Thursday, December 15, 2011

Southeast Venture Conference - Call for Applications to Present

Here's an excerpt from an email I received:

The deadline for companies to apply to present at the next Southeast Venture Conference is next Wednesday, December 21st.

Conference will be held Feb 29th - March 1st, 2012 at the Ritz Carlton in Tysons Corner, Virginia.

We'll have close to 60 presenters again this year from a range of industries such as Internet, Gaming, Bio-IT, GreenTech, Software, Communications, Medical Devices and Mobile.

If you think your company, one of your portfolio companies, a client or someone else you know is a good prospective fit to present, just have them drop us a line - we make applying super easy and quick.

We look forward to hosting some of the best emerging tech companies from the region again at SEVC 2012!

Details on submitting:
www.seventure.org

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Process Credit Cards on the Go

Square

 

I was reading American Express' newsletter article, 12 Cool Holiday Gift Ideas for Business Owners,

Square
when I saw something of interest. I don't think it qualifies as a gift idea. Well, maybe if you give gifts like a frying pan to your wife or a battery powered screwdriver for your husband. (Yes, I'm stereotyping here. There are some of us who could go with either and others for whom it's the opposite!)

Anyway, there's a portable credit card reader that's available from SquareUp.com. Look at the photo to see how easy it is to use. This reader allows you to utilize your "smartphone to process credit cards on the go". You don't need a credit card processing machine...which you'd have to connect to power somewhere and set up at a table. And you definitely don't need a cash register!

This is probably great for those who are having a yard sale. (Whoever heard of credit cards at a yard sale?! Well, this makes it possible/easy.) Or great for a business owner or employee who is selling only a few items, say at a conference, seminar, etc. If you will potentially be scanning tens of credit cards, obviously it's better to go with a credit card processing machine.

And oh, by the way, this handy dandy gadget by SquareUp.com, called a Square, is free! You just pay a 2.75% processing fee per transaction.

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Another Struggling Retailer to Be Purchased by PE Firm

If you pay attention to women's clothing retailers, you'll know that Talbots is struggling and has been doing so for some time. Their stock price keeps trending downward. Well, help may be on the way. According to TermSheet (that again!) Sycamore Partners, a private equity firm, "has offered to acquire struggling women’s retailer Talbots (NYSE: TLB) for $212 million. The $3 per share offer represents a 92% premium to yesterday’s closing price for Talbots". That means Sycamore Partners is offering nearly double what the stock has been trading at. Why would they do that?

Apparently, per TermSheet again, Sycamore already owns close to a 10% stake in Talbots. In order to induce the other shareholders, including large institutional and small individual investors but especially the former, to sell without incident or a fight, they have to pay what shareholders would consider a "fair" price. The things you have to do when you have many, many shareholders, some with serious clout.

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Private Equity in the Last Decade

According to TermSheet which, in turn, is quoting PitchBook Data, there's some interesting statistics coming from the private equity world during the last decade ending 2010. That includes the following:

Although ~81% of the actuals DEAL QUANTITY originated from medium to mid-sized businesses, over 90% of the actual CAPITAL INVESTED went to large corporate deals of >= $1 billion.

EBITDA multiples peaked in 2008, which was the market peak for private equity. Money was pouring into PE firms and a number of them were chasing the same deals. That led to an egregious inflation in multiples, up to a high of 11.5x EBITDA!!! Wow! What happened to the 3-5x EBITDA that was the de rigeour at the beginning of the decade? Oh, what's that? That's the sound of the glass breaking as those low multiples were thrown out the window!

For more information and statistics, check out PitchBook Data's study.

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Profitability - A New Tool to Analyze Your Quickbooks Data

According to Inc.com, Profitably is "a Web tool that automatically pulls QuickBooks financial data and generates reports on employee performance, customer profitability, cash flow, channel profitability, etc. You’ll get more charts and spreadsheets than you can imagine, all without manual data entry."

Profitably

I also like this excerpt from the same article: The author's friend, an accounting expert and business owner "went straight to one of the dots in the “dog” section of the chart; “dogs” are high-volume, low-profit customers. He clicked to see detail, saw the P&L (more L than P by far) for that customer, and started cussing." Hah! I'd say that speaks volumes.

Always wanted to more deeply analyze your Quickbooks data but didn't know how to slice and dice the numbers? Looks like the Profitably tool can do it for you. (www.profitability.com)

To read the entire Inc.com article, click on the title: Master Your Financials: No Financials Required.

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Monday, December 5, 2011

Buddha Quote for Entrepreneurs

"We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts.With our thoughts we make our world."

Buddha (c. 563- c. 483 BC)

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Monday, November 28, 2011

Getting Seed Capital for Startups

Here is 30-minute interview with Daniel Scott, founder of Gazelle Labs in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Note: NOT in Silicon Valley or Silicon Alley or Silicon anything!) Gazelle Labs is a "mentor-driven, three-month, seed stage investment program that provides selected companies with up to $18,000 each in seed funding", according to Karen Rands, the interviewer and founder of Launchfn, an early stage coaching firm.  Check out the interview on BlogTalkRadio. Karen Rands on Blog Talk Radio

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Get Your Customers to Invest Via Direct Public Offerings (DPOs)

Do you need to raise capital to grow your company? Have you tried tapping into your existing customer base? I’m speaking of offering customers an ownership stake in your business through direct public offerings or DPOs. DPOs are governed by SEC Rule 504 of Regulation D which allows companies to raise up to $1 Million every 12 months.

Advantages:

  • You give up a smaller portion of equity for the same amount of capital that angel investors would inject. You typically even give up less than you would using a more traditional private placement.

Read the rest of the article, Tap Your Customers Via Direct Public Offerings (DPOs)

 

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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you! If you are residing in another country besides the U.S., any time is the right time to give thanks. If you are in the US, enjoy the time with family and friends.I most definitely am.

Thanksgiving_cornecopia
If life seems crappy around the holidays and you are getting depressed, please, please, please go volunteer at a soup kitchen, food bank, or other location or visit a senior citizen's home, children's group home, hospital, or just do little acts of kindness for others. It WILL make you feel much better...to see how well off you truly are and to see the gratitude people express for thinking of them.

Happy Thanksgiving!

(My posts will resume on Monday, Nov. 28.)

