Archives for posts with tag: Scott Adams

So you own a small business, or you’re thinking about starting one. You’ve got the know-how in your field and the passion for your craft, and you’ve got energy and confidence to spare. But are you savvy when it comes to business lingo? Just because you excel at what you do – whether it’s repairing cars, making chocolates, inventing new gadgets or anything else – doesn’t mean that you automatically have the business expertise you need to turn your talents into success.

One of the first things that might trip you up in your forays into the business world is the terminology. Business terms can be new and foreign to those just getting started with their businesses, and standard dictionaries don’t always help with deciphering the meanings. Since we at Popular Thoughts are all about helping you launch, maintain and grow your business, we’ve compiled a short list of some common small business terms here, along with their definitions. Get to know this glossary (and others out there), and don’t get caught off guard as you wade through the currents of business ownership!

Angel Investing – Angel investors give capital to a start-up company, usually in exchange for equity. Angel investors tend to be well-off individuals, but some of them group themselves into angel networks. They usually invest their own money into the endeavor. Many companies get angel investments as a second-round funding source to keep them going when they’re between the money given to them by friends and family and the money they’ll eventually get from venture capital (see below).

Assets – This is just about anything your business owns that would have value in a transaction. It includes cash, investments, inventory, accounts receivable, office computers/equipment, machines/manufacturing equipment, etc. Assets are generally regarded to be the things that can be used to pay debts, and they can be long-term or short-term in nature (whether long-term or short-term depends on how long they last and what the company accountants decide is the benchmark for measuring the term). For tax purposes, if you buy something for your business and you call it an asset, you can’t deduct that purchase from your taxes, but you can list it under “Assets” on your financials. If you want to deduct a purchase from your taxes, you must label it an “expense,” but then you can’t list it among your assets later.

Brand/Branding – Many people think that your brand is your logo, your product or your tagline. But in reality, your brand is how people perceive you. One of the most important things you can do in your business is control your brand so that all of your potential customers have the same impression and experience with your product or service. Consider the golden arches: when you see them, you probably think of McDonalds, but you may also think of french fries, Happy Meals, smiling kids and Big Macs. Almost everyone has a similar reaction when they see that symbol, and that’s because McDonalds works hard to maintain their brand, keep it consistent, and give everyone the same impression of what they offer.

So how do you handle your branding? First, when you have a logo and/or tagline, keep them consistent in all of your interactions. Don’t randomly change the colors of your logo, the font of your web pages, the phrasing of your tagline, etc. Keep your messaging and color scheme consistent across the board. Next, protect your branding with Service Mark (SM) or Trade Mark (TM) protection- you can learn more about that here. Also, determine usage guidelines for your brand so that, if someone else wishes to put your logo on their website or in an advertisement, you have a ready list of rules for the use of your stuff (for example, you might want to require a certain amount of white space around your logo, you may want to insist that your logo not be stretched out of shape or changed in color, etc.).

After you’ve got your protections and guidelines in place, the key thing to remember about branding is that you and your company ARE the brand. In the end, it’s not your product or service that will define your customers’ experiences; it’s their interaction with you and your business. Keep in mind that you represent your company at all times, even while off-duty, and remind any staff members of this, as well. Put customer service guidelines into place for all to follow, and be sure that everyone at the company understands the need to maintain consistent quality standards in the product/service, the usage rules for the logo/tagline, and the need for positive interaction with consumers. This above all will help you to associate your brand with good things in the minds of your customers.

Business plan – This is pretty much what it sounds like: the written plan for how you’ll start and run your business. It generally needs to include a vision (where you’d like to see the company eventually), what’s needed to get there, what the chosen markets are like, what the current status of the business is, and what the results are projected to be. The business plan is essentially a “who, what, why, how and when” for the proposed company, so when writing yours, be sure not to ramble, get emotional or go off on tangents. Keep it clear, to-the-point and organized, from “why I’m starting this company” to “this is where I intend the company to be in a year.”

C Corp/S Corp – These are the two main forms of corporations in the U.S. S Corps tend to be small businesses and family-owned companies. Most major (read: large) companies in the U.S. are C Corps. A main difference between the C Corp and the S Corp is that, with the S Corp, profits go right back to the business owners directly, while in C Corps, the profits are taxed separately first.

So why would anyone want to have a C Corp? One big C Corp advantage is that it’s got the biggest protection for the owners against personal liability. A C Corp is a totally separate entity that pays taxes, and the owners are in the best position to protect their personal assets should the C Corp have trouble. A C Corp is generally the best choice for companies that are going public (or are planning to), or companies that want to grow significantly and/or raise large amounts of money.

S Corps generally have limits on how many owners there can be (these limits vary by state but tend to hover around 25 owners). Also, only individuals can hold stock in an S Corp – no corporations can be stockholders in these small companies. Neither of these limitations exists for a C Corp.

When choosing to incorporate, weigh the options and get advice from a lawyer and CPA on which option is right for you. In most cases, the S Corp is the best choice for a small business owner.

Cash flow – Cash in a business means how much money your company has in the bank, and cash flow refers to how that bank amount changes. Being “cash flow positive” means that the balance at the end of the month is higher than it was at the beginning, while “cash flow negative” is the opposite. Many businesses start out cash flow negative as they spend money to build the business, get needed equipment and advertise their goods. Ultimately, of course, you want to be cash flow positive on a regular basis so that your company can grow and you can make money.

