National Science Foundation Seeks Proposals

The National Science Foundation is seeking proposals for Manufacturing Innovation grants. Companies with technologies aimed at increasing the competitive capability of manufacturing firms are encouraged to apply.

Best Practices for Angel Investment Groups

From VC Experts

"Angel investing has long been an important source of financial support and mentoring for new and growing businesses bridging the gap between individual (friends and family) and institutional venture capital rounds of financing. Over the past several years, this sector of the private capital market has been formalizing in response to both growing demands and complexity.

According to research conducted by Jeffrey E. Sohl at the University of New Hampshire's Center for Venture Research, there were approximately 50 formal business angel groups in the United States five years ago. He now estimates that there may be as many as 170 formal and informal organizations located throughout leading technology and business regions in the US and Canada. These groups have several characteristics: loosely to well-defined legal structures; part-time or full-time management; standardized investment processes; a public face usually with a Web site and public relations activities; and, occasionally a traditionally structured venture capital/angel investing fund.

This week, the Kauffman Foundation reports on best practicesfor Angel Investing groups on topics as diverse as membership and staffing to deal flow and deal terms."


Cost of Twelve Days of Christmas Rises

Originally uploaded by TigerTigerTiger.
The PNC Bank Annual "Christmas Price Index" shows the cost of goods declines while the cost of services rises:

"In 1984, after all the receipts were added up, the cost of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" would have set you back $12,623– the goods alone accounting for 62 percent of your total bill. Today, the numbers tell a different story. The total cost has climbed to $17,297, a 1.6 percent annualized increase over 20 years, but services now account for 74 percent of the index, indicating a steady rise in the cost of skilled labor while the price of two turtle doves and three French hens may be a little easier on your wallet.

Every year since 1984, PNC Advisors has provided a tongue-in-cheek economic analysis, based on the cost of goods and services purchased by the True Love in the holiday classic, "The Twelve Days of Christmas."

The Christmas Price Index has consistently reflected changes in the economy and continues to do so in the 20th anniversary version. The 2.4 percent year-over-year increase in the index closely mirrors that of the government’s Consumer Price Index – a widely used measure of U.S. inflation. Not only is the high cost of fuel reflected in the cost to deliver a pear tree, but this year’s index also underscores the trend to outsource labor.

Skilled labor mentioned in the song, such as wages for the dancing ladies have increased 5.5 percent annualized over 20 years versus the maids-a-milking, which have only seen a 2.2 percent annualized pay raise. In the broader economy, the outsourcing of less skilled labor is helping to keep those wages low...

As part of its annual tradition, PNC Advisors also tabulates the “true cost of Christmas, which is the total cost of all of the items in the famous carol, including the repetitions. The price tag for the 364 items this holiday season is $66,334 up from $65,264 in 2003. The 1.6 percent increase pales in comparison to last year’s 19 percent increase, which may be due to lower consumer confidence this season"

Council Calls for CIO Award Nominations

The Pittsburgh Technology Council is calling for nominations for chief information officers and senior ranking information technology executives in the 13 counties of southwestern Pennsylvania to be considered for honors at its premier technology executive recognition event, the Pittsburgh CIO of the Year Awards.

Co-hosted by the Pittsburgh Technology Council and the Greater Pittsburgh CIO Group, the CIO of the Year Awards program honors individual technology executives from industry, non-profit, academia and government. Nominees, including chief information officers or those in equivalent positions, are recognized for their innovation and creativity in planning and deploying their enterprise systems, future IT goals, management philosophy and service to the industry and community.


An Interesting Approach to Unsolicited Invention Submissions

From I/P Updates:

"According to the Dial Coporation Partners in Innovation Website,

'If you are an inventor and have a patented or patent-pending product that you would like The Dial Corporation to review, please follow the carefully established guidelines and process. Dial will only accept your idea if it is covered by an issued patent or if your patented application has been published by the US Patent Office. (Applications are typically published approximately 18 months after the initial filing date.) Our guidelines may be strict, but we want to clearly communicate the expectations from this process. We want you to know where you stand from the start so you can protect your interests.'

The site goes on to describe a simple four-step electronic submission process."

An Open Source Legal Issues Discussion link

The following are the details on this link from JBoss:

"Recorded event:
Legal Issues Impacting Open Source: Expert Roundtable Discussion

Date of recording:
Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Panelists Info:
Marc Fleury, Paul Arne, Larry Rosen, David Byer, Jim Harvey

Play time:
1 hour, 13 minutes

Marc Fleury, founder and CEO of JBoss, Inc., moderates a discussion on the major issues impacting open source today. Panelists include Larry Rosen (of Rosenlaw & Einschlag), Paul Arne (of Morris, Manning & Martin), David Byer (of Testa, Horwitz & Thibeault), and Jim Harvey (of Alston & Bird, currently representing AutoZone against SCO)."

The Business of Open-Source Software

Frank Hecker writes:

"Commercial software companies face many challenges in growing their business in today's fast-moving and competitive industry environment. Recently many people have proposed the use of an open-source development model as one possible way to address those challenges.

This document investigates the business of commercial open-source software, including why a company might adopt an open-source model, how open-source licensing works, what business models might be usable for commercial open-source products, what special considerations apply to commercial products released as open source, and how various objections relating to open source might be answered.

The target audience is commercial software and hardware companies and individual software developers considering some sort of open-source strategy or just curious about how such a strategy might work. "

Videos from Entrepreneurship in the 21st Century conference

Links from the internet archive:

"One-Day Conference Sponsored by Office of Advocacy, U.S. Small Business Administration
And The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation

7 videos or segments in this conference"

More on Advisory Boards

From web-site-evaluations.com

"There are several advantages that companies with advisory boards have over their competition. A board offers your business:

• An unbiased outside perspective.
• Increased corporate accountability and discipline.
• Enhanced CEO and management effectiveness.
• Greater credibility with investors, vendors and customers.
• Help in avoiding costly mistakes.
• Rounding out skills and expertise lacking in current management team.
• A sounding board for evaluating new business ideas and opportunities.
• Enhanced community and public relations.
• Improved marketing results and effectiveness.
• Strategic planning assistance and input.
• Centers of influence for networking introductions.
• Crisis and transition leadership in the event of the death or resignation of the CEO.
• Help anticipating market changes and trends."

Some of the advice offered in this excellent article may be sumarized as follows:

Steps to Creating an Effective Board of Advisors

• Analyze the strength and weaknesses of your current management team
• Set clear, written goals and objectives for your board of advisors

Recruiting Candidates

• Develop a candidate profile.
• Seek out experts.
• Ask for recommendations.
• Find your candidates motivation.
• Have variety in your board
• Look for a proven track record.
• Clearly communicate your goals and objectives.

Pitfalls to Avoid

• Members missing meetings.
• Insecurity of senior managers.
• Incompatible personalities.
• Excessive number of board members.
• Lack of CEO communication.
• Inadequate compensation.

Keys to Board Effectiveness

• If you build it, use it
• Value their input, even when they disagree with what you want to do.
• Communicate with your advisors.
• Hold regular meetings.
• Have an objective for each meeting.
• Annual assessment of board performance.

How to Sell to Your Boss

How to Sell Your Boss

"Selling your boss is critical to your success. If you can’t get your boss’s approval when you need it, you are not going to go very far in your career...Here are six keys to getting your boss to say yes.

1. Meet your boss's needs...
2. Pick your battles...
3. Do your homework...
4. 'Bullet proof' your proposal...
5. Make the pitch...
6. Accept responsibility for the outcome"


Microcredit Aids Developing Countries

From the Pittsburgh Post Gazette:

"From alpaca farms in Peru to fish farms in Indonesia, microcredit has gone where no bank has deigned to tread. In extending loans to so-called risky business, microcredit programs have lifted thousands of small ventures up from the dirt floors of the developing world.

