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Balance sheets of many emerging companies show that their intellectual property is their most valuable asset. For that reason, owners and managers must focus their energies and resources on its development and protection.
Entrepreneurship means risk, writes the author, a veteran journalist turn dot-com entrepreneur who lived to tell the tale in a best-selling book. In an equally frank article, he speaks about teetering on the brink of financial and marital collapse before securing financing, and advises fledglings to assess their tolerance for risk and level with loved ones before taking the risk-laden entrepreneurial plunge.
Risk is the essential element of entrepreneurial life but it can and must be managed if company founders are to build profitable enterprises, writes the author, who has founded companies and is currently a venture capitalist helping others do the same. To control risk, he advises listening to instinct, managing to a plan, and working the financials so that there is enough money to fund the need.
A culture of fun and respect for customers and employees pervades this family-owned furniture business that has been sold to legendary investor Warren E. Buffett, writes the author. Culture is what can't be taken away, even after a company is sold, as both the author and his brother are still actively involved, he notes.
Entrepreneurs confronting the unhappy task of having to downsize when business conditions change need to execute in a way that preserves the dignity of, and, ultimately, the relationship with, the employees, says an entrepreneur who laid off her entire staff in the wake of the dot-com crash. Downsizing well involves throwing away the rulebook and dealing with people on a personal level, she writes.
Effective business planning is critical to an entrepreneurial company's long-term success and its ability to raise capital and grow successfully. A properly prepared Business Plan should tell a story, make an argument and conservatively predict the future. All companies have different stories to tell, different arguments to make and different futures to predict, so they must resist the temptation to copy from others or to follow a rigid outline.
Service companies aiming to grow fast enough to attract financing need to address the weaknesses inherent in such business models, says the founder of a human-resources consultancy.
A business model that aims to consolidate in the fragmented tour-packaging industry must rely on the entrepreneurial owners of the local businesses it acquires, according to the writer. A case is made for developing the people who will build the business, rather than, as is practice for many consolidators, putting them out of business.
Companies that turn to contractors must structure both the business and the specific nature of the work accordingly, according to a software-company entrepreneur. On the business side, founders need to retain a competent attorney and match the right worker to the job; on the tech side, they must require that contractors produce their work within a framework that can be replicated for other projects, the author advises.
As an entrepreneurial company grows and adds layers of management, it can and should consider policies that address work and family issues or risk inconsistency across departments, writes the founder of a human-resources services firm. The author advises companies to examine four areas: scheduling, flexibility, telecommuting, and childbirth leaves. Increased productivity will be the company's reward.
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