Ask Entrepreneur

Marketing

I just started a customer service consulting firm. What's the best way to get customers?

I looked into purchasing a mailing list. I need names of people who are in charge of operations.
Kim T. Gordon
Growth Strategies

Need help on determining what the proper cost of sales percentage should be for my firm.

My cost of sales and marketing is running about 29 percent annually. I believe this is very high. We are an IT services firm and our sales consultants earn a big salary and a healthy commission. Someone selling $1.8 million would see $220,000 at plan. What should these percentages be and how can I lower the percentage of COS?
Tim Berry
Finance

Is there a standard method of estimating bad debt rates?

I'm starting a new business and need to account for bad debt in my business plan. I was hoping for a ballpark estimate for a small business based on gross revenue or something similar. At this stage, I have no clue how much to budget in the bad debt line item.
Tim Berry
Starting a Business

What are the top three most important things to do when opening a business?

Would the three things be planning, research and marketing?
Tim Berry
Starting a Business

How can I market an idea I feel would be beneficial to parents when shopping with their children?

I have an idea I can picture in my head for a baby/toddler product that parents could use when shopping. I'm unsure where to begin with this idea. I'm also afraid that if I give out the specs, someone else will steal it. Can you help me get started?
Tim Berry
Starting a Business

how would I go about showing my product to potential Investors?

I have a website, www.hiscrossmaker.com. I make crosses, and I've been approched by some companies to make several thousand each month! I'm only able to make 100 a week, and I need to make many more. But I want to be cautious as to whom I might talk with!
Tim Berry
Marketing

How do I determine a price for my patented billiard product?

My product is called The Laser Rack. It incorporates laser technology into a billiard rack to allow for visible confirmation that the rack is perfectly aligned. I have received a lot of positive feedback from pros as well as amateurs. My dilemma is setting the price.
Tim Berry
Starting a Business

What degree looks better to an employer, an entrepreurship degree or a finance degree?

I know it all depends on what you want to do. I would like to start a company but I would also like to raise money by working for a high end company out of Cal State Fullerton.
Tim Berry
Finance

What is an acceptable investor return when the start-up company is service-oriented?

I source and sell organic ingredients by locating suitable suppliers and facilitating purchases. I am accepting financial help from someone with extensive experience in the organic industry, who also provides advice, leads, etc. from time to time. He changes the terms of our original agreement on a regular basis. Most recently, he requested one-third to one-half of the profits I earn, although we orginally agreed on 1 percent. I would like to make an educated counteroffer and need direction.
Tim Berry
Starting a Business

Product Specific Accessories

Do companies such as Belkin, which produces accessories such as protector sleeves for Apple iPods, need permission from Apple, since the sleeves ONLY fit iPods? And does such a company need permission to market the product as an iPod accessory, as long as it acknowledges that it's not an official Apple product?
Nina Kaufman
Finance

Can I fund a new business by rolling over money from an existing IRA to my new corporation's 401(k)?

Is it wise and legal to buy a small new business by rolling over money from an existng IRA account into a newly established 401(k) sponsored by my new business? The new 401(k) would buy stock in my new business (a C-Corp--or should it be an S?) and that would fund my business.
Nina Kaufman
Growth Strategies

Can my manager ask to see the hotel bill for my vacation?

I put in for vacation pay about two weeks ago. My store manager doesn't believe that I am going on vacation and is asking for my bill for the hotel. Is it legal to ask someone for information like that?
Nina Kaufman
Starting a Business

Can two DBAs be under one LLC?

If it is possible, would it be an accounting nightmare?
Nina Kaufman
Starting a Business

What kind of clientele should I focus on for my cleaning business if I am only available evenings and weekends?

My cleaning business will offer residential maid service, but I will only be available part-time for the evenings and weekends to start. Can you offer advice on who would be my mostly likely target population?
Brad Sugars
Growth Strategies

How do I find independent contractors for my real estate investing business?

I am a real estate investor who needs to delegate some of the daily operations of the business. Some of the jobs include administrative assistant and marketing assistant. I have tried local colleges but they lose interest when I explain what I need done and that taxes are their responsiblity. The pay scale is based on productivity. I thought about participating in a job fair at a local college.
Brad Sugars