Ask Entrepreneur - Grow Your Business

How do I determine how much to sell my business for?

We are stocking distributors of industrial maintenance supplies. We sell to manufacturing plants, colleges, hospitals, heavy equipment repair shops and car dealers. We have an established account base we sell to monthly and open new accounts to cover normal attrition. Our annual sales is approximately $165,000 with a gross profit of approximately $100,000.
Brad Sugars

How do I get permission from companies to sell their products?

I want to start a delivery service that brings convenience store-type items to customers. What are the main things I need to know to start this project?
Brad Sugars

How do I find a reputable manufacturer for a particular product?

I am looking to launch a line of organic plush toys for kids, and don't know how to find a reputable manufacturer. Are there any agents that help with this process?
Brad Sugars

Is it ethical to raise my prices after less than six months in business?

I started my online sermon transcription business five months ago. I was expecting to do all the transcription myself. As it turns out, I'm so busy I can't handle all the work myself and need to subcontract much of the work out. My price is $1.25 per audio minute. My biggest competitor charges $2.00 per audio minute. I need to pay 75 cents per audio minute to the subcontractors. If I raised my price 75 cents, I would be set. I just don't want to come across as sneaky or unfair to my clients
Brad Sugars

How do I obtain a UPC code?

Do I really need UPC codes on my products? If so, how do I optimize my use of UPCs?
Brad Sugars

Should we outsource to grow rapidly and sacrifice some quality or keep everything in-house and turn away new business?

I have a web design and development company that has grown quickly in the last few years. We are at the point that we have more projects than we can handle but we do not have the resources to interview and train new employees quickly enough. We, in turn, have to turn away new business, which stifles our much needed growth.
Brad Sugars

How should I divide profits in an LLC?

I am starting up a software LLC and I am trying to figure out how profits should be divided. My partner and I want to divide ownership 51/49 percent, but I will be making ongoing payments to the LLC to pay for my partner's work and expenses.

How should I structure this new money coming in? Is it a capital investment? Should I give myself preferred stock? How about drafting loan papers to the corp?
Nina Kaufman

Which holidays should I give my employees off?

I am an employer in Oregon and I need to know which holidays to give my employees off. As the employer is it up to me to decide or am I required to give them federal holidays off? Is there a list of mandated employee holidays?
Penny Morey

How do I start offering financing to my customers?

I have a small construction business. I bid a great deal of work and am confident my proposals are very competitive. I have thought a lot about why I do not get as many jobs as I think I should. I have concluded that the reason may be that I do not offer financing. Many of the larger companies I compete against do. How do I get started with this process?
Tim Berry

How soon should I get my EIN and tax information setup?

I am hoping to start my small business within the next year, but am unsure of how early I should get my tax needs taken care of. Will it hurt me if I get the necessary steps taken care of first -- pushing back the store's opening?
Tim Berry

Do I need a "license to assemble?"

I own a business in East Baton Rouge, LA. It is a tattoo parlor/coffee shop/art gallary/live music venue. No alcohol is served and all ages are welcome. I have a retail business license. Do I need any others permits? The fire marshal shut down one of our shows because I didn't have a "license to assemble." As far as I can find, such a thing does not exist. Do you know of such a thing?
Nina Kaufman

What is sweat equity and how does it work?

My husband has recently started a new job where the salary is $50,000; however, he only takes home $25,000. The other half is going into sweat equity. Is this a normal practice and how might my husband benefit from this?
Nina Kaufman

How do you deal with an employee who doesn't get along with the rest of the staff?

There are seven women working in close proximity. One woman refuses to take her lunch break with the others. She will not talk to them either. This attitude makes the six other employees uncomfortable. What ideas do you have to alleviate this problem?
Elinor Robin

Should we package our product differently for online sales vs. retail sales?

We will start selling our small apparel product online first and then go after the retail market. With this in mind, should we use different types of packaging for online sales vs. retail? What type of packaging would be best? We want to look professional and also be cost effective. What would be best for online sales? What would be best for retail sales?
Paige Arnof-Fenn

To incorporate or not to incorporate? That is the question.

I read that incorporating your business is not worth it if you only make $10,000 to $12,000 per year. Is it true that the real breaks don't start until around the $30,000 per year profit mark? How does a business owner know when he would benefit from incorporating?
Nina Kaufman