Ask Entrepreneur

Marketing

How do I court restaurants with my food product?

I have a unique dessert product, with excellent presentation and marketability. After sitting down with a S.C.O.R.E. counselor, I have a business plan to market this product as a delivery service to the local college. The S.C.O.R.E. counselor asked me to think about my plan for expansion, because he anticipated that the product will sell well. But I think adding drivers will make operations more complicated than I want them to be. So I was thinking that maybe I could sell this dessert on the menu of some of our favorite restaurants. Is there such a person as a food broker that I could hire to try to get my dessert on the menu of a chain? Or is that as likely to happen as winning the lottery?
Kim T. Gordon
Growth Strategies

How do we set up a royalty agreement with a manufacturer?

We have a product idea that enhances an existing product. Rather than develop and manufacture this product ourselves, we would rather sell it in a royalty arrangement.

Our product increases the usefulness and safety of the existing product. We want to approach a manufacturer of the product and introduce our product to them to see if they would be interested in producing our product and perhaps help us secure a patent. We would like to have a royalty arrangement to be paid per unit sold. We have never been involved in a process like this before. Should we be honest and tell the manufacturer we are novices in this process or try to act as if we know the ropes? How can we protect our idea as we approach manufacturers?
Brad Sugars
Franchises

How do you recommend a slate of people to be elected to the board of directors at a shareholder meeting?

We are an internet company with 61 shareholders. We have our first shareholder meeting coming up in a few weeks, and I am wondering what is the proper way to elect our new board of directors. We have a list of names we would like approved and elected, but how is that presented to the shareholders?
Brad Sugars
Growth Strategies

How can I get my staff to give me more support?

I'm just stepping up from sales to a supervisor/ trainer position and am finding it hard to get the support of staff members who have been in the company longer than myself. What can I do to earn their respect?
Elinor Robin
Starting a Business

When would be a good time to look into taking over a family business?

My father's grandfather started this high-end women's retail shoe store. It has been passed down 3 generations and is staring me in the eye. The store has enjoyed consistent growth over the last decade and I feel that, with some help, I could take it to the next level. I have a degree in business management and feel like I've had enough job experience to take this business on.
Tim Berry
Finance

How can I recalculate the value of the initial investment in our company?

I have been a silent partner in a company for about 15 years. Some of the partners kept adding money to the company with different amounts throughout the years and consider that as part of the initial capital when it comes to the distribution of the profits. I am insisting that it is not correct because the value of the initial investment should be different than the money that is added later (a basic principle when it comes to the value of shares over the years and the risk factor). My question is how do I go back and redo the calculations fairly?
Tim Berry
Growth Strategies

My business is growing into larger projects, should I stop doing the small ones?

For almost 20 years we have been doing small personalized services for customers. Now we are getting involved with larger projects that take up all our time and attention. Should we stop doing the small services? We can not do both and the large projects are more profitable but I am affraid of losing the niche market we have created over many years.
Tim Berry
Growth Strategies

Do you legally have to advertise an open position in your company?

If a position becomes available in the company, and you have a person in mind for the position, do you legally have to advertise the position?

Our Board of Directors is questioning the CEO about the hiring of an IT manager without officially advertising the position in the newspaper. She did, however, let the board know at several meetings that we were actively looking.
Penny Morey
Growth Strategies

Is it legal to take pictures of the people who interview for a job at your company?

The company I work for hires young adults for summer jobs in California. Once a week, I hold open interviews and I'm finding that when I get back to my desk to figure out who I want to offer a job to, I forget who they are or what they looked like. I always come back wishing I could have taken a picture so I could remember who they are.
Penny Morey
Marketing

What is the best marketing technique for the kind of rental business I'm starting?

I am a student at Occidental College. Next semester, I am starting my own business called Rent-A-Calc. This business will provide rental calculators for students which will save them lots of money. My idea was inspired by friends who bought $110 calculators but only used them for 1 or 2 classes throughout all 4-5 years at my college.
Kim T. Gordon
Growth Strategies

How do I create different small businesses under one mother company?

I currently have a business and want to add on to it with other businesses that are totally different.
Brad Sugars
Starting a Business

Is there an advantage to graduating from a prestigious university?

Hello, I'm currently a full time student at a community college with a full time job and I'm excited about applying to universities this fall. I'm a finance major but I'm also currently craving the moment I start my own venture as an entrepreneur. I wanted to know if there's an advantage to graduating from a prestigious school. Would a prestigious school offer better resources and network opportunities that would enhance the quality of my business?
Rosalind Resnick
Growth Strategies

How can I create a website that can hold a high volume of video content?

I know that the costs are associated with bandwidth, but I'm not exactly sure of who to consult about the startup costs associated with the creation of such a website. I'm also wondering if you happen to have any recommendations of web developers who are capable of creating a high volume website of such.
Lena West
Growth Strategies

How do I know if moving our business from home to a retail location is a good idea?

We have been in business 14 years and have always had a residential studio. I am a little tired of the 24/7 business and people stopping by anytime without appointments. How do I know if moving our business to a retail location is a good idea? We have a very strong referral-based business and sales have been steady even during the slowing economy. I know that opening a retail location will be a draw on our income but I am hoping that having easier access and more exposure will bring in enough additional business to cover our higher overhead.
Paige Arnof-Fenn