Orange County Entrepreneurs
We at The WIN Companies are pleased that our “Small Business Town Hall Open Forums” have brought about solutions for owners, entrepreneurs, and CEOs of small business about which they were previously unaware. Many of the participants were concerned with increasing current sales, the rising costs of doing business (especially health insurance), effective use of resources, business structure for tax purposes, increasing the value of their business for future sale and more.
It was a pleasure to be able to introduce successful strategies to help these professional get solutions. One solution that has been well received is WINs Business Acceleration program. WIN Business Acceleration, Inc. (found under our Services tab) offers premium, affordable and comprehensive payroll, workers’ compensation, medical, dental, vision, supplemental and commercial insurance coverage to those employers of one or more who have previously been able to only obtain the poorest coverage at the highest rates. By working collaborative to mitigate the risk for insurers and negotiating economies of scale with large volume and premium partners WIN has been able to create this program to level the playing field for small businesses with their larger competitors.
If you have already attended a Town Hall and would like more information, a downloadable .pdf, or to learn about the affiliates program, visit us at WINcompanies.com/Services/WIN Business Accelerator or call us at 949.502.4200. If you would like to attend a Town Hall and find solutions for your business, register at WINcompanies.com or eventbrite.com. Due to popular demand, additional dates will be added at lunchtime and specifically for referral partners.
So you’re an Orange County Entrepreneur and you’ve got the next Pet Rock! When do you starting talking about it such that you don’t interfere with any potential intellectual property (IP) protection that you’re going to need? When you’re ready, where do you go to get the ball rolling – after all, there are hundreds of networking events happening in your area every day: morning, noon and night?
First, I’m not an intellectual property (IP) attorney and you should seek a referral to an expert in your product type and in your local area if that’s not the OC. Don’t look for the biggest name – ask a trusted partner (like your general business attorney, CPA, or a trusted business advisor) who they would recommend. Get a couple of names and meet with one or more until you find a good fit. Then, don’t give out any details that they suggest against until you have your protections in place. I know common sense sometimes may be uncommon.
Then, where to network? For Orange County Entrepreneurs, we have great options. There are the local incubators: WIN Business Acceleration, The Digital Media Center (DMC), and University of California Irvine’s (UCI) Innovation Center. There are also groups that cater to those that will ultimately need funding: Tech Coast Venture Network (TCVN), South Coast Venture Network (SCVN), Tech Coast Angels (TCA), Social Media Marketing Orange County (SMMOC), Chambers of Commerce (who have entrepreneurs groups), et al. Here is my recommendation – go and date the groups. Find out where you have chemistry and where your personality and your product are a fit. Don’t expect to be a fit everywhere (plus who has that much time to network) and build a networking plan.
If you are an entrepreneur, please share your experiences with others by commenting on this blog. Let’s help others learn from our experiences and pay it forward.
Are you considering forming a new business entity and are unsure as to what type of entity to create? The following chart summarizes the basics of each entity type, its benefits and limitations.
|Limited Liability Company||General Partnership||Sole Proprietor|
|Owners have limited liability for business debts and obligations||X||X||X|
|Created by a state-level registration that usually protects the company name||X||X||X|
|Business duration can be perpetual||X||X||X|
|May have an unlimited number of owners||X||X||X|
|Owner need not be U.S. citizens or residents||X||X||X||X|
|May be owned by another business, rather then individuals||X||X|
|May issue shares of stock that attract investors||X||X|
|Owners can report business profit and loss on their personal tax returns||X||X||X||X|
|Owners can split profit and loss with the business for a lower overall tax rate||X|
|Permitted to distribute allocations, under certain guidelines||X||X|
|Not required to hold annual meetings or record meeting minutes||X||X|
This was presented at Rainmaker BNI on Tuesday, June 14th, 2011 by Wendi D. Coley, CPA of Coley Accountancy. I felt that this was extremely relevant to my audience and I wanted to pass it on. Please check out Wendi’s web site at www.ColeyAccountancy.com.