One of those, Oikocredit, has its largest U.S. support group based in Pittsburgh. The Western Pennsylvania Support Association will have invested in small-scale entrepreneurs to the tune of $3.5 million at the end of this year.

'We have a 92 percent success rate' on repaid loans worldwide, said Mary Pardee, a founder of the Western Pennsylvania group and a one-time member of the international board. 'It's just wonderful to see how people respond to opportunities.'"

Transformational Leadership

Laurel Delaney in her blog focusing on women entrepreneurship:

"Transformational leadership begins with different beliefs about oneself and others. The first changing belief is that leadership isn't a job but a way of being. The second is that, whereas in the past leadership meant power and control over others, today leadership beliefs begin with a desire to enable others to realize their own power and leadership potential. Thirdly, leadership in the past was based on believing it made people do things that you wanted done whereas, today, leadership is about a mutual relationship where each can transcend to a worthy purpose and behave with moral fibre, courage, integrity and trust. "

Forming a Board of Directors

From TJ's Weblog:

"Forming a helpful board of directors for your start-up can be a puzzling task. First you have to check legal requirements in the country the company is registered in. Germany has a two-board system with well regulated requirements for the roles of directors (you may check the GmbHG and AktG with Google). The UK and the US states mostly do not specify the roles and requirements for a board member at all. So it's up to your creativity and negotiation skill to find people that a) have strong credibility b) can leverage your business and c) are no cost killer for your business, In search for more in information Google lead me to this helpful site with a good overview what directors can do for you: "


Top Ten Do's and Don'ts of IP Licensing

This article from Mondaq (free subscription required) offers ten do's and don't for IP licensing, stating:

"To create effective licenses for both licensors and licensees, it is important to have an understanding of the common legal and business issues that arise in negotiating licenses by following these "Top 10" tips. Software, Web sites, e-commerce transactions and information technology generally can involve many different forms of intellectual property (IP). On a Web site, for example, copyrights can exist in software, content, multimedia and databases. Patent rights may exist in processes used in software, Web sites and e-commerce. And, trade-mark rights may exist in software product names, domain names, hyperlinks that reflect business or product names, logos, word designs or even sounds used to distinguish goods or services."

The tips are:

1. Do Your Due Diligence
2. Don’t Take "Who" & "What" in a License Grant for Granted
3. Do Know the Difference Between Sole, Exclusive & Non-Exclusive
4. Do Sweat the Small Stuff in License Grants
5. Don’t Blindly Agree to Restrictions on Licensing
6. Do Beware of Representations & Warranties
7. Do Structure Compensation Strategically
8. Do Consider Bankruptcy & Insolvency
9. Don’t Underestimate the Term & Termination
10. Be Choosy About Choice of Law


University Joint Patents With Industry Get More Protection

From The Kept-Up Academic Librarian:

"Patents that result from collaboration between universities and companies won new protections from legal challenge under legislation that passed Congress over the weekend. If signed by President Bush, the bill would defuse a federal court ruling that many researchers said jeopardized patents growing out of joint scientific research conducted by public and private institutions, especially in such relatively new fields as biotechnology"

God Has Many Natures

My view is that because God is God and we are not, we, as imperfect beings, can not perfectly understand God's nature. Imperfect beings can not understand perfection perfectly. My belief is that one of the least imperfect ways of conceiving of God is that "God is Love".

In my view, other conceptions of God, such as that of God as a relationship among three persons, as a supreme being, as father, as mother, as creator, as spirit, all are valid, and, that all such conceptions, taken together, show us that God has many natures.

This thought provoking article by Meredith Jordan from beliefnet.com eloquently expresses similar ideas, stating:

"Most religious traditions teach that God is a living being—the Father or Mother of us all—who lives outside us, takes personal interest in each of us, and has a direct influence on the events of our lives. Is it possible this is an outdated conceptualization of the magnificent Mystery that lives at the exact epicenter of all life? Possible that, in our attempts to maintain the illusion of order in a troubled and turbulent world, we try too hard to force the Mystery of God into names, forms, images, or even belief systems? And while these attempts to pin God down may offer small measures of comfort, they may also fail to convey the complex nature of Ultimate Reality...

Isn’t it possible that the One of Many Names is even more complex and intricately designed than we human beings are, never revealing itself in its totality, but rather revealing its many different aspects to each of us at different times and in different ways?...

It’s said throughout the great wisdom traditions that God names God by saying only: I am that I am. This statement points strongly to the possibility that the Sacred Mystery is consciousness or essence rather than person or being. By using names for God that, while comforting, may limit the depth and breadth of our experience of this Mystery, we may unintentionally close our eyes and hearts to that which is attempting to reveal its ever-developing nature to us...

It seems plausible that we’re being challenged to revise our understanding of God. Could God be something other than what religious doctrine tells us? Could God be evolving and changing in the same way humanity is evolving, and therefore be different today than God was two thousand years ago? Questions like this fascinate me.

I take the position that God’s nature is always changing, continually growing and revealing itself to us in new ways. In my opinion, I’m the one who must develop my own relationship with, and understanding of, the nature of the Divine Mystery...

I have come to believe that God, the one I call Mystery, is also changed by its relationship with me. I have no way to prove this belief so that you, the reader, might believe it along with me. Yet it’s consistent with all we as a people are learning about the interactive nature of reality.

Everything changes as a result of our paying attention. It’s just common sense that there exists a great feedback loop operating throughout all of creation. In the way a friend’s insight suddenly inspires an insight in me, I wonder if we grow more conscious in spiritual tandem with God-Consciousness, and if God-Consciousness expands because we make efforts to awaken.

Can it be that God and humanity assist each other in the process of expanding, transforming, and ultimately evolving into more of what we are intended to be? Perhaps as the Sacred Mystery widens, broadens, and deepens its experience of reality, there’s a corresponding expansion in human awareness. And as human awareness or consciousness grows, it’s possible there is a corresponding flutter in the heart of God-consciousness..."

Meredith Jordan, MA, is a psychotherapist and spiritual director and a co-founder of Rogers McKay, a multifaith educational organization that provides resources for spiritual seekers. She lives in Maine.

Toward More Effective Collaboration

From Dave Pollard:

"Hierarchy, our cult of leadership, and the inflated egos of managers, combine to make collaboration in most businesses almost impossible.

Collaboration could be improved by (a) creating a lot more opportunities to practice it, (b) speaking out when supposedly or potentially collaborative activities aren't, and fixing them so they are, and (c) ousting the egos and outing the wallflowers in collaborative groups so participation is equal.

Caroline Allen, who lives and breathes this stuff, provides this additional wisdom:

Infrastructure -- support and facilitation services, coaching, technical resources -- helps to keep collaborative efforts from going off the rails.

Open communication and collegiality among participants, so that the work that needs to be done can be equitably apportioned, appreciated and respected, is essential to the process.

Diversity of process -- using different techniques to jump-start or enhance collaboration -- is as important to effective collaboration as diversity of people."


Funding and Family: Mix with Care

From businessweek.com:

Seeking funding from family and (often, soon to be former) friends is often a key part of a startup's bootstrapping strategy. This article stresses caution in this regard, stating:

"Money from family and friends can be a blessing. They're an easy and trusted source of investment for your burgeoning small business. But it can also be a curse, given the additional stress that the emotional and relational ties put on the transaction. Having a serious plan ahead of time can save you much acrimony later, whether the business is a success or bust. "

From Small Business Brief

KISS - Keep it Simple and Sloppy on the Internet

From Feld Thoughts:

"Adam Bosworth - one of the dudes behind a bunch of software products (including Borland Quattro, Microsoft Access, Microsoft Internet Explorer and BEA WebLogic application server), gave a brilliant speech at ICSOC04 which he posted on his weblog. He espouses his idea of KISS as it pertains to the Internet (and modifies it to 'keep it simple and sloppy.') It's a must read for any exec of a software company."