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Craigslist-Inspired Company

I'm a huge fan of craigslist. Tra la la la la! That's me singing craigslist's praises! (Believe me, you'd prefer to see my singing in writing than to hear it in person.) Anyway, I was aware of one company, Airbnb, which got started after a few things came together, including renting out their apartment for several days using craigslist. Here's another one, described in an Inc.com article:

Getaround_website

Company: Getaround

"How it Works: Car owners earn money by renting out their unused vehicle through a peer-to-peer rental service. People in need of wheels for a day can get a car for a few dollars an hour. How it Makes Money: Getaround charges a 40 percent commission for car owners." 

Is this an alternative to Zipcar? Sounds like it.This sounds like a viable option for people residing in bigger cities such as San Francisco, where Getaround is based. Need a minivan to haul around the nieces and nephews you are watching for the day? Try Getaround. Need an SUV to transport all your friends to and from a party at the same time, try this company.

Want to know about more craigslist-inspired companies? Read the Inc. article, 7 Startups Inspired by Craigslist.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Angie's List IPO

As I previously "reported", Angie's List went public last week. (Actually, I reported that Angie's List was scheduled to IPO on 11/17/11.) Did you know Angie's List was an Inc. 500 company? Well, I did not until I read an Inc. article about the company. (I'm an avid reader of Inc. and save the Inc. 500 issues but my brain can't retain lists of 500 companies year after year!)

Angies_list
Here's an interesting excerpt from the interview with Angie Hicks, the founder of Angie's List:

"I started going door to door in 1995 to sell subscriptions to a magazine and call-in service, in which people would submit reviews of the work someone had done for them. Our website went up in 1999. By 2006, we were operating in 30 markets. Now, we're in 124." and

"We are seeing more competitors spring up, like Yelp. But when people ask me who our biggest competitor is, I tell them it's when you go ask your neighbor for a referral, instead of coming to Angie's List."

To read more, go to the The Anomolous IPO: Angie's List.

(For those of you who said, What the he__ is anomolous? Actually, according to Dictionary.com, there is no such word. I believe the Inc.com staff writer meant anomalous, which means "deviating from or inconsistent with the common order, form, or rule; irregular;  abnormal:")

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Monday, November 21, 2011

Great Video on Equity Partners

I repeatedly preach the need to think long and hard about co-ownership...and how you NEVER enter into a 50/50 equity split.

Here is an interesting video about equity partnering to start or grow a business. I wholly agree with the initial comments and find the later suggestions compelling.

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Dealing with Divisive Employees

"Divisive people are destructive and toxic. They’re like an infection which drags down morale and then performance and has potentially serious repercussions for the business. Deal with them as soon as you notice or the problems is brought to your attention."

This is excerpted from the following blog article I wrote: Dealing with Divisive Employees . Click on the link to read the article in its entirety.

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Monday, November 14, 2011

More Corporate Venture Funding

I've posted information about pursuing venture funding or strategic investment from Corporate America. Well, here's another update: according to Term Sheet, American Express participated in the Series C funding of Clickable. Clickable operates an online advertising platform. Check them out at www.clickable.com

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Monday, November 7, 2011

Speaking of Corporate Venture Funding

Last week I wrote about pursuing angel and strategic investments from large corporations. Well, in case you hadn't heard, I thought I'd pass along this tidbit, courtesy of Dan Primack's Term Sheet,

Citi (as in Citi Group or Citi Bank) not only has a corporate venture fund, they're trying to mirror the VC big boys. Citi has set up a venture funding office in Silicon Valley...and hired people from Battery Ventures and Menlo Ventures to help run it. This comes after they closed their venture fund (more of a PE fund) in Tokyo earlier this year due to poor deal flow and had significant turnover in their Citi Venture fund based in India.

Endgame: If Citi is your bank, they may be able to provide equity financing in addition to debt (bank loans)...or perhaps a hybrid of the two.

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Sunday, November 6, 2011

Angie's List to IPO

Have you seen all those tv ads for Angie's List? Well, apparently they are working. I have a friend who used Angie's List to find a subcontractor in Boston...and that was before I saw the ads. Her mention of Angie's List was the first time I heard of them.

Angies_list

Fast forward. Angie's List will go public via an IPO on November 17, before Thanksgiving. Angie's List, based in Indianapolis (how about those Midwest IPOs? Groupon, based in Chicago just went public.), plans to raise $114 million+/-.  It's not profitable, due to significant marketing costs, but it's growing like gangbusters and needs money to fuel that growth (and pay off/release some of their investors).

So keep your chin up. There's hope for your business' funding.

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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Corporations as Angels

I read an article in the October 2011 issue of CFO Magazine that intrigued me. The title, Just Call Me Angel: Smaller companies in search of cash have a new source: big companies, says it all. According to this article, some corporations have amassed a large horde of cash. And you don't maximize shareholder value by sitting on a pile of cash. You have to do something with it that generates returns for the company. However, unless you are an insurance company, you can't just invest in anything. You have to invest in something that is related to your business.

Angel_investor
You can make partial acquisitions of companies in your space who give you something you need - market penetration, access to preferred customers, etc. You can invest in smaller entities that are developing new technology or methodologies...and have them serve as a de facto research arm.

According to the article, corporations are on track to invest their most in a decade, with nearly $1.4 billion in funding flowing out of corporate venture arms during the first half of 2011. (This is NOT to be confused with M&A activity. This is purely investment in smaller entities.) Small companies seeking angel investment can tap into this by identifying larger companies in their industry who may be interested in their technology, market, or service offerings. Then focus on what your company can provide the larger corporation that it doesn't already have. Make sure the company has some cash before you approach it and make the pitch. Another term for this venture funding by corporations: strategic investment. Fancy that. Not quite as new as the article's subtitle implies.

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60 Minutes Interview with Steve Jobs

I missed the 60 Minutes interview with/about Steve Jobs. I didn't even know it was coming. (Ok, I admit. I haven't watched 60 Minutes in a few years. A news junkie, I am not. However, somehow I manage to stay on top of domestic and international current events. Oh yeah. I subscribe to Fortune, the Atlanta Business Chronicle, the Wall Street Journal, and Inc. And I read Yahoo! news online. And watch Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert...and occasionally check out other options.)

Sorry for the diversion. If you didn't TiVo or DVR it, you can check out the interview online. 60 Minutes devoted a whole program to Steve Jobs and the entire 60 Minutes' interview with Walter Isaacson on Steve Jobs is available online in two parts. Watch Part I or Part II at your leisure.

