Ask Entrepreneur

Should I Quit Engineering and Study Business?

While skills are important for business owners, so is personality. Our expert helps this college student understand the traits that great entrepreneurs need.
Penny Morey
Technology

Should I Hire a Web Development Firm or a Staffer to Build my Mobile App?

Both outside firms and internal hires have their advantages and disadvantages. We break down what you can expect.
Ryan Himmel
Growth Strategies

Is My Landing Page Clearly Written?

Sometimes your startup's biggest obstacle can be your own website. Make sure the language is clear and engaging.
Ryan Himmel
Technology

Which Point of Sale System Should I Use?

I am on a tight budget and opening a retail Christmas and candy shop. What would you recommend for a point of sale system for a small startup like this? What are the pros and cons of using traditional or mobile systems? Are some better for accounting and record keeping than others? What are the costs? What else should I consider?
Ryan Himmel
Starting a Business

How Can I Turn My Hobby Into a Home Business?

I am a homemaker, and I crochet during my leisure hours. I would like to begin selling my crocheted items. How can I arrive at pricing and market my products effectively? What are the most important things to keep in mind when doing online sales? Finally, should I set up my own website to sell my products or create a page on an e-commerce site?
Michael Kaleikini

When is It Time to Bring in a Managing Partner?

In 2008, I started a construction business specializing in rainwater harvesting and solar energy systems. The first few years were very slow, but this year is showing several hundred percent annual growth in sales. I find myself neglecting the solar aspect of our offerings due to the lack of available time and am losing customers due to the slow service (as indicated in customer feedback). I see the competition booming in the solar field, but I have no time to put in the effort that I need to capitalize on a very fast-growing industry. I am afraid to put someone on payroll due to the uncertainty of business over the past few years, but I need serious help running what equates to half of the business. Should I bring in a managing partner in return for a percentage of the company, or if I should just hire a "manager" to oversee the solar part?
Penny Morey

How Should I Incorporate My Small Business (Sole Proprietor)?

My small cleaning business currently has eight employees and makes around $500,000 per year. To protect my personal assets, I'd like to incorporate -- but I'm not sure which option is best for me. Should I go with an LLC, an S-Corp or a C-Corp?
Nina Kaufman
Starting a Business

Will Getting an MBA or Professional License Benefit Me As an Entrepreneur?

Would a professional license or graduate degree, such as a CPA, CFA, MBA or JD, help me become more successful as an entrepreneur? Are there any unique benefits or skills I couldn't otherwise access, both during the learning experience and after? Once I'm in a startup environment, would these kind of skills still be applicable?
Ryan Himmel
Franchises

Are Royalty Fees the Norm with Franchises?

I am interested in a franchise that charges a $30,000 franchise fee and takes a 6% royalty fee from gross sales. I have spoken with a few other franchise owners who say they've never heard of a royalty fee like this and that the only payment they've made is the one-time franchise fee. Can you advise?
Jeff Elgin
Starting a Business

How Do I Move a Product Idea Forward?

I'm a product designer and have just designed a product I think has a lot of potential. Since I don't have prior business experience, I'm not sure what to do next. I know I'll need a business plan, some marketing strategies, a manufacturer, staff and definitely funding. Can you point me in the right direction as to what I'll need to address first and some tips on the best ways to get those things done?
Ryan Himmel
Marketing

How Can I Reach Out to International College Students in the U.S.?

I'm working on a project at a mobile startup that would be perfect for international college students attending school in the U.S. that gives them free overseas calling for two months. I've contacted a number of major universities, both over the phone and via Facebook, but haven't gotten a response. Do you have any advice on how to reach this audience and the best way to communicate, whether it's via email or social networking, and what to say? I'm not even sure if contacting the universities is the right way in, and if not, is there a better way to reach these students directly?
Karen Leland
Starting a Business

How Do I Choose a Location for My Store?

I am planning to open a resale/consignment shop in Houston but am really stuck on which part of the city would be best for my business. How do I determine the ideal location in a big city with so many areas and options?
Ryan Himmel
Marketing

Can I Use My City in My Business Name?

I want to open a ballet studio and use "City of Miami" or "Miami" as part of the business name. Is that illegal? Do I need special permission of some kind?
Nina Kaufman
Marketing

How Can I Increase My Sales Footprint?

I just built a brand from scratch, Lulu's Garden LLC, a natural product line. Building the brand, marketing, etc. -- that was the easy part for me. Now I have a complete package ready to go and I've hit a wall! I'm overwhelmed with which direction to go to get my product in the hands of buyers. I've sent emails of my product catalog and wholesale price list to retail stores with a so-so return. Do you think sending them my catalog in the mail would have a bigger impact? I am in 40 boutiques around the United States, but that's not enough to sustain a business. Do you have any resources or tips that you could offer that would point me in the right direction?
Karen Leland
Growth Strategies

How Do I Deal With Uncommitted Employees?

For the past few months, I've sensed a decline in engagement among my staff. I'd say about half of them seem significantly less energetic and motivated now than they did earlier this year. Because it's such a large percentage of my staff, I can't fire them all. And I'd prefer to inspire rather than fire them anyway. Is it my fault? What can I do?
Penny Morey