Thursday, March 08, 2012

Angels Headin' West, Pardner

To no one's real surprise, the biggest angel investments are in California, according to the Halo Report .   After all, there is a heck of a lot of investment money in California, not to mention an environment that encourages entrepreneurial development.

Not surprisingly too is that the major investments listed are in health care and technology.  These have been hot fields the past decade or so, and are likely to remain so for the forseeable future.

Angel investments are notoriously difficult to track because so many of them are truly private transactions.  I suspect that the data is the Halo Report was generated from established angel investment groups across the US, and while these groups are tremendously important, they are not the only funds being tapped for investment.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Wedding Consultant Business Plans Say "I Do"



There were dire predictions for the wedding planning business, and for the hospitality business as a whole, as the economy plunged a few years ago.  And many of those predictions came true.

But there are lots of wedding consultants and party planners who did well.  They did something that the others didn't:  They down sized, and they economized.  A party planner with connections only to the very top performers, with cuisine from only the top chefs, and locales that cost a bundle to book -- well, they had a tough time.

Those who could take their knowledge of the process, and bring magic to an event with less cost, fared far better.  So how about the next few years?

Friday, March 02, 2012

Shake The Hand Of Your Angel Investor -- Two Underused Paths to Small Business Financing

"Find the barber that investors use."  "Go to an investor's conference and stake out a claim at the bar."  "Ask your banker, your investment adviser, your gardener."  These are all touted as ways to find an angel investor.  And in truth they probably all work once in a while ... once in a great while.

No, there are much better ways to find your angel investor.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

You Can Join "Start Up America"

Yikes, we've had more information and more programs out of the SBA recently than I recall for a very long time.  And the news just couldn't be better for small businesses of all ilk.

For starters, check out the Start Up America summary on the SBA site.  This is a lot more than the usual "microbusiness" loans of the past.  A whole lot more.

Yes! Small Businesses Can Get A Piece of the $10 Billion Government Contracts Pie

$10 billion dollars is sitting in government coffers, just waiting for your business proposal, and yes you can get a piece of the pie.  But it is just not easy.  Hey, it's the government, what did we expect?

Local governments really aren't that difficult to approach.  It is very much a matter of who you know.  There are literally thousands of business opportunities in every community.

The federal government is another issue entirely.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Veritable Fountain Of Knowledge For Business Plan Writers

What makes an angel investor tick?  How do you build a newsletter for your business?  How do we sell successfully in turbulent times? 

Those are the kinds of topics that the Dow Jones Knowledge Center tackles.  Books, videos, white papers -- all sorts of tools to make it easier for business plan writers, and all business people, to find an inspiration or answer or two.

Dow Jones is in the business of selling information.  Yet all of the information on its Knowledge Center is free. 

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

One Two One Two - Get Your Fitness Business Plan In Shape

There are times I feel like a relentless drill sergeant, even to myself. 
One! Two! One! Two!
This is what
You need to do
Three! Four! Three! Four!
Words and numbers,
Nothing more.

If I added some red pom poms and wore a short skirt, others could join in.

The truth is, it is not that easy.  Some of us really latch onto those "words and numbers".  And some of us don't.  So let's make it even simpler than usual.  There are in truth only three things that your business plan needs to demonstrate:

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Got Great Goodies? Put Them In Walmart or Staples!

Two venerable coast to coast retailers are having contests, the winners of which will be able to place their products on real shelves.  Both require submission via YouTube, so track down someone who knows the way around a video camera, sync some audio, and submit it.

Monday, February 06, 2012

The Business Plan For The Fool Proof Business

Create a business plan for a business that is nearly guaranteed to succeed.  That's right:  a self storage facility business plan.  It may not be glamorous, but it is a money machine.

A colleague actually became a multi millionaire in this industry.  He did nothing else.  He just built self storage facilities, hired a couple to manage each, then went on to the next location.  Over a period of a few years he built himself a self storage empire that put him among the very, very wealthy.

Your goals may be more modest, and that's fine.  Whatever level of business you want, you can probably have in the self storage industry.  There are ...

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Business Plans For Traveling In Time

I found myself gazing out the window with pictures of palm trees dancing in my head.  (sigh)  Should you be afflicted with the same disease, not to worry.  There are now lots of ways to take that wanderlust and turn it into a real, live viable business opportunity.

Here are a few ideas to get your dreams started.

