Category Archives: Small Business

Interview: Nikhil Arora, co-founder of Back to the Roots

Nikhil Arora is co-founder of Back to the Roots.nikhil

Listen to Nikhil’s interview here. Read the rest of this entry

Inspiration: The Startup Founder Cheat Sheet [INFOGRAPHIC]

startupfounder

Failure is Always an Option: 3 Retailers that Disappeared

You think you’ve made it. Your business is on top and been up there for awhile. You’ve diversified, you have franchises. But, here are 3 retailers who found out that failure is always an option, and what you can learn from it.

1. Blockbuster

Always Blockbuster. Poor, poor Blockbuster. In 2002, Blockbuster was valued at $5 billion. It had even become synonymous with renting a movie. If you wanted to rent a movie for the weekend, you asked if anyone wanted to go to Blockbuster, even if you were going to Hollywood Video. Blockbuster filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September 2010.

What went wrong:

Netflix and Redbox came and pushed them out of the market.

What can you learn:

Always be ready to embrace new technologies, especially if your company’s product is technology. Evolve or perish.

2. K. B. Toys

When it filed for bankruptcy in 2008, K.B. Toys was the leading mail-based toy retailer, but even then it only represented a small percentage of the United States toy market.

What went wrong:

Wal-Mart, Target, and Amazon had better prices.

What can you learn:

Downsizing is not a four-letter word. If you’re good at something, don’t be afraid to try and be the best at it. If K.B. Toys had focused on it’s mail order sales while decreasing it’s brick-and-mortar presence, would it still be around? If it had embraced Amazon’s Marketplace, or eBay would it have sold more through the mail? Maybe not. But, it’s something to think about.

3. Woolworths

In 1997, after 117 years, the last Woolworths closed its doors. It wasn’t all failure, though. The Woolworth Corporation changed its name to Venator Group and still operates some retail stores, including Foot Locker and Northern Reflections.

What went wrong:

Again, lower prices at Wal-Mart and Target helped to bury Woolworths. However, America moving out of the cities and into the suburbs was the first shovelful of dirt in the grave. As America left the city, tastes changed. And one of those tastes was a distinct lack of interest in what Woolworths had to offer.

What you can learn:

Sometimes, the market disappears.

Do you know of a company that failed? What can be learned from their failure? Share in the comments below.

Interview: Ellen Sperling, Co-founder of YouveGotFunds.com

crowdfundEllen Sperling discusses the role of crowdfunding for business through the YouveGotFunds.com platform and how you can use it.

Listen to Ellen’s interview here. Read the rest of this entry

5 More Reasons to Start Your Own Business

Last week, we talked about our top 5 reasons to start your own business and guess what? We have 5 more.

You ready? Because here we go!

1. You will finally have the respect you deserve

Mainly, you’ll learn to respect yourself. I’m not going to sugarcoat it. Starting your own business is tough. More than tough. It might be the hardest thing you’ve ever done. When you get to the other side, success or failure, you’ll see exactly what you’re capable of when pursuing your passion and dreams. Everyone surrounding you on the endeavor will see it, too.

2. You’ll create jobs

In the last post, we talked about the tax breaks that come with hiring your family. That’s all well and good, but think about all the other jobs you’re creating. You’ll be an economy-stimulation machine. You’ll have the chance to mine and cultivate talent. You’ll be the one in the boss’s seat.

3. Your story will reach your customers

When we talk about branding on this site, one of the things we like to talk about is sharing your story. Why are you here? Why is this the thing you’re passionate about? When you share your passion with people, they can passionate in response. Your customers are the perfect people to hear your story and help you spread the word.

4. You can flex your creative muscle

One of the big things the self-employed tend to do is find their creative flow and use it to advance and grow their business. Imagine what kind of entrepreneur/boss/innovator you can be when you are allowed to work the way you’re comfortable with. Being your own boss let’s you off the leash to explore your full capabilities. Go as far as you can.

5. Start a legacy

Whether you want to keep the company in the family or hand it over to your most trusted second in command, you have started something that could last for a long time. Your business could be enduring. You could start something that lasts far into the future, beginning with your own innovation and spreading out for generations to come.

Why would you start your own business? Did you start your own business? What pushed or inspired you to jump from the corporate world into the world of self-employment? Share in the comments!

Inspiration: 16 Surprising Statistics About Small Business [INFOGRAPHIC]

statistics

5 Reasons to Start Your Own Business

At BizTV, it’s no secret, we’re all about entrepreneurs, small business owners, and making your own way through the financial world.

Not included on this list: wearing pajamas to work

Today, we’re going to give you an excuse to join the ranks of the self-employed (as if you need one), and, hey, if you’re already there, maybe you have some of your own excuses to share in the comments.