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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Term Sheet's Liquidity Event

I am a subscriber to "Term Sheet", the daily synopsis on deal activity in the angel realm (somewhat), venture capital and private equity by Fortune writer Dan Primack. I just saw that Mr. Primack and Fortune will host Term Sheet's first ever event, which they are calling the Liquidity Event. (Hah!) If you are seeking funding, would like to introduce yourself to some of the local venture capital and private equity folks, or just want to meet finance people or fellow entrepreneurs, then I recommend you attend. And guess what? Tickets are only $10! So, on a cost basis alone I highly recommend you attend. In addiiton, the proceeds will be donated to a non-profit chosen by...the attendees. According to the notice I received, 125 people have already bought tickets so they may be in danger of selling out. So hurry if you are in NYC!

Details:

What: Term Sheet's Liquidity Event, an event featuring cocktails with an open bar (liquids, get it?) and conversation, sponsored by Golub Capital (www.golubcapital.com )

When: Tuesday, November 15, 2011, 5-8pm

Where: New York City

Cost: $10

Get your tickets (and more details) at http://termsheet.eventbrite.com.

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Friday, October 28, 2011

When to Use Debt vs. Equity

In general, when you do not have a steady source of cash and you are a rapidly growing business, I strongly recommend you keep your debt to a minimum. Why? There is no consistent source of cash flow to make interest or principal and interest payments. Therefore, equity is better for start-ups and  for rapidly expanding companies. It is true, of course, that with equity you end up paying out more if you grow and paying out heaps more if you grow significantly. But what’s better? 100% of $2 million? or 30% of $20 million?

Debt_or_equity

(The answer: the latter. $6 million is definitely better than $2 million!)  The  overall objective for any business seeking startup or expansion capital is to bring in the most funds while retaining the greatest ownership percentage. Only dilute as it makes sense.

To help you better understand, let me provide you with an overview of debt and equity.

To read the rest of the article, go to Debt vs. Equity?

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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Intuit's Love a Local Small Business Contest

Win a Small Business Grant from Intuit

Are you looking for some small business funding and a means to additional PR? Well, Intuit is offering both through its "Love a Local Business" Contest. Only small / medium businesses need apply.

The 411 on this small business contest: Intuit is selecting one winner a month for a $25,000 small business grant. It's not equity. It's not debt. It's just yours! The contest ends on December 31, 2011.

Following are the details, directly from the Intuit site: http://lovealocalbusiness.intuit.com/sbo)

Intuit_love_a_local_business

1st step: vote for your business. (i.e., Nominate yourself.)
It's easy — just share a few brief thoughts about why you love serving your customers and your community.

2nd step: get out the vote.
Use the tools in the Winner's Playbook to increase your chances of winning. Each vote is like a raffle ticket (only one vote per fan): the more votes you get, the more chances you have to become one of nine Finalists who wins a $25,000 Intuit Hiring Grant. At the end of the contest, judges will review all the nine winners and select one Grand Prize winner for an additional $25,000 grant for a total of $50,000!

Your words could make the difference, so make sure your business is represented, and good luck!

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Legal residents of the 50 United States (D.C.), 18 years or older may submit a nomination. Submit nomination before 12/31/11. Void where prohibited. Official Rules

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Venture Capital Returns Continue Upward Trend

This excerpt from a press release issued by the National Venture Capital Association features a quote by the association's president that highlights some of the comments I've made in the past about IPOs and the trickle down effect on investing. Here is the quote: "In order to achieve the level of historical performance that (venture capital) limited partners have come to expect, we must have a thrivings IPO market and acquisitions, and the former essentially closed mid-August of this year. Many fine companies await the market'sstrengthening so that they can access the capital needed to continue their growth trajectories."

According the data compiled by the NVCA, returns were up significantly as of June 30, 2011 due to easier exits through IPOs and the resulting higher valuations of venture capital portfolio companies.

Want to read the press release in its entirety? Click here.

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Small Business Funding Programs for Urban Entrepreneurs

Here are a few corporate small business funding programs that you may be able to take advantage of:

MillerCoors’ Urban Entrepreneurs Series challenge. (I must disclose that I have been a regional screening judge for this program in the past.) The Urban Entrepreneur Series is a business plan competition and awards $150,000.

Starbucks has recently created a new campaign called Create Jobs for USA “to create and sustain jobs”. Starbucks has earmarked $5 million of its own money for this program.

Read the rest of the post describing the programs in their entirety at Corporate Small Business Funding Programs for Urban Entrepreneurs.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Pitching a Venture Capitalist

Have you been invited to pitch to a venture capitalist? To a group of them? Well, if you have, congratulations! Here are some of the main points to keep in mind when making that presentation.

Investor_presentation
Main points:

  1. Don't assume everyone knows what your company does.
    1. Just because you are highly familiar with your company's area of expertise doesn't mean others are. Be able to explain what you do in layman's terms. Don't assume all VCs are techies. Some aren't.
  2. Stay on track.
    1. If you are fortunate enough to get a presentation opportunity, know that VCs typically give you a specified amount of time. i.e., 30 mins or 1 hour. Be on time and remain on task. The VCs may inadvertently sidetrack you but gently bring them back.
  3. Go with the flow.
    1. When presenting to VCs, you'll often get questions throughout the presentation. There's no: "Wait until the presentation is over to ask questions." Know your presentation enough to jump around to answer the questions and be able to return to where you left off.
  4. Understand the entire presentation. You should be able to explain the numbers.
    1. Your CFO or someone else may need to answer the in-depth questions but if you can't answer basic questions about your financials, exit strategy, etc. you'll look like you don't have a good grasp of what drives your company.
  5. Show that there are risks.
    1. Sometimes people are afraid to show they're not teflon. Instead of looking like they're strong, they come across as being too cocky and not knowing their market.

The above is based on the Inc.com piece, How to Sell an Idea to a Venture Capitalist. Click on the link to go to the article.

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Seeking a CFO? Wall Street is Laying Off

Wall Street is laying off investment bankers. Although most of America isn't aware of this, Wall Street has been letting go of people on a fairly consistent basis since 2008. According to the Wall Street Journal, New York City has lost 22,000 securities-industry jobs since January 2008. If you live in Manhattan, especially lower Manhattan/Battery Park or the Upper east and west sides, you will have been aware of this for some time.

True. The turnover in investment banking is high. Not as high as in consulting but still high. (Many of my Wharton peers left consulting after 2-3 years but lasted significantly longer in the i-banking sector.) Many last 10-20 years then move into something new. All of this presents opportunities for those seeking CFOs.

