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Accepting a loan from the most respectable source of business financing--namely a commercial bank--is a mistake for some entrepreneurs, argues the author, who recounts the tale of her company's demise subsequent to her signing a bank loan with overly stringent terms. She includes four pointers that can help you flag loans likely to go bad.
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.
When Michele McGeoy sold her first software start-up, she thought she was doing the best thing for her stakeholders. But, a few years later the new owners resold the company out of state, leaving her and her employees out of work. Having lost control by giving up ownership, McGeoy found a better solution for her next venture: She empowered employees by making them stakeholders and created a culture that promotes healthy growth.
Passionate about her business and experienced in number-crunching, entrepreneur Carol Frank nonetheless neglected to patent her product and to insist on a signed contract from her supplier. Next thing she knew, a competitor was copying her design. In the litigation that followed, the U.S. Customs and Frank's insurance company turned out to be surprisingly helpful.
A company's name is a major intangible asset--but even a federal trademark may not be enough to protect it. This entrepreneur, owner of a media services business, discovered the difficulty in defending his intellectual property against a competitor with deeper pockets. Although he expected to win his case, the prohibitive cost of going to trial led instead to a settlement.
Obtaining financing to commercialize intellectual property is tricky, because intangible assets may have value independently of the business built upon them. In a dot-com world where knowledge is currency, cost and revenue are no longer adequate measures of value. Inventor David Martin's business is soaring on the wings of software that factors new elements into the equation for putting a price on intellectual property.
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.
Small and growing companies are discovering lucrative new markets abroad. Developing countries are importing products, tech know-how and system support and offering franchising, licensing and distribution opportunities. If your company is expanding abroad, you need to know what you're getting into.
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