Ask Entrepreneur

How do I establish a Subchapter S for a business that has three divisions/brands?

I live in New York City and have been advised by an accountant to file a Subchapter S. My main concern is that I have one main company that has three "brands" under it. How would I organize these three distinct brands/companies/divisions within the umbrella of the main company? I want to set it up so that it would be presented well to the public and also would be manageable behind the scenes in running the business.
Nina Kaufman

As an existing 501(c)3 operating as a medical clinic in Florida, can we open a soup kitchen as a dba under the same status?

We organized as a nonprofit free medical clinic and received our 501(c)3 in 2007. We would now like to open a soup kitchen as a separate entity. Is that permitted? Must the soup kitchen have its own tax ID?
Nina Kaufman

How can I make my hair salon a multimillion-dollar business?

I've been in business for 17 years. I've hired independent contractors as stylists and also hourly people, which ends up costing more. How do I make this work? I've owned two salons at times, but the turnover is so fast it's hard to keep both open. Stylists typically last six months to one year. It's also hard to offer more benefits because we don't make enough money. And with the economy the way it is, some clients are not coming as often. I need help.
Brad Sugars

How can we clarify roles among leadership in a small, but growing, consulting/technology company?

We are a small consulting/technology company (15 employees) and currently have a CEO, COO, CFO and CTO. I'm the COO but my ability to perform the true tasks of a COO is limited because I have my own client work. Am I right in believing that I need to relinquish client duties (not just overseeing delivery of services but actually doing work), or are we still too small? Our CFO is a bit worried about our growing indirect costs.
Brad Sugars

I'm a restaurateur. How can I bottle and sell my popular cooking and barbecue sauces nationwide?

I own a Thai restaurant in Washington state. Customers always ask me to sell them my pad thai sauce and my Thai-style barbecue sauce. I would like to expand my business by selling the sauce nationwide. How do I accomplish this? Can I hire a company to do all the marketing for me?
Brad Sugars

How do I find out what my competitors charge their clients?

I provide a service to an established customer base.I recently discovered that my pay scale is too low because I'm starting to lose my most dedicated and qualified employees. I verified competitor wages and I'm paying about $2 an hour less then they are. I've trimmed all expenses to a bare minimum. I must not be charging enough.Without being deceitful, how do I find out what my competitiors charge?
Bonnie Price

Why do I need a traffic impact study?

I contacted my local zoning department about starting a home based handbag business. I was told that I would have to fill out an application for a traffic impact study. What is that, and do I really need one for a business that won't increase the traffic in my neighborhood?
Nina Kaufman

How can I make my hair salon a multimillion-dollar business?

I've been in business for 17 years. I've hired independent contractors as stylists and also hourly people, which ends up costing more. How do I make this work? I've owned two salons at times, but the turnover is so fast it's hard to keep both open. Stylists typically last six months to one year. It's also hard to offer more benefits because we don't make enough money. And with the economy the way it is, some clients are not coming as often. I need help.
Brad Sugars

Should I restructure my small-volume discount levels to make them more competitive?

I have a company that offers volume discounts to retailers. Presently 90 percent of my business is coming from retailers who are buying at the deepest discount level. With price increases over the past several years, I'm now seeing a bigger gap than I would like at retail between that 10 percent and the 90 percent who often have enough inventory to hold pricing for several months after a price increase. Is it time to raise the volume requirements, or should I restructure the small-volume discount levels to make the bottom 10 percent more competitive? The sales volume on the 90 percent retailers has slowed, but the 10 percent retailers sales are declining signficantly.
Brad Sugars

My competitor just got acquired, and I'm still in startup mode. Is the writing on the wall?

I've been struggling to get my business going for the past few years, but I've been handicapped by a lack of funds and resources. Now a competitor has been acquired and, with new resources, has announced projects I've had planned for more than two years. I still have one project in my back pocket but no money or resources to execute. I've heard of similar setbacks happening to other entrepreneurs who have gone on to do amazing things. I'm trying to decide whether I should keep pushing or if I'm just in denial while I'm racking up debt.
Brad Sugars

Is merging two companies a good idea when they are family owned and operated?

My dad owns a tree service. He's been in business for more than 25 years but doesn't do much advertising. I would like to help grow his business while building my own lawn and landscape business. Is merging the two companies a good idea? Is there anything I should do as a 24-year-old female to better my chances of growing quickly?
Brad Sugars

How can I sell a nonprofitable business that is relatively new?

My 2 1/2-year-old business is still not at break even, although I have won a 1,350,000 Euro government contract that will commence in 2009-2010. This contract alone will generate 600,000 euros of profit. We are the sole agents in the country for this product.
Brad Sugars

How can I sell FOB without the manufacturer knowing my sales price?

I am a broker who represents several manufacturers. I'm looking for clear guidelines on how to sell FOB without the manufacturer or customer knowing my purchase price. How does the bill of lading work in this scenario?
Brad Sugars

I sell clothing for tall women. Should I diversify and add custom-made jeans for all women?

I own a small retail store in Georgiat that caters to the clothing needs of tall women. With slow sales in the present economy, I am looking at diversifying my focus and offering custom-made jeans for women of all sizes.

I hear women of all shapes and sizes complaining that they can't find jeans that fit, so I believe this can work. I don't have unlimited funds, so I would have to start out small and advertise to get the word out about my change in focus.

I am considering finding a U.S. manufacturer and offering a limited number of colors and styles of jeans to start with. I would like to continue my business, but under its current focus, I may be forced to shut my doors. Does this sound like something I should pursue?
Brad Sugars

How can we take our football coaching business to the next level?

I own 30 percent of a business coaching football in schools. We do evening, weekend and holiday courses. Two of us run the business, and the profits are split 70/30 in the owner's favor.

Both of us are busy every day without any days off. We are getting more and more requests to do work with new clubs/schools, etc. We can't cope with any more ourselves, but we don't have enough to hire another staff member.

This summer we are running four holiday courses. The owner and I are running one apiece, and we're trusting someone else to run the others.

What concerns me is that I have built up a reputation with the parents/kids in one area; if I leave someone else in charge to go to another area, I'm afraid the parents won't be happy. And the kids have trouble relating to the other coaches. What can we do?
Brad Sugars