Sunday, May 17, 2015

Teens and Twenties are becoming Entrepreneurs - Here is some advice

By Stan Washington
Date: May 17, 2015

Move over! More and more people under 25 are solving major problems through their business! They look at what problems they can solve rather than uttering the deadly words "I'm going to start my own business." Starting the business is not their goal. They focus on the needs of others and require no begging or coercing!

Entrepreneurs solve problems not start companies. They thrive on developing new and exciting things to help society run better, but sometimes people think they are "too young." That label is used by those who are probably stagnant in their resolve. One way is no longer the only way. These bright people have found ways to develop their idea into a product and will not sit still!

Here are a few tips to the young entrepreneur:

Develop your idea into a prototype
I love to see ideas in concept. Prototypes help others see your vision. Be careful who you show this concept to. Show it to people you can trust and who can provide the right feedback you need to make adjustments.

Find your market
The quicker you can find your crowd the better you are. Don't tackle the world, just your slice of the world. Target a group that makes sense for you. Narrow your audience into something realistic.

Use but don't overuse social media
Social Media is a blessing and a curse. People find it easy to communicate, but find themselves online every waking minute of the day. Use Social media to communicate vital information about your business and measure the building  of your brand.

Look for Mentors
Becoming an entrepreneur is scary and exciting at the same time. Being tech savvy is not going to be enough. There are sound business principles that mentors can give. These tips won't guarantee earned success but every bit of information helps you reach your goal.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Help Your Small Business Get into "Big Box" Stores

Image credit: Jay Reed | Flickr (Entire Article on Entrepreneur Magazine)



Business Credit Expert and Director with Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp.

Successfully working with big-name Fortune 500 companies to get your product in front of their consumers can be both incredibly rewarding and tricky for a small business learning the ropes.  It’s important to know what you are getting your company into before you dive head first into a supply chain deal that might look great on paper but may not actually be so good for your business at all.
If you believe your business has progressed to the point of seeking these kinds of supplier relationships, consider taking the following steps to help make sure you’re fully prepared before you enter the negotiation phase.

1.  Do your homework

There is a lot of information out there about supplier programs, and your first assignment is to use these resources to find out which companies might be a fit for what your company produces. 
Every program is different. For instance, let’s say you have something you’d like to get into a big-box store.  You need to be familiar with their store, the products they carry and who shops there. Walk the aisles of your local store.  Note what is unique about the store and the particular products it sells. Look around at who is shopping there. Determine whether or not you think your product is a fit.  Understand and be able to articulate what is unique about your products or services. There is only so much shelf space. Is there a competing product you could displace?
The homework that you do can be critical to positioning your product and its benefits in the event you speak with a Fortune 500 supply chain decision maker. 

2.  Seek out possible diversity programs

Did you know that 93 percent of Fortune 100 companies have supplier programs designed to encourage contracts with small-business owners?  And many Fortune 500 companies have diversity programs designed specifically for women-, minority- and veteran-owned businesses. You can find 93 of those businesses and their programs here.
One note of caution:  generally these programs require 51 percent ownership to qualify. 

3.  Understand your deal terms including net-pay terms

All large companies are going to have different types of deal terms and you should read the fine print every time.  No matter how excited you are, don’t just sign on the dotted line.  This is the time you want to have a lawyer on call that can review any offers and contract language.  And ask questions.  Don’t think that you have to act like you know it all. 
There are some big-box stores that will charge your company back for any unsold products.  Would your business be able to handle that kind of cost?  You also need to know when you are going to get paid.  Are you going to be the last company in the supply chain to get paid?  Are you going to have to carry net-payment terms of 30, 60, 90 or 120 days?  Really consider how your business will fare under long net-payment terms. 
Thankfully, in 2011, the White House launched the QuickPay initiative requiring federal agencies to pay the smallest of the businesses in their supply chain first.  Launched in 2014, the administration’s SupplierPay program similarly urges private companies to pay smaller companies faster, but just a small number of companies have signed up.  You’ll want to make sure you know your terms before you sign on the dotted line.

