Archive: How Do I...

How Do I... Make It to a Sesquicentennial?

With most small businesses closing shop within five years, how do some make it to 150? The Potter Violin Company officially started in 1996 when Dalton Potter, the senior repair technician at the Violin House of Weaver, took over the retail and service operations that Herman Weaver founded in 1898...

By Sharon McLoone | March 18, 2009; 11:25 AM ET | Comments (0)

How Do I.... File for a Tax Extension?

Small business owners who need more time to file their taxes can always file a form (pdf) to request from the IRS an extension to pay taxes, but there's also an option to outsource that task for a fee. There are about 10 million businesses and 5 million individuals who...

By Sharon McLoone | February 27, 2009; 05:00 PM ET | Comments (1)

How Do I.... Ship 600 Tubas

It's not so hard getting a tuba from Maryland to California. It's a little harder shipping five tubas to Texas, one flute to Florida and three sets of bass drums to Kansas. And don't forget the box of guitar picks. But when you have 96 stores selling instruments, sheet music...

By Sharon McLoone | February 19, 2009; 10:20 AM ET | Comments (0)

How Do I.... Run My Business During Inauguration?

Around Washington, there's not just talk of plans for Inauguration Day - although there's plenty of that - but Inauguration Week. Some area businesses like restaurants, retailers and hotels will see a much needed burst of activity as millions flood the city looking for places to eat, shop and sleep....

By Sharon McLoone | January 9, 2009; 11:41 AM ET | Comments (0)

How Do I.... Stick With It? (Entrepreneurs Share Their Inspiration)

I often ask entrepreneurs and small business owners why they decided to start their own business and if they have any advice they'd want to share with other like-minded souls. So for the new year, I thought it might be a good time to reflect on others' inspiration and...

By Sharon McLoone | December 24, 2008; 11:25 AM ET | Comments (1)

How Do I...Choose a Gift Card?

Gift cards are one of the most popular choices for employee incentives this year, but small firms like all businesses should do their homework to determine which cards to purchase. The cards have become nearly ubiquitous. A few years ago they were available generally only in the store or via...

By Sharon McLoone | December 8, 2008; 02:09 PM ET | Comments (0)

How Do I...Offer Employee Incentives?

Company incentives can help employee morale and retention, but small businesses on tight budgets must find the most effective and appropriate ways to reward employees. An incentive is a tangible award that is earned by reaching a predetermined goal -- sales representatives, for example, may receive a prize for reaching...

By Sharon McLoone | December 4, 2008; 12:38 PM ET | Comments (2)

How Do I...Find the Right Domain Name?

So you probably know you can lease a car, but did you know you can lease a Web site? But then, why would you want to? For answers to these questions and more, I spoke with YummyNames General Manager Bill Sweetman about tips for small firms in finding the best...

By Sharon McLoone | November 25, 2008; 10:34 AM ET | Comments (4)

How Do I...Manage a Cash Flow Crisis?

Rusty Luhring has started a few firms -- some flourished and some didn't -- but since he started his first business at age 25 in 1979, he's learned a few things. Watch this video of his top ten tips for managing cash flow: Luhring's latest venture is Luhring SurvivalWare, where...

By Sharon McLoone | October 30, 2008; 11:02 AM ET | Comments (0)

How Do I... Get or Give Time Off to Vote?

Election Day is fast approaching and for many of the smallest firms that means juggling staff schedules on Nov. 4 to give employees the ability to cast their ballots. "As good employers, you want your employees to be active in the community and part of that activism involves voting," said...

By Sharon McLoone | October 16, 2008; 02:45 PM ET | Comments (1)

How Do I...Help Reduce Traffic?

Small businesses, like many businesses, are looking for ways to trim costs while attracting and retaining employees. Some firms are thinking of new ways to encourage workers to take public transit as a means to ease traffic congestion, curb stress and reduce greenhouse gases. Many cities and counties offer incentives...

By Sharon McLoone | October 9, 2008; 02:52 PM ET | Comments (1)

How Do I...Get Some of That Venture Capital?

The owner of a start-up recently told me that he went to a local bank for a loan, but left empty-handed. The bank's message? "Sorry, but we've got our own problems," -- or was that loan problems? That's no surprise with what's been happening on Wall Street -- a number...

