|A little guidance
from other small business owners to help you with your small business
1. On starting a business:
from scratch or acquisition?
Should I start a business from scratch?
Not everybody can start a business from scratch. Before you
try, you should answer "yes" to the following questions:
- Do you need to say, "I started my own business
with no help from anyone?"
- Do you believe your idea is unique?
- Do you believe you have a unique spin on an
- Are you so sold on your idea that you're
willing to invest your own money in it?
- Are you willing to develop your own systems?
- Are you willing to live with uncertainty long
enough for the public to recognize a need for your idea?
Topic for discussion: As a class, make a list
of businesses which are less than five years old and are doing well. Now, make
a list of businesses you think could be started today and succeed.
more study on this aspect of starting. Read the sections in the opening
chapter of Hattie's book, Beating the Odds,
and read these particular transcripts from the shows or
this general discussion, especially Step 1, Step 2 and
2. You can be a business
owner by buying an existing
You can find businesses for sale just like you find houses
for sale. There are business brokers just as there are real estate brokers, and
they are listed in the phone book. An advantage of buying an existing business
over a start up or franchise is that you don't need as much cash up front
because the owner will usually "owner-finance" the deal. Before you buy a
business, you should say "yes" to the following questions:
- Do you understand why this business is for
- Do you have ideas to improve the business beyond
where it is now?
- Have you determined if the business can make money
with you as the owner?
- Can you afford the down payment?
- Is this the kind of business you really want, or,
do you just think it will make you money?
- Find a business broker listed in the phone book.
Call him or her and tell them you are doing research and would like to learn
how to go about buying a business. Be careful; this is only the research phase.
Don't be too quick to jump into anything that your heart does not tell you,
"This is it!"
- Read these
study guides and transcripts from episodes of the show that we have done
about businesses that were bought and turned around. Particularly note the way
each of these people financed that business.
3. Should I buy a
franchise? An Evaluation Process.
a. Buy a franchise if you want to be in business
for yourself, but not by yourself.
Owning your own business can be lonely. Even when you
are surrounded by employees you may feel alone because you shoulder the weight
of the business by yourself. If you own a franchise, you have access to other
owners. You can contact people across the country who share and understand your
business problems. There is always "a shoulder to cry on." And of course, the
corporate staff is there for you. The franchise system provides psychological
support which can be very comforting.
Topic for discussion: What is the difference
between being "alone" in business and being "lonely" in your own business?
(Being alone does not necessarily mean you are "lonely." Being "alone" is being
by yourself. Being "lonely" is being by yourself and feeling a sense of
"incompleteness" that feels like it can only be remedied by a partner. To be a
leader and make the best decisions for your business, you must be willing to
stand alone. Other people can support you, but they cannot complete you.)
b. Say "Yes" to these questions before you buy a
- Do you want to be part of something big?
- Can you afford the price?
- Are you teachable?
- Do you want access to advice?
- Is a proven system important?
Topic for discussion: What value does
associating with a franchiser whose name is recognized by much of the
marketplace offer you? (Tapping into the advertising and marketing of the
franchiser's name is a big bonus. Business will probably come your way more
easily, as least in the beginning. For example, at first people may be more
likely to list their house with you if you are the local franchise of "Century
21" than they will if you are "John Smith Realty." )
For More: Go to these stories about
successful franchises of the '90s. Two very successful franchises are
Auntie Anne's Hand-Rolled
Pretzels and FastSigns.
For further evaluation, be sure to study the
references on the home page of the
4a. Writing a business plan will force you to focus
your ideas. In several shows, we focus on business plans. In almost every show,
the owners talk about the importance of a business plan. Rhonda Abrams, the
author of "The Successful Business Plan: Secrets and Strategies," talks about
the power of putting a business plan in writing. She suggests that we are
afraid to write down our ideas because we believe our dream might evaporate
under scrutiny. Actually, the opposite should happen. The more you write about
your ideas, the clearer the path to their achievement becomes.