On Product Release Timing

From BeyondVC:

"Early stage companies have to be nimble and disciplined when creating and releasing product. One of the important decisions a startup can make is how it chooses to manage its product releases. In a software company a product release affects everyone. A mistimed release can severely impact sales, cash flow, and the company."

Read this post and its comment for a discussion of "date driven" releases versus other alternatives.

Primer on Stem Cells

Originally uploaded by TigerTigerTiger.
From Howstuffworks:

"Inside an embryo no bigger than the period at the end of this sentence are dozens of stem cells. Initially, these cells are blank slates, meaning that their fate is undecided. But they have great potential. Stem cells are pluripotent, which means that they can develop into every cell, every tissue and every organ in the human body.

Their almost limitless potential has made stem cells a significant focus of medical research. Imagine having the ability to return memory to an Alzheimer's patient, replace skin that was lost during a terrible accident or enable a wheelchair-bound person to walk again.

But before scientists can use stem cells for medical purposes, they must first learn how to harness their power. They can't treat disease until they learn how to manipulate stem cells to get them to develop into specific tissues or organs."

This article explains stem cell basics and is an excellent primer to allow you to better understand the fierce debate surrounding their research and use.


Top Ten Things to Do About Competitors' IP

From PHOSITA ::: an intellectual property weblawg:

"The law firm Goodwin Procter LLP recently published an article on how to gain a business advantage over your competition. Here's the top ten things to do about your competitors' intellectual property.

1. Monitor Your Competitors' Patent Applications Before They Issue
2. Monitor the Progress of Your Competitors' Patent Applications
3. Block Your Competitors' Patents
4. Challenge Your Competitors' Patents Before Your Competitor Can Take You to Court
5. Think About Approaching Your Competition
6. Monitor Your Competitors' Trademark Filings
7. Learn About Your Competitors' Global Marketing Strategy
8. Challenge Marks That Hit Too Close Before Your Competitors Gain the Advantage
9. Monitor Your Competitors' IP Licensing Activity
10. Know That Your Competition is Checking Up on You"

Five Misconceptions About Patents

This post from Patent Pending notes the following as patent misconceptions. Go to his post to find out why the following statements are not true:

1. I know that this invention is patentable because I have never seen it anywhere else.
2. Patents are only for big corporations, they cost a lot of money, and I can adequately protect myself using contracts.
3. Patent and Trademark searches are just tools that Patent Attorneys use to get extra money out of you.
4. Invention promotion companies are mostly reputable organizations, with my best interest at heart.
5. I have a new invention that I know that I have to patent so that I can sell it.

Privacy Perils: Five Key Challenges for Employers

This excellent article from Faegre & Benson LLP highlights the following challenges engendered by recent privacy law developments:

Challenge #1: Employee Medical and Disability Information
Challenge #2: Workplace Monitoring and Searches
Challenge #3: Background Checks and Employee Testing
Challenge #4: Off-Duty Conduct
Challenge #5: Multi-State and Multi-National Challengesexplains.

The article concludes:

"There are no easy answers to HR privacy compliance, particularly for multi-state or multi-national employers. However, the following practices will help employers mitigate privacy risks across multiple legal frameworks and business settings:

Adopt appropriate policies. All employers should have policies that notify employees about any monitoring protocols and specifically state that employees should not have any expectation of privacy in work-related communications, systems, or facilities. Employers should also consider implementing privacy policies that set out requirements regarding the use, disclosure, and protection of personal information (such policies may be required under HIPAA and certain foreign country laws).

Adopt a “minimum necessary” standard. Employers should limit the acquisition, use and disclosure of sensitive employee information to the minimum amount necessary for business purposes.
Implement appropriate safeguards. Employers should assess whether they have adequately protected sensitive employee information and should implement additional appropriate safeguards, such as access control and role-based security protocols.

Educate supervisors and managers. All supervisory employees should be educated about employee privacy rights, advised to refrain from unnecessarily discussing or disclosing personal information, and instructed to seek HR or legal counsel as appropriate when privacy issues arise.

Look before you leap. Before implementing monitoring policies or protocols, or seeking information about individual employees, employers and their counsel must determine what statutory and other restrictions apply."

The Patent Picket Fence

From The Business Journal (Minneapolis/St. Paul):

"For decades, many businesses obtained patents for unique technology, then buried them in a legal department box, to be dusted off only in cases of obvious infringement. But as intellectual property is increasingly viewed as a way to gain a competitive advantage, patent pursuit is taking on a strategic edge.

Through tactics such as staking out patents early and often, as well as expanding patent portfolios to include different types of patents, companies are strengthening their intellectual property holdings...

'Just having one patent isn't enough to stop the competition,...but, when you have many together, they represent a true strategy in terms of a company's direction, and it can be very powerful.'

..."Patents give you a picket fence to shore up your technology, and make sure someone else doesn't enter your area of innovation"


Sandia Labs seeks small businesses for its mentor program

From New Mexico Business Weekly:

"Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque is hunting for businesses to participate in its Mentor Protege Program for 2005.

For up to two years, the program pairs mentors, who can be Sandia employees or more experienced business people, with proteges, which are typically small or growing businesses with a process or procedure in need of improvement."

Seven Key Tasks of Leadership

From Small Business CEO:

"A critical element of being an effective leader is understanding or defining those TASKS that must be achieved to ensure that LEADERSHIP will occur...

The position taken here is that there are seven such tasks, each of which can be briefly represented by a word or phrase:


Fostering Family Business Entrepreneurship

This article from Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal stresses the need in family business to foster a multi-generational entrepreneurial spirit in order to successfully pass a family business from one generation to the next, stating:

"For family-owned businesses that want to grow, the entrepreneurial philosophy can mean the difference between basic survival and prosperity. If made a part of the family and business culture, it can infuse new life into the business, invigorate the senior generation, and inspire the successor generation to perform at higher levels, ensuring the growth and continuity of the family business."

One essential aspect of the process involves financial planning using tools such as "real estate trusts, preferred stock recapitalizations, stock swaps, buy-sell agreements, life insurance policies, private annuities, installment sales, limited partnerships and multiple corporations with a holding company or family capital corporation model."

Obviously, the use of such structures and tools requires consultation with experienced professionals.

Via Law & Entrepreneurship News

File that Copyright Registration

From Patent Pending:

"You don't have to file a formal copyright application in order to own a copyright in their creation...but that's not the entire story...

Copyright is so easy to file that you can do it yourself easily for the $30 filing fee. The enforcement potential is huge, if you have taken the precaution of filing for copyright before you were infringed. So file for copyright on any original creation, such as web sites, greeting cards, books, articles, drawings, photos, furniture designs, software, clothing styles, videos, animations, and anything that is an original creation. Go to the U.S. Copyright Office for the forms to fill out for filing, and call me when your copyright gets infringed."


New Yorker Article on Copyright Infringement/Plagiarism

From the Pierce Law IP News Blog:

"A The New Yorker article provides a really good overview of Copyright Infringement with regards to derivative works. It starts out with an example of possible plagiarism/copyright infringement as a result of someone transforming a book into a play (without permission).

The article provides a thorough overview of famous derivative works cases, e.g. the Beastie Boys, Phantom of the Opera, George Harrison, Led Zeppelin/Muddy Waters, etc.

