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Work out your divorce before you get married!
6 Things to do before you start your own business
Let’s all stick to our own knitting!
Recession Proof Your Business

Work out your divorce before you get married!

As a business advisor, I have advised my fair share of start up businesses where the owners have been friends or colleagues starting as co-owners. I have also sat through many a business dispute between these people who started off as friends, colleagues, and co-owners!

You will be well familiar with the much touted statistics of the large proportion of start up businesses that fail. Yet even businesses that succeed may eventually (and more often than you think) have a falling out between co-owners.

It is predictable that when you are at the beginning of an exciting idea you think it will last forever. Yet, it is also predictable that circumstances will change and the business is unlikely to stay the same. The business may ebb and flow and different people may have different risk tolerances for that ebb and flow. Opportunities may arise and different people may view those opportunities very differently depending on their own priorities.

If nothing else, relationships change with time, emotions change with time, energy levels change with time. Profits and growing wealth (or the opposite!) raise questions never asked at the start of the relationship.

So, when asked what is the single most important structural thing to consider when two or more people start a business together, I don’t say type of entity or share values, I say “write up your divorce papers before you get married!”
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6 Things to do before you start your own business

So you want to start your own business?

If you are like all small business people, you have decided to start your small or kitchen table business because of factors such as being your own boss and all that picture entails. Today, this seems even more possible due to the technology that you can use from home or a shared space that allows you to keep costs down in comparison to a bricks and mortar business.

While there are even government websites encouraging you (there’s one that has a header “Open for Business: Simple, Fast, Easy) headlines still exist that shout out nearly 80% of businesses close within 18 months of starting – and you can bet most of these are micro, small, kitchen table businesses. Read More

Let’s all stick to our own knitting!

advertise hereI’m about to insult lawyers.

The rest of you – you needn’t cheer quite so raucously. I only choose to use lawyers as an example of a highly trained group of professionals, skilled and experienced in what they do and good at their multi-faceted jobs, but because of that, think that they can self-handle other aspects of their business where different specialist skills and experience are required.

I could have chosen accountants, or doctors, or engineers (there, some of you are not so comfortable now are you?).

One of my clients is a firm of commercial lawyers specialising in insolvency. In their business they run the constant risk that their clients cannot pay. To give them their due they always perform at their best and never stint on service, despite this possibility, but now and then, they get caught.

In one such instance they worked for an owner of advertising billboards scattered around the suburbs. Having satisfactorily won the case for their client they found that the client is cash strapped and unable to pay them, asking for a payment plan over a year or so. Clearly not a good situation. The senior partner, true to the entrepreneurial spirit of the firm then negotiated a contra arrangement where they get to use two billboards and paste up advertising for the law firm over a year. In this way a $20,000 doubtful debt is used to gain $40,000 worth of billboard advertising – quite an advantage? Read More

Recession Proof Your Business

sorry closedIs this possible – to recession-proof your business?  Well no, probably not despite the wealth of articles about how to do so appearing on the internet (about 614,000 hits on Google).

However, what is possible is to secure your business as much as is possible by following a series of simple and common sense business strategies.  These strategies are no different from strategies you should employ under normal circumstances, but which application is much more acute in today’s economic climate, and with a different emphasis required.  Sadly when times are good, businesses allow themselves to get “fat” and some of these every-day disciplines are allowed to slacken.

The strategies can be grouped into defensive and offensive strategies.  As you look at your business performance it is likely that you will find profit performance heading south, and with the economy looking the way it is, it is difficult not to panic and begin to tighten all the hatches.  However you can tighten too much, to the extent that your business finds it difficult to operate normally.  Hence, while it is natural to concentrate on the defensive strategies such as cutting costs, it is important to keep in mind the offensive strategies – those that your business should take to ensure that you are the one in your industry that keeps selling when others are closing down. Read More

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