"Entrepreneurs and small businesses are often in need of affordable technology assistance. With limited budgets, many of the existing solutions are too costly. The idea of reaching out to tech savvy college students on a part-time basis not only makes financial sense but also develops these soon-to-be-graduates for the workforce. This concept can even enhances local economic development initiatives by addressing brain drain while encouraging students to pursue entrepreneurship." So states TechStudents.net, a service that connects small business with technology students.
"12Management is a management science portal that summarizes over 300 management methods, models and organizational theories, combining scientific rigor with practical relevance. The methods are classified into 12 (partly overlapping) management disciplines."
Via this post from Business & Technology Reinvention.
Posted by Anthony Cerminaro at 12/30/2005
What all firms have in common is the ability to integrate legal considerations into the firm?s overall strategy, not only to stay out of trouble but also to create value and manage risk. That?s what winning legally is all about. So contends Constance E. Bagley, associate professor of business administration at Harvard Business School, in this interview from HBS Working Knowledge. From the interview:
"Q: How can managers ensure that legal strategy aligns with corporate strategy?
A: Framing is critical here. There are legal aspects to every corporate strategy. Law is not separate and apart from what managers do. The law affects each of Porter's Five Forces as well as the resources and capabilities of the firm. The availability of patents may be key to deciding what barriers to entry exist. The enforceability of covenants not to compete and assignments of inventions may determine who captures the value of knowledge created by employees. The risk of product liability may make it unwise to pursue certain marketing strategies..."
Posted by Anthony Cerminaro at 12/29/2005
"The questions we ask determine the answers we get. And it is from these answers that we create the actions of our day-to-day lives. This simple progression of questions to answers to actions implies that if we want more effective and productive actions, we can start by asking ourselves better questions....Will it take some time? Yes it will. But it will be time well-spent...Schedule a two hour appointment (or schedule 10 minutes each day and do one question a day) with yourself in a quiet place, with your Journal, computer or just a pad of paper and record your answers to these questions.
1. What did I learn this year?...
2. What did I accomplish this year?...
3. Which accomplishments am I proudest of?...
4. Knowing what I know now, what would I have done differently in the past year?...
5. What will be my greatest lasting memories of this year?...
6. In what ways did I contribute?...
7. What were my biggest challenges or obstacles?...
8. What obstacles did I overcome? And how did you do it?...
9. Who are the most interesting people I met?...
10. How have they changed my life?...
11. How am I different now than I was at the start of the year?...
12. What am I most grateful for?...
13. What else do I want to reflect on?...
These are thirteen powerful questions. But the power comes not from asking them, but from answering them..."
Read more in this post from getmotivation.com.
This J-Walk Blog post offers an instructive perspective on sending copyright infringement "cease and desist" to bloggers. I wonder if offering a license or otherwise granting the J-Walk blog permission to use the copyrighted material might have better served the interests of the copyright holder, the National Geographic Society. The post is reprinted below:
"Today I received a certified letter from Susan Borke, the Deputy General Counsel of the National Geographic Society. She claims that the J-Walk Blog contains nine (9) instances of unauthorized use of photographs and excerpts from several National Geographic articles. I must remove them all.
Problem is, she didn't give any specific URLs. I could find only three photos (which I've deleted). She also claims "unauthorized use of the NGS name and logo." I've never reproduced their logo. Is she telling me that I can't even write "National Geographic" in a blog entry?
So what did she accomplish by sending me a form letter?
1. She has changed my opinion of the NGS. In the past, I've always had a very positive attitude about the organization. Not any more.
2. Over the years, I've probably sent 5,000 or so visitors to their site. Now, I will never link to a National Geographic site again.
Nice job, Deputy General Counsel."
Reprinting a post from Texas Venture Capital Web 2.0 Blog. Please see the post for a link to the article mentioned:
"CIO Magazine has a great list of the 'Top Five Open Source Events of 2005' on their website. The list:
Red Hat makes money from free software
Sun is making everything open source (except Java)
Motorola uses Linux in their phones
Firefox created 100MM downloads
VCs invested $400MM in open source start ups in 2005
They ask the question: What will happen in 2006?"