Anyway, I don't have much to comment about it because the article is just so good, people should just read it in its entirety."

Wireless Startups Need Sound IP Protection Strategies

This article from VC Experts explains that wireless startups must adopt IP protection strategies in light of the FCC's stated commitment to the emergence of new wireless technologies and the requirements for obtain necessary FCC approvals, stating:

"It is an exciting time for startup companies in the wireless industry. It is an industry loaded with potential opportunities for companies to flourish, particularly in light of the FCC's recent policies encouraging the emergence of wireless technologies. However, it is also an industry with many potential pitfalls, and a startup company in the wireless industry must use sound IP and business strategies to ensure its success in the wireless market."

Business Process Outsourcing Growing

From InformationWeek:

" As businesses become more comfortable with outsourcing IT work, many take the next step and hand over entire business processes, such as human-resources administration or transaction processing, to IT outsourcing companies. More than one of four respondents to InformationWeek Research's Analyzing The Outsourcers survey, which will be published in the Nov. 22 issue, say they have outsourced at least one business process to a third party."


Avoid Key Startup Mistakes

From Dispatches Weblog:

"John Osher, a very successful entrepreneur, keeps a running tab of the key mistakes he's made long the way. At the top of the list is the following:

'Mistake 1: Failing to spend enough time researching the business idea to see if it's viable. 'This is really the most important mistake of all. They say 9 [out] of 10 entrepreneurs fail because they're undercapitalized or have the wrong people. I say 9 [out] of 10 people fail because their original concept is not viable. They want to be in business so much that they often don't do the work they need to do ahead of time, so everything they do is doomed. They can be very talented, do everything else right, and fail because they have ideas that are flawed.'"

Blawger Bowl Report

With just 3 weeks of the regular season left, it seems that everyone still has a shot at the 5 remaining playoff spots in our nerd-filled fantasy football league.

Read all about it at Techlaw Advisor.

Pitt, CMU in tech partnership

Pittsburgh Business Times:

"The University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University will team as part of a statewide push to improve technology-based economic development, Gov. Ed Rendell's office said today.

Pitt and CMU will take part in the Greater Oakland Keystone Innovation Zone, which is part of the Rendell administration's economic stimulus package that allows eligible companies in relationships with colleges and universities to apply for tax credits and grants to be used to start technology transfer programs. "


Avoid These Fatal Small Business Mistakes

FATAL MISTAKE #1: No Business Plan
FATAL MISTAKE #2: No Marketing Plan
FATAL MISTAKE #3: Ignoring Your Financial Position
FATAL MISTAKE #4: Poor Relationship with Your Customers
FATAL MISTAKE #5: Inadequate Employees Relations

From Small Business Info

Open Source Compliance Program Options

From IT Manager's Journal:

"Companies across the board are utilizing open source at an unprecedented rate, sometimes without much internal visibility. Who in an organization keeps track of open source adoption, modification, implementation and terms of use?

Without a formal compliance program, business enterprises put themselves at risk of unintended violation of open source licenses, inadvertent loss of their own intellectual property rights, and contravention of government regulations. Yet most companies today lack the policies, procedures, and trained personnel to minimize the legal and intellectual property risks of using open source.

A Forrester Research report of September 2003 titled 'Your Open Source Strategy' provides three general recommendations for a company deploying open source in-house:

Fund an open source advisory group to perform due diligence;
Create policies to guide adoption and developer participation;
Build a developer portal to track inventory and provide support.

These are good recommendations for CIOs using open source generally, but practical implementation might vary for a number of reasons. For instance, not all companies use open source in the same way or to the same degree. Because the consequences of distributing open source can be so significant, hardware and software vendors need to pay particular attention to the use of open source code in their products. A more rigorous open source compliance program makes sense for them. "

Equity Distribution in Startups

This article from Venture Coach provides guidance on the anwers to the following questions:

How should we divide equity among the founders?
We have 5 founders. What should we do?
How much of the company will the investors need to own?
What equity should part-time contributors expect?
How can we increase the valuation of the company?
What does ownership look like after the first round?
What does the ownership look like at IPO? How much does the CEO have, etc.?

As the article notes: "there are no hard and fast rules. Equity is negotiated on a case-by-case basis, which makes it hard to give any generalizations."

Via TJ's Weblog

Fast Company's take on 2005 emerging trends

The latest Report 103, the e-newsletter on creativity, innovation, invention and ideas in business, points to a Fast Company article that lists 101 ideas, people, and trends that will affect the way we work and live in 2005.

Report 103 focuses on the first trend listed - acting on intuition - noting that the article starts:

“Focus groups. Data analysis. Gut-wrenching rationalizations. All of these tools -- and for what? To come to the same conclusion you probably reached unconsciously within the first few seconds of thinking about the problem?”

The other identified trends are equally thought provoking and worth a look.

SBA Offers Low Interest Disaster Recovery Loans

The U.S. Small Business Administration has approved more than $554 million in low-interest disaster loans to about 17,825 residents and business owners in the areas affected by the late-summer rash of deadly hurricanes and floods.

The SBA makes low-interest disaster loans to homeowners, renters, and non- farm businesses of all sizes. Loans of up to $1.5 million are available to eligible businesses of all sizes and non-profit organizations to repair damage to real estate, machinery, equipment and inventory. Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) of up to $1.5 million are also available to small businesses unable to pay bills or meet operating expenses.

To be considered for all forms of federal recovery assistance, disaster victims must first call the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at 1- 800-621-FEMA (3362).

For more information about SBA’s disaster assistance program, visit the SBA Disaster Recovery website


Starting a Business? Before you begin...

From ChangeThis:

"Starting a new company? Joel Spolsky, founder of Fog Creek Software and creator of 'Joel on Software,' says there's one important decision that you absolutely must make before you begin. It goes to the core of the difference between Ben and Jerry's and Amazon.com, and he explains it all in this manifesto. "

(A very late) Blawger Bowl Update

(A very late) Blawger Bowl UpdatefromLoosely Coupled // Tim Marman's Weblog

ChangeThis :: The Bootstrapper's Bible

From Seth Godin:

"There's never been a better time to start a business with no money. This manifesto will show you how. "

NOTE: The Manifesto is no longer available for free download. If you would like me to email it to you, please contact me by email or by posting a comment.

Write a Credible Investment Thesis

From HBS Working Knowledge:

"Every deal your company proposes to do - big or small, strategic or tactical - should start with a clear statement how that particular deal would create value for your company. We call this the investment thesis.

The investment thesis is no more or less than a definitive statement, based on a clear understanding of how money is made in your business, that outlines how adding this particular business to your portfolio will make your company more valuable. Many of the best acquirers write out their investment theses in black and white.

Joe Trustey, managing partner of private equity and venture capital firm Summit Partners, describes the tool in one short sentence: 'It tells me why I would want to own this business.'"

Top Ten Technology Trends

From E M E R G I C . o r g:

"Business Week writes about Churchill Club's Seventh annual Top Ten Technology Trends dinner, and the ten trends identified:

1. Web services will evolve and create new businesses
2. Patients will demand online medical records
3. Corporate computing won't see big changes for at least five years
4. The next big tech innovation will come out of China
5. Blogging and other online content will force traditional media to change
6. California will lead the world in embryonic stem-cell research
7. Text messaging will become more pervasive
8. New consumer technologies will appeal to more than just young hipsters
9. Every consumer-electronic product you own is about to become obsolete
10. Utility computing will keep tech spending strong"

An Entrepreneur Answers Questions

From terrygold.com

"Was it scary to quit your job and start a company?
Yes, but…the real fear doesn't come from starting your company. It comes later when you are running your company.

At what point did you feel like your company was going to make it?
It took about a year and a half, maybe two years…

Should I have a partner?
I think so...