By Sharon McLoone | October 6, 2008; 07:02 AM ET | Comments (2)

Venture Capital - Not Just for Tech Firms Anymore

Everyone these days is talking about money, or lack thereof, so if the banks are getting stingier and stodgier in lending to small firms, where can an entrepreneur find funding? Venture capital could be your answer. Anecdotally, through multiple conversations with small business owners, I've found that many of them...

By Sharon McLoone | October 2, 2008; 07:28 AM ET | Comments (1)

How Do I...Form a Co-op?

Stephanie Lightfoot was running a small, successful business as a massage therapist but ran into a wall... literally. She built her business slowly, working from two rented rooms. When the opportunity to expand her space arose, she couldn't afford the increased rental costs. So Lightfoot looked into starting a cooperative....

By Sharon McLoone | September 17, 2008; 11:47 AM ET | Comments (1)

How Do I...Recover My Data?

A disaster can happen at any time, and odds are you won't even know that it's coming. If you're the kind of small business that depends on its data -- whether that's a shoe store that keeps measurements for better customer service or a financial firm that stores sensitive data...

By Sharon McLoone | August 29, 2008; 09:59 AM ET | Comments (0)

How Do I...Deal With a Disaster?

Hurricane season is upon us, floods recently have ravaged places like Iowa and Wisconsin and wildfires have been burning some of California's most beautiful coast, so I thought I'd take a look at the resources available to help small firms prepare and recover from a disaster. I interviewed Admiral Steve...

By Sharon McLoone | July 16, 2008; 09:30 AM ET | Comments (1)

How Do I...Make a Succession Plan?

A succession plan is an organized process that goes into effect should a business owner become disabled, retire or die unexpectedly. It is intended to allow a business to continue operations with the least possible disruption, but many business owners are not implementing these plans. A recent PNC Bank survey...

By Sharon McLoone | June 3, 2008; 02:38 PM ET | Comments (0)

Do I Need a Board of Advisors?

Jumi Kim's thoughts about how to build her business race as fast as the Bentley, Lamborghini and Aston Martin luxury cars that are available for customers to drive at her exotic car rental company. Kim started the firm, Capital Dream Cars, with her husband Eugene Kim -- who has been...

By Sharon McLoone | April 11, 2008; 10:37 AM ET | Comments (1)

How Do I... Hire a Temp?

When the economy's looking bleak and unemployment is rising, that often means there's a bumper crop of workers available through temporary staffing firms, which can valuable to small businesses. Many job seekers are attracted to the benefits offered by temp agencies and hope to connect to the right job or...

By Sharon McLoone | April 1, 2008; 03:10 PM ET | Comments (0)

How Do I...Organize Records Needed To Do My Taxes?

Laura Leist helps small businesses get organized. Leist, the owner of Eliminate Chaos located just north of Seattle, is one of about 200 certified professional organizers in the United States. We chatted about how small businesses can get their paperwork in order to prepare for tax time. Systems Are Very...

By Sharon McLoone | February 26, 2008; 10:03 AM ET | Comments (1)

Local Pie Maker Strives To Keep Business Shipshape

Every mom has unique challenges, especially around the holidays. Avis Renshaw is no different. She's the mom of Mom's Apple Pie, a four-store chain in Virginia. Each year she must cope with shipping shenanigans and overeager customers, especially during the holiday season when her business sees a huge spike in...

By Sharon McLoone | December 24, 2007; 08:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

How Do I... Give a Gift on a Busy Schedule?

Financial advisers often have sage advice. When I went to see one a few years ago, she told me the number one thing that people forget to include in their annual budgets was the cost of gifts throughout the year. Between birthdays, babies and the holiday season, an individual or...

By Sharon McLoone | November 27, 2007; 09:35 AM ET | Comments (0)

How Do I... Choose a Business Structure

Choosing how to structure a business can be daunting for any small business owner or entrepreneur. Should a firm be a limited liability company (LLC), an S Corporation or something else? "It's the No. 1 most misconstrued, misinformed decision that small businesses make today," said tax expert Gene Fairbrother of...

By Sharon McLoone | November 15, 2007; 09:45 AM ET | Comments (1)

How Do I... Improve My Neighborhood

When I was about 7 years old, fresh off my first viewing of "The Wizard of Oz," my mom announced that she had an errand to run in Crystal City, Va. I pleaded to go, sure that a town with such a name would house a huge, icy castle like...

By Sharon McLoone | November 6, 2007; 12:30 PM ET | Comments (3)

How Do I...Get a UPC Bar Code?