I've noticed many small and medium businesses in the south and midwest seek CPA-holding CFOs. That's great if you want a controller and only pursue bank loans as a means of financing but if you want to ratchet your growth to the next level, a financing-focused CFO is a better bet. (You can always have a CPA-holding controller report to your CFO.) And if you aspire to join the ranks of the mid-sized companies being covered on Wall Street (albeit to a much lesser degree than their larger peers), a CFO with an investment banking background may be the answer to your prayers.

So if you have been considering pursuing a financing-focused CFO, take heart. Many investment bankers may be willing to make the leap to a smaller entity...and even move out of the northeast. Investment bankers want quality of life too. If you're interested and don't know where to find these i-bankers who may be considering change or have been laid off, check out some of the financial associations and see if they provide job postings. Also, check with the alumni groups and career offices - alumni services of the schools that supply many to Wall Street like New York University, Wharton, Columbia, Chicago, Harvard and others. Good luck!

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Friday, October 21, 2011

Market Volatility

The financial markets were more buoyant earlier this year, hence all the IPOs. But then a fair amount of uncertainty, with a negative tone, set in, causing the markets to increase in volatility and become a less attractive option for those seeking to go public via IPOs. Less attractive does not mean the option was eliminated.

When the markets are buoyant they are reflecting optimism and thus, financing is more plentiful. As I've stated before, private equity firms and venture capitalists, among others, can take their companies public, providing them with more options and beginning the trickle down effect. When equity markets are optimistic, debt financing is also easier with investors more open to financing options that don't require myriad covenants (aka safety nets or provisions). Debt financing during this time typically comes with lower interest rates for the same debt that, in a more volatile market would require more.

So Groupon has registered for an IPO and will likely move forward with sales of its shares at a $12 billion valuation. That's down from the $15-$20 billion that it could have gotten had it been ready in April, May or June. C'est la vie. Personally, given how some of the other IPO shares have performed post-IPO, and given the earnings expectations, I think Groupon's $12 billion valuation is much more fitting.

Any thoughts? I'd love to hear them.

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Receivables Exchange

There is an online marketplace targeted at small and medium businesses that enables these companies to auction their account receivables.  The entity that operates this exchange is The Receivables Exchange or TRE. You can view them at www.receivablesexchange.com. TRE was the 2010 Innovation Award winner in the e-commerce category.

TRE recently received an infusion of cash to help it expand its focus to selling corporate receivables when NYSE Euronext acquired a minority stake in the company.

Check out this online marketplace. It still serves smaller companies and may be just what you need to free up your business cash flow.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Wharton Club Breakfast Series, Atlanta

The Wharton Club of Atlanta,
Kellogg Alumni Club of Atlanta
and the
London Business School Atlanta Alumni Club
are pleased to invite you to our next
breakfast series event

Real Estate Markets

  featuring

Matt Bronfman
Managing Director
Jamestown Properties


Thursday, October 27, 2011
7:30 AM - 9:00 AM

at
The Buckhead Club

3344 Peachtree Road NE, Suite 2600
Atlanta, GA  30326

Cost: 
$35 per person

To register, please visit http://wkloct2011-eorg.eventbrite.com/

For a complete listing of 2011-12 Breakfast Series events, please visit:
http://wklatlanta.eventbrite.com/

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7 Steps for Effective Business Cash Management

Another piece from the cash management cfo: The data for small business failure varies from country to country and from source to source, but the average statistical data of business failure in most western style economies is skyrocketing high!

Tight_money
When operations of new businesses are analysed, planning and management of cash flow is one of the critical areas that is quite often underestimated and therefore overlooked.

Read the rest of the post by a guest blogger at Seven Steps for Effective Cash Management for Your Business

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Monday, October 17, 2011

Atlanta Team Ivy Breakfast Networking Event

October Meeting
Homecoming

 

Ivy League Homecoming is the theme of our October breakfast.  Representatives of the area Ivy League Clubs will attend to fill us in on events and happenings amongst the alumni.  You'll see people you haven't seen in years.  You'll also see lots of new faces, too.

Best of all, we'll have a panel of some our past speakers discuss doing business in Atlanta in Q4 2011--

Confirmed: Larry Small III, Groupon
Fara Wilson, VP of Marketing, Ackerman & Co.
John Coffin, EVP of Corporate Banking, Atlantic Capital Bank

"What does it take to make money in today's environment?"


Click here to register (If on an i-phone, go directly to the registration URL: http://oct2011teamivybreakfast.eventbrite.com/

Event details:
When: October 19th, 7:30am - 9:00 am.
Where:  City Club of Atlanta (Buckhead)

3343 Peachtree Road
Suite 1850
Atlanta, GA 30326

(404) 442-2600
COST: $20 pre-registration, $25 after today, October 16th
(Parking is included).


Click here to register

October Event:
Ivy League Homecoming

We'll ask our panelists:

(1) What are the specific  “take aways”/top 3 items, that I can put into use right now for profitability in my business in the next 60 days or the holiday season?

(2) What advice would you have for my business stability, specific things to accomplish and/or put in place before year end?

(3) What are the most important things I’d want to do to position my business for success in 2012 and the future?

(4) What do you see on the regulatory horizon (i.e., local and state sales tax on internet sales) that will affect the way I do business?

This is our last breakfast event for 2011.  You don't want to miss it!

Click here to register

BIOGRAPHIES for October Panelists

 

Larry Small, Groupon

 

Larry Small focuses on growing the customer base for Groupon, serving national franchise and local business operators with rare combined experience in daily deal marketing, social media, search engine optimization and traditional media practices such as radio and tv.

 

Prior to joining Groupon, recognized by Forbes Magazine as the fastest growing company ever, Mr. Small’s award-winning marketing, sales and strategic planning work experience included serving as the Director of Marketing for CNN at Turner Broadcasting System.  Also, in the packaged-goods industry he worked as a Sales and Marketing BrandManager for Brown-Forman Beverages, makers of Jack Daniels.

 

Mr. Small’s education background includes an MBA in International Business from Mercer University and BA in Mass Media Communication.  In addition he has earned special certifications with MIT/Harvard, The Media Buying Academy and Google

 

Fara Wilson, Vice President of Marketing, Ackerman & Co.