Should I bootstrap or get venture capital?
I'm happy that we bootstrapped but there were certainly times I wished we had a bank account full of someone else's money….

How much money do I need to start?
Enough to keep going until your business can generate enough cash to sustain itself… [or] "More than you think." Seriously - Rule Number One is Never Run Out of Cash…

Can I start a company in my spare time?
I think you can plan a company in your spare time and maybe get it started but until you commit to the venture I don't think you're going to be able to create the momentum you need to create a successful company…

Are all entrepreneurs crazy?

Have you found it hard to go from being a techie to an administrator?
…A CEO needs to be much more than an administrator…”

Open Source Business Strategies

From IT Manager's Journal:

Open source presents a large potential competitive advantage for hardware and software vendors, and vendors of complementary or substitute services. Linux has contributed greatly to the adoption and success of OSS. Companies such as IBM, HP, Red Hat, Oracle, and recently, Novell, have invested in, and legitimized the use of Linux for enterprise applications -- including datacenter operations.

Linux-related services deliver more than $1 billion in annual revenue to both IBM and HP. Oracle strongly promotes and likewise derives revenue from the Linux platform, with the so-called "unbreakable Linux" guarantee. In an attempt to catch the Linux wave, companies such as Computer Associates and Peoplesoft are porting their applications to Linux on ambitious timeframes.

In this article, we examine seven open source strategies that can give your company a competitive advantage.

The Optimization Strategy
The Dual License Strategy
The Consulting Strategy
The Subscription Strategy
The Patronage Strategy
The Hosted Strategy
The Embedded Strategy"

Why Modern Marketing Loves Open Source

From Modern Marketing:

"By borrowing some open source techniques (ie inviting huge online communities into the branding and marketing process for a product) marketeers can create huge amounts of energy, passion and loyalty: all highly desirable in a world where traditional advertising is struggling to reach more powerful, savvy consumers.

However, for marketeers used to a traditional approach the open source path can seem anarchic and disruptive. This is partly because the mindset is so different from 'command and control' branding campaigns, run to brand guidelines, by brand guardians. "


Open Source Benefits Commercial Software Companies

From IT Manager's Journal:

"As open source products first came onto the scene, commercial software companies viewed them with suspicion. Beyond the obvious threat of shrinking revenues, there was the undefined yet frightening-sounding threat of 'viral licensing' -- the ominous, malevolent force that can infect commercial products and transform them into open source.

The menace of viral licensing is enough to reduce a brave, aggressive, earnings guidance-busting CEO to a quivering, impoverished, unrecognizable wreck. (Viral licensing refers to the unfortunate situation in which a proprietary product mutates into an open source product due to inadvertently including some GPL-based code in its source base.)

Recently, however, commercial software companies have taken a second look at the open source world to understand a more positive kind of viral infection: the quick building of a user base made possible by free product downloads.

Software executives and their venture backers have come to understand that the traditional model of software distribution -- direct sales force shock troops pounding down the doors of potential customers -- is irretrievably broken for startups."


Get a grip on email before it hurts the business

From IT Manager's Journal:

"In the digital age, it's difficult to stop the free flow of information -- email between employees, consultants, competitors, and even the rumor mill. The average corporate inbox processes more than 10 MB of email per day, according to the Radicati Group, a research firm.

That figure is expected to top 42 MB per day in 2005. Overall, email volume is growing 35 to 40 percent annually, estimates Osterman Research of Black Diamond, Washington. Aware of the risks, more than 40 percent of large companies now employ staff to monitor outbound messages, and 75 percent say it will be either "important" or "very important" to reduce the financial and legal risks associated with outbound mail over the next 12 months, according to Forrester Research."

Network Security Policy Necessary to Protect Systems and Data

This article from IT Manager's Journal provides policy guidelines that every organization should have to to establish how internal and external users will interact with a company's computer network, stating:

"To create a good site policy for computer security, you need to do two things: determine your company's expectations of proper computer and network use, and define the procedures to prevent and respond to security incidents.

To this end, you, working with your policy committee, need also to consider and to agree upon the following:

The organization's goals and direction. A university with building spread across a large campus will have different security concerns than a corporation in an office park.

The site security policy has to conform to existing policies, rules, regulations, and laws the organization must adhere to. You'll, therefore, have to identify and consider these things while you develop the policy.

If your network extends outside your facility, you'll have to consider security on perhaps a global scale. The policy should address local security issues caused by a remote site, as well remote system security issued caused by a local host or user."

Need Clear for IM Usage Policy

From Tekrati Research News:

"META Group's market research on Instant Messaging raises alarms for enterprises concerned with balancing the benefits and risks of this increasingly popular form of personal communications. The analysts found that more than half of survey respondents use IM at work for personal reasons, and more than half use IM at home for business purposes.

Instant messaging (IM) is most frequently used at work, not at home, according to a survey of 300 global organizations released today by META Group, a leading provider of information technology (IT) research, advisory services, and strategic consulting. However, META Group cautions that just because messaging takes place at work does not mean it is work-related. According to the survey, 57% of respondents use IM at work for personal reasons. Perhaps more surprising are findings that suggest 56% of respondents use IM at home for business purposes.

META Group advises CIOs to act quickly and develop an IM policy to regulate use."


The Zoomquilt

From LawGeek:

"Check out this cool artistic z-space project. Click on the 'start' link, then hold down the mouse and move the cursor up or down."

We are Constantly Invited to Be Who We Are

From Evelyn Rodriguez:

"'Let us consider the way in which we spend our lives.

This world is a place of business. What an infinite bustle! I am awaked almost every night by the panting of the locomotive. It interrupts my dreams. There is no sabbath. It would be glorious to see mankind at leisure for once. It is nothing but work, work, work. I cannot easily buy a blank-book to write thoughts in; they are commonly ruled for dollars and cents. An Irishman, seeing me making a minute in the fields, took it for granted that I was calculating my wages. If a man was tossed out of a window when an infant, and so made a cripple for life, or scared out of his wits by the Indians, it is regretted chiefly because he was thus incapacitated for--business! I think that there is nothing, not even crime, more opposed to poetry, to philosophy, ay, to life itself, than this incessant business. - Henry David Thoreau, Life Without Principle essay'

What if business was life-supporting, art-supporting, love-supporting, poetry-supporting, learning-supporting, butterfly-supporting.....?

Here's the Thoreau quote I was looking to share when I got diverted via Google (the words constantly and invite are scattered in the full essay above):

'We are constantly invited to be who we are.' - Henry David Thoreau


Eight Ways to Reduce Litigation Expenses

From I/P Updates:

"According to an article by Brenda M. Cotter in the November 11, 2004 issue of Law Firm Partnership, the keys to controlling costs in major litigation are as follows:

1. Be clear on your goals and the possible outcomes of the litigation
2. Obtain a written budget
3. Perform as much work as possible in-house
4. Use technology
5. Ask to be informed of every step
6. Understand how the case is staffed
7. Regularly communicate about the status of the case
8. Maintain good relations "

SBA Office of Advocacy Worth Exploring

Created by Congress in 1976, the Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is an independent voice for small business within the federal government.

Appointed by the President and confirmed by the U.S. Senate, the Chief Counsel for Advocacy directs the office. The Chief Counsel advances the views, concerns, and interests of small business before Congress, the White House, federal agencies, federal courts, and state policy makers. Economic research, policy analyses, and small business outreach help identify issues of concern. Regional Advocates and an office in Washington, DC, support the Chief Counsel's efforts.

If you want updated information on the small businesses or the small business market this is a good site to explore.

Market Risk vs. Execution Risk

From NW Venture Voice:

"We talk alot about market risk vs. execution risk when looking at companies.