Small businesses seeking to sell their wares through larger retailers for resale will most likely need a Universal Product Code -- that ubiquitous black and white striped identification tag appearing on products ranging from soda cans, tags on stuffed animals or boxes containing electronics. The identification numbers allow a retailer...

By Sharon McLoone | October 11, 2007; 09:36 AM ET | Comments (3)

How Do I ... Use PayPal?

There's more to e-commerce than assembling a flashy Web site. If a business wants to sell products or services online, it has to figure out how to accept electronic payments. For small firms working on a tight budget, a customized e-payment system may be out of reach. Enter PayPal, the...

By Sharon McLoone | October 9, 2007; 08:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

How Do I... Retire

Small business owners face huge challenges when preparing for a secure retirement since the burden of savings likely rests entirely on them. About 78 percent of respondents to a survey commissioned by the National Association for the Self-Employed do not offer a retirement plan. "A lot of these micro business...

By Sharon McLoone | September 13, 2007; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

How Do I...Pick a Health Insurance Plan

It can be a headache for a very small business trying to find the best health insurance, but there are a variety of tools and resources available to help alleviate the pain. A little more than 50 percent of the 18 million firms in the U.S. with fewer than 10...

By Sharon McLoone | August 23, 2007; 11:00 AM ET | Comments (4)

How Do I (and do I need to)... Hire a PR Firm?

Communication is important. My neighbors, a married couple, are a case in point. Susan named their two dogs Harry and Winston to give her husband a little nudge, a little reminder that she likes jewelry. She likes really nice gems -- the kind that sparkle and reflect the style of...

By Sharon McLoone | August 20, 2007; 06:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

How Do I ... Comply With Disability Law (Part II)

There are two tax incentives to help businesses comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act -- a credit and a deduction. The tax credit can only be used by small businesses, which the Internal Revenue Service says is one that has fewer than 30 employees or has grossed less than...

By Sharon McLoone | August 15, 2007; 06:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

How Do I... Comply with Disability Law (Part 1)

Many owners of very small businesses erroneously believe that they are exempt from complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Part of the confusion stems from the law's requirements that a firm with 15 or more employees must take special measures to accommodate its disabled employees, but a business of...

By Sharon McLoone | August 14, 2007; 03:00 PM ET | Comments (1)

How Do I... Take a Vacation

August in Washington means vacation for many people -- many people other than small business owners. "Vacation for a small business means you can lose business," said Lyn Beer, owner of Kitchen Quest, a one-woman firm in Vienna, Va. While Beer didn't take a vacation for 10 years after starting...

By Sharon McLoone | August 10, 2007; 06:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

How Do I ... Sign an Office Lease?

If a small business owner is ready to step out from the home office to office space, he or she will have to negotiate the murky language of a commercial real-estate lease. Kathleen McDermott, an attorney based in Northern Virginia who works with start-ups and small businesses in negotiating commercial...

By Sharon McLoone | August 2, 2007; 07:11 AM ET | Comments (1)

Thousands of Tax-Exempt Firms Owe $1B in Taxes

Almost 55,000 tax-exempt organizations had almost $1 billion in federal unpaid taxes at the end of September 2006, according to a new government report (pdf). While this report covers tax-exempt businesses of all sizes, it should give small business owners pause because you can be sure lawmakers will step in...

By Sharon McLoone | July 25, 2007; 04:52 PM ET | Comments (0)

How Do I...Get a Better Business Bureau Seal of Approval?

The Better Business Bureau, which promotes business ethics through self-regulation in the marketplace, cites a Gallup Poll that says three out of four consumers prefer to do business with a BBB member. But is it worth your while? To be able to sport the seal, a business must become a...

By Sharon McLoone | July 24, 2007; 06:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

How Do I ... Export

It is 5 a.m. I can hear that my one year old is ready to get up. I go into his room and hand him a stuffed deer, which I bought in Colorado, although it was made in Vermont. I change his diaper, made in China, and walk across the...

By Sharon McLoone | July 17, 2007; 06:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

How Do I ... Get a Patent

If your average Dr. Evil took a trip down to 600 Dulany St. in Alexandria, Va., to patent his atomic destructor machine, his plans would have been thwarted -- no doubt saving countless bikini-clad vixens dangling over shark-infested waters ... and preventing some really horrible films. Thanks to the Atomic...

By Sharon McLoone | July 11, 2007; 06:00 AM ET | Comments (1)

 

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