4.  Get your finances in order

Just like all the other parts of your business, you should make sure that your financial recordkeeping and accounting are in shape. For instance, the company I work for, Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp, provides a D&B D-U-N-S® Number, which most supplier programs require and is linked directly to your D&B® business credit report. Some programs may require that your D&B® Supplier Evaluation Risk (SER) rating in your business credit report meet minimum requirements. (Anything above the minimum number is usually considered too risky.) 
Companies tend to do business with companies they feel they can trust to deliver what they need. Bids could be lost and contracts dropped if credit is an issue and the company you want to do business with won’t want to work with a business that would represent too high a risk. 
consider whether you are keeping your own house in order.

5.  Be sure that you can deliver the product you’ve promised

If you have a product that has been selling well in smaller retailers and you want to introduce to larger businesses, or you are a manufacturer that has a part being used on a small scale that you are now selling in to a supply chain program, you’ll want to know how you will respond to much bigger orders while still maintaining quality, on-time delivery and profits.  
Some companies need larger space or need to move production of products overseas.  Let’s say you are producing a new type of guitar and have been hand producing them up until now.  You have interest from a major retailer and they want the product in store by a certain date.  Are you able to respond quickly?  Be prepared to address your plans to scale your business to keep up with demand.
When it comes to participating in supplier programs, especially with Fortune 500 companies, knowledge really is power.  Understanding as much as possible about the Fortune 500 business you are approaching can help separate your company from other small businesses entering the supply chain. 

Monday, May 4, 2015

National Small Business Week is Officially OPEN! - President Barack Obama

Date: May 4, 2015

The White House

Here are remarks from the President:

Presidential Proclamation -- National Small Business Week, 2015

- - - - - - -
 Receive 20% off until Saturday May 9, 2015America's small businesses are the backbone of our economy, employing half of our country's private sector workforce and creating nearly two out of every three new jobs in our country. Representing the quintessential American ideals of hard work and ingenuity, small businesses -- from startups to mom-and-pop shops -- are crucial to our national prosperity and economic security. During National Small Business Week, we recommit to advancing these vital enterprises, and we celebrate their contributions to our collective American story.
From day one, my Administration has made supporting our Nation's small businesses a priority. We have fought to ensure our tax code reflects our values and encourages growth, and part of that effort includes making sure those who take risks and do the hard work of turning a good idea into a great business get a fair deal. That is why I have signed into law 18 different tax cuts for small businesses, which are helping them thrive in the 21st-century economy. By investing in our infrastructure, expanding access to credit, and assisting entrepreneurs as they start out and scale up, we are continuing to bolster America's small business community.
My Administration is committed to ensuring small businesses have the tools, resources, and expertise they need to succeed. Last year, we built on the success of my QuickPay initiative -- which has already generated over $1 billion in cost savings for small businesses -- by launching SupplierPay, a new partnership with the private sector to strengthen small businesses by increasing their working capital. The Affordable Care Act is working to expand insurance coverage, reduce health care costs, and improve the quality of care -- all of which help small businesses and our economy. Additionally, the law allows small businesses access to SHOP, a competitive marketplace where they can look for coverage that meets their needs and where they cannot be charged more for operating in blue-collar industries, employing women, or insuring people with pre-existing conditions. We are also focused on injecting capital into emerging, entrepreneurial communities, supporting ventures operated by women, veterans, and underserved populations. And we continue to work to open new markets for small exporters because we know trade promotion bolsters our small businesses and their employees.
Our small businesses represent what is best about our Nation -- the idea that with determination and responsibility, anyone can build a better life for themselves and their loved ones. For more than two centuries, American innovation has sparked ideas that have changed our lives and the course of our history for the better. This week, we recognize the role small businesses play as pillars of our communities and engines of our growing economy, and we rededicate ourselves to fostering the entrepreneurial spirit that has forged the strongest economy the world has ever known.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim May 4 through May 8, 2015, as National Small Business Week. I call upon all Americans to recognize the contributions of small businesses to the competitiveness of the American economy with appropriate programs and activities.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand fifteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-ninth.