The Tuck Center for Private Equity and Entrepreneurship offers for download informative case studies and other excellent teaching materials that are used in Tuck's MBA courses. Topics covered include angel investing, buyouts, private equity deal structures, private placement memoranda, venture capital due diligence, private equity asset allocation, venture capital portfolio management, limited partnership agreements and exit strategies.
This collection of articles from angelscorner.com provides useful information on accepting and making private equity investments, as well as business planning, financial planning, business valuation, marketing and tax issues.
"While ROI analysis is a must-do for any self-respecting management team, ROI is often misused and little understood.
Over the years, after countless ROI analyses for leading software providers, my opinions have fundamentally shifted about the use of ROI analysis and how meaningful ROI results can be. In short, my take on ROI has shifted away from the belief that the results of ROI are factual and the goal of the ROI exercise is to find the answer...the real teaching of ROI is not in solving the equation, but in learning through the process. ROI is a journey not a destination."
Read more in this excellent article from Darwin Online.
Posted by Anthony Cerminaro at 12/27/2005
"Welcome to the Corporate Gibberish Generator on AndrewDavidson.com. Enter your company name and click...to generate several paragraphs of corporate gibberish suitable for pasting into your prospectus. (The gibberish is geared more toward Internet and technology companies.)" Here, for example, is a bit o' BizzBangBuzz gettin' jibby wit' it:
"We here at BizzBangBuzz have come to know that it is better to repurpose vertically than to matrix ultra-magnetically...better to revolutionize intuitively than to architect dynamically...BizzBangBuzz has refactored the concept of leading-edge, proactive fractal Total Quality Control. Think customer-directed. Think six-sigma, social-network-based. Think cross-media. But don't think all three at the same time..."
"While a bold idea, unflagging determination and patient financial backers are all crucial to successful start-ups, entrepreneurs must also focus on less dramatic aspects of running a company, according to seasoned entrepreneurs who spoke at the 8th Annual Wharton Entrepreneurship Conference.
This means paying attention to investment relationships, exit strategies and the mechanics of building a business, including hiring, firing, marketing and distribution..."
Read more in this Knowledge@Wharton article for CNET.
Well worth reading is this summary from Joe Hadzima "of the important information conveyed by some 50 speakers in over 100 hours of practical presentations at the M.I.T. Business Plan Competitions Seminars over the past six years." An example of the advice offered:
"Everything Must Tie Together. The Business Plan should be internally consistent and tie to any presentation you will make. This seems obvious, but I can't tell you how many times I have seen plans which present a cluttered, inconsistent message. We all have difficulty critiquing our own work, so have your plan reviewed by several people who haven't been involved in putting it together and ask them for frank feedback."
Wow, I have seen way more movies than usual this year. Here is my list grouped by categories. I recommend any movie I have awarded three or more stars to.
**** Four Stars
Good Night and Good Luck
Pride and Prejudice
Walk the Line
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
***1/2 Three Point Five Stars
The Constant Gardener
Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
*** Three Stars
The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith
Me and You and Everyone We Know
March of the Penguins
Hustle & Flow
Lord of War
Everything is Illuminated
The Corpse Bride
A History of Violence
The Weather Man
**1/2 Two Point Five Stars
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
The Wedding Crashers
The 40 Year-old Virgin
Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story
"One of the first decisions that you will have to make as a business owner is how the company should be structured. This decision will have long-term implications, so consult with an accountant and attorney to help you select the form of ownership that is right for you. In making a choice, you will want to take into account the following:
Your vision regarding the size and nature of your business.
The level of control you wish to have.
The level of 'structure' you are willing to deal with.
The business's vulnerability to lawsuits.
Tax implications of the different ownership structures.
Expected profit (or loss) of the business.
Whether or not you need to re-invest earnings into the business.
Your need for access to cash out of the business for yourself. "
Read more in this guide from the SBA that explains the basics regarding the essential choices - sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation and limited liability company.
This Intellectual Property Guide prepared by the Small Business and Technology Development Center, a business development service of the University of North Carolina, provides a good overview and resources for businesses and inventors. The Guide covers the basics of Patent, Trademarks and Copyrights.
From a Philip Brooks' Patent Infringement Updates post. Please refer to Mr. Brook's post for related links.
