Ask Entrepreneur - Starting a Business

I am pre-startup and need a mentor for my jewelry e-business.

I have contacted SCORE, am working with the SBA and am hooked up with The Enterprise Institute at San Diego State University. I still can't find a mentor. I need to talk to a successful individual who started like me, alone and without much money. No one can point me to someone who's been successful strictly online. My idea is will help women celebrate their accomplishments and experiences. Where do I go?

How do I research the need for a spa in a particular area?

I want to open a spa, but I need to do a lot more research on the area. How do I go about doing that, such as exploring the need and/or want for a spa is in a specific area?

Should I finish my MBA and wait until I have money to invest, or should I start real small to get a business going sooner rather than later?

I'm 25 years old and my brother and I have talked about opening a smoothie/healthy wrap shop in Northeastern Ohio. We both work full time and don't have the liquid assets to buy a franchise or really fund a startup. I know borrowing from third-party investors is an option, but I wanted advice on the timing of our potential business. Should I just finish my MBA and wait until I have money to invest, or should we try and start real small to get the business started?

Where can I find estimates of the startup costs of a copy/print/mail center?

I'm a student with a project that requires a PowerPoint presentation of a proposed new business. I chose a copy center. I need some help obtaining costs for startup, equipment, staffing, etc. Where I can find examples with dollar amounts attached?

I've built a protype for an invention. Should I form an LLC or full corporation and patent it? Or should I seek a large company in the industry to sell the rights to?

The invention is an alarm system built to protect property (land, buildings, etc.) that doesn't have the infrastructure for a conventional alarm system. The system has the same features as a convential home alarm and can also be connected to a digital camera.

How do I determine my target market for an accounting and tax service business?

I'm trying to compile a business plan for the creation of an accounting and tax business. In the market analysis section of my business plan, I want to define my target markets, but I'm having trouble doing so. I need some guidance.

What information do I need about a new product idea before contacting a market research firm?

I have a new product idea and would like to have market research done to determine feasibility in the market. I have not seen an article on the site about the steps I should take to get market research. How do I locate a research firm online? What are the average rates? What can I expect to receive from a study? Will the results give me everything I need to find investors?

I'm just getting into network marketing with a truly incredible product. I would like a definition of what network marketing is and how it works.

I need to understand what network marketing is before launching so that I can fit the concept to my marketing.

What's the best way to expand my business to the U.S.?

I want to expand my Israeli web design and development company to the U.S. One way would be to open an office in the U.S., but I have other options: I have friends in the U.S. who already own businesses. I could use their companies to sell my products. Which is the better choice?

Who can help me to process, sell and distribute a product?

I have an old family recipe that I would like to bottle and sell. I would like to know how I would go about contacting a company that would be willing to work with me to produce the product, bottle and distribute. I would begin small, locally, but would eventually like to sell the product throughout the country and especially in bulk to existing businesses. The product is used for sandwiches and salads. I do not want to have to sell the recipe.

I want to start a business to license a product that is patent-pending. What resources will illustrate the steps to take?

My patent is in patent-pending status. I have a domain name secured and purchased. I have a lawyer. I have no licenses currently. I have no trademarks or registered names.I have not filed for an LLC. I am looking for resources that will give me an idea of the next steps I need to take.

Do angel investors invest in companies that have just an idea?

I have a great business idea for a company but we are not legally registered yet. Do angel investors help you out with the legal fees, and starting you up completely?

How do I pay my consultants if my customers drag their feet on paying my company?

I want to transition my 12 years of information services/information technology experience into a consulting business to assist companies with things such as networking, software development, implementation, training, etc. My biggest concern is paying my consultants. Let's say I land a customer who needs a network administrator, and I find and place an independent consultant. It's almost impossible for a new business to get a line of credit to cover operating expenses. How can I avoid going into my own pocket to make payroll if my customer is 30 days late with a payment?

Where can I find information to help me calculate estimated sales growth for an e-commerce store?

I'm working on my financial spreadsheets from startup through three years for a retail web store. I'm having trouble estimating sales growth for the company. Where can I find some general information on sales growth for e-commerce retail stores?


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