Topic for discussion: What are some other
reasons a person might not want to put a plan in writing? (Examples: Doesn't
think he has time; thinks he can keep everything straight in his head; or,
feels unable to write well. Remember, a written plan is not going to be graded,
so, don't worry about spelling and punctuation-- just write.)
Action for the class: Go to the
business plan section of this website or go to the
library and look at all the books you can find about writing a business plan.
There are many. Notice the similarities and differences between authors. When
you're ready to write a plan for yourself, you now know where to find a
4b. A written plan can help you obtain
financing. By presenting realistic projections in your business plan, you
will show a lender that you have your feet on the ground.
4c. A written plan helps you stay on track.
It's been said, you can get where you want to go more quickly with a map. The
same is true of a written mission statement. It will keep you on track,
simplify decisions, and offer inspiration. A good example is Two Hands Inc.'s
mission statement, "You make a living by what you get, you make a life by what
you give." The written plan can also help you attract the kind of employees you
need. When you can show another person your plan and how they will fit into it,
you have a good chance of winning them as an employee.
Topic for discussion: Together, write several
mission statements for businesses you might want to start. (Examples: "to
provide my customers with fast, healthy food made from the freshest ingredients
available;" "to 'do it right the first time' and deliver ahead of the
customer's expectation;" "to design with distinction.")
4d. A written plan is never complete because
business evolves continually. Just as
Rosen & Chadick have
changed through the years, all businesses change. The written plan is really a
We did a stories with references to outstanding
Davis got an SBA-backed, first-time loan from a bank primarily based on her
- Paul and Margaret Quenemoen of
Jagged Edge Mountain Gear use their
business plan to raise money and as an operations guide with all the staff.
- The business plan of
Cross Timbers Oil & Gas
eventually became the basis of their prospectus for an IPO.
5. Four types of legal
incorporation by attorney, John Patrick Dolan.
#1. Sole Proprietorship
As a sole proprietor, you can have a business name,
other than your own name but you are liable personally for all of the business'
obligations. Establishing a sole proprietorship is simple. All profits pass
through to you personally and are reported as income on your personal tax
return. The drawback is: you are the business. Therefore, if someone sues you,
the court can "go after" your personal assets.
You and one or more people form a business. It's like
a marriage. Unless decided differently, each partner owns an equal share of the
assets and shares equal responsibility for all debt. This means that if your
partner smashes the company truck, you are responsible for your portion of the
damages. Hopefully, no partner would make you pay for his or her accident, but,
legally you are responsible. Some say that the only reason to take a partner is
for the cash contribution he or she can invest. Why? If the partnership goes
sour, it can be difficult to "unwind." Setting up a partnership is simple,
however, you should have at least a letter of agreement so everyone knows
"who's on first," that is, who is responsible for what.
Most attorneys believe that this is the best way to
organize a business. The corporation becomes a separate tax paying entity, so,
you must file a separate tax return. However, if someone sues the business,
they can't get to your personal assets. You can do all of the paperwork
yourself, however, it is best to use a service or an attorney to set up your
Additionally, if you decide to "go public" you must
incorporate because there is no other legal form which allows an unlimited
number of shareholders.
There's a special type of corporation called a
"subchapter S." This form offers you the personal asset protection of the
corporation and the income pass-though opportunity of the sole
#4. Limited Liability Company
This is rather new and not available in all states
yet. However, it is like a corporation in that you are protected from personal
liability. It is similar to the subchapter S because you can pass-through the
profits on your personal tax return, but, you can include more than 35
shareholders which is the limit on the subchapter S. This is a hybrid which can
be useful to some, but not all businesses.
Topic for discussion: Once you organize your
business legally, can you change your mind? (Yes, and most do. Many businesses
are organized initially as a sole proprietorship or a partnership then as the
business grows, re-organize as a corporation.) If a business owner moves from a
sole proprietorship to a corporation, what is the first thing the owner should
do on the way home from the lawyer's office? (Go to the bank. Any business
loans that are in the name of the owner should be reissued in the name of the
business. Why? To protect your personal assets.)
