Ask Entrepreneur - Grow Your Business

How difficult is it to change the status of your business from a general partnership to an LLC?

I have a GP business and would like to convert it over to an LLC. What are the advantages and disadvantages of doing this? Is it a difficult process?
Brad Sugars

Is my only choice to file bankruptcy and shut down my convenience store?

MY American dream small business (convenience store) opened three years ago. Unfortunately the building I am in was sold. The new owner raised the monthly rent from $3,000 to $4,700 and told me to take down all advertising on the window, including the open sign, which means it is hard for customers to see the store from outside, so business is very slow. The owner says he made these rules because it's a first-class building. With this slow economy and high rent I have been using my credit card to cover the rent from month to month. The point is, I can't operate a business any longer. Is bankruptcy my only alternative? Do you think it is possible for me to negotiate the lease?
Brad Sugars

I'm taking a product I sell locally to a more regional level which means I will now have to deal with shipping. Who pays for the shipping when a store places an order with me?

I've always been able to deliver my product to local retailers who buy from me. Since I will now have to ship it out of state, I need to know how that is handled - does the buyer pay the shipping or do I have to cover it?
Brad Sugars

Should I trade out of a recession, given my business is only 4 months old?

My car wash business has eight sites. Some are profitable, some are break-even, and two are unprofitable but growing. But in the past two months, the recession hit and sales have halved. I want to renegotiate the rent but don't know how. Each week we focus on sales-driving initiatives, but they all cost money (fliers, etc). We will struggle to pay wages and rent next month. Should I get out now, have a go to trade out until Christmas or what? If I stay in business, what should I do to survive a recession?
Brad Sugars

How do I calculate my business taxes for a company I plan to start?

I am working on a business plan for a mobile car wash unit, and I want to estimate what my business taxes will be.
Pam Newman

Am I legally obligated to let an exempt employee in California work through his six-week notice?

I have a store manager who recently gave his leaving notice six weeks in advance of his last day. Can I ask this employee to leave sooner?
Nina Kaufman

How do I promote my art business in these economic times?

I am the owner and artist of my own art studio. In these times I am finding that the majority of people are concerned about where every dollar is going, and my business tend to lean towards the "luxury want" category rather than the "need" category. I have been in business for 13 years and in my current location for three years, and the area is not biting at this time. I have a website (www.artedebonefont.com) and ship nationally as well as internationally. How do I move my business in an upward motion despite the downward turn of the economy?
Kim T. Gordon

Is it necessary to trademark my business name?

My wife and I have recently started a new company that is beginning to expand into other geographical markets. We asked our attorney if we should trademark the name to prevent others from using it on similar products and he advised us that it is not necessary. I keep feeling like we should and would like a second opinion.
Nina Kaufman

How do I acquire the skills I lack when it comes to running a business?

I have my own business, which I cherish and dream of succeeding at and growing. Yet I am not the most organized, efficient and disciplined person. I have trouble setting and adhering to set schedules. I have trouble keeping organized financial statements. I have trouble managing my time and money effectively. I enjoy working long hours, but I lose focus. Every day I have a different schedule and find myself working on different areas of the business. What books or classes can I take to learn to be more focused, organized and disciplined?
Bonnie Price

Can I seek advice from a CEO who started a business like mine a long time ago?

I started an RTD tea-producing company, with my own brand name, and I am going through many obstacles and challenges that are slowing me down dramatically. I was wondering if it is a good idea to contact a CEO/ owner of a multimillion-dollar company for lunch or meeting for advice, encouragement and motivation. If it is proper, how do I approach him? Is it OK to call on the phone?
Pattie Simone

What would be the best way to pay my business debt?

I am in a bind now. Work is slow, I owe my vendors money and my cash flow is in the negative. I feel like I am going bankrupt. I've been in business for six years, and all of a sudden I hit a brick wall. I need advice.
Tim Berry

How do I find good wholesalers for women's contemporary clothing up to size 5x?

I have attended trade shows and searched the internet. What else can I do?
Brad Sugars

My cash flow has dried up and we are at a standstill. How do I continue in this retail enviroment?

We have been retailers for 13 years and have grown from nothing to a $9 million-dollar business selling footwear and apparel. Our costs for rent and miscellaneous in our stores have risen from 18 percent to 30 percent sales to rent ratio. We have about $1.1 million in inventory and about $1.6 million in debt. We have no secured debt on our business and are struggling to survive. What are our options to continue?
Brad Sugars

I want to relocate a retail store to a more successful location.

I selected a small strip mall based on where I live and affordability. This is a second store that is not doing very well compared with store No. 1. I am considering relocating it to a more productive space but the rent is considerably higher. How would you handle this?
Brad Sugars