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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.
Entrepreneurs, in particular, are having troubles with today's widespread age-disconnect between managers and employees. The many twentysomethings who are launching companies these days hire workers who are both younger and older than they are, writes the author, a frequent EntreWorld contributor. She maintains that to manage this so-called "generation gap," you'll need to build a common understanding based on your company's values.
Entrepreneurs of a certain age need to accommodate the changes in attitude on the part of the younger generation or risk becoming dinosaurs, writes the author, who turned to entrepreneurship after a career in the U.S. Army and at a major corporation. Today's young people are technologically savvy, casual about dress and deportment, and forward about expecting to advance at a younger age, he says. He includes tips for adjusting one's management style to help -- rather than change -- the new generation.
Entrepreneurs hoping to preserve wealth may want to avoid selling big stakes in their businesses to raise capital. The founder of a major mutual-funds company built his net worth by selling preferred, rather than common, stock.
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.
Niche companies needn't be intimidated by their large corporate competitors because even the biggest companies must be adept at marketing differently to discreet audiences, writes the author, who founded the country's leading black-owned media concern. The solution is to stick to your specialty, maintain excitement with new ideas, and commit resources to expanding the brand.
Earl Graves, the founder and publisher of Black Enterprise Magazine, offers statistical evidence and his own business experience to explain businesses lose out when they dismiss the fact that the African-American consumer is most interested in a product or service's business value, not it's perceived social value. The incorrect assumptions about the African-American market that many businesses make can be corrected through, as Graves has discovered, with persistence and careful explanations of the overwhelmingly positive qualities of the African-American consumer.
Niche businesses either start with specific offerings for a discreet audience or carve out specialities within a broader base. Either way, entrepreneurs who operate niche companies must understand themselves, their goals, and their customers, in order to deliver marketing campaigns that are simple and effective.
Any entrepreneur who hopes to raise capital from individual investors, so-called "angels," should be properly prepared with a presentation, business plan, list of potential angels, and outline of the opportunity his or her new venture affords. The author explains that it's also important to avoid making such mistakes as allowing investors to have too large a stake in the enterprise. That could cause problems should the company fail, he writes, in an article filled with specific tips for dealing with these financiers.
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