ONLINE TRAVEL WEBSITE.  Thousands upon thousands of people are taking their very favorite spot and creating magical websites.  This does NOT require a travel agent license because you are not taking money for tickets.  If you are fortunate enough to sell tickets at all, it will be through one of the major online services as an affiliate.  Or hook up with an agent who can use your services and feed that agent clients.  This romantic California travel site is one of my favorites.  You can do just as well yourself!

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Business Plans For The Top 1%

That's you and me.  About 1% - 2% of the top performers in all industries leave their jobs each year to open their own businesses.  About 80% dream of doing it.  You and I actually do it.  That makes us the top 1%.  The other 20%?  Well, they are happy being employees, and I am glad for their happiness -- it just isn't my kind of happiness.

I am not sure there is such a thing as an "average" entrepreneur.  We are each so different, with different motivations, different goals, different challenges, different backgrounds.  The one thing we have in common is the desire to excel in a business that we define.  And that is a great goal.

So how does it feel to be in the top 1%?

Friday, February 03, 2012

I'll Be Home For Christmas - The New Small Business Mantra

The airwaves and e-waves are aglow with news about businesses coming home to the US.  Estimates are that by 2014 it will actually be cheaper to do business in the US than in China.  Seems the cost of fuel for those tankers, and the super-motivated employees in the US out rank the cheap labor overseas.

2014!!  That is just around the corner!  Holy cow, people, let's get those business plans in order and sprint on down to the starting gate.

The news is just overwhelming for the economy as a whole.  More businesses = more jobs = more money in this country = more businesses.  And it all adds up to growth and economic stability.  The news just could not be better.

But it isn't 2012 yet, and bank coffers haven't gone beyond cracking open yet, so what's a gal to do?

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Snooping For Small Business Information - 3 Top Sources

Ever wondered how some people just seem to know the answer?   No, they are not super smart.  They just know where to get small business information.

Sometimes it is just a bear finding information for your business plan.  Do you need a unique name, one that isn't registered anywhere in your state?  Do you want to find out more information on a potential partner?  Do you suspect some criminal activity in an employee's past?

These are are very legitimate reasons for doing a bit of research.  And, if you are looking for business financing, it is imperative to do the research yourself before your lender stumbles on it.

Here are three top suggestions for doing that research:

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

It's A Good Day For Small Business

President Obama has sent his "Startup America Legislative Agenda" to Congress.  And most of it is pretty darn good.  Without a lot of commentary, here are some of the highlights:

TAX BREAKS FOR SMALL ENTREPRENEURIAL AND C CORPS

CAPITAL GAINS TAXATION.  Permanently eliminate capital gains taxes on investments in C corporations with less than $50 million in assets. This break would be exempt from the alternative minimum tax, and investors would have six months to roll over their gains into new investments in small businesses.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Industry Stats - More Than You Want To Know

Business plans have all kinds of stats.  Industry stats.  Demographic stats.  Stats are just not always easy to deal with AND lots of stats are derived from big business, not small business.  The stats in this link fall pretty much into the latter category.  They are pretty much based on big business reporting.

While you cannot -- and should not -- use these verbatim in your own business plan, they do give you an idea of the kind of data that your banker will look at.

The secret to using this set of stats is just to keep clicking until you find what it is you want.  In all that clicking you may even discover something useful that you hadn't thought of.

Minority Retail Entreprenuers: Your Time Is Now!

There is a HUGE avalanche of business underway for minority business supplying the retail industry.  Retailers have finally decided that minorities comprise a goodly percentage of their business and -- lo and behold -- they don't necessarily want what other customers wants.  (You know, the part that is astounding about this post is that this is news.)

Macy's is leading the way by actually holding workshops for small designers and manufacturers who can cater to specific markets.  Each store in the Macy conglomerate will be marketed individually, pulling product from specialized minority vendors. 

Cozy Up In 2012 - Top 10 Business Ideas

There's a pattern in business development that goes something like this:  The rougher the skid marks, the more comfort we need.  And it is true.  Time and again I've seen it -- you have too.  When a major economic bump hits, we flee to comfort on the recovery.  We look for hand made items, for personal service, for old time values.  We do it again and again.  That's why these businesses will succeed more than ever in 2012:

1.  PERSONAL TRAINERS.  Health in all forms is Big Business right now.  Add a personal touch and you are on your way.

2.  BEAUTY SALONS (and all related nail salons, etc.).  We've gone scruffy long enough.  It is time to fix our "do" and do it.