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A Serial Entrepreneur Becomes A Millionaire From An Accidental Startup

Monis Rahman, serial entrepreneur, accidentally launched Rozee.pk when he needed to find more programmers for his startup.

Getting A Mentor

I had a strategy session with a business start-up owner a few months ago. She was six months into her start-up and needed some ideas during her development stage.

Simple Steps To Creating Your First Website

When you make that decision to start a business, you immediately become a multi-tasking maniac. Let's face it, you will have a lot of work on your hands.

Why 'Core Competency' Is Important To A Startup

Well, I like the answer that Norm Brodsky gives in his book, The Knack: "It was the one thing we had that our competitors couldn't offer, and by the time they caught up, we had a foothold in the market and were known for providing that service."

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Turning your Trying Moment into a Business Opportunity

by Cheryl Isaac
In 2006 I was diagnosed with an ailment called trigeminal neuralgia and during those painful times, I realized the true meaning of the Nationwide commercial, "life comes at you fast." Trigeminal neuralgia is considered by doctors to be the worst kind of pain a person has to endure--it is a painful disorder that attacks one side of the face, usually stemming from the top of the head to the jawline, cheek, neck and throat. It is a result of blood vessels pressing against the trigeminal nerve of the brain, sending electric shocks to the face.

Before being diagnosed and having the proper medication to treat such a disease, I thought that I was going crazy. At this time, I was in law school and I can remember sitting in class and holding the right side of my face and praying that the pain did not get worse than it already was. I was afraid to talk, eat, laugh or move because the pain that resulted from a single touch to the face, combing of the hair, or drink of water, was excruciating and would result in me wincing or screaming suddenly. As you can imagine, people thought I was crazy. I finally got diagnosed, got the proper medication, and was able to look back on what I deem the most painful time of my life. However, because of that moment in my life, I promised myself that I would follow my heart and not my head (or maybe a mixture) and that I would live my life like I wanted and not like how the world proposed it should be.

So, based on this event, coupled with other "ah-ha" moments of realizing my passion for helping small business owners and coming to the realization that I was being unappreciated by corporate banking America, I decided to launch my business. I'm not the only one who has. Aundrea Lacy launched her business, Luv's Brownies, in 1996 after being diagnosed with dyslexia-a learning disability that hinders the development of reading skills. In 2006, her business generated more than $595,000 in revenues. Aundrea's advice is similar to what I tell my clients--"no timing is the perfect timing to start your business." Another entrepreneur, Dawn Fitch, started her business, Pooka Inc, after being diagnosed with hypoglycemia-where the blood sugar level drops to the point that it causes trembling or dizziness. Dawn says that starting her business afforded her the opportunity to "cope with the fear of the unknown." Her business generated $750,000 in 2007.

I decided to share this because I know that sometimes the most obscure situations can keep us from realizing our dreams. For those of you who watched the Democratic National Convention last week, you know that some of the underlying themes were believe, dream and hope. Watching Barack Obama make a mark in history helped enforce my belief that hard work, persistence, determination, self confidence and "thinking big" can make your BIG DREAMS possible. I'm pushing forward despite the odds. Will you?

Visit: www.luvsbrownies.com and www.pookapureandsimple.com for more information on these small businesses.

Questions, Comments? Post here...

Cheryl Isaac is the writer of this blog and the Chief Executive Officer of IBS-Isaac Business Services in Columbus, Ohio.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Does your Business Need an Identification Number?

by Cheryl Isaac

I have had a lot of questions from current and prospective clients regarding the usage of an employment identification number (EIN or tax id as it is sometimes referred to) for their business. My suggestion is usually, "go for it!" If you are not operating your business as a sole proprietorship, why mix and mingle your business and personal finances? The employer identification number is seen as the social security number for a business and it not only helps identify your business, but it also encourages you to keep your personal finances separate from that of your business. Here are some benefits to having one:

  • You can identify your business on important government, banking, or official documents instead of using your social security number
  • You can open a bank account or establish a bank loan or credit card using this number
  • It is safer route because you avoid giving your social security number to everyone
  • You establish credibility
  • Wholesale distributors usually require your employer identification number

For example, I signed up a client who does business in the retail clothing industry. She had become my client after she had gone through her registration process herself. Usually I go through all of those steps with my clients but since she had started the process herself and wanted to complete it, I simply advised her to get an EIN number while she continued her process. A couple of months later when we met again, she asked that I complete the registration for her because she had tried to establish a relationship with a wholesale distributor and was required to have an EIN number before she could even access their system.