What we mean by market risk is that you are betting on some change (often in consumer behavior) that will bring a big market along with it (e.g. betting on e-commerce in 1995 meant belief in a trend). By execution risk, we mean that a big market already exits but that you are betting on the ability to out execute others in capturing the pot of gold the market already represents (e.g. betting on e-Commerce today means finding some in or advantage that others don't).

There is always execution risk in every company but each will have more or less market risk depending on the situation. There really is no statement of which primary bet is better just that you need to be conscious of which and how best to mitigate.

Emergic recently highlighted a very intersting view of this from Fast Company:

'Never is execution more important than when innovation is at the heart of a strategy."

GMail Invites -- Free to a Good Home

I am in possession of six (three left) gmail invites that I will send to the next three persons responding to this post with a comment requesting one.


Are You Subject to Affirmative Action Requirements?

From George's Employment Blawg:

"There are several laws that may apply to you if your company or organization has certain relationships with the government. If these relationships exist, your organization may have obligations under the Executive Order 11246, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Vietnam-Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974.

A checklist to determine whether or not you are covered is available"

Carnegie Museums Launches Holiday Online Auction

From Pittsburgh Business Times:

"Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh said it will launch its first annual online holiday auction Nov. 12 to raise money to support the four museums under its aegis -- the Museum of Art and Museum of Natural History, both based in Oakland, and the Carnegie Science Center and Andy Warhol Museum, both on the North Side.

The auction will extend through Dec. 10, with new items added weekly."

More information is available here.

Polarization Shmolarization

From BuzzMachine... by Jeff Jarvis: "

Robert Samuelson says in the Washington Post that it's not red v. blue or issue v. issue; it's psychological:

'Every liberal [thinks he's] intellectually superior to conservatives,' Paul Begala, a former Clinton administration official, remarked on CNN. 'Every conservative I know wants to think of himself as morally superior.' Though these are generalizations (as Begala admitted), they represent real psychological imperatives. Politics increasingly strives to feed these self-images.

The easiest way to make your people feel better is to cast their people as immoral, stupid, evil, corrupt or greedy. Politics, news and entertainment merge, because all seek to satisfy psychological needs....

Although America isn't polarized, our political and media elites are working hard to make it so.


Options for Business Insurance Coverage

From Small Business CEO:

"Good insurance coverage is an important part of planning your business' success. When you take out insurance, you're insuring against things that can go wrong. The insurance company that accepts your policy is betting that things will go right. The reason that it works is that for most businesses, most of the time, things do go right.. If you have a casualty, though, your choices of insurance coverage and carrier can make the difference between losing the business, just scraping by or being able to do business as usual.

Learn more HERE"

We Honor the Fallen on Veterans Day

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

"The poem 'In Flanders Fields' by the Canadian army physician John McCrae remains to this day one of the most memorable war poems ever written. It is a lasting legacy of the terrible battle in the Ypres salient in the spring of 1915.

The most asked question is: why poppies?

Wild poppies flower when other plants in their direct neighbourhood are dead. Their seeds can lie on the ground for years and years, but only when there are no more competing flowers or shrubs in the vicinity (for instance when someone firmly roots up the ground), these seeds will sprout.

There was enough rooted up soil on the battlefield of the Western Front; in fact the whole front consisted of churned up soil. So in May 1915, when McCrae wrote his poem, around him bloodred poppies blossomed like no one had ever seen before."

Find much more on this poem and its author here.


Clear Name Before Using

From Patent Pending:

"So often, a startup will choose a name, and not do a trademark search on the name. A year or two later, they get a cease and desist letter from me, because I have a client that has a Federal trademark registration on that name. They may have invested a lot of time money and effort in promoting the trademark, and that investment will be lost. They will have to change the name.

When choosing a name, it must be cleared of conflicting Federal, state (all 50 of them) and common uses, and it must have a domain name available. Don't proceed without checking for conflicts in those areas, and then secure the domain name and file a Federal trademark application."

Do Less, Have More -- Take Time to Think

From Joyce Wycoff:

"'If we want our world to be different, our first act needs to be reclaiming time to think.'

In almost every conversation about innovation, 'lack of time to think' surfaces as one of the biggest barriers to being more innovative and creative. And, there's every indication that this perception is real, created by a decade of downsizing and trying desperately to 'do more with less.' However, this cycle can only go so far. Once we've sucked all the 'fat' out of the system, we're left with a 'lean machine.'

This sounds good on paper and in cost-cutting meetings ... the only problem is that machines don't create innovation. Innovation comes from people and only from people who have the time to think, time to tinker, time to wander through new territory, time to explore their curiosities and passions."

Delivering Software as a Service

From E M E R G I C . o r g:

"Ed Sim enumerates the benefits for the vendor:

1. Easier to sell
-shorter sales cycle-do not have to test extensively in a customer's environment
-lends itself to telesales, can demo over phone and web, do not need a huge sales infrastructure to close deals (just need quota bearing reps without a huge staff of sales engineers and professional services guys to get the job done)
-not a capital expense, usually sold as monthly or annual subscription which can many times be taken out of business budget as opposed to IT budget

2. Easier to install
-no messy installation process, long testing process, or even waiting for hardware to be delivered to customer
-can leave a customer and simply point them to a URL, train them over the phone, and get them up and running
-all of this means that the business can scale rapidly

3. Cheaper to support
-browser-based delivery and richer client interfaces like DHTML make it easy to use for the customer=less training=less customer support costs

4. Easier to integrate
-standard APIs make it easier for software delivered as a service to integrate disparate systems
-once again, reduces costs to deliver product to customers and also removes obstacles to getting customers

5. Cheaper to build
-versus a few years ago, you now have much cheaper bandwidth, storage, servers, and software
-think Linux, Intel boxes, cheap bandwidth, commodity software stacks, and smarter entrepreneurs changing the economics of building and delivering software as a service.
-the economics speak for themselves"

How to Handle Relationship Issues

From Darwinmag.com:

"What should you do if you are a vendor or customer CEO and you have just been told that the other side has serious issues with the relationship?...

1. Look at the contract...
2. Don’t panic...
3. Don’t get carried away...
4. The best strategy: Pursue a blended legal and business approach..."

Undiminished Spirit of Django Reinhardt

"Born in 1910, Django Reinhardt grew up in a gypsy camp on the outskirts of Paris, and performed in local cafes with his father when he was a boy.

The story goes that Django nearly lost his life, when he was 18, in a terrible fire in the caravan where he was sleeping. . . A candle, knocked over in the night, set the room full of dried flowers on fire and scarred him for life. Two fingers on his left hand were paralyzed and his left leg was badly damaged.

In spite of this tragedy, Django kept on playing guitar."

Here's a four-minute video of the gypsy guitarist making beautiful music with some cool cats.

Video link from J-Walk Blog

Quoted text above from riverwalk.org

Northern Lights Timed Exposures

Check out this series of the Aurora Borealis photos with fun commentary from extremeinstability

Consider Collaboration Contract in Addition to University Tech Transfer License

From Larta:

"In addition to the common licensing agreement, a company should consider negotiating an industrial contract after reviewing the invention disclosure.

An industrial contract could be in the form of a material transfer agreement, a collaboration agreement, a master agreement or a sponsored research agreement during the early stages of research. The company may feel that the invention has the potential to solve practical problems and create new or better products but is currently at too early a stage and needs further development, and that collaboration with university researchers and guidance from the company would ensure a smooth and efficient technology transfer process. In such a situation the involved funds and expertise may benefit all parties."


Butt Kicking Machine

Originally uploaded by TigerTigerTiger.

