brand' for the merchandise that I sell, but I'm being told that the only way to do that (since I'm not the manufacturer of these goods, only the distributor) is to get an exclusive distributor agreement with each manufacturer so that I am the only person selling these goods on eBay and Amazon.</p> <p>"What do you think of this idea? If it's a good one, how do I go about negotiating contracts with these manufacturers?"<p>Updated: Tue Nov 12, 2019</p> 1e6d0369ddb412e87bc4888510949c38 Are You Smart, Educated or Both? for 11/05/2019 Tue, 05 Nov 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>I was extremely touched to receive an email from a young lady in India who had read and was reacting to a column I wrote years ago called "The Trouble With Kids Today." In the column, I commented on the lack of entrepreneurial spirit and drive in a younger generation accustomed to having things given to them and structured for them.</p> <p>Her email deserves to be quoted at length:<p>Updated: Tue Nov 05, 2019</p> fbf6d0228cf17764f1278b790cc51ece When Your Business Is Targeted on Social Media for 10/29/2019 Tue, 29 Oct 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>The past few weeks I've been getting emails from Nextdoor, a social network (supported by advertising) where people can report lost dogs, ask for contractor referrals, complain about noisy neighbors and basically do online what neighbors have done forever.</p> <p>Recently, a post appeared with a complaint about the service at a local pizza joint, a family-run place I know has been in business in our town for over 35 years. Here is the exchange (all names have been changed; the person making the complaint is identified as "A"). <p>Updated: Tue Oct 29, 2019</p> c5f831b9ea47fc0e195f5cd96241ba3c Are You Selling Business Opportunities Without Knowing It? for 10/22/2019 Tue, 22 Oct 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>"I have a small manufacturing business in the Midwest.</p> <p>"For years, I have hired individuals to act as distributors for my products throughout the United States, similar to what the Avon cosmetics people do. They have assigned territories and cannot solicit business in a territory outside their own, but they can accept orders from anywhere.<p>Updated: Tue Oct 22, 2019</p> 0115d918fb5fe8f02ab71ddcf357bb43 Dealing With Celebrity Endorsements for 10/15/2019 Tue, 15 Oct 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>"Some friends and I started a Web based business targeting people who play a particular sport.</p> <p>"As it happens, one of the leading players of the sport &#8212; a household name to fans &#8212; has discovered our website and absolutely loves it. We have approached him about possibly endorsing our website, and he has expressed an interest in doing so.<p>Updated: Tue Oct 15, 2019</p> 3d672863a9e2b200a43e3a916dceada8 Reviving the 'Walking Dead' Corporation for 10/08/2019 Tue, 08 Oct 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>"In the late 1990s, I invented a product for the health care industry. I obtained patents for the product and registered trademarks for the product name. I even formed a corporation in Delaware and registered it in Texas, where my husband and I were living at that time. Then, my husband (also an entrepreneur) moved his business to New York to be closer to his customers, and I moved with him. I had to help him with his business for a while, as well as raise two kids, so I put my dreams on hold for a while. The patents and trademarks expired because I did not renew them, and the Delaware corporation was voided because I didn't pay the annual franchise tax in Delaware for a couple of years. Now my kids are off to private school, and I really want to revive this product and the company. I have some potential investors who are really excited about the product, but they want to deal with a 'real' company. Can I revive the company that I had in the 1990s, or should I start all over again from scratch?"</p> <p>We all have our priorities in life, and it sounds like you made the right choices, although I would love to know more about this product. Anyway, here goes.<p>Updated: Tue Oct 08, 2019</p>