"Christopher A. Colvin of Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP and Tom Steiglehner of Silver Point Capital present 10 questions as a framework for evaluating a company's intellectual property portfolio in the December print issue of the Journal of Corporate Renewal from the Turnaround Management Association.
What are the company's three most valuable IP assets?
What are the company's three least valuable IP assets?
What is the company's offensive IP strategy?
What is the company's defensive IP strategy?...
What is the company's foreign IP strategy?
What will the company's IP portfolio look like in five years? 10 years?
Has the company 'locked up' its IP assets?
Who is managing the company's IP portfolio?
Has IP management contributed to business shortcomings?
Is the company's IP strategy thoroughly integrated with its overall business plan?"
"Our primary mission in creating the Business Plan Archive is to enable entrepreneurs of the future to learn from the lessons of the past. In the interest of sparking discussion and ideas, here are ten lessons we take from our observations of the dot com shakeout.
Nothing changes overnight.
New stuff doesn't replace old stuff.
Too early to market? Too bad.
Many startups were fundamentally uncreative and "un-Internet
All we, like sheep, will go astray (with enough pressure).
Free is folly.
We used narrowcast to broadcast.
The $50 million rule can kill.
It's hugely difficult to build chicken and egg simultaneously.
Prediction tools must improve."
Read more at Business Plan Archive.
Venture capitalist Danny Rimer has made investments in companies across the field. In this BusinessWeek interview, venture capitalist, Danny Rimer talks about the criteria he uses in making an investment in an open source software company, stating:
"Early on we had to come up with key criteria. It's not difficult to create a successful small business if you're an open-source vendor. But we're a VC firm looking to make returns [of 10 times our initial investment] for [our investors]. We're looking for $100 million in revenue potential. A small business that's highly profitable, making $15 million a year, is not going to move the dial for us. We're looking to invest in major software vendors.
So what are those criteria?
I call them the three Cs. These are necessary from the onset to make it an attractive story. The first is community. There has to be a huge amount of interest in it. [MySQL, Zend, and TrollTech] were already incredibly popular [when we invested]. The community is your marketing and evangelism arm. They're going to contribute and make sure this piece of software truly becomes mainstream.
The second C is commodity. Open-source companies absolutely can't have a new, innovative technology. They have to be smarter approaches to existing technology. They have to be [technologies] that developers and buyers already understand...
The third C is price cushion. There has to be a big enough difference between what proprietary vendors are charging and open source is charging, so that over time open-source companies can charge more and still have enough of a price cushion to make it interesting for customers."
"Chris Campbell has compiled an excellent nut & bolts guide to starting your business...He covers chosing a structure, finding an accountant, bookkeeping, taxes, deductions, lawyers, copyright, contracts, and invoices, among other things." For links to the guide, please see this post from Startup Fever.
Reporting on the results of a recent study:
"'When people feel happy, they tend to feel confident, optimistic, and energetic and others find them likable and sociable,' said Sonja Lyubomirsky of the University of California, Riverside. 'Happy people are thus able to benefit from these perceptions.'...
Among the good things that come from happiness: positive perceptions of self and others, sociability, creativity, a strong immune system, and effective coping skills."
Read more in this article from LiveScience
Posted by Anthony Cerminaro at 12/19/2005
"When you start a new business, you need money to get it off the ground. You need the money to rent or purchase space for the business, furniture and equipment, supplies, professional fees such as legal and accounting, as well as continuing the research and development of your product or service. You may also need money to pay employees. There are several places where you can get the money that a new business needs, but first you need to think about which type of funding will work best for your company."
This article from Howstuffworks explains in understandable terms the differences among various types of financing, helps you decide which is best for your company, and gives you tips on obtaining the funding you need to get your business off to a running start.
"The ideal business sells the world...offers a product which enjoys an "inelastic" demand....which cannot be easily substituted or copied...has minimal labor requirements...low overhead...does not require big cash outlays or major investments in equipment...has cash billings...is relatively free of all kinds of government and industry regulations...easily moveable...satisfies your intellectual (and often emotional) needs...leaves you with free time...[and] is one in which your income is not limited by your personal output..."
Read more in this article from Richard Russell.