Money, Part I.
6a. Bankers are
reluctant to loan money for a start-up venture. We visit with Abe
Bernstein who tells us that bankers base decisions on facts and ratios. Their
national trade association is called the Risk Management Association. This
group annually compiles the results of over 150,000 loan documents shared by
over 3000 banks.
They know who has the greatest probability for
If you have never owned a business before, they have
no way to evaluate your potential for success. Therefore, if you secure a loan
for a start-up venture from a bank, it will not be a business loan, it will be
a personal loan. To interest a banker, you must be able to explain both the
opportunity and the risk involved in your idea.
Most entrepreneurs are enthusiastic about the
opportunity, but unrealistic about the risks. If you present the risks openly
and honestly to the banker, then explain how you plan to manage those risks,
your chances of getting a "yes" will increase dramatically.
Topic for discussion: What kind of risks does
an entrepreneur need to think about? (Examples include: product obsolescence,
management stability, insurance adequacy, warranty liability, pending or
potential litigation, product liability, environmental liability, customer
concentrations, property lease renewals, management health, labor contract
renewals, credit.) With all of this risk, why would anyone start a business?
(Because the entrepreneur believes the opportunity is so great he or she can
manage all of these risks and ultimately create a great business.)
6b. For start-up cash, find a bank designated by
the Small Business Administration as a "preferred bank." This kind of bank
focuses on small business and is more savvy about assessing risk and
Topic for discussion: How do you find a
preferred bank? (Call the closest Small
Business Administration office an ask which banks in your area are
"preferred." For the office in your area, see the blue pages in your phone
6c. Venture capital is an option for many
start-ups. Venture capital companies look for investments that will return
high yields. To invest in you, they will take an ownership position in your
business and often will be involved in decision-making. Most venture capital
firms specialize, so, begin by finding the firms which focus on your industry.
You must have a written business plan, however, it doesn't have to be hundreds
of pages. It should describe what you want to do and how you expect to do it.
If you need to hire an attorney and a CPA to guide you, do so. This is money
Topic for discussion: When is venture capital
the best way to fund your idea? (When your idea has outstanding growth
potential. For example, venture capitalists are not interested in a mom and pop
shop unless they believe you can duplicate this in hundreds of locations.) What
is the upside of venture capital over a bank loan? (Venture capitalist tend to
be more entrepreneurial in their thinking that do bankers. They will likely
give you more money than you request because they are envisioning a very big
company taking shape.) What is the downside to venture capital? (You give up
ownership. The venture capitalist may want 49% of your business in exchange for
You can raise equity
capital yourself. If you ask your friends to invest in your idea, in a
way you are raising your own venture capital. If you are lucky enough to get
money from more than 35 individuals, the law requires you to do some paperwork.
The easiest mechanism is to use the Small Corporate
Topic for discussion: Why would anyone want to
raise their own venture capital when they can do a SCOR and keep more of their
For more: A section of the site that is
all about money, our first show about money, When the Banker Says, No and our
second show, a discussion about the risks of using Other People's Money.
Doug Carleton offers
12 creative ways to raise money/preserve cash flow.
#1. Buy an existing business.
In most cases, the owner of a business knows that in
order to sell it, he or she must carry the financing. This is a win-win
situation because the buyer only needs a down-payment, doesn't have to go to a
bank, and can structure the payments so that he can draw a salary to keep him
#2. Borrow from suppliers and vendors.
Once upon a time there was a young man named Bill
Gates who had a simple operating system idea, but he needed money to develop
it. He didn't go to a bank, he went to a company who would benefit from the
product being developed. He went to IBM and they funded his start-up which is
now called, Microsoft.
You can do the same thing. Think of who will benefit
directly from your business. Go to those companies with your plan and you may
be as successful as Bill Gates. Suppliers and vendors can become your best
friends because, if you succeed, they succeed.