From Patent Pending

This is a machine we all could use at certain times, and some people could use daily. I could see possibilities for a franchise of these, set up in shopping malls. Your friends would buy you a "ride" after you did something really stupid. Or you could treat yourself to a session, as a reminder to never do "that" again. This is US Patent # 6,293,874.

Get In on the Business Plan Competition Circuit

Entering a business plan contest could be your ticket to success. You may find the right contest for you by reading this article from entrepreneur.com that has the scoop on 21 popular competitions nationwide.

Avoid Startup Funding Mistakes

From WSJ StartupJournal:

"Whether you're bootstrapping a new business from your basement or thinking big and trying to raise thousands of dollars from investors, making certain funding mistakes can be fatal.

A classic problem is overestimating revenues your new business will generate and underestimating expenses...

To get your new venture off to a good start, here's a list of common mistakes to avoid when seeking financing.

Not raising enough capital...
Risking everything you own.
Borrowing from friends and family...
Failing to keep good records..."

New Resource Guides Angels in Formation of Angel Groups

From Yahoo News:

"As the angel investment community continues to evolve from individual investors to sophisticated angel investment groups, the Kauffman Foundation, together with the Angel Capital Association, has published a new guide designed to help angels form the most effective angel organizations for their communities.

The 158-page guide addresses the decision-making process in forming an angel group from the initial analysis of whether a particular community can support an angel group to determining the best structure. The guide provides examples of organizational structures and management functions, and provides critical documents, including membership agreements, funding options, term sheet samples and even due diligence checklists for more informed investment decision making...

A free copy of the guide can be downloaded from www.kauffman.org or from www.angelcapitalassociation.com."

National Center for Bridge, Highway and Rapid Transit Technologies to be based in Pittsburgh

From the Pittsburgh Business Times:

"In an effort to establish Pittsburgh as a hub for the commercial development of new transportation technologies, local elected and economic development officials announced the formation Monday of the National Center for Bridge, Highway and Rapid Transit Technologies.

The organization was created by the Pittsburgh Gateways Corp., with the help of a two-year grant from the R.K. Mellon Foundation. Pittsburgh Gateways is a nonprofit that assists universities, communities and individual entrepreneurs in starting new businesses and accelerating the commercialization of intellectual property."


Steelers Special Yesterday

When the Pittsburgh Steelers were Kings of the Hill in the seventies, we, fans, came to expect a certain high level of play from the team. We have since come back to reality. We have passed from "Let's win one for the thumb" bravado through a cycle of bitter "close, but no cigar" excitement and disappointments. That is why witnessing the Steelers crush the Eagles yesterday was so amazing. For one brief moment, we were transported back to the days of Mean Joe Greene and Jack Lambert and Terry Bradshaw. For a brief moment, the Steelers were the best team in football --for the first time -- again.

As SI's Peter King put it:

"As I sat in the back row of the Heinz Field press box on Sunday afternoon, watching the contest (and I use that word loosely) between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia I wondered: Since I've been covering football, how many teams have I seen that looked as unbeatable at one point during a season as the Steelers look right now?

I started on the NFL beat in 1984, so I have a two-decade window. I jotted down in the margin of my white legal pad as I kept play-by-play of Steelers 27, Eagles 3:
1. The '85 Bears.
2. The '89 49ers.
3. The '90 Bills...
4. The Cowboys at two or three points from '92 to '95.
5. Maybe -- and I underscore maybe -- the 2000 Ravens, because playing against that defense late in the season made the game a hopeless cause unless the Baltimore offense turned it over a bunch.

I think that's it."

This moment too will fade, but why not enjoy it while it is here?

Here We Go Steelers...Here We Go!

Employment Application Basics

From Michael Fox"

"A short article, Employment Applications: The devil is in the details from the Columbus Business Journal, is a good reminder of the things that should be included on yours."

The Carnival of the Capitalists

This week's edition of the The Carnival of the Capitalists is up at INCITE. Be sure to check it out.

Hammer/Nail Co-Development Approaches to Entrepreneurship

This article from Bioentrepreneur identifies two approaches to the typical life sciences start up company. The first is driven by the technopreneur, often a university researcher who forms a company to exploit a favorite technology. The second is driven by the "market perceiver". As the article explains:

"The technopreneur brings an internal approach to the new venture (a technology push), whereas the market perceiver uses an external path (a market pull) to technological entrepreneurship. The former model can be viewed as a hammer hunting for a nail (a technology looking for an appropriate market need), whereas the latter is akin to a nail sticking up. As distinct as these two approaches are, there is clearly some mix of the two that occurs in startup processes, as presented in the case studies here and in other recent studies of this phenomenon6, which can be summed up as 'hammer-nail codevelopment.' For example, in the typical life sciences venture, the technical founders usually bring in outside management (with guidance from venture capitalists and investors) to add market perspective as the new venture starts to grow7.

Most biotech entrepreneurs belong in one of these two groups, each with its own strengths and weaknesses, knowledge of which can be useful when building a business."

The article includes two tables that excellently summarize the venture creation process steps from each perspective, with the strengths and weaknesses of each type of founder and some recommendations and suggestions for improving performance.


Doing Business under a Fictitious Name

This article from about.com describes some of the pros and cons of doing business under an assumed name in the UK. The principles are applicable as well in the US. The article states the basics as follows:

"An assumed name, alson known as ficitious business name, or DBA (short for 'doing business as'), or 'trading as' in the UK, allows you to legally do business as a particular name at minimal cost, and without having to create an entirely new business entity. You can accept payments, advertise, and otherwise present yourself under that name. In fact, if you present your business under a name other than your proper legal name without proper notification, it may be considered fraud. Fortunately, filing for an assumed name is so easy and inexpensive, there's really not much excuse for not filing one."

SBIR Program a Kick-Start for Tech Entrepreneurs

From The New York Times:

"For high-technology entrepreneurs, there is another source of financing that can be as generous as it is little known: grants from the federal government's Small Business Innovative Research Program.

The biggest fund, by far, is run by the Defense Department, which parcels out some $1 billion a year to independent companies with fewer than 500 employees. The goal is to stimulate research into novel technologies that can benefit military operations, but with a twist. The department is not paying for exclusivity for the ideas it finances; rather, it wants those ideas to go commercial as quickly as possible to assure a stream of reliable and cost-effective suppliers."

Many Small Businesses Unable To Overcome Exporting Barriers

From Law & Entrepreneurship News:

"Small business owners may not have the time or money to overcome exporting barriers according to the study 'Costs of Developing a Foreign Market for a Small Business: the Market & Non-Market Barriers to Exporting by Small Firms.'

The study found that most small businesses generally implemented exporting in reaction to customer inquiries and not as a planned strategy. This was because most small business proprietors saw exporting to be too costly and time consuming.

The study was written by Palmetto Consulting. The study examined barriers to exporting faced by a panel of South Carolina small businesses. "


Pitfalls Of Trademark Licencing

From Mondaq (free registration required):

"A fundamental principle of trademark law requires a trademark owner to control the nature and quality of the goods or services sold under a licensed mark. Failure to do so may result in the loss of rights in the licensed mark. However, recent case law suggests that a trademark owner who becomes too involved in a licensee’s operations runs the risk of being held liable for injuries caused by defective products produced by that licensee. Put another way, a company that allows its trademarks to appear on licensed products can be held liable under state trademark common law for injuries caused by those products."

Top 10 Patent Myths

From entrepreneur.com:

"Your brilliant idea needn't fall by the wayside simply because you don't want to deal with the patent process. We've shattered the top 10 myths so you can see your way clear to patenting your product."