There are also some entrepreneurs who work on a independent contractor basis and need to receive 1099 forms from employers. There are also attorneys who may settle cases and are sometimes required to provide this information from the settling company who has been advised by their accountant to create a 1099 form. In case you are wondering, a 1099 form is used by taxpayers and tax exempt organizations to report financial information to the IRS. They are used to report income and calculate taxes. So think about it, if someone calls and needs your identification number over the phone for a 1099 form completion or if they send in a form asking for information, wouldn't you rather give them an EIN number instead of your social security number?

Sometimes you don't have a choice because an EIN number is actually required for your type of small business. Here are some few examples of when you are required to have an EIN number:

  • When you have employees
  • If you are a non-profit organization
  • If you are a C-Corp or partnership
  • If you file tobacco, firearms, or alcohol taxes

You can file for an employer identification number via the IRS SS-4 form in person, on the phone, or online for no charge. If you work with an accountant, business consultant, or payroll provider have them complete this process for you. For more information, you can visit the IRS website at http://www.irs.gov/

Questions? Comments? Post here....

Cheryl Isaac is the writer of this blog and the Chief Executive Officer of IBS-Isaac Business Services.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Can Your Business Count on you to be a Salesperson?

by Cheryl Isaac
Last week, a portion of my blog post centered around women and the way in which we present ourselves and our businesses. I mentioned that as women, we happen to be relationship builders--yet, we sometimes forget to ask for the business after we have worked on building the relationships. Sometimes we hesitate or get anxious when we think that we would have to spend some time "selling" ourselves or our businesses. I attended the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) Columbus chapter's monthly meeting on August 14th where sales happened to be the central theme of the meeting. Lance Tyson, President and CEO of Dale Carnegie Training of Northeast and Central Ohio, was the guest speaker and since I captured some vital information from him, I thought I'd share.

After analyzing the word sales, its association with what most would consider an average salesperson and the fears of business owners to be categorized as mere salespeople, Lance shared that selling to him is, "giving someone a product or service that they don't necessarily want, but they need." Upon hearing that, I thought, "wow, what a great way to mentally remind oneself why we do what we do!" So there you go! If selling scares you, think about this phrase. I sat there and reflected upon a situation with a client of mine who had called me about a month after we had completed some business planning for her and said, "thanks for making me do this because although I didn't want to in the beginning, I have now realized just how important a business plan is to my business." Think about it--if we just kept this phrase embedded in my minds as we talked to people when we try to turn prospects into clients, and if we were honest in providing a benefit to these prospects, think just how successful we could be.

Lance Tyson also stated that there are three things that affect people's decisions when buying: 1) Time 2) Cost 3) Quality and that for everyone, these decision making factors could differ. For me, quality is definitely a sales closer and if time and cost could be relatively close, I'm usually okay. Usually I shop around for a product or service that fits closely with my mental vision and if I can't afford it, I wait until I can. However, I don't recall having decreased the level of quality I envision because something of a lower quality was offered with a lower price tag. Although I would admit that I love sale prices! So if I happen to see the quality product I want at a lower price, or if the business service I wanted was being offered at a discount, that usually adds the "icing to the cake." Others however, might have a different view on what factors influence their sale decisions.

What works for you and your business? How do you introduce yourself and your business? Comments? Post here....

To learn more about Lance Tyson and what he does, you can visit www.columbus.dalecarnegie.com

Cheryl Isaac is the writer of this blog and the Chief Executive Officer of IBS-Isaac Business Services in Columbus Ohio.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Women and Business

by Cheryl Isaac

Are you a female with a desire to someday become a million-dollar woman business owner? Well...million dollar women business owners are leaders, they see and do everything differently. They have unique products and services and they present them in a unique way. And their business idea? It's usually hard for people to quickly associate another business operating in the same manner.

