Ask Entrepreneur - Franchises

Franchises

How Much Freedom Do Franchisees Have?

I'm interested in a few franchise businesses in the automotive industry but I'm having a hard time convincing myself that franchises are the way to go rather than opening my own business. What happens when I have better ideas than the franchisor? Am I able to have any sort of creative license with a franchise? What tips do you have for negotiating changes with franchisors?
Jeff Elgin
Growth Strategies

How Do I Value My Stake in a Business?

We own a security fencing company and a solar technology company. I was trying to figure out what my portion of the company would be worth. I own 8 percent of each company. What's the best way to calculate that? What factors do I need to consider? Are there any resources you'd suggest?
Tim Berry
Growth Strategies

How Do I Re-Start My Business?

I purchased a small deli, with no experience and as an absentee owner. After two years, many mistakes have been made and revenues have been declining. I'm thinking of closing the doors. But I still believe it can be a successful business and I'm wondering how to start over -- back to the startup process. But where do I begin? How can I find a manager who can help with the process? What are your suggestions?
Tim Berry
Starting a Business

How Do I Bring Partners into the Business?

I have come to a point where I need more people to help me install renewable enery products in Mexico. One of the people who wants to partner with me is a good friend but he has a friend with a lot of money, which sounds good but also worries me. How should I prepare myself to manage my business 100 percent while allowing others to invest but be second or third in command? What legal consideration should I make?
Nina Kaufman
Starting a Business

When Do I Need a Business License?

I'm in the process of starting a small wood and toy shop in Maine. But as I am a sole proprietor, located more than 30 miles from a town but right on a major traffic throughfare, what would be considered the "threshold" for requiring a formal business license? The sales tax issue seems fairly clear under Maine law ($400 in revenue is the trigger). But the business permit issue isn't. Is there a set dollar amount of sales to be met? Is it a matter of sales tax accounts being acquired that are tied into the permit process? Or is it a legal formality? What else should I do?
Nina Kaufman
Franchises

How Can I Pitch My Invention?

I have a patent for an outdoor solar device that's also decorative. I'm looking to either sell the rights to it or find a company that would license it. What are the best ways for me to get my products in front of interested companies? What should I avoid?
Brad Sugars
Growth Strategies

How Do I Chart a Path for Employee Growth?

I own a research and development company for pharmaceutical drugs. How can I create a success ladder for employees? I was thinking there would be three "ladders" altogether: Managerial, administration and scientist. What factors need to be considered? How should I get started?
Penny Morey
Finance

What Should I Consider Before Seeking a Business Loan?

Is it better to go to a bank for a loan or ask family and friends? What factors should I consider? Are there better ways for an entrepreneur to finance his or her business today?
Tim Berry
Marketing

How Do I Market a Product in a Foreign Country?

I sell products and am hoping you can share some marketing tips so that I can promote them locally in Uganda. It's a developing country. Any advice?
Pattie Simone
Starting a Business

Should I Finish School Before Starting a Business?

I have lots of ideas that I have written down that I would like to see become products, but because I am still a kid I lack credibility that an adult would have. Also, school is important to me and if I did commit to a product it most likely will affect my grades and performance in school. Of course, I would need startup cash which I lack at the moment to fully invest in my products. What can I do? Are there any resources for younger, aspiring entrepreneurs? Should I finish school first?
Tim Berry
Growth Strategies

How Should I Donate Business Sales to Charity?

I'm an artist who plans to start a website where I will donate partial proceeds of the sales of my work to various charities on a permanent basis. What is the best system is to do this? Should the partial proceeds be transferred to each charity on a weekly, monthly or quarterly basis? Will the relationship be different with each charity? Also, how can I be transparent to my customers? Will they request proof of their donation and, if so, how do I go about doing this? Will the donation be a tax write-off for the customer, or for my business?
Nina Kaufman
Starting a Business

Can I Use Another Business's Name?

I decided to give my business a particular name but have since discovered that it's been taken by another company. Can I use the same name or should I change it? What kind of trademark issues, if any, should I consider? What other legal issues should I explore?
Nina Kaufman
Franchises

How Should I Analyze a Market?

I am looking to start a fast food restaurant. However, I don't know which type would be most profitable in today's market (ethnic, casual, etc.). Is there any way I can get an expert to assist with this decision? Or, how do I do this on my own? I would like to avoid spending money on an idea that is not going anywhere.
Brad Sugars
Marketing

How Can I Make My Content Go Viral?

How much success can we expect by strengthening viral marketing channels? Will my content (products, services, etc.) really be spread across the nation in less than 12 months due to viral marketing? Or does it normally take a lot longer? What tips do you have for making content go viral?
Michael Kaleikini
Starting a Business

How Much Will It Cost to Launch an E-Commerce Site?

I am starting a group buying e-commerce website. While writing a business plan I struggle with coming up with realistic numbers as far as operation expenses. Also, how can I project how many unique visitors to expect? Are there any benchmarks?
John Arnold