Business Basics

How to turn your hobby into a business

Posted by on Jul 27, 2015 in Business Basics

  Published in The Tennessean July 27, 2015 By Ed Rappuhn – SCORE Nashville “I’ve been running a business as a hobby and am ready to get serious. Do I need to form a company and what do I do?” By running the business as a hobby, you’ve gained some valuable experience and that’s a great start. And yes, if you are serious about the business, it’s best to form a company. Start by naming your business and deciding on your legal structure. Here are your choices: A sole proprietorship , the simplest entity, is used for a single owner. It is so simple, in fact, that if you might already be a sole proprietor if you are reporting business income and expenses on schedule C of your tax return. The downside is you have no protection from lawsuits against the business; your personal assets are in play. A partnership is like a sole proprietorship except there are multiple owners, each with a specified percentage of the business. Profits and losses are passed through to the partners and again, personal assets are unprotected. A Limited Liability Company (LLC) calls the owners “members” and can have one or more members. Profits and losses are passed through to members. An LLC...

Learn More

7 ways to minimize nerves before your presentation

Posted by on Jul 13, 2015 in Business Basics

  Published in The Tennessean July 13, 2015 By Ed Rappuhn – SCORE Nashville “I enjoy meeting with prospects and customers one-on-one and have been successful growing my business this way. Now I’ve been asked to do a presentation in front of 30 people and I’m a wreck. Any ideas?” First of all, you’re not alone! To paraphrase the great philosopher Jerry Seinfeld, “People’s number one fear is public speaking; number two is death. This means that at a funeral, the average person would rather be in the casket than doing the eulogy.” Let’s look at a few ways to minimize your nerves. Prepare ahead of time. Practice what you plan to say in front of a mirror and on a video. Watch the video to find areas for improvement, and then repeat. With practice, you also measure your material. You don’t want to finish a twenty-minute presentation in ten minutes, or even worse, thirty! Use different tones of voice and vary your volume. Say important things quietly to grab attention; just make sure you can be heard. Don’t speak too fast. Nervousness will cause you to speed up your delivery, so practice your pace. When you speak too fast, people expend all their energy trying to keep up...

Learn More

Body language paves way for success

Posted by on Jun 29, 2015 in Business Basics

Published in The Tennessean June 29, 2015 By Ed Rappuhn – SCORE Nashville “I can sell my product on the phone or over my website, but repeatedly fail when face-to-face. I am clean and well-dressed but something goes amiss.” What does your body say when you meet someone in person? Body language is thought to be the most important interpersonal communication skill followed by tone of voice and finally by the actual words you say. This is particularly true when one’s body language and words are at odds with each other. Think of the defiant teenager rolling her eyes. Whatever words she says with this accompanying gesture are meaningless. This is a harsh example compared to what one sees in the business world, but even small hints of insincerity can foil an otherwise perfect message. Following are a few tips to improve your chances of success: Smile. When you are meeting someone, look happy to see him or her. This is likely the first thing your client sees and its impact is significant and sets the tone for your meeting. Provide a good handshake – neither too firm nor too weak . This might be the only time the sense of touch is involved in a meeting so make...

Learn More

Alternative office space can offer flexibility

Posted by on Jun 15, 2015 in Business Basics

  Published in The Tennessean June 15, 2015 By Ed Rappuhn – SCORE Nashville “I’m starting a new business. I can do a lot of work from home, but I need a professional space to meet with clients; Starbucks won’t cut it. What are my alternatives?” Whether for client meetings or just to get out of the house, it’s good to have a place to go that is all about business. Nashville is booming and office space is becoming scarce and costly. But hope is not lost. Nashville’s entrepreneur culture has created many alternatives to traditional office leases. Business incubators and accelerators . These are short-term solutions to office needs. Some include private offices and others shared space. You generally are limited in the time you can stay in these spaces as they are designed strictly for start-ups. Many offer on-site education programs. Costs and programs vary greatly. The Nashville Business Incubation Center and the Nashville Entrepreneur Center are among the many alternatives. Co-working spaces . These tend to be open spaces where you bring a laptop and find a comfortable space to work. Most offer private spaces for meetings and presentations. Co-working spaces often host events and speakers to foster networking and new ideas. You can pay for...

Learn More

Affordable company logos can be found

Posted by on Jun 1, 2015 in Business Basics

  Published in The Tennessean June 1, 2015 By Ed Rappuhn – SCORE Nashville “Tennessee just spent $46,000 to create a logo. I need a new logo and brand name but can’t afford to spend that much and I don’t even like what the state got.” Marketing and PR firms can produce great results. Expect to pay a minimum of around $1,500 for a logo and the same amount for a name; larger firms will charge more. The benefit of hiring a firm or experienced individual is that you will work with someone who gets to know you, your business, and your customers. They can then design names and logos that are unique and speak to what you are doing. Usually they will give you a handful of options to consider. A less costly alternative is crowdsourcing websites. You submit a request and offer prize money to the winner. This is a web-based contest where individuals propose names or logos. Your total cost can be as low as a couple hundred dollars, but a higher value prize might elicit more and better ideas. Think of crowdsourcing as a brainstorming exercise where anything goes. The suggestions are made by people who don’t understand your business the way a marketing firm...

Learn More

Set sales goals with long term in mind

Posted by on May 18, 2015 in Business Basics

Published in The Tennessean May 18, 2015 By Ed Rappuhn – SCORE Nashville “How do I set goals and sales quotas to maximize profits?” Previously I’ve addressed SMART goals – goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely. The specific and measurable parts are relatively easy; sales quotas are almost always specific and measurable. Are your goals achievable? If you set the bar too low, the goal is attainable but doesn’t motivate. If set too high, the goal can lead to frustration and potential disengagement. Look at the psychology of the person for whom the goal is set. Some people love a challenge and others need a more reasonable goal. Consider monthly targets that lead towards meeting your overall goal. Smaller targets create opportunities for periodic feedback and review. If someone continually misses his target, is there a problem with the number of sales calls he’s making, the quality of his presentations, his closing technique, or is it possible his goal is too high? What if another sales person consistently exceeds her monthly target? Does she have a better territory, more experience, better resources, or is she simply a better sales person? Does she need a higher goal? If commissions or bonuses depend on achieving a goal, people...

Learn More