Ask Entrepreneur

Starting a Business

How Do I Protect My Personal Assets?

I have a small courier business. My only concern is if I have a accident and get sued, how can I protect myself so that my personal assets won't be taken away? What are my options? What's the best way?
Nina Kaufman
Starting a Business

Should I License My Product Idea for Royalty Fees?

If you have a product idea but don't have the ability to bring it to life, is it better to obtain a patent and then sell it or license it for royalty fees? I know a number of companies offer royalties for ideas, but are these fees sizable? Or are they just a way for these companies to lure you in and cash in on your idea?
Brad Sugars
Starting a Business

What's the Best Plan for Paying Back Investors?

I am helping to start a gourmet food truck business and while we have some family members to ask, we will also be looking to friends and aquaintances for startup capital. We dont wan't to offend them with minimal interest so we originally were thinking to offer them 10 percent over five years. But this is not a major moneymaker that would allow us to offer huge returns. We don't want to offend potential investors but have no idea what to do. Any advice?
Tim Berry
Starting a Business

We Launched. What's Next?

My husband and I have built our dream retail business and brand. Everything from the look to logistics to customer reaction has been good so far. It is just the two of us and we want to make sure every step of the way is as planned as it has been. What we need to determine now is what should be next. How we can go about revamping for growth and getting our name out there?
Brad Sugars
Starting a Business

How Do I Design a Prototype?

My business idea involves a mechanical device that is derived from products that are currently on the market. Before continuing with my business plan, I would like to get a prototype designed and built. Knowing the costs of building this will be a crucial part of my plan. How and where should I get started?
Brad Sugars
Starting a Business

Can I Protect My Idea Without a Patent?

I have a meeting next week about an idea for a website that I have created with a senior advertising executive at a major corporation. I'm excited about sharing my idea but I'm afraid its difficult to protect it without a patent. I have been told I should get a confidentiality agreement drawn up and send it before I go. Do major corporations typically sign these? What is the best way for me to approach this? Any advice on this matter would be greatly appreciated.
Tim Berry
Franchises

Can I Find an Investor for a Seasonal Product?

I have a product which is seasonal in nature as it is used for entertaining purposes during the spring and summer months when people use their patios, pools and go to the beach. I know its not in the hot technology or healthcare markets, but I am looking for capital to purchase a mold, have parts injection molded and then buy advertising time on TV to present the product to a large audience. Do you think its possible to find venture capital for this type of product? Is there a better way to raise money?
Tim Berry
Marketing

What Are the Best Ways to Advertise a Niche Product?

We are opening a pecan distributor and, obviously, want a lot of sales. What would you suggest as the types of advertising campaigns that will generate the most results?
Pattie Simone
Growth Strategies

How Can I Attract More Customers?

I own an Internet cafe and am wondering: What's the best way for me to attract more customers?
Pattie Simone
Marketing

How Do I Get Companies to Advertise on My Website?

I have developed a website for a university that currently gets 2,000 to 4,000 visitors per day. What's the best way to attract advertisers?
Pattie Simone
Starting a Business

How Do I Relaunch a Defunct Business?

I am looking into starting a buisness with four to five other people and we would like to resurrect a business that has not existed since 1958. We checked the United States Patent and Trademark Office website and the name of that business does not seem to be registered. Will we have any problems using the same name? Are there any other legal issues to consider?
Nina Kaufman
Growth Strategies

Can a Partial Partner Shut Down a Business?

A 50-percent partner has put more money into a business than the second partner. He has threatened to file dissolution, or to shut the business down, if the second partner doesn't put an equal amount of money into the company. Can he do that legally without the second partner? What factors should both partners consider?
Nina Kaufman
Starting a Business

How Much Does it Cost to Launch a New Product?

I'm thinking about creating products such as sprays, shampoos and creams. What factors do I need to consider in terms of expenses? How much will it cost to create these products and bring them to market?
Brad Sugars
Marketing

How Do I Get Boutique Owners to Sell My Retail Product?

I'm starting a swimwear company and although I have a target market and a list of bontiques I would like to carry my product, I don't know how to approach them. Is it best to make a phone call, visit the buyer in-person or just send an email with marketing and product details?
Michael Kaleikini
Technology

How Do I Launch a Membership-Based Website?

I am in the beginning stages of starting a website based on membership. I want to charge a small annual membership fee, and also charge for any face-to-face gatherings we may have. I also want to provide my members special perks for different levels of membership. I want to eventually make this my full-time job. What do I need to consider? Are there any websites that have been successful this way? What can I add to my website that may bring in sustainable profits?
John Arnold