 

As Vice President of Marketing at Ackerman & Co., Fara is responsible for developing and executing the company’s marketing and communication strategy. In this position, she leads all marketing initiatives and oversees the implementation of Ackerman’s branding, advertising, proposals, web-based and digital activities. Ackerman & Co. is a leader in commercial real estate brokerage, development, management and investment

 

Prior to joining Ackerman & Co., Fara spent the last 13 years with Industrial Developments International, Inc., where she managed the company’s marketing and rebranding standards, the redesign of its print collateral materials and the launching and design of its Website and Content Management System as well as several e-marketing initiatives.    

 

She holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Communications from Oglethorpe University. Fara is also the chairman of the Next Generation Marketing Technology Group for the Atlanta Chapter of the American Marketing Association.

 

John Coffin, EVP, Atlantic Capital Bank

Mr. Coffin is the Executive Vice President and Banking Group Executive of Atlantic Capital Bank.  He oversees the Bank’s corporate and business banking division.  Mr. Coffin’s background includes commercial, capital markets and corporate banking experience.  Before co-founding and becoming an officer of Atlantic Capital, he spent ten years at Wachovia Bank, most recently in the position of Senior Vice President and Atlanta Commercial Banking Team Leader. Prior to this role, he was the Head of the Business Services Corporate Banking Group following Wachovia’s merger with First Union.


Prior to joining Wachovia in 1996, Mr. Coffin worked in New York in the Media and Telecommunications Group at Manufacturers Hanover Trust Company, Chemical Bank and Chase Manhattan Bank (through these two mergers).

Mr. Coffin earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Dartmouth College.  He received a Master of Business Administration from Columbia University Graduate School of Business, with a Finance and International Business concentration.  He is active in various civic activities and resides with his wife and three children in Buckhead.

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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Financial Boot Camp - Atlanta - 10/21-22/2011

Financial Boot Camp

How do experienced business owners respond to
FINANCIAL B%T CAMP?

 Highly recommend this 2-day course. Charles has a wealth of insight on finance to break down complex concepts into understandable chunks…and reassemble the pieces so it still works.
— Joel Quinn, serial enterpreneur

Are you ready to go the next level for your business?

Register Now
Course Agenda Brochure

Small Business Finance Institute

2-Day Workshop $295 (incl. lunch)

NEXT DATE:
October 21 & 22
9:00 - 3:00

Workshop will be presented by
Charles H. Green at
HUB Atlanta
1375 Spring Street, Atlanta GA 30309.

Limited to 15 Participants


W W W .
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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Raising Money Is Stressful

Last night I spoke to a friend who is raising money. She said, "It's hard." Raising money is hard. It's tiring. You are trying to run a business while also trying to raise funds. Most founders are not money people. They are sales or operations or technology oriented people. And when you are growing like crazy and trying to craft distribution partnerships, manufacture more of the existing products, conduct product development to create additional products to satisfy more customers...raising money can be a beast. You can end up exhausted - mentally and physically.

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Being an entrepreneur is not for the faint of heart. Having the vision of where the company is going and holding that can help in times like my friend is having when things just wear on you. Sometimes it may seem like you go forward and find an investor, then you have production problems which slam your sales. This is what happens with a rapidly growing company. When cash flow is tight, every shock reverberates for quite some time.

My friend meditates and runs. This helps keep her focused. Soon she's headed to her mountain retreat to hang out with friends who support what she does. This will help her renew her commitment and lift some of the exhaustion.

Since raising money for smaller companies is typically an additional task (a huge, time consuming task) on top of what the founders / owners already do, it's important to build a form of stress relief into your life. I have an aunt who does shiatsu and she says when you expend significant mental energy you need to also expend significant physical energy so that mental energy doesn't take residence in your body and wreak havoc on your health. Whether or not you agree with the energy assessment, we all agree balance is crucial. Your business is your baby and when it's growing rapidly or when you're trying to get to rapid growth you need to give it lots of attention. Take care of yourself to ensure you'll be around to reap the benefits of all this stress. Please.

I'd love to hear what you've done to ease the stress of raising money in the early stages while rapidly expanding your business.

 

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Finance Call: Q&A, 10/12/11

Monthly Finance Call

Join us for our next monthly conference call. This call will be a one hour Q&A session where you can ask any business finance or related questions you can think of. Can't think of any? Join in and listen to others' questions ...and the answers. It just may give you the information you need for your own business financing or cash management needs.

 Conference Call Details        
  When: Wednesday, October 11, 2011

                7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

  Where: Dial-in Number: (209) 647-1000
                  Participant Access Code: 318632#

 

The call is free except for any toll/long distance charges from your phone company. (Suggestion: Use your cell!)

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Friday, October 7, 2011

Public University Tuition Increases Nearly 3x Inflation

"Take a look at We Are the 99 Percent -- a website on which protest sympathizers share their tales of economic hardship. Very few of them mention banks, or even bank bailouts. The vast majority of them, however, do cite college debt.

According to The College Board, average annual in-state tuition and fees at four-year public universities increased by 72% over the past decade. Four-year private college tuition is up by more than 34% over the same time period, during which inflation rose only around 25%." (The bolding and italics are mine.)

This is an excerpt from Dan Primack' Term Sheet. Term Sheet is a daily posting of insights and musings on Wall St. and related activities by Dan Primack, a Fortune magazine writer.

I graduated from Wharton over a decade ago...and that was graduate school. I won't mention when I graduated from Ohio State. I knew that tuition and fees were rising faster than inflation, but I didn't realize public university tuition was rising at a rate nearly 3x that of inflation. Wow!

What are your thoughts

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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

How a Cash Management CFO Handles Customer Price Increases

As a cash management CFO (one focused on managing cash as tightly as possible), I found the article written by Norm Brodsky in response to a question from an entrepreneur intriguing. I've heard similar issues. I once had a prospective client who ran a medical transportation company and had an 8-figure contract with the Veteran's Administration. However, he had not included any cost increases in his contract and his firm was hemorraghing cash. He was using another profitable company to fund all the losses in this profitable one.

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We told him he had to immediately renegotiate the contract. Any self respecting cash management CFO would have said the same thing. The government wanted a reliable entity. If he suddenly went belly up after servicing the government 2.5 years into the 5 year contract (and apparently, doing an excellent job), the VA would be in the unenviable position of having to find an alternate with no notice. For him, the situation would be worse. He would have lost millions over the years and now be unable to get another government contract as a significant shareholder of any entity doing business with the government. The same thing Norm stated in his advice applies here. Per Mr. Brodsky, "he could avoid such problems by inserting a simple clause in his customer contracts that would allow him to increase the price if his material costs rose."