This post from Philip Brooks points to an article written by "J. Timothy Cromley, CPA, for the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) about the '20 Steps for Pricing a Patent.' He is an accredited senior appraiser in business valuations, a professional engineer and a registered U.S. patent attorney providing professional business valuation services for the Valuation Advisory Services Group of JPMorgan Chase & Co. "
"In spirit of the holidays, here is a list [from Don Hinchcliffe]of some of the best Web 2.0 software...You may have heard of some of these, but hopefully you'll find a few nice new Christmas presents under your Web 2.0 tree." Found via this post from robhyndman.com.
This is the index to a series of posts by Chris Newham about the fourteen features of proposed model of leadership, A Vision of Leadership. Chris solicits your comments about the proposal.
The model is driven by two pairs of values that are often perceived as competing: lead and follow, implement and innovate. The index follows the order of posting. Each model feature is italicized in the post title. Found via this Random Thoughts from a CTO post.
- Missing, a Follower
- Visions of Leadership
- A Vision of Leadership - A Tetrahedral Model
- A Vision of Leadership - A Heartfelt Vision
- Respect Empowers Follower and Leader
- Realizing Drives Innovation and Implementation
- Structuring - How Leaders Implement
- Responding - Follow and Innovate
- Conforming - Follow and Implement
- Improvising - Lead and Innovate
- Six Practices Through Others' Eyes
- Visualization - The First Face of Leadership
- Organization for Implementation
- Innovation vs Implementation
- Contribution - The Essence of Following
- Collaboration for Innovation
- Donald Trump and A Vision of Leadership
- Lean Leadership
- Innovation Occurs on a Foundation of Organization
- Implementation Energized by Collaboration
- Lead While Staying Grounded
- A Conscious Decision to Follow is an Act of Leadership
Posted by Anthony Cerminaro at 12/16/2005
The Service Corp of Retired Executives offers a collection of small business templates at Template Gallery. Included are templates for business plans, break-even analysis, making a loan request and many other useful planning tools. The templates as available as Word or Excel documents as well as PDF format.
Posted by Anthony Cerminaro at 12/10/2005
Continuing the current trend of large-scale mergers and acquisitions, it was announced today at a press conference that Christmas and Hannukah will merge. An industry source said that the deal had been in the works for about 1300 years.
While details were not available at press time, it is believed that the overhead cost of having twelve days of Christmas and eight days of Hannukah was becoming prohibitive for both sides. By combining forces, we're told, the world will be able to enjoy consistently high-quality service during the fifteen days of Christmukah, as the new holiday is being called.
Massive layoffs are expected, with lords-a-leaping and maids-a-milking being the hardest hit.
As part of the conditions of the agreement, the letters on the dreidel currently in hebrew, will be replaced by latin, thus becoming unintelligible to a wider audience.
Also, instead of translating to "a great miracle happened there," the message on the dreidel will be the more generic "miraculous stuff happens."
In exchange, it is believed that Jews will be allowed to use Santa Claus and his vast merchandising resources for buying and delivering their gifts.
In fact, one of the sticking points holding up the agreement for at least three hundred years was the question of whether Jewish children could leave milk and cookies for Santa even after having eaten meat for dinner. A breakthrough came last year, when Oreos were finally declared to be kosher.
All sides appeared happy about this. A spokesman for Christmas, Inc., declined to say whether a takeover of Kwanzaa might not be in the works as well. He merely pointed out that were it not for the independent existence of Kwanzaa, the merger between Christmas and Hanukkah might indeed be seen as an unfair cornering of the U.S. holiday market. Fortunately for all concerned, he said, Kwanzaa will help to maintain the competitive balance.
He then closed the press conference by leading all present in a rousing rendition of "Oy, Come All Ye Faithful."
(An oldie but a goodie)
This post from Fresh Inc. offers year end tax tips including:
"Pay off accounts...Make capital investments...Stock up on supplies...Distribute profits...Save for retirement...Make charitable donations...Get slow movers off your books...Adjust your estimated taxes..."