#3. Offer an investor revenue sharing.
A revenue sharing note is a royalty on your sales. An
investor may like your idea and decide to loan you money if you agree to
compensate him with a percentage of your sales. Rather than bet on the profits,
this way the investor shares in the sales. In this relationship the investor
would not receive any ownership, just cash payback on the loan plus the
interest rate you are able to negotiate. This financing tool is complicated so
it is critical to have an attorney prepare the document.
Instead of hiring employees, subcontract the work
needed to fulfill your customers requests. A general building contractor is a
classic example, but the concept can be adapted to any business. If you can't
buy a warehouse and hire people to ship your products, find an existing
warehouse that does shipping that will ship your product on a contract basis.
This is a great way to keep your expenses low and find specialists who can work
for you cheaper than you could ever do it yourself. A good example is a direct
mailer. He has invested money in specialized equipment that you would not want
to purchase, but by serving many businesses, he can amortize his costs and
offer competitive prices to each customer. You get quality work at a reasonable
#5. Third-party Guarantee or collateral.
Here we're back to the potential investor who doesn't
have the cash right now. The investor goes to the bank with you and guarantees
the loan, or supplies the collateral for you. In most cases, the investor takes
a flat fee and does not share in the growth of the company or become a partner
of any kind. The classic example of this arrangement is when parents do this
for their children. Parents are one of the major sources of funding for
#6. Joint ventures.
A joint venture is a specific legal entity to pursue a
particular project. As a financing tool, two, three or four small businesses
can form a joint venture to pursue a contract they could not win on their own.
For example: a graphic artist, a copy writer, and a photographer make a joint
presentation for a certain piece of work. This is not the traditional
"financing" mechanism, however, it is a way to win work to create cash flow.
This helps all the businesses grow, which in turn helps them secure future
Leasing is simply a way to save cash. Instead of a
large up front cast investment, most leases require the first and last month's
You trade, or barter, your service or product for the
service or product you need, so be creative. For example, the owner of a
specialty ketchup company never writes a check to her accountant, she sends him
a case of ketchup.
Tenant-sharing is a way to give the business owner
credibility in the eyes of a lender. You can get together with two or three
others in related businesses and share space. This creates the image of a
larger organization which implies stability to a lender. Home-based businesses
generally are not perceived by lenders as serious as a business in a commercial
location. If you have a location outside your home you may be given more
consideration by a banker or lender. This is not fair, but that's the way it
#10. Contract Financing.
If you have a contract for work, there are some
lenders who will use that contract as collateral to give you a loan. It will be
above the prime rate, but if you need cash, you may be able to get it this
A great deal of money has been raised from the promise
of future business. A signed contract from a credible customer is considered
collateral by a bank. If you can't find a bank to give you a loan on your
contract, start knocking on the doors of private investors. They're difficult
to find but they are out there. Some are individuals who like to lend to small
business owners and there are small pension and profit sharing firms who will
consider this type of investment.
#11. Future Commitment.
You can obtain a letter of intent to do business with
your firm from a potential customer. This letter is not as good as a contract
and banks will not loan you money on this type of arrangement. However, private
lenders may consider this. The larger and more credible your potential customer
is, the better are your chances to obtain a loan.
Credit cards can provide a revolving line of credit
for the owner where a bank may be unwilling to offer him or her a line of
credit. For example, if you have 10 credit cards, and each carries a $5,000
credit limit you have $50,000 worth of credit available to you. You must make
the payments on time and when cash comes in, you must pay off the cards. If you
fail to do this, you can find yourself in debt with no more credit available to
you. This can be a life-saving technique for companies that have a 3-6 month
gap between the time they purchase materials and the time they can collect on
their own finished work.
Topic for discussion: With all of these
alternatives for financing a business, why would anyone use money as an excuse
not to get started? (Fear of failure.)
For more: The episode of the show from which
this information came (with links to Doug Carleton) are
a click away. A section of the site that is all about
money, our first show about money, When the Banker Says, No and our
second show, a discussion about the risks of using Other People's Money.