Last Night I went to TechBizConnections “Real Life Social Media Success Stories” here in Orange County, California. There were four talented panelists and a superb moderator (Sven Johnston of Giga Savvy). Each of the experts discussed their strategies which included some superb tips. Here are my top 10 from the evening:
1. Remember “social media is SOCIAL” and requires your personal interaction.
2. It is critical to ingratiate yourself in the social media communities you join by being the helpful expert, not just asking or taking.
3. Utilize twitter searches for common interest & begin a dialog with folks with common business and personal interests. (www.onefourty.com lists all twitter applications available to filter data)
4. Tweets & Facebook updates can be scheduled for most read times.
5. Be a consistent presence: Panelists recommended 1-2 Facebook day and 3-4 Tweets/day (max)
6. Use Google alerts on your clients, your business and yourself to be the first “in the know.”
7. If you blog, post your blog on your social media sites.
8. Always make your posts interactive: ask questions, elicit feedback.
9. Use key words (with the #sign in front) in Twitter to be most searchable.
10. Explore Facebook’s Insights tool.
All that being said, the one topic no one broached was – How do we monetize the time and money we spend on social media? As a CPA, I believe like all networking, it needs to pay for itself. It would seem though, that social media does more to generate “goodwill,” create brand awareness and keep in contact with an existing client base. The question I ask is; Does social media generate new business?
For my business, I am going to begin tracking my efforts and returns. Look forward to future updates!
In this lingering down economy, the standard “business incubation model” is no longer proving to be effective. I was startled to see that recent statistics in an article entitled “Boon or Boondoggle” by Amezcua at the Syracuse University show the following:
|INCUBATED FIRM||NON-INCUBATED FIRM|
|First Year Sales||$637K||$437K|
|Rate of Sales Decline per Year||-1.2%||-3%|
|Employee Growth Rate per Year||+3%||+0.74%|
|Age||42% close by age 3.63 Yrs||50% fail in 2.5 years|
|Spends avg. of 4.5 yrs in incubator|
|944 business incubators operated in 1,121 locations, about 18,000 firms, founding year = 2000|
Graduation rate from incubator was only about 4%; among the 18,426 incubated firms in the study, 7,543 of them closed while in incubation, 193 of them closed after incubation, 464 of the graduates remain in operations, and the remainder, 10,226, continue operating in the incubator.
Some of the author’s conclusions:
- Incubation does not reduce chance of going out of business sooner than a non-incubated firm
- Incubated firms fail 10% sooner after leaving incubator
- Incubated firms increase employment, but only by 3.5% compared to non-incubated firm
- Incubated firms increase employment growth rate by 6.7%
- Sales growth rate increase by 2.15% when entering incubator, 5.1% when leaving incubator
- Based on employment and sales performance, incubation generally has a positive economic effect but it does not contribute to net economic gains since overall there are net losses in employment and sales for the incubated group
- Claims that incubators are highly successful and serve a significant number of businesses are overstated; also, incubated firms outperform non-incubated firms in terms of employment and sales growth but fail sooner
Small businesses need more in today’s incredibly challenging business market. They need flexibility and guidance. A center that offers the infrastructure and benefits once only available to large businesses, at a price those small businesses can afford. Moreover, the flexibility to grow with those businesses only as those businesses need to grow into additional services (absolutely a-la-carte, never – “You want fries with that.”) No hidden fees. No long term contracts. Where each of the companies works cooperatively. Does this seem unthinkable?
WIN is a business accelerator with a proprietary model that offers those benefits. WIN is leveraging many small businesses together to gain economies of scale and to allow start ups to appear instantly larger than they are. I would be interested to hear if others have come across other business accelerators that have a legal structure that (in the United States) allow companies to join together to obtain liability, workman’s compensation, errors & omissions coverages; a lawyer on call, HR administration, CPA ownership with payroll discounts, business connectivity and advisory services, and low cost bookkeeping and administrative assistance.