If you have a contract that's underwater (losing money), re-negotiate ASAP! If you are considering entering into a contract that has a fixed price based on variable material costs, including gasoline if you are a transportation or related entity, then, as above, PLEASE insert the clause about increasing prices when material costs rise. Just some friendly advice from a cash management cfo.

Read Norm Brodsky's Inc. article.

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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Bad Economy: How to Improve Employee Morale

"According to a recent Time magazine study, approximately 80% of people feel disrespected at work. In today’s economy, it’s increasingly difficult to find jobs – but it’s also very important to maintain

Employee

Employee recognition is key to morale.

employee happiness in order to maximize the efficiency of the company in preparation for long-term success."

Read the rest of the story.

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Friday, September 30, 2011

Effective Persuasive Speech

"Public speaking ranks as one of the top five fears. Knowing your topic well and focusing on the purpose of your speech can help alleviate those fears. The purpose of a persuasive speech is to persuade the audience to change or deepen their belief in your topic and influence them to take action as a result."

by me, Tiffany C, Wright
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Why Private Equity Is Good for America

I read an interesting article by Tony James, the president of Blackstone, a private equity firm most of you have probably never heard of unless you are an avid Wall Street Journal reader (although they do garner the occasional mention in Fortune and other business and financial press). Mr. James' provided his top four reasons that private equity can help with the economic recovery or, in other words, is good for America.

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Those reasons are as follows:

  1. Private equity firms help rescue troubled companies.
  2. PE firms provide (or can provide) growth capital to nascent companies.
  3. PE firms help pension funds meet the obligations they have to the recipents of those pensions.
  4. Private equity firms help developing economies grow.

Of course, not all private equity firms do all of the above, which Blackstone apparently does. Some focus on geographic areas or on specific revenue or EBITDA ranges or on a particular stage. Others, usually smaller PE firms, may not pursue pension funds, instead obtaining their funds from other, smaller institutions and individuals. Overall, however, I agree with the premise here. Whether or not one particular fund addresses all these areas, collectively, I believe private equity firms definitely do help as outlined in Mr. James' reasons and are, indeed, good for America.

To read the article in its entirety, go to Tony James' Top Four Reasons.

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Rebuilt Alternator Business

"A rebuilt alternator business can be Internet-based or located at a traditional retail location, or both. These entities typically sell to do-it-yourselfers who repair their own vehicles and to mechanics and the shops they work at. A retailer can specialize in automotives (cars, trucks, commercial vehicles) or in other motorized equipment such as boats, industrial or construction equipment, or farm equipment."

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Rebuilt Alternator Business

"A rebuilt alternator business can be Internet-based or located at a traditional retail location, or both. These entities typically sell to do-it-yourselfers who repair their own vehicles and to mechanics and the shops they work at. A retailer can specialize in automotives (cars, trucks, commercial vehicles) or in other motorized equipment such as boats, industrial or construction equipment, or farm equipment."

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Using a Consultant: Advantages

"Consultants are not steeped in company culture or traditions and largely work outside of the client's office politics. As a result, consultants provide a refreshing, independent viewpoint that can help a company isolate problems, determine causes and identify creative or workable solutions."

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Temp Worker Usage: Pros and Cons

"Using temp workers provides flexibility. If the company does as well or better than expected for a period of time, the temp employee's tenure may be extended or he may be offered a full time position. If the company performs worse than expected or if a surge in business is only temporary, the temp employee can be released with little shock to the company's financials or morale."

 

Excerpted from, read more: Advantages & Disadvantages of Using Full Time Temp Workers | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/info_12005577_advantages-disadvantages-using-full-time-temp-workers.html#ixzz1Z7lT9jZ3

Click on the link to read more of the article I wrote for eHow.
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3 Benefits of Developing a Strong Product Brand

Successfully development of a strong brand for a product results in brand equity. With brand equity the brand now transcends the original product and flows over to the company or other products.

I wrote the article!
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Friday, September 23, 2011

The US Postal Service: My Thoughts for Profitability

Yesterday I uploaded a photo of a post office I visited but I neglected to finish the thought! The postal service is losing billions. What can they do to rectify the situation? For now, they've adopted an investment cash flow strategy to generate cash. Specifically, the US Postal Service will sell some of their properties in order to raise money. Some sales will be a sale leaseback. (You sell the property and lease it back under a long term lease.) That's a great way to generate cash in the short term and medium term, but what about the long term? The US Postal Service's operating model is currrently broken. They are hemorrhaging operational cash. Generating positive investment cash flow won't change that. This just buys time to fix the problem.

So how do they fix the problem? Some ideas:

  • Eliminate Saturday hours. I remember when postal delivery was only Monday - Friday. The USPS started Saturday delivery to make themselves more competitive. Well, it's not working anymore. We'll all adjust to not getting mail on Saturdays. This would save millions.
  • Install more postal processing kiosks in the lobby. You can weigh and send packages, certified mail, etc. from these but only the main locations and some branches have them. People understand self serve. And using these is so much faster than standing in line to get a postal agent.
  • Reduce personnel. It's always hard to lay off people but the USPS simply can't afford it. Utilizing options 1 and 2 will reduce personnel needs.

Additional ideas:

  • Partner with FedEx or UPS for next day delivery for small packages and letters. I used the post office twice to send next day air letters. One was delivered a day late, one was delivered hours late. While my experience may not be the norm, the USPS in numerous surveys does not meet the standards of its top two competitors. So partner with them and get a referral fee or do revenue sharing. This will help the USPS' perception also.
  • Analyze the cost of shipping for all non-first class mail items. For those that are losing money on an operational basis, eliminate the service, increase the price, or make significant process and management changes to reduce the internal cost. This is what cost accounting is all about. Make use of it.

That's my $0.44. Anyone have any other thoughts?

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Postal issues

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I took this photo outside a post office. Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Identified: People Rankings for Job Purposes

Want to find a good candidate for a job your company has? Well, now there's a new site called Identified which ranks people based primarily on the following criteria: work history, education, and social network. People will be publicly ranked (for now) on a scale from 0 to 100 based on how well they show in these areas. Currently the social network information is pulled from Facebook.

Personally, I know my LinkedIn network is much stronger than my Facebook network so my score may lag accordingly. Uh oh! What does that mean? Will I go from being a top ranked business commenter (lol) to languishing toward the bottom of the barrel? Hmmm.

The founders, Brendan Wallace and Adeyemi Ajao, are calling Identified "Google Page Rank for People." This may be fitting considering that the duo raised a portion of their $5.5 million in angel investment from Eric Schmidt's, former Google CEO, Innovation Endeavors.

