Links, comments, and occasional blog posts about business, entrepreneurship, and franchising.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

PR 2.0: Introducing The Conversation Prism

Free to use and share? Why not, this could come in handy somewhere down the line.

PR 2.0: Introducing The Conversation Prism

Standing Out in a Sea of Storage Startups

I love the idea of these online storage places -- great for off-site backup. Though, if they're not going to stick around, what's the point of it? Anyway, here's a just-in-case link for outsourcing the data backup and online storage.

Standing Out in a Sea of Storage Startups

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

After a Franchisor Files for Bankruptcy

After a Franchisor Files for Bankruptcy (Bennigan's)
"When big chains go bankrupt, their franchises can be left in the lurch or continue to profit. Of course, when corporate-owned locations close, those franchisees still operating independently have less power to negotiate discounts with suppliers. And the bad press that comes with a bankruptcy can be a blow even to franchisees with healthy businesses. Here's a look at 11 big brands that went bankrupt, and what happened next."

Bankrupt Chains, Franchise Fallout

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Personality Matrix Tool

I just finished trying out a new personality tool called Signal Patterns. Spend about 10-15 minutes answering a series of questions, and out spits this interesting visual personality matrix. The adjectives that come out of this tool are interesting. Here's my profile, via screengrab, GiMP, and Flickr.

signal patterns personality

Friday, July 18, 2008

Generating More Referrals -

"A master networker carries her entire network with her at all times and can make connections that benefit people in different industries, interest groups and geographic areas who probably would never have heard of each other without her help. This requires a strong desire to help others succeed. Constantly be on the lookout for people who need the services a member of your network provides."

Generating More Referrals -

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Stuck in a franchising agreement? - Your Biz -

There are two ways out of a franchise agreement. One, if the franchisor was fraudulent in their potential earnings claims. Two, sell the franchise to another individual.

Stuck in a franchising agreement? - Your Biz -

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Get Free Credit-Monitoring Services -

$10 billion settlement giving free credit monitoring for 6 months. Sure, might as well sign up too.

Get Free Credit-Monitoring Services -

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Option Four: The Franchise Broker Route

Right now I am heavily pursuing option 4 from my June 3 post, "4.] Finance an existing Sylvan from an individual owner. I've got some brokers looking into this for me."

These brokers are good people, and in the matter of 2-3 weeks they've searched through their contacts across the state and the West and come up with a couple of interesting options. Apparently there are some motivated sellers out there, and now it's up to me to investigate their numbers, look at profits and losses, and come up with what I think is a good offer. Now, while work is kicking into overdrive, there just isn't enough time to devote to this. Also, I want to wait for my advisers to let me know what kind of offer is realistic.

I'm definitely in a wait-and-see mode right now.

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Home-Equity Door Slams Shut -

Not sure if I should be worried at all about this or not.

The Home-Equity Door Slams Shut - "in certain communities -- especially in California and Arizona, where home values are 'clouded' and difficult to pin down -- the company might choose not to do business at all right now"

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Entrepreneur Blog - Economic Stimulus Benefits for Small Business -

You may not have realized the Economic Stimulus Package included benefits not only for individual taxpayers in the form of an extra refund amount, but also includes a handful of benefits for the small business. Some of the information directly from the IRS is, as expected, not easy to read and understand, but at least your accountant should know about these incentives. Thanks Kristin for reminding us new entrepreneurs about this 2008 benefit. Read her article here, Entrepreneur Blog - Economic Stimulus Benefits for Small Business -

Friday, June 6, 2008

5 Ways to Start Your Business With No Money! at Personal Finance Blog, Budgeting, Debt @ Bankaholic

It's short and sweet, but yeah, starting my business with as little upfront cost as possible is clearly the way to go. I don't want to have a giant loan over my head for too long, and the less I have to borrow, the better off I'll be.

5 Ways to Start Your Business With No Money! at Personal Finance Blog, Budgeting, Debt @ Bankaholic

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Senate Approves $101 Million Budget Increase for Small Business Programs

Wouldn't it be nice to work for a government agency that actually gets an injection of cash like this? I'd love to see SCORE and the SMDC offices use this money to increase the frequency with which they offer workshops and seminars. Maybe they could reduce the rate they charge a bit for them, or offer some kind of an assistance program?

Senate Approves $101 Million Budget Increase for Small Business Programs

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Too Many Options

First, I'm biting my nails wondering if purchasing my own franchise is something that could really happen, then all of a sudden it's already happening. Also, I'm in a bit of a bind/crossroads because too many options have now presented themselves. Here's what I see as my six options at the moment. I can:

1.] Purchase a refranchised Sylvan Learning Center from corporate.

2.] Get a territory from corporate.

3.] Invest in a territory from another individual or broker.

4.] Finance an existing Sylvan from an individual owner. I've got some brokers looking into this for me.

5.] All of the above. Go gung ho, explore ALL of the above options, then make a more informed decision.

6.] None of the above. Hold off for now, 6 months to 2 years, build up some "personal reserves" of $$$, get more experience with Sylvan, selling, managing, marketing, etc. <-- was my original plan

So far, I've only really made any headway with #1, and the numbers are not exciting enough to entice my investors. Please, your comments.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Workers shifting to 4-day week to save gasoline - Yahoo! News

Flexible work weeks, huh? I could see this being a bonus for the manager who respects their workers and offers this kind of perk to the job, and, clearly, also a plus for the employees who'd like to save a couple bucks on gas. What about the old days when companies provided incentives for employees that carpool, isn't anybody doing that anymore?