Jeff Slutsky develops a three-month marketing plan
that costs almost nothing to implement. Jeff's philosophy is, the less money
you have to spend, the more you need to focus your marketing efforts. He
describes how to saturate your neighborhood (any community of interest) by
letting other people advertise for you.
Goal: To dominate the neighborhood.
7a. Use cross promotions. This idea is
to partner with another local business and advertise for each other. One way is
to print inexpensive certificates offering a "free" item from your business
that your partner will hand out to his/her customers. You reciprocate by
handing out his/her certificates to your customers. This way you share
Topic for discussion: Create a business for you
and one for your "partner." Develop two cross promotions -- one for each
7b. Use community involvement. The idea is to
give money to the community in exchange for free advertising. An example. You
agree to donate a percentage of your sales during a certain period of time to
the community project. For your donation, community volunteers agree to
advertise and promote your business. You make money that you would not have
made, and the publicity costs you nothing.
Topic for discussion: Develop a community
project involving your business that will cost you no more than $200 to
implement. What will you offer? How will you make your offer (e.g. flyers,
coupons, etc.)? Who will let people know of your offer?
7c. Develop an up-sell contest. The one who
sells the most in a specific time period wins a prize. A variation might be to
create a contest where they pass out certificates in the community designed to
bring customers to your business, much like the cross promotion. The one with
the most certificates redeemed wins the prize.
For more: Read through the many segments
focused on streetfighter
marketing as well as the more traditional
8. Doing Business With the Government
8a. The federal government wants small business
owners to succeed: $34B in loans per year. The
Small Business Administration was
formed to assist small business, and its primary service is to guarantee loans
made to small business owners by traditional banks. The SBA does not lend
money, it serves as a third party guarantor on loans which meet certain
criteria. The SBA has a relationship with hundreds of banks throughout the
country who will make loans to small business owners. Those that produce a
large volume of these small business loans are called "preferred" banks by the
Topic for discussion: If the SBA will act as
the guarantor on loans, why is it still so hard for small business owners to
secure funding? (In the past, the typical SBA loan was $250,000, however, most
small businesses are started with under $10,000 (a micro loan). These "small"
loans were not worth the administrative costs incurred by the bank and the SBA.
Today, that is different. There is a new program called a "low-doc" loan which
does consider the smaller amounts.)
In addition to assisting with capital formation, the
Small Business Administration offers two programs which feature one-on-one
assistance to small business owners or individuals who want to start a
Business Development Centers are located in over 1000 colleges and
universities throughout the country and the Counselor's to America's Small Business
has over 300 locations. To find the services nearest you, call 1-800-8-ASK-SBA,
or, check the blue pages in your local phone book.
Topic for discussion: What are the advantages
of one-on-one counseling? (There are over 5,000 books in the library of
congress under the category of "small business." There are video tapes, audio
tapes, software programs and classes taught everywhere about how to start a
business. However, there's nothing better than sitting down with someone who
can help you think through your own idea.)
8b. The United States Government is the world's
largest customer and is required by law to purchase goods and services from
small business owners.
One way to learn how to do business with the
government is to work for a company which does exactly that. Another way is to
order two publications from the Superintendent of Documents, US Government
Printing Office, Washington DC 20402. First, either go on line to
ProNet or order the US
Government Purchasing and Sales Directory then order the Commerce Business
Daily. The directory tells you who buys what and the Commerce Business Daily
notifies the public of procurements valued at over $25,000.
Topic for discussion: Why do business with the
government? (Because it is profitable. Be prepared, however, because the
potential for making profit means stiff competition among providers. Secondly,
the government might be one of the very few customers for your product. For
example, research in food packaging safety. Third, the government is a "solid"
customer.) With the downsizing of government, should you attempt to go after
this type of business? (Yes, in fact, now could be the perfect time. If you are
very small, you may be able to underbid the existing providers.)