So far, my research on million-dollar women owned businesses has not been as extensive as I would like it to be, but here are some things I have learned so far:

Women business owners who reached the million-dollar mark learned to ask for the business. Women are usually great at building relationships and developing contacts but how many times have we tried to close a sale while networking? And how often have you been asked by a female entrepreneur if she could introduce her business to you? I questioned myself regarding this very matter and realized that although I have never been shy to "ask for the business" (matter of fact I've always considered that one of my strong points) I've always, however, hesitated to ask women for the business. I have always felt as if I would be seen as "too pushy" or "too-all-about-self" or "overly confident." And then I thought about how I would feel and realized that I would have no problem at all. I would feel flattered. My only question would be: "how can this benefit me?" I have a problem with people who try to get me to do business with them but they don't want to develop a relationship with me or they don't have my best interest at heart. Most times, they don't even understand my business and what I do because since they are too busy getting their point across, they don't listen. So, I came to the conclusion that asking for the business while uncovering your prospective client's need first and finding a way to also make it a mutually beneficial sale, is the quickest route to getting the sale closed faster.

I also learned another valuable fact concerning million-dollar women owned businesses: they are willing to take financial risks because they believe in their businesses and they believe in themselves. According to the Center for Women's Business Research, risk taking among women business owners looking to expand their businesses was significantly higher than among women business owners not looking to expand. These facts did not surprise me. The women who think big are not afraid to approach a bank or lender, they are not afraid to take a chance on something that others would deem risky, and they are definitely not afraid of hearing no. After all, even Donald Trump bought a property in New York when everyone thought he was crazy for even trying, when almost every bank told him no and now, the property is valued at millions. He didn't give up instead, it made him more persistent. So why should you be afraid? If you believe in your business model and in yourself, position your business accordingly and go before that banker, investor or venture capitalist and you tell them why they should invest in you. And if they say no, keep moving forward because no one will believe in you if you don't believe in yourself!

I know, it's easier said then done. Well, don't do it just because I say so but do it because the Center for Women Business Research has also noted that successful women business owners are persistent in their pursuit of credit or equity. Do you want to be a successful woman business owner? Well, you now know what you must do.

Questions? Comments? Post here....

Cheryl Isaac is the writer of this blog and the Chief Executive Officer of IBS-Isaac Business Services located in Columbus, Ohio.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Protect Yourself from Business Thieves

by Cheryl Isaac
Starting a business that offers some unique services or a rare product is always risky because there are shoppers and competitors out there who exist solely to steal ideas. They lack ingenuity and would rather steal your innovative ideas. Or sometimes, you might end up going against a company with more cash flow and advertising dollars who may be prepared to take your unique concept and advertise it as theirs. And where does that leave you? Alone and angry because no one knows that you were the mastermind behind it all and the "big guy" with the money was able to tell the public of what you had to offer with just one problem--you are not mentioned and no one knows who you are.

Here are some things a small business owner could consider to protect their service or product from being snatched by business thieves:
  • Patent: this protects an invention. So, if you are developing a product that has never been offered to the public, this is the route you would want to take.
  • Copyright: this protects an original artistic form of work (i.e. protects musical artists and writers).
  • Trademark: protects a word, phrase or a combination of designs or symbols (i.e. service-oriented businesses usually fall in this category).

There are some legal ramifications for your opponent who may decide to steal your original ideas (you can discuss these ramifications in full with your attorney). However, as a small business owner or someone who is developing a product or idea, you need to be proactive in registering your mark and protecting your invention. Give notice to your public that you have ownership rights to your ideas and that stolen rights deserve some penalties. Talk to an attorney and a business advisor.

For more information, you can visit http://www.uspto.gov/ and you can also visit your state's website for their trademarking process (you can go to my website under business filing requirements and choose your state to research their requirements).

Questions? Comments? Post here....

Cheryl Isaac is the writer of this blog and the Chief Executive Officer of IBS-Isaac Business Services.

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