Finish reading the post.

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Obama's Startup Funds Assistance Plan

There is a largely overlooked section of Obama's American Job Act that bodes extremely well for young entrepreneurs. According to one book I recently read, and I loosely paraphrase here, 20-somethings are the perfect entrepreneur candidates (assuming a number of other characteristics besides age) because they have the least to lose and the most to gain. One hindrance to this is if you quit your job before you've built sizable savings to enable you to focus solely on starting and building a business, you have no safety net. Awwwwww! That's the sound of young people falling to the ground and trying to figure out how to ask the parents can they move back into the house they so willingly left not long ago so they can avoid homelessness.

Obama's plan includes a provision that reforms federal unemployment insurance. No, I'm not talking about extending the length of unemployment to help the jobless and seeking. I'm talking about extending unemployment to ...entrepreneurs! The American Job Act would create a Self Employment Assistance (SEA) aprogram in all 50 states that provides unemployment benefits to self employed individuals, aka entrepreneurs, for up to 26 weeks.

Many entrepreneurs could use that money as a source of startup funds. And those funds could mean the difference between a young aspiring entrepreneur taking the leap now or waiting. The problem with waiting is sometimes that magic date never occurs. What was it Langston Hughes said about a dream deferred?

"Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?"

Excerpted from Langston Hughes' poem, A Dream Deferred

 

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Venture funding of non tech companies

I know tech gets all the press but other deals are receiving venture funding. From the Term Sheet, by Dan Primack of Fortune Magazine:

"TenMarks, a Newton, Mass.-based provider of personalized math tutoring via SaaS, has raised $3 million in Series A funding. Catamount Ventures led the round, and was joined by Birchmere Ventures. www.tenmarks.com"

Okay, this is tech related but the focus is more on delivering educational services (tutoring) using new methodologies that make it easier for the end user to consume, than on technology, per se.

Vermont Farmstead Cheese Co., a South Woodstock, Vt.-based artisanal cheese and dairy company, has raised $2.5 million in Series A funding. No investor information was disclosed. www.vermontfarmstead.com"

For the uninitiated, Series A funding is the first round of venture capital funding. It comes after angel investment aka seed funding.

(Click on the term, if you want to subscribe to Term Sheet. It's an excellent resource for what's going on in the venture capital and private equity worlds.)

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Boxing Rules vs. Government Contracting Rules

Last night I watched the Floyd Mayweather vs. Victor Ortiz fight. My father and his friends watched it Saturday night but I went out on the town so he recorded the PPV fight for me. Great fight! I had to shake my head and laugh. You either love Floyd or not. He's definitely a character.

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In case you don't know, Mayweather knocked out Ortiz when Ortiz had his gloves down and was, apparently, looking at the referee. But the rule in boxing is "Always protect yourself", so officially Mayweather was in the right for taking advantage of Ortiz' confusion.

So that got me thinking about doing business with the government. (I was NOT thinking about the government while watching the fight. This was immediately after.) The government is very rules driven. If you submit a bid but don't follow the instructions exactly to the letter, your bid can (and, more often than not, will) be rejected. If you don't follow the rules explicitly when you submit your invoice for payment, even if it means you must reference CFR Part XX, your invoice will be rejected. Then you often can't re-submit until the next specified submission date (i.e, the 30th day of each month).

If you are a government contractor who incurs substantial costs before submission of an invoice, who normally then has to wait 30 days to receive payment, and you mess up... Too bad! You should have followed the instructions to the letter! By not doing so, you didn't protect yourself so if you get knocked down for another 30-60 days while you await payment, that's your fault!

I'm not weighing in for or against. I just think what happened in this fight is a great analogy! And you?

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Monday, September 19, 2011

Daily Deal Sites

Whenever a venture is highly successful, it invites competition. The more public that success, the greater the competition. This happened with the car companies in the early 20th century...and is happening now with so-called "daily deal" sites in the early 21st century. (Did you know that the sub brands such as Chevy and Lincoln were once totally separate car companies?)

Groupon is the market leader but LivingSocial is coming on strong. (I subscribe to both, although I am personally biased in favor of Groupon and take advantage of their deals more often.) In a Wall Street Journal article I read today, it stated that there were 530 "daily deal sites nationwide". 530!! Wow. I had no idea. The article also stated that ~1/3 of them, or 170 sites, have been sold or shut down in 2011. That was fast! I thought most of them were created in the past 1-2 years. Talk about a trajectory!

Anyway, it looks like Groupon is having the same problem AOL had some years ago. Paying more and more for subscribers. Their costs incurred in signing up a new customer have nearly tripled in the past year. Yes, tripled. With greater competition comes higher costs. It also helps to have had a ton of venture capital poured into your coffers in the past year. You can't spend what you don't have. (Well, not quite true. My mother said she didn't have any money but darned if she didn't show off her new Kohl's purchases. She had a Kohl's credit card. So yes, credit allows you to spend what you don't have.)

The concern is also that subscribers will get tired of getting numerous similar emails on a daily basis and subsequently, unsubscribe from the offers. (I mean, how many restaurant discounts can one take advantage of?)

The shake out in the daily deals market will continue. It's inevitable. Sometimes the first to market prevails...and sometimes they don't. I place my bet on Groupon.

WSJ article referenced: Get 'Em While They Last: 'Daily Deal' Sites Dying Fast

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Million Dollar Portfolio Challenge

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CNBC's Million Dollar Portfolio Challenge has begun! Thinking of selling your business and investing the proceeds? Participate in this challenge to see if that is wise (not the selling, but the personal investing!). Begins today, 9/19 and ends 11/25. 1st prize: $1 million. 2nd prize: 2012 Maserati. Go to www.milliondollar.cnbc.com for details. Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Cash out with ESOPs

I'm still reading that Fortune issue. I read an article about Eileen Fisher, a clothing designer with stores throughout the US and Canada. They opted not to sell the business or go public. Instead, they used an ESOP. An ESOP is an employee stock ownership plan. It enables employees to participate in the ownership of the company while allowing the owner(s) to cash out some or all of his/her/their equity. It also conveys some tax benefits somewhat tied to deferred compensation and installment payments. If your employees have voiced interest in owning the company or in equity participation, or if you already provide stock options, this could be a highly viable option to cash out of your business. You need to install a professional management team so the company doesn't go to Hades when you leave. (Otherwise that could be considered a breach of fiduciary responsibilities. An ESOP is an administered program. ) Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile
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Saturday, September 17, 2011

