Ask Entrepreneur

Finance

How do I claim cash purchases on my business taxes?

I just started my welding business in January 2007 and paid cash for all of my equipment. I'm not sure how to claim this. I haven't taken in any revenue on this business yet, and am still in the set up process.
Pam Newman
Technology

What is the best way to predict how much you will sell on the internet?

I already have a physical store. I am expanding my website. I also need to buy merchandise to be able to fulfil orders. I don't want to buy to much so I have a ton left over. What are your bet ideas for this problem? Where can I go to get stats and more information?
Lena West
Marketing

How do we advertise and market a business conference without cold calls?

We need our conference information to get to the general publc quick. We tried using the internet. Our campaign only raised a 0.05% ratio. Word-of-mouth worked better, but we still haven't reached close to our goal. We had to postpone the original date and set a new one, so we decided to ask the experts. Thanks in advance for your input.
Roy Williams
Growth Strategies

I want to sell our business, but my partner doesn't--what should I do?

I'm co-owner of a business with my friend and have been approached by a wealthy group who wants ownership. My other partner is not interested and has put more time and money into the company than I have (for now), but does not share my vision. I can legally decrease his ownership but it may affect our friendship. The group will not sign on unless I decrease his ownership. Is there a way I can be fair here? He does not want money (because of the business potential he wants to keep his ownership). I originally partnered with him due to our friendship and his capital, however capital is no longer a problem and his skills are easily replaced by an employee. The group wants me to continue as primary owner for my skills and prior experience. This group has the resources and ability to make my company a huge success. Without them, I think it will take many years or more to reach that point, if ever -- any suggestions?
Elinor Robin
Starting a Business

Can I start a sole proprietorship with my wife jointly?

I am concerned about the tax implications of including my wife. I am also wondering if this would be considered a partnership and not a sole proprietorship.
Nina Kaufman
Starting a Business

What should I be doing now to be able to own a business in a few years?

I'm 19 year old sophomore attending Occidental College in California. How should I prepare to be an entrepreneur while I'm in college?
Tim Berry
Finance

What is an acceptable rate of growth for a small business during the first five years?

I have a small health care related business that I purchased from another doctor five years ago. Collections increased 20 percent in the first year of ownership, 22 percent in the second year of ownership, 8 percent in the third year of ownership and 7 percent in the fourth. What is a reasonable percentage of growth in collections from year to year? Am I looking at the right number by measuring growth in collections?
Tim Berry
Starting a Business

Is it unethical to start a business that is just like another business?

I have an idea for a product based business and have found a similar business online. Some of the product offerings are almost exactly the same as what I'd like to offer with a few exceptions such as the art and wording. I don't want to appear as if I'm copying, or worse stealing some else's work. Do I totally abandon my idea? Help!
Tim Berry
Marketing

How do I research the interests of teenagers in my local area?

Teenagers are a major focus group that my company (in its startup stages) plans to impact. Resources and events will be created for them to learn from and be inspired by.
Kim T. Gordon
Franchises

How do we stop a particular franchisor from continuing to deceive more franchisees in the future?

I am an ex-franchisee who feels deceived by my past franchisor, along with many other franchisees of this particular system. In hindsight, there were warning signs and we just didn't know enough to realize that they were being misleading, etc. Even though most of us spoke with existing franchisees, those franchisees felt pressured to lie in order to bring on more franchises to add to the ad fund that would grow the business. Currently, we are gathering and have contacted a franchise attorney. The most important thing we would like to see is for this franchise to be stopped!
Jeff Elgin
Growth Strategies

How can I create an inventory tracking system without computers?

Any suggestions for tracking inventory in a small kiosk without using a computer program? I have a cell phone accessory cart which I currently use software to track inventory. I would like to open other locations but can't afford computers. Plus, models change so often that it is hard to make up a set list of models. I need something simple that I can track my merchandise with. I'm looking for forms or sheets that I can use to track my inventory.
Pam Newman