Workers shifting to 4-day week to save gasoline - Yahoo! News

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Outsourcing Your Franchise Sales -

My take-away from this article is that I need, as some of the core components of my franchise, either myself or a professional to handle:
1. legal documents / ongoing legal compliance
2. payroll
3. accounting
4. marketing
5. sales
I know I probably have 2, 4, and 5 handled. Hopefully I'll get some family help with 3, which just leaves a lawyer to handle that side of things. Also important: not getting ahead of myself, as I still need to hear from Sylvan folks if we're continuing or not...

Outsourcing Your Franchise Sales -

Things are Actually Moving Right Along

I have a little story and some good news.

Just know to start, that it may not seem like it, but I've been sitting on pins and needles for the last couple weeks. For example, last week, when I received a letter from the bank in the mail, I felt a little like a teenager receiving a letter from a college accepting or declining my enrollment submission. Thinking back to that time, I remember clearly getting some standard envelope-sized letters from some schools, while other universities sent large package. A large package was good. That usually meant acceptance, details about the school, next steps for matriculation, etc. A small letter meant "thanks, but no thanks", or, denial, in other words. The bank's letter that came last week was a standard, small, envelope. So, it's no mystery where my mind was headed. I have to say I was surprised at the contents.

I have received a tentative prequalification letter from the bank for the SBA loan! Is prequalification a word?

There are a number of elements that have to be cleared before the loan will be financed, and the first of those would be additional documents from Sylvan. In the meantime, I forwarded a copy of this prequal letter to Sylvan, and tomorrow I'm expecting an update from those folks.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Top 50 Blogs Posts on Franchising In 2008

Something tells me I'm going to find some great resources here.

The Top 50 Blogs Posts on Franchising In 2008

Six Steps to Starting Your Own Business -

This article at Kiplinger is very good, and I think I'm on steps 3 and 4 of this list. After some online research with SBA and FranNet, I think my next stop is the library to pick up a few books on entrepreneurship, franchising, and financing.

Soon, I'd like to have a list of questions ready to ask a SCORE consultant, but at the moment I don't even know what questions to ask. I could always go with the, "What should I be asking you now?" default, but I don't want it to look like I haven't done my homework. Any ideas on what kinds of questions I should be asking the folks at SCORE about potentially acquiring my first franchise?

Of course the next big thing is the business plan. This article at least lists some software and websites that are useful for creating my own business plan. I just wonder if this is going to need to happen sooner rather than later.

Six Steps to Starting Your Own Business -

Watch Live Online TV Channels - Free internet Television

Things that are free are always a nice way to save some money. Why not take advantage of the free internet sites that are hooked up to local and cable tv channels? Pretty simple name for this one, Online TV Channels.

Watch Live Online TV Channels - Free internet Television

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Cross 'em if you got 'em

Sitting in a corner of my apartment, on top of my old broken swivel office chair, was my Lexmark 1100 all-in-one printer/scanner/copier. The plan was to toss the thing due to its incredibly inferior print quality, short life span for ink cartridges, and general condition. Well, last Monday, May 12, 2008, all the little pieces of information from dad arrived in the mail, so I needed to get a massive scan job going. I dusted off the old Lexmark, scanned about 60-70 different documents into portable document format, and compiled two massive emails to go out. One to the management group at Sylvan, in hopes of their approval for my "letter of intent" to proceed with a Sylvan Learning acquisition. The other to the banker at Focus Business Bank to potentially get pre-approved for an SBA loan. The Sylvan package was considerably smaller, and seemed to go through no problem, but the ten meg SBA loan app was immediately bounced back -- too big. I found a service to upload the pdf file to, shot Brad the link/invite to download the information, and at this moment I am sitting on pins and needles waiting to hear back from either Brad at Focus or Rachel or Sylvan to see if there is a next step for me. My fingers and toes are as crossed as they'll ever be.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Baby Steps, no Cutting Corners

On Cinco de Mayo this year, I had the day off. Uncle George introduced me to some of his business connections from Focus Business Bank. Brad Lebsack thoroughly answered all my questions and those of my uncle as well. I've got the application in progress right now, as I'm still waiting for a few more pieces to come in the mail to complete it. By the middle of next week the SBA application will be out to the bank. Also, the company from which I want to purchase a franchise wants a Request for Consideration completed, so they should have that next week too. Then I wait for bankers and executives to mull over my requests and applications with bated breath.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Small Business Primer | Strategies for Success

Steps to getting my money right.

1. Talk to family and friends; let them know of intentions.

2. Expand social and professional networking through Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

3. Make an initial plan of attack. First step, take the SBA's Small Business Primer | Strategies for Success training workshop. There are a ton of links here. First take a 25-question, yes/no entrepreneurship self-assessment. Then start to analyze the viability of the business idea. Gather the facts about the opportunity, obtain the financial and legal information, and make an informed decision. Do some market research as well. Next, write that business plan. and get assistance if needed. Third, seek professional legal advice. Consider your company structure, required licenses and permits, and federal requirements. With the facts, plan, and adviser in hand, now get some money. Oh yeah, all the while, evaluate the incoming market research data and formulate the marketing plan. Easy! In summary, this SBA training workshop details a standard approach for moving forward with a business venture. Now to add all these tasks to rtm.