Posted by Anthony Cerminaro at 12/09/2005
The National Venture Capital Association offers this
"'template' set of model legal documents for venture capital investments put together by a group of leading venture capital attorneys. The model venture capital financing documents consist of:
Stock Purchase Agreement
Certificate of Incorporation
Investor Rights Agreement
Right of First Refusal and Co-Sale Agreement
Management Rights Letter
...The model documents aim to:
-reflect and in a number of instances, guide and establish industry norms
-be fair, avoid bias toward the VC or the company/entrepreneur
-present a range of potential options, reflecting a variety of financing terms
-include explanatory commentary where necessary or helpful
-anticipate and eliminate traps for the unwary (e.g., unenforceable or unworkable provisions)
-provide a comprehensive set of internally consistent financing documents
-promote consistency among transactions
-reduce transaction costs and time"
This article from Howstuffworks provides an easily understandable overview of business bankruptcy stating:
"Bankruptcy is one of the most complex areas of law, incorporating elements of contract law, corporate law, tax law and real estate law. In recent years, several high-profile corporations like Enron, WorldCom and Adelphia have filed for bankruptcy. Although businesses only accounted for about 2 percent of all bankruptcy filings in the United States last year, commercial bankruptcies can have a big impact on the economy because there can be a lot of money at stake.
In this article, we'll explain the different types of bankruptcy filings under United States law, figure out who pays what to whom, and describe the process of reorganizing a company and running it under bankruptcy."
The Center for Private Equity and Entrepreneurship of Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business provides a comprehensive Private Equity Glossary featuring everything from "'A'-Round" to "Zombie."
In case you were wondering: "A" Round is "a financing event whereby venture capitalists become involved in a fast-growth company that was previously financed by founders and/or angels." And a Zombie is "a company that has received capital from investors but has only generated sufficient revenues and cash flow to maintain its operations without significant growth."
Please see this post from Dane Carlson for another glossary of VentureSpeak from 3i.
I avoid using the sappy, vapid phrase "Happy Holidays." I much prefer greeting others with "Merry Christmas" and, the more traditional, "Season's Greetings."
I find it hard to understand how anyone could be offended by such a greeting. For instance, many of my friends and colleagues are Jewish, and I am relatively certain that none of them has ever been offended by hearing a hearty "Merry Christmas" greeting from me. Nor am I offended when I am wished a joyous and happy new year when Rosh Hashana rolls around. If someone is wishing for me happiness and blessings, then I am all for it.
As Dave Hoggard puts it:
"My traditional holiday greeting is not intended as an insult or to disparage anyone, I just truly dislike the phrase "Happy Holidays". "Merry Christmas" means something. "Habari Gani" means something. "Happy Chanukah" means something. "Happy Holidays" means nothing more than "I hold no traditions nor beliefs dear and don't think you should either, but I hope your few days off of work are pleasant."
Or as David C. Stolinsky, M.D., who is Jewish, states in this provocative article:
"This year it seems that fewer people wish one another "Merry Christmas." Instead, in an effort not to give offense, they say "Happy Holidays."
Obviously, Christmas means the most to Christians, who make up the large majority of Americans. Yet non-Christians can also enjoy the beauty of the season, and they can honor the holiday without observing it – unless they are eager to take offense...
Some would distort freedom of religion into freedom from religion. They take offense at anything that does not accord with their own beliefs – or lack of belief. They insist that the nation revolve around them...
Is there too much happiness in the world? Is there a shortage of sadness and grief? Does hearing "Joy to the world" really cause a problem?
Is there too much friendship in the world? Is there a deficiency of hatred and strife? Does "Peace on earth, good will toward men" really sound oppressive?...
Is there too much fellowship in the world? Is there a dearth of hostility and ill will? Does a hearty "Merry Christmas!" really give offense?
Is there too much light in the world? Is there a scarcity of darkness and gloom? Do pretty lights really cause distress?
A wise man said that it is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness. But what would he have thought of those who curse the candle?"
Posted by Anthony Cerminaro at 12/06/2005
The Carbolic Smoke Ball is a blog from one Judge Rufus Peckham in the style of the Onion, but, funnier (so claims a recent post with which I must agree). Just having the headlines show up in my rss reader ordinarily makes me smile. Some examples of headlines from recent "stories."