1. Tax benefits

Bet you didn’t think that would be number 1, did you? But, it’s true. There are many tax benefits that the entrepreneur and small business owner can call their own. If you educate yourself on tax law, or hire a good accountant, there are expenses for your business that you can write off. If you employ your family, you can keep the money within the household. If you hire your children, you are relieved from withholding income taxes and paying payroll taxes, including Social Security, until the child turns 18. Also, you don’t pay federal unemployment until the child reaches 21. If you hire your spouse or parents, you don’t need to pay federal unemployment taxes on them either, though you must withhold federal income tax and pay FICA on them. Corporations are not allowed these tax breaks. Enjoy!

2. As long as you get your own work, you’re in charge of your own job security

This might be a double-edged sword if you aren’t good at selling yourself (read: get good at selling yourself). If you have a skill or product that’s in high demand, you’re on top. No one is going to downsize your department. You’re in charge of your own employment future.

3. You can challenge yourself

Think about your job right now. Are you challenged? Are you stimulated? Do you jump into work every day with a take charge attitude because you’re excited to solve the next puzzle that falls in your lap? If you answered “no” to any of these questions, take heed: every day with your own business is as challenging as you want it to be. Are you going to integrate a new technology? Are you going to find a way to appeal to a new customer base? You have the ability to explore and challenge yourself every day.

4. You are the expert

Think about how satisfying it would be to tell someone: “Trust me. I’m an expert.”

Well, when you own a business that provides a certain product or service, you have the right to say you’re an expert in that product or service. You know what you’re talking about. You’ve learned things to trial and error. You create your own expertise.

5. You’re in control of your own networking

What’s your passion? Have you ever wanted to find people who share that passion? As the owner of your own business, you have the right to pursue the opportunities with those people who share your interests. In fact, it’s encouraged. Go to conferences. Go to meetups. You’ll find the people worth knowing in your industry.

Those are some of our reasons to get out of the rat race and join the self-employment movement. What made you leap from regular employment to entrepreneurship? Share in the comments!

5 Ways to Build and Manage a Team

As an entrepreneur, you need to surround yourself by people who encourage and support your team. How to you build and manage this group of people? Here are our top 5 ways:

1. Team balance

Every team needs balance. Sometimes an entrepreneur is a big-picture thinker, sometimes, he/she is a detail thinker. Regardless, you need to find someone to who thinks the opposite way you do. Stacking you team with people who think like you isn’t the same as gathering yes-men, but it cuts out your legs in the same way. Find people who think in a different way and you’ve got a great foundation for your team.

2. A mix of extroverts and introverts

Much like the first item on our list, you’re going to want both extroverts and introverts, and you need to be aware of which team member is which. Extroverts tend to talk and talk and talk, blurting out the first thing on their minds. Introverts are more reserved and resigned, internalizing ideas. They may have the greatest idea, most innovative solution, or most brilliant cost saving measure, but you’re never going to know if they never speak up. Give both introverts and extroverts a comfortable setting to share their ideas.

3. Teambuilding exercises that actually work

Yep, there it is. The dreaded teambuilding exercise. How great would that be if they actually worked? Well, some do. For instance:

Volunteering

Non-contact sports

Field trips

Shared meals

Maybe consider a bowling trip. Take the company out for a museum day. Have one day a week where everyone goes out to lunch together. Find something that everyone can enjoy and be a part of. Remember, this isn’t what the CEO likes best and wants to do. You’re growing your team cohesiveness, so get the input from the team.

4. Find out if you need a virtual team or a local team

Studies show that, in some industries, virtual teams work better than having your team all in the same building. Some ways to keep your remote team on track is by keeping up communication and holding them accountable for the work they’re supposed to be doing. Check in every once in awhile. Schedule a weekly call. Let them know they are valued. Your team is about your people; not your office space.

5. Brainstorming is the enemy

Brainstorming leads to social loafing (where everyone works less thinking the group will pick up the slack), production blocking (where everyone has to wait until the person before them is done), and evaluation apprehension (knowing your idea will be judge, and, therefore, hesitating to give one).

If you want to get a brainstorm to work, don’t try to find your brilliant idea, just try to get a lot of them out and on paper. Break out of the brainstorm session and let everyone consider the best ideas and how to improve them. Come back together later and see where improvements will work and what needs to be ditched.

What approach do you take to building a team? What was your best teambuilding activity? Share in the comments below.

Interview: John Stokka, CEO of DomiKnow

John Stokka, CEO of DomiKnow, talks about online resources available to small businesses and the services DomiKnow can help with.

Listen to John’s interview here. Read the rest of this entry

Inspiration: Crowdfunding – The Power of the Crowd [Infographic]

crowdfunding

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