Ask Entrepreneur - Grow Your Business

What's the Best Course of Study for Would-Be Restauranteurs?

What type of education do you suggest if I wanted to venture into the restaurant business? Are there specific training courses needed to get a better understanding?
Brad Sugars

How Can I Find a Manufacturer for a Product?

How can I find the right manufacturer for the products I've designed?
Brad Sugars

How Can I Avoid the Hard Sell from Franchisors?

I have been researching franchises on the Internet, in print and through peers who are owners. I haven't yet spoken with actual franchisors. I don't want them to try to sell me something, instead of merely talking about the opportunity. Any advice on how to handle talking to the franchise companies without getting a hard sell?
Jeff Elgin

Do I Need a License to Run a Chat Site?

Is a business license required for running an online video chat website even if the website is free to users and profit comes from advertisements?
Nina Kaufman

I Have an Idea for a Change to Facebook. How Can I Protect My Idea?

I have an idea for a change/addition to Facebook that I think would be huge. It also requires very little new site development to accommodate. It actually requires Facebook, and I don't think an application would be very successful. I am wondering if there is a way to protect the idea. I have a presentation drafted with some marketing information and the required additions to the site. All it would need is a simple program development that wouldn't require more than a couple days by a good programmer and some touch-up work. When pitching it to the company, is there a way to assure that it couldn't simply take my idea and adopt it without paying me for it?
Nina Kaufman

What Are the Pros and Cons of Using Your LLC to Be a Member of Another LLC?

I am the sole owner of an LLC. I am entering another business venture -- a 50/50 ownership -- with a friend and we are forming a second LLC in an industry related to my first LLC. I am thinking about making my personal LLC the member of the joint LLC, instead of myself. What would be the advantages and disadvantages? I have heard there are advantages like another layer of legal protection, reducing the number of tax entities, etc, but I'd like to know more.
Nina Kaufman

How Do I Produce a Prototype While Protecting My Idea?

I have an idea for a product that I know will sell well, but how do I produce a prototype while protecting my idea?
Nina Kaufman

What's the Best Way to Add Limited Partners for a Bar?

What is the best way to structure taking on limited investors for a restaurant/bar looking to expand? I would like to consider offering investment opportunities of approximately $25,000 or another appropriate amount per share. I have a S corporation in California, but should I entertain an LLP? I would be the general operating partner/manager but I want to make it fair to all. How should the investors be paid and over what period of time? I would also like the investment to be transferable only upon death and I'd like to have the first option to purchase and right of refusal to the named successor.
Nina Kaufman

Do You Need a Business Plan Before Starting a Company?

This is a question from my class. This is to any entrepeneur out there. Also, tell me if you had any assistance with your business plan as well.
Tim Berry

How Should I Evaluate a Franchise Opportunity?

How should an aspiring business owner evaluate a franchise opportunity?
Jeff Elgin

Which Franchises Are Hot Right Now?

I want a sexy business that will do well in this market, but how do I know which franchise business will work? There are so many franchises to look at. How do I know which ones will thrive in my region and this economy?
Jeff Elgin

How Can I Improve Lunch Sales?

We're an upscale fine-dining Chinese restaurant near a university but far from office parks. We are open 12 to 3 p.m. and 7 to 11 p.m. We rarely have customers in the afternoon. What kind of adverstising/promotions could attract more guests during lunch time?
Michael Kaleikini

How Can an Ordinary Person Get a Grant to Buy or Start a Business?

I want to build or buy a carwash and or a laundromat. There are thousands for sale nationwide, but I don't have the means to buy one. Seems as if only the rich can get government grants.
Tim Berry

How Do You Know When It's Time to Quit?

I have been in business with my brother since 1993. The business has kept a roof over my head and has provided for my family's essentials. However, it has not allowed me to save anything for retirement, and the increases in health care costs make it even more unlikely.

I have an opportunity to take a job with a local government that will pay me what I make now or more. I'm 47 and if I was able to stay with this job for the next 20 years, I could be vested with a pension.

Quitting will also be detrimental to my brother. I do the books and have been more consistent with revenue. Though he is my partner 50/50, he is more like an employee. He does his job and goes home. I'm the one who works nights and weekends on the books, collections, taxes. What should I do?
Tim Berry

How Can I Find Investors When I'm Just Starting Out?

I'm launching a part-time business while still a student. Where do I start looking for backers?
Tim Berry