You Can Still Flourish in a "Down Economy"

I am reading an excellent article in Fortune about Chipotle. Chipotle is flourishing despite all the negative news about the economy. (Actually, a lot of companies are doing well but they are not getting much press. Their performance goes against the "negative news". )

I am a huge fan of Chipotle's, especially since the advent of the burrito bowl. The service is fast and excellent. The food is fresh and tasty and lacking preservatives. The meat is without hormones and antibiotics. The article discusses the drivers behind Chipotle's initial and continued success. Read the article if you can. It has relevant information that any business owner can learn from. Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

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Friday, September 16, 2011

Aspiring Millionaires

What's behind the high number of aspiring millionaires in the US? The answer: there is no one answer. Different people have different motivations. Often people have a desire to be successful and they measure that success in net worth, financial terms. Others want to experience financial freedom and enjoy real security that releases the tether to a job. Still others crave flexibility and personal freedom they believe millions can provide.

Who wants to be a millionaire

(Photo is courtesy of the Disney/ABC show, "Who wants to be a millionaire?")

The path you take has something to do with your answer to the question, “How bad do you want it?” If you crave security over all else, your answer is, “Somewhat”. Hence, the best road for you as an aspiring millionaire is to work your full time job and invest in real estate, the stock market, or build an internet based business in the evenings and on weekends, or something else along these lines. This way you still have job security and a relatively sure means of paying the bills while you build your portfolio. If you really do want it bad but you have a family or others to support and you absolutely need the paycheck, then use all your free time to pursue one of these avenues. Learn as much as you can and quickly put it into practice. What makes the difference is not what you know, but what you do with what you know...

Read the rest of this post.

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Fundamentals vs. Fear in Today's Stock Market

I just read in the Wall Street Journal that ~50% of the IPOs that listed this year are trading below their offering price. Wow! Didn't I blog about the great opportunities to go public over the next 12 months. Good thing I'm typing, not talking because it'd be hard to talk with my mouth full of all that crow!

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Actually, I still stand by my belief. The fundamentals of the market are the same. However, fear runs rampant and that's what causing all the volatility in the market right now. Fear. The market performs based on underlying fundamentals over time...but in the short term it reflects the short-term fear (or exuberance) and negative (or positive) expectations of investors. This is why there are traders. People and companies trade on this volatility. Some traders, especially options traders, are making a lot of money right now.

So how long will this fear last? Not sure. I wrote yesterday about buying into all the negative press and the adverse impact it can have on your business. As you can see, it works the same with the markets. I'm best at analyzing trends and mid-term to long-term behavior. Short term...sorry.

The good news is that the entities going public have adopted a wait and see approach. They haven't scrapped their plans. They're waiting for the volatility to level off so they can get the highest subscription rate on the IPO at the highest offering price. Many of the companies that have gone public are good businesses with strong fundamentals. (Like Sesame Street, boys and girls, "fundamentals" is my theme for the day!) So investors are still interested. And investors are interested in the ones waiting in the wings.

Hah! I was just joking about eating crow. The venture capital market for later stage companies is still going strong. Capitalize while you can. And I'll keep my eyes on the market.

An aside: I missed out on all of the IPOs. I'm on no one's special list it seems. But I'm poised to take advantage of the price drop. Like any good long term investor, I focus on the fundamentals (that word again) and buy low, sell high.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I'm the Founder! I'm Fired?!!

Great article at Inc.com entitled, Why Founders Get Fired. (I love Inc. magazine. It's a great strategic financial resource...and general business resource too.)

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The premise of the article is that the Larry Ellisons (Oracle) and Bill Gates (Microsoft) of the world are rare. Most founders of high growth companies are replaced. Obviously, if the company is acquired (see my comments yesterday on Selling to Large Companies: The 1-3 Year Lockup), the founder will is replaced, though not immediately. However, many companies that experience rapid growth outgrow the capabilities of their founders.

According to the article, "what helps a founder become so successful in launching a company—his or her passion—can also detract from big picture managerial skills it takes to scale the company."

and more: "The person who took that company from nothing to $5 million has done a daunting job, but that person, in the view of the VC, is very often not the person that will take them from $5 million to $100 million."

Why? The skill set needed to get from 0 to 5 is very different from the skill set needed to get from 5 to 50...or higher.

If you don't have investors in your company telling you someone else needs to head the company to make it larger, you could be your company's bottleneck to growth. It's hard to make such a self assessment, but it can be done. Sara Blakely is Spanx's founder and still the majority owner. Yet she ceded the CEO duties to someone else a few years ago. She realized she was the startup entrepreneur and now she focuses her energies on building the brand and relationships. She brought in an experienced CEO as a strategic, financial resource to help her build a sustainable enterprise. You may want to take a tip from her and the people quoted in the article and "fire" yourself. Your business may thank you for it.

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The Small Business CFO's Opinion on Negative Economic News

Ok. I'm here to provide the small business cfo's opinion on all the negative economic news out there. But first. PLEASE BEWARE. Everyone, especially business owners like to think that nothing strongly influences them without their consent. Not so. Studies show that people surrounded by negative thinkers tend to think negatively. And vice versa. Although the news is not a person, reading, listening to, and watching the same negative information over and over provides the same adverse impact on one's psyche as repeatedly engaging with and listening to a bunch of naysayers. What do most self-improvement books say about naysayers. You have to let them go! The same goes with the news. Don't let all that negativity wear you down and wear you out.

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As a small business cfo and business owner, I believe wholeheartedly in keeping my pulse on what's happening around the world financially and economically. But most of what the news is now is not reporting but pontificating. It's not: "The 2010 Census reported a xx% decrease in income." It's: "The Census' report means that income is trending downward and expected to do so for the next xx years." Comprende? 95% news. 5% opinion. If you ever read Freakanomics, you'll know that the vast majority of the economic pundits quoted in the news are wrong! Of course, you don't know they're wrong until 1,3, or 5 years later (the term of their predictions). By then most have forgotten what the pundits said. But Freakanomics tracked it. And so do I. (To a much lesser extent!)

From a small business cfo perspective, what you believe is what you get. People and businesses rise to the level of expectation. Your company finances will begin to reflect your thoughts.  If you allow all the negative reporting -including negative spin on positive results - to sink in, it could adversely impact your business. You may concede or give up. Remember, someone (or someones) is always doing well no matter how the economy is doing.

Any comments?

 

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