Via Small Business CEO

US Election Map Mostly Purple

From the The Daily Princetonian:

"Four years ago, professor Robert Vanderbei created a project for his ORF 201: Computer Methods and Problem Solving class in which they took data from the 2000 election and made a map of America. But unlike most election-year graphics, they did not make theirs look like the standard red-and-blue tilings seen in many publications...

Instead of the usual red and blue, Vanderbei's map is an array of purples, with tones indicating different balances between the two major parties. Rather than highlighting each state in a color just by who won, he separates America into its counties. The resulting map is mostly purple, showing the mixture of Republicans and Democrats living together across America...

Click here for the Election 2004 Results

Life as an Entrepreneur

From TJ's Weblog:

"Rajesh has started a series of posts how his personal way to become an entrepreneur has been. It's full of lessons learned and powerful insights- don't miss."

Day of the Fast Buck is Gone

Venture capitalists are "stuck in a 1990s mindset" and risk a strained relationship with the technology sector unless they adjust their way of thinking and lose their eagerness for a fast buck, a leading Scottish technology entrepreneur has warned.

David Sibbald, chairman and chief executive of Sumerian Networks, said technology firms have acknowledged that building a sustainable business takes much longer than in the boom years of the late 1990s. While the story comes from Jay Fraser of the Glascow Sunday Herald, it seems worth sharing on this side of the pond.

You may read the :article here.

Via the newsletter of the National Association of Seed and Venture Funds


Search Business Loan and Capital Sources


On this site you can search over 4000+ business loan and capital sources. Whether you are starting a business, buying a business or have an existing business this is an excellent site for finding sources of capital"

Via Small Business CEO

The Pope and the Entrepreneur

This interesting commentary by Dr. Samuel Gregg points out, in regard to the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church recently released by the Vatican:

"Any fair reading of the Compendium will suggest that a proper attention and a positive evaluation of business has been firmly cemented into Catholic social teaching..." citing in part #344 from the Compedium:

“The roles of business owners and management have a central importance from the viewpoint of society, because they are at the heart of that network of technical, commercial, financial and cultural bonds that characterizes the modern business reality”

Seven Ways to Deal with Competition

From entrepreneur.com:

'As a business owner, your greatest achievement lies in trumping the competition in order to expand sales. So here are seven ways to give your company a leg up:

1. Know your enemy...
2. Market your specialty...
3. Tackle new audiences...
4. Offer more value...
5. Add a sales channel...
6. Tune into your customers...
7. Ask for the business... "

Pitfalls in University Tech Transfer

This article from Larta stresses the need to avoid some of the common pitfalls associated with licensing University-developed technology. The potential problems include:

"industry's concerns about faculty cooperation for further R&D, difficulties dealing with universities and their academic cultures, universities' preference not to work with small firms that may lack financial and legal security, the complexity of licensing deals, and high licensing fees...Invention ownership presents another issue for scrutiny when planning to invest in an invention associated with university research. Invention ownership should be properly documented and handled by all parties involved, namely the inventors, the OTL and the prospective licensee. The licensee may accompany the inventor to the OTL in order to get clear and correct legal information regarding ownership of the invention..."

Start Planning for Manufacturing Tax Deduction

From KFMR Accounting Tax & Business Consulting:

"If you own a business, you've probably heard of the new tax deduction for manufacturers. It's part of the giant American Jobs Creation Act of 2004, one of the biggest business-focused tax laws to be passed by Congress in the last 20 years. This new tax law was signed into law by the President on October 22, 2004. When Congress repealed a special tax regime for America's exporters within this new law, it created a new deduction for manufacturers. The new deduction is broad and applies to many businesses that may not otherwise be thought of as traditional manufacturers.

The new deduction is one of the biggest changes to the Tax Code in years because it impacts so many businesses in the U.S. Congress also wasted no time in making the new deduction available. It starts next year, so it's critical that you start planning for how to take advantage of this new tax break."

Developing Trust Pays Off with Japanese Firms

In this article from Small Times, Larry Wang, vice president of the Olympus Partnership Development Group, explains, regarding the process of developing a strategic partnership with a Japanese company such as Olympus:

"Partnerships have become more commonplace in today’s global economy. Companies concentrate resources on their core competencies and seek companies with complementary resources, products and technologies for acquisition, joint ventures, partnerships or outsourcing.

In establishing any relationship, due diligence must be applied in researching and selecting a partner. This becomes even more critical in international partnerships...

Most partnerships involve large Japanese corporations and smaller American companies. It takes time for the smaller partner to understand a big organization and to navigate through its resources...

Although Japanese companies may sometimes publish organizational charts, and the employees have business cards with their titles on them, it’s often unclear what the important relationships and status are within the company.

U.S. companies are sometimes preoccupied with identifying who the “decision-maker” is. But generally there is not one decision-maker. Consensus decision-making is important to the Japanese.

It is more important to identify who the important “influencers” are and what their responsibilities and concerns might be. But once consensus is reached and a project receives a green light, resources can be quickly brought to help the partner company and accelerate its development.

Forming a successful partnership takes a tremendous amount of communication. Working each communication channel is vital. But even in this age of e-mail and Web conferencing, partners need to realize that face-to-face meetings are mandatory in order to increase understanding and build the relationship..."


Carnival of the Capitalists

WillPate has this week's Carnival of the Capitalists. Be sure to check it out.

Rookie Mistakes of New CEOs

Any new CEO who tries to wield power unilaterally will pay for it, according to Harvard Business School professors Michael E. Porter, Jay W. Lorsch, and Nitin Nohria as this article from HBS Working Knowledge explains:

"Bearing full responsibility for a company's success or failure, but being unable to control most of what will determine it. Having more authority than anyone else in the organization, but being unable to wield it without unhappy consequences. Sound like a tough job? It is—ask a CEO. Surprised by the description? So are CEOs who are new to the role. Just when an executive feels he has reached the pinnacle of his career, capturing the coveted goal for which he has so long been striving, he begins to realize that the CEO's job is different and more complicated than he imagined.

Some of the surprises for new CEOs arise from time and knowledge limitations—there is so much to do in complex new areas, with imperfect information and never enough time. Others stem from unexpected and unfamiliar new roles and altered professional relationships. Still others crop up because of the paradox that the more power you have, the harder it is to use. While several of the challenges may appear familiar, we have discovered that nothing in a leader's background, even running a large business within his company, fully prepares him to be CEO."

Lower Pricing vs. Product Differentiation

From the Seeds of Innovation® newsletter:

"There are basically two strategies for designing superior business models: (1) competing with low prices or (2) competing by offering differentiated products and services.

Competing with low prices means you must become the low price producer of your products or services in your category. This requires standardizing processes, limiting cost of inputs, and ensuring a disciplined read of the prices being offered in your marketplace. With the advent of the Internet enabling buyers access to many vendors, this strategy is, indeed, a difficult one to pursue. Many organizations dabble with this strategy by offering short-term discounts in order to react to a competitor’s move, to give the sales force “something to talk about”, or to temporarily appease the retailer.

Remember though, short-term price discounting is a dangerous activity-–once you have discounted your prices, it is often difficult to return to “regular” prices or to raise your prices (even if your overall costs may have risen). Discounting may also lower the perceived value of your brand and may enter you into a lower price segment, a segment in which you did not want to compete. (Consider targeting only “profitable” volume and leave the low price volume to someone else.)

Competing by offering differentiated products and services is often the wiser strategy. In order to succeed with this strategy, you will need to identify (and then communicate) your unique point of difference in the marketplace. Involve your entire team in this discussion. Often frontline folks have the insights needed to identify what your customers really value. Avoid the words “high quality” and “great service” as points of difference-–they are overused and, as a result, often mean little to the consumer. Remember, if you fail to identify how your product or service adds more value, you will end up competing on price."