Lego Forced To Vacate World Headquarters Because Plastic Floors Can't Support Weight Of Employees
First 'Face Transplant' Patient Slips Out Of Hospital Without Paying Bill -- Because No One Recognized Her
Venus De Milo To Get Breast Enlargement To Boost Crowds At The Louvre
Ex-People's Court Judge Wapner Brought In To Speed Saddam Hussein Trial To Conclusion; Verdict Expected In 15 Minutes
FDA Recalls Insecticide "Raid" Because Of High Incidence Of Life-Threatening Disease In Insects
MIT Study Shows That Heat At Adequate Temperatures Can Prevent Freezing
Company Hits It Big Publishing Physician Waiting Room Magazines That Appear To Be Outdated
Most Hate Crimes Driven By Loathing And Detestation
Ted Williams' Head Thawed Out For Annual Press Conference
The gifted storyteller and former radio broadcaster John Henry Faulk recorded his Christmas story in 1974 for the program Voices in the Wind. You may read and listen to this wonderful story about the joy of simplicity, sharing and fellowship by visiting NPR : John Henry Faulk's 'Christmas Story'. Many thanks to Tammy Lenski's Strategic Conversations for the link.
"Ilana DeBare has a good column in the San Francisco Chronicle Small Business Section on bootstrapping. She interviews Bruce Maxwell, a serial entrepreneur, on the topic. Maxwell says, 'Bootstrapping is founded on two simple techniques. The first is time-shifting your payables into the future...The Second technique is barter.'"
For a link to the column, please see post from Mary Sullivan's Way to Grow.
Posted by Anthony Cerminaro at 12/05/2005
"Starting a successful company involves solving a critical problem for a targeted group of customers. To be able to do that, you have to understand the customer extremely well, and be an expert in their interests, needs and problems.
It's not a coincidence that a lot of successful companies are formed by a few individuals that leave a parent company to start a similar company to meet the needs of their sector. They have worked in the space for a few years, understand the needs very well and create a solution that meets those needs. No amount of market research or interviews will give you that level of understanding, so they have an inherent advantage against competitors...
So, if you're starting a company, find a problem in the fields you are familiar with and focus on that. You'll have a much higher probability of success and likely find yourself with some unfair advantages that you can use..."
Read more in Why VCs Don't Start Companies - Sean on Life.
Posted by Anthony Cerminaro at 12/05/2005
The mission of the NetMBA Business Knowledge Center is to provide high quality business knowledge resources via the Internet. The Center publishes excellent and informative articles in various subjects of business administration. The articles cover both basic and advanced topics, and include frameworks and theories that are useful for solving the more challenging problems of business administration. Subjects covered include Accounting, Economics, Finance, Management, Marketing, Operations, Statistics and Strategic Management. Well worth a look.
Posted by Anthony Cerminaro at 12/02/2005
"Fast growing, entrepreneurial organizations need employees who regularly demonstrate entrepreneurial characteristics and work habits...So what are the characteristics of highly effective "Right Stuff" entrepreneurial employees? Here are a few to keep in mind as you interview potential new hires...
Ability to Deal With Risk....
Read more in this article by Joe Hadzima.
"This paper [from Salman Farmanfarmaian] outlines a methodology for valuing preferred stock and other complex financial instruments used primarily in ventre capital. Although venture capitalists appear to have a solid understanding of the capital structures they create, the analytical framework described here, as well as the graphical interpretations used to show the payout to stakeholders in a liquidation event, can serve in explaining some seemingly complex capital structures to management teams or stockholders who might have less sophisticated financial backgrounds."
This post from The Entrepreneurial Mind points to Tekrati Analyst Cafe: Analyst Blogs as a rich source of technology oriented industry information, stating:
"Not only is industry data like this is critical for effective start-up planning, but also for managing the growth of a business. Business planning should be a process, not an event...[T]he market you are entering is probably under going dynamic change. This change is what in most cases creates the opportunity you are pursuing. You are entering what Peter Vaill calls permanent white water.
Your plan is full of assumptions, not just facts. Assumptions need to be tested and refined. Sometimes they need to be abandoned if proven wrong. The plan is more like a general map of a river. It shows where you will be headed, but the key to your success in navigating this river is in your ability to adjust.."