For more: Review the appropriate episodes of
the show that we did about the people who have benefited from
programs from the SBA.
Track expenses and keep a current balance
Categorize expenses so that you can see if you are
spending what you thought you were going to spend on what you thought you were
going to spend. Keep a balance sheet so that you know what liabilities as well
as what revenues are in front of you. Check these items at least quarterly.
Topic for discussion: Why do so many
business owners avoid accounting and accountants? (Many small business owners
aren't interested in the process, so they procrastinate. Also, they may think
it is too expensive to hire a bookkeeper or accountant and that they will do
the books themselves. Often total panic sets in on April 14 because the good
intentions of doing the record keeping are lost amid the daily pressure of
running a business.)
If you decide to use your computer to keep track, you
must choose accounting software carefully. Select a software program that you
can understand and feel comfortable using. If your program is too difficult,
you won't use it. Determine what you need to track, then look for a software
package that will do what you need. If you are not sure which software package
is right for you, consult your CPA for recommendations.
Topic for discussion: Should you decide that
you cannot or do not wish to handle your own accounting, what are your options?
(According to Craig, many small business owners tend to avoid the process
altogether, which can be disastrous. the best option is to "out source" your
accounting. In other words, hire an independent accountant to keep track for
For more: Review the show that focuses on Staying Power and focus on
the chapter, Indepth Understanding of the Financials.
10. The People Part of
Edelston runs one of the most productive companies in America. His
philosophy regarding employees is unique.
10a. Ask every employee to give you two good ideas
per week about how they can operate more effectively or how their department
can operate more effectively.
Topic for discussion: Why would asking people
for ideas increase their productivity? (People whose opinion is sought feel
more valued than those who are just told what to do. Ideas are heard by the
owner encourage more ideas. In Marty's company, if these ideas save money or
increase sales, the employee who offered the idea is rewarded both financially
10b. There are no managers at Boardroom who just
manage. Editorial managers also edit, design managers also design.
Topic for discussion: Is a "working manager"
more respected by his employees than one manager who only manages? (Yes. The
working manager understands the difficulties the workers face. The working
manager sets quality standards by example. Remember
10c. Ask anyone you interview what they are
Topic for discussion: What does Marty learn
with this question? (He gains insight into a person's lifestyle. Since
Boardroom is in the publishing business, undoubtedly Marty would be reluctant
to hire a person who does not read. But really, it doesn't matter what business
you're in: an employee who reads is a better employee than one who does not
read.) How do you find people who read? (Be a reader yourself. Mark Moore, in
Series 100, thinks small business owners should read as much as possible.
Philadelphia business owner Jim Coane buys books for his managers. Everyone
reads the same book then they discuss how the ideas learned from the book apply
to their business.)
10d. Fire slowly. We have heard just the
opposite as well, "Hire slowly, fire fast." But here, Marty relates from
refreshing attitudes about the dignity of every person. There are three ways to
get fired at Boardroom: dishonesty, impoliteness or incompetence. The first two
are "cut-and-dry." When it comes to incompetence, Marty assumes first that the
person is in the wrong job and he tries to find a position in which the person
Topic for discussion: Why does Marty take so
much time to find the right place for a person? (To achieve the goals of
Boardroom, Marty knows that he must have great people. Most of his employees
are the age of his children, and he takes a "fatherly" approach. As a result,
he tends to nurture his employees and is patient with their efforts. Heliodoro
Valadez, in Series 100, talked much about his employees being his family.)
10e. Compensate above the market. Marty pays
people more than they could earn in similar positions at other publishing
companies. He supplements people who have specific short-term money problems,
he pays bonuses, and he includes employees in the profit-sharing.
Topic for discussion: Is Marty generous? (He
says, "No, I'm not generous -- I'm fair." In this interview he seems generous.
Rather than accumulate personal wealth, he chooses to share the prosperity with
the people at Boardroom so that they "live in dignity.") Marty says, "I want
people to be happy." How does an employee's happiness affect their
productivity? (Attitude affects all performance. The writers, editors,
designers and even the shipping clerk at Boardroom have jobs to do which
require technical skills. However, they also need to solve problems and think
creatively. When a person is unhappy they can probably perform technical tasks.
