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For aspiring and active entrepreneurs, financing growth isn't always a matter of taking readily available funding. In this article, Jeff Gordon, who founded two companies in the decade since graduating from college, says the entrepreneur really seeks the best "engine" for fueling growth, which isn't necessarily money. He offers tips for choosing from an array of monetary and nonmonetary options.
Entrepreneurs should cultivate relationships with outsiders who can offer support and advice, even though "mentoring," as it's often called, is typically considered an instrument of corporate career-building. In this insightful article by an entrepreneur who founded a non-profit organization to pair owners of young companies with seasoned business owners, the author advises entrepreneurs to seek help from peers as well as superiors and from several outsiders rather than a single guru.
Entrepreneurs need a "just-right" business plan, one that provides a measuring stick for fast growth without overtaking performance, writes this computer-consulting entrepreneur.
A formal business plan, often considered an anathema to entrepreneurs who fancy themselves "do-ers" rather than thinkers, enables clear thinking, clarity of purpose and a benchmark against which ventures can measure success. Included are a list of do's and don'ts for entrepreneurs new to (or bewildered by) the essential planning process.
When you get out there thinking you're the most important member of the team, you're headed for failure, says Wally Amos. The founder of Famous Amos Cookies found out the hard way that you can't just indulge your whims and let the chocolate chips fall where they may. How he developed a spiritual understanding, recovered his good name and started a new, more successful company serves as a great recipe for other entrepreneurs.
The founder of a software development business had already agreed to be acquired by one company and was ready to sign the documents. Then another company came calling with a better offer. Loyal employees and a working partnership with the buyer turned out to be the crucial assets constituting the value of the business. The author concludes that you need to shop around and negotiate to find out what your company is really worth.
Businesses become more valuable when they have certain characteristics that add up to strategic advantages in the marketplace. Regardless of a company's ultimate objective--growth, acquisition or IPO--its owners can create, maximize and sustain value by driving it toward those characteristics. A management consultant explains the tools of his trade and reminds readers that price and value are not identical. Some factors, such as growth, are industry-specific, which is why new-economy companies and their stocks are fetching such extraordinary prices.
Founding a business was so much fun for three Harvard juniors that they did it several times--until they found something that worked. They begged, bartered and borrowed resources, with a little help from their folks. And, because they knew their industry and added value as managers, they grew their temp agency for Web professionals into a permanent, international leader.
When Frieda Caplan went into business for herself, she was the only woman in the produce industry. That gave her a national presence, but the real reason for her success was that her company filled an important niche. Now it's the leading distributor of specialty fruits and vegetables. Along the way, the founder learned some important lessons about financing. And she's still going to work every day-with her daughters.
Sue Hesse left a corporate career and started her own business so she could cut down on her travel schedule and raise her children. By the time she sold it to spend more time with them, she had learned that even in an old-fashioned industry, numbers could outweigh gender. Performance-based incentive compensation turned out to be the strategy that propelled her and other women forward. Getting support from other entrepreneurs, male or female, is her other key to success.
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