Ask Entrepreneur

Will China's "score management" system work in a western country?

Some China business managers apply score marks to different levels of managers and staff as a rewards and punishment scheme for better performance and intiatives. Score marks serve almost like credit card points leading to holidays and potential promotions. Those who earn the lowest scores are pressured to leave. Will this work in western countries? I had no success with Autralian business coaches so far because of a niche market and remote management.
Brad Sugars

How do I improve my profit margine and cut my expenses?

I have a small, family-owned heating and air conditioning company. I have one secretary and three installers/service techs. An additional estimator/sales/service would be useful in the summer, but business decreases in winter. If I hired a second estimator/salesman I would not have enough profit to maintain salaries. I borrow money in the winter and work all spring, summer ands fall to pay it back. How does one determine when adding an additional employee is financially sound?
Brad Sugars

How can the owners merge three separate businesses in three different countries?

I work for a company that has branches in three separate countries, as three separate businesses. Each is owned and operated by the same people. The owners would like to merge these three entities to form one company. Is this possible, or do they need to form an entirely separate entity? What must they do to reach their goal?
Nina Kaufman

Is there some central place to find current business plan competitions?

I run a woman-owned business in a rural town in Idaho. I manufacture snowboarding mitts that are made in North Idaho, and all materials come from the U.S. Where can I find business plan competitions that would apply to my business model?
Tim Berry

How do you put a dollar value on 19 years of sweat equity?

I'm referring to a farm owned outright by my husband's mother.
Tim Berry

How much money will I need to keep monthly cash flow going?

If I bought a business with $581,000 in gross sales, cost of goods of $178,000 and $235,000 in expenses, how much cash would I need to come into the business and keep the cash flow going and maintain a good profit?
Tim Berry

What is a good rule of thumb for budgeting for conferences and seminars?

I am an independent marketing consultant and enjoy attending conferences where I can keep up with trends in my field, network with colleagues, and make new business contacts. Is there a good rule of thumb for how much to budget for attending conferences and workshops? Some of them can be expensive, but I have been known to be too much of a penny pincher in the past. I am just not sure whether I am spending too much or not enough.
Tim Berry

How do I determine what percentage of the profit for a product I developed should be mine and how much should be the jobber's?

I was planning to sell my product myself until a jobber asked me to sell 500 pieces to him for his catalog sales.
Tim Berry

How can I find someone to run my business until I can sell it?

I want out immediately. The business is causing problems in my marriage, and selling could take months. Are there services that will run my business in the interim?
Brad Sugars

How can I monitor outgoing stock for a food-cart business?

I'm about to start my food-cart business in September. I would like to know if there is a system for monitoring the the amount of stock that I use. I'm planning to hire someone, and I want to avoid pilferage.
Brad Sugars

I am thinking of locating my upscale clothing store in a brand-new strip plaza where the only other business is a barbershop that just opened. Should I choose this location?

It's located on a street with a lot of strip plazas, and a half-mile or a mile away there are cheap clothing stores such as Big Lots, Conway's, Family Dollars and Dots Fashion. The demographics show that it's economically feasible in the ZIP code I'm looking at, but the people I've seen in the area don't seem as though they could afford the type of clothing and jewelry I want to sell. The landlord is offering three months' free rent.
Brad Sugars

How do we structure future partner agreements (financial and voting) in a new pediatric urgent care center with three founders who are equal partners?

We are three physicians about to open a pediatric urgent care center. This is a startup venture and, as the practice grows (with new locations and additional physicians), how do we reward ourselves for the true equity and sweat equity involved in getting the practice off the ground? We know we will only attract quality physicians if we offer some form of partnership, but we do not feel they should be financially equal partners with us three. How can we structure this?
Nina Kaufman

When launching a complementary, add-on product or service or distantly related service, should we create a totally separate company or brand, or an in-house division?

Should we create a new brand or stand-alone business, or should we tack it on to the existing business? The way I see it, if we tack it on, the existing customer base may be happy to purchase the additional services--or it may give the impression that we are too broad and not specialized enough. How do we decide, and how do we communicate our new offering or new company to clients?
Brad Sugars

My partner doesn't bill or collect from clients; how can I deal with this?

I am the managing partner of the firm. Because I'm half his age, I have difficulty confronting him; when I do get up the nerve, he apologizes and promises never to do it again. I ask him to take care of important business and give him deadlines, but he misses them. This has been going on for years, but we bought out the former managing partner last year and it's getting worse. He did not bill clients for nine months last year and he currently has a large amount of A/R 1 to 2 years old. I need to know how to deal with this.
Elinor Robin