But, when it comes to thinking, generating solutions and taking care of
customers, they produce a much more elegant result when they are happy.)
For more: Review the show specially focused on
The People Part of
11. The Family Business
here, to go to a link with more case studies about family business.)
Dr. Nancy Upton of the Baylor Institute for Family
Business in Waco, Texas leads the discussion.
11a. A family-owned business has both advantages
- A fun place to work because you know the players
so well and have a relationship with them already.
- A good chance to earn a better than average
salary, especially if you are a woman.
- A great potential for family conflict.
- Little productivity from family members who view
working for the family as a "free ride."
Topic for discussion: Nancy recommends that
before children work in the family business, they first work for someone else.
Why? The children will individuate, that is, become their own person, and,
while working outside, they will learn fresh ideas that they can bring back to
the family business.
11b. To be successful in a family-owned business,
you must separate family and business.
To do this, set aside times with the family for
business meetings and for dealing with conflict. Conversely, set aside special
times for dealing with family issues.
Topic for discussion: According to Nancy, what
are the most common areas of conflict?
Compensation, succession, and ownership issues.
If more than one sibling is involved in the family
business, you must determine who will do what job. To determine which
responsibilities each sibling will handle, Nancy suggests gathering all of the
siblings and allowing them to develop a strategic plan to show what their roles
will be. They will often work out this problem among themselves. If spouses are
involved in the business, you must set ground rules for how they behave (e.g.
not bringing family issues to work). Spouses not in the business must be
included in family meetings and retreats so that they stay informed of the
situations affecting their family.
Topic for discussion: Because of the challenges
that face a family-owned business, statistics show that less than one-third of
these businesses make it to a second generation, and less than one-half of
those make it to a third generation. According to Nancy, what are the three
greatest challenges a family-owned business faces?
Communication, lack of planning, and lack of
More from Dr. Nancy Upton:
Baylor's Institute for Family Business was established in
1987 to research and understand the key factors for a healthy family
12a. Join your local
Chamber of Commerce.
Chamber executive Laurie Winsor believes that chambers are the best way for
business owners to give voice to important business issues. Chambers are also a
great way to network, make contacts, gather business leads, learn new
information about business, and develop a presence in your community as a
Topic for discussion: Where can you find out
about local organizations that might be of interest to you? (Call your local
chamber of commerce for a list of organizations that meet in your area. Call
other people in your industry for advice about what groups and organizations
are important for you to join.)
12b. Join your trade association. Trade
associations are made up of people in the same or similar business or industry.
They share the same issues and problems. No matter what your situation, someone
in your trade association has already faced that issue and can offer you
advice. Additionally, many trade associations form a political voice to lobby
for or against issues affecting their particular business or industry. Finally,
you can become friends with people in your business all over the country whom
you can call when you need help.
Topic for discussion: Why would a business
owner not want to join associations and groups? (Membership takes too much
time. On the other hand, membership can save you time. When you need help on a
problem, you know people who either know the answer or can help you find an
answer.) How do I know if the association membership is really benefiting me?
(That's probably the wrong question to ask in the beginning. Join a group with
like interest, volunteer to serve on committees or help the organization
achieve its goals. In a couple of years, you will know if the group is helpful.
If you don't put something into the group, you will get nothing out of it.) Is
Young Entrepreneurs Organization a trade association? (No. It is a group of
business owners with similar traits. Members must be under 35 years of age and
their business must have a minimum of 2 million in sales. This type of group
does not replace membership in a trade association, it augments it.)
Quote: Your involvement in even one
established business network could make the difference between success and
failure. Involvement could double, triple or even quadruple your chances for
success. -- Barbara Brabek, Homemade Money
For more: Review the study guides and
transcripts of these episodes of the show about family business.
We invite your questions