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I have spent the majority of my adult life investing my own and other people's money in entrepreneurs. That's why I know the U.S. has a serious problem on its hands.
Although the stock market has tentatively rebounded, funding for the one area in which America has a distinct competitive advantage--that is, new company formation--is in scary decline. That may be a familiar refrain by now, but that doesn't make the ramifications any less real. Or less dangerous.
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.
Learn how a clearly defined brand identity can help build your business, even in the face of fierce competition.
OK, let me get this straight: The Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy reports that 27 million small businesses in the U.S. account for 50% of the Gross National Product and employ over 50% of the workforce, and Washington figures $30 billion in loan support and some tax credits will get things done.
What's that, $1,100 per company? Wow, where do we sign up!
Our fearful leaders gave $50 billion to General Motors, and $185 billion to AIG. According to the Congressional Budget Office publication, The Budget &amp; Economic Outlook: An Update August 2009, big business has been showered with more than $10 trillion (that's a "T") in funding and commitments, including: $1.3 trillion disbursed by the Federal Reserve, with another $2.8 trillion committed (including aid to AIG, Citigroup, Bank of America, Bear Stearns; $800 billion from the Treasury, with $3.6 trillion committed (including guarantees for Money Market Funds and TARP); and over $2.1 trillion committed by the FDIC (including increased depositor insurance and more Citigroup guarantees).
Um, does $30 billion to small business make a difference?
When it comes time sell your company, one of the toughest issues is communicating the process to employees. One positive way to do this is to establish a company culture rooted in honesty and openness, which can allay employee anxiety during a potential company sale.
Richard Caruso considers success less a matter of financial accomplishment than of meaningful personal contribution. He's managed to do both.
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.
Most entrepreneurs eventually face the question: is it time to sell my company? The issue often arrives with inadequate time to consider all of the issues. Assume the question will arise and game out possible scenarios.
Through university lectures and financial support, Maxine Clark is giving the next generation of entrepreneurs a leg up.
Even on the Internet, says the founder of a company that provides online directories for e-businesses, most new business models are really variants or hybrids of the three basic old ones. To gain competitive advantage in the new economy, what entrepreneurs really need is a low-cost customer-acquisition strategy. And, they face increasing pressure from investors to be right the first time.
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