Click-through rate – You know those ads that appear on webpages? The click-through rate is a measure of how many times someone actually clicked on one of those ads, compared with the number of times the ad appeared (the appearances are known as “impressions”). So if the ad showed up 100 times, and viewers clicked the ad four of those times, that’s a 4% click-through rate. Click-through rates tend to be pretty low, so don’t be discouraged if you run an online ad campaign and see very low numbers.

Conversion rate – How many people do what you want them to do when they visit your website? That’s basically the definition of the conversion rate. Whatever the measurable action is that you want them to do – buy something, sign up for something, download a file, watch a video, etc. – the conversion rate counts how many people do that thing and how that compares to the total site visitors. So if you get 100 visitors to your site, and five of them buy your product, that’s a 4% conversion rate.

DBA (Doing Business As) – This term means that the person running the business is using a different name for the business than his or her own name. It’s also called a “fictitious business name.” If your name is John Smith, but you want to open a company called Lemonade and Mangoes (a name that certainly does not match your name at all), you’d need a DBA to show that you legally own the business so that you can get bank accounts in the company’s name and do other business-related things. Getting a DBA is fairly easy to do on a county level and usually involves a registration fee and perhaps a notice in the newspaper (all of which tends to run under $100 total).

Fiscal year – This is your accounting year, which doesn’t have to match the calendar on your wall. Your fiscal year can start in any month and go a full year from there. To keep it from getting too confusing, accountants number fiscal years by the year in which they end, so if you have a business with a fiscal year that starts and ends in March, then March 2011 would be the end of Fiscal 2011.

Limited Liability Company (LLC) – LLCs are one way to set up a company. They’re similar to S Corps (both have advantages in how profits are treated for taxes and in how personal liability for the company owners is limited), but they can be harder to set up. Usually, the LLC has to be lacking two of the following that define a corporation: continuity of life, limited liability, free transferability of ownership interest, and centralized management. Check with your attorney if you think an LLC might be the best company structure for you.

Mission Statement – Most companies have one of these. This is essentially a short statement that defines what the company does, what the business philosophy is, and how it intends to deal with customers. Mission statements are often the butt of jokes for being overblown, wordy, obvious or incomprehensible – there are even mission statement generators out there (like this one) that poke fun at how “corporate” and interchangeable many mission statements are. Still, it never hurts to have one; you may want to include your employees in crafting a mission statement that encapsulates your company’s purpose.

Sole proprietorship – Businesses don’t get any simpler than this. A sole proprietorship is a business in which you don’t do anything to create a legal entity separate from yourself. You can operate the business under your own name or under another name (in which case you’d need the DBA defined above), but either way, the business is just you. This means that you bear personal liability for the company; if the company has debts or losses, you are personally responsible for those.

Venture capital – This is money that is invested into a company in the early stages, usually by a venture capital (VC) firm or group. The money invested tends to be from a fund that’s managed professionally by the firm. Generally, the companies that receive venture capital are high-risk but also high-potential. In return for their investment, the VC gets equity in your company, and it often gets a major ownership stake and decision-making power in the company. VC is sometimes a good choice for a young company that has a new technology to offer and that isn’t yet to the point of being able to get bank funding or other loans to grow the company. VC isn’t for everyone; explore your options thoroughly when considering funding sources, since many small business owners chafe at the idea of turning over decision-making power to a VC in exchange for the needed funds.

Sources: Business Term Glossary, Wikipedia

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Business Incubator Program Set to Launch, Provide Affordable Capital and Resources to Help Businesses Grow

business incubatorPonte Vedra, FL – September 30, 2010 – Adams Online Ventures, a business and technology firm, is launching a new program designed to assist small businesses and create jobs.

The program is ideal for small businesses or entrepreneurs who need an infusion of funding or resources, but whose needs are too small to attract the attention of major Venture Capitalists. Through the Adams Online Ventures business incubator program, companies and entrepreneurs can apply for small loans, resources and assistance in order to get the help they need to achieve real growth.

Adams Online Ventures has been piloting the new business incubator program in recent weeks, with Yovia LLC, an Atlantic Beach-based social media marketing firm, as the first recipient of the program’s benefits. Yovia was in need of funding but was unable to get help through the locked credit markets. Adams Online Ventures provided growth capital and technical services, allowing Yovia to scale.

The Adams Online Ventures business incubator program was especially appealing to Yovia because the company was able to perform infrastructure upgrades and spread out the cost. Adams Online Ventures also provided assistance in implementing the new technology that Yovia acquired through the loan.

“We were badly in need of some technology upgrades,” said Jalali Hartman, CEO of Yovia. “Like most small businesses, we faced challenges with the one-time costs involved in making our business more efficient and scalable. Adams Online Ventures provided capital at a reasonable interest rate AND the professional development services we needed to actually implement the changes.”

“Any business would be very fortunate to be accepted into this program,” Hartman added.

The Adams Online Ventures business incubator program will officially launch in 2011, but the soft launch will continue for the next few months with a select few additional participants. Entrepreneurs and business owners who are interested in participating in the program or who would like more information can contact Adams Online Ventures here. Be sure to describe your company’s needs and how you would like the business incubator program to help you.

About Adams Online Ventures: Adams Online Ventures was founded by Internet industry expert Scott Adams, who has spent the past 15 years working on a variety of online projects that have been used by millions of consumers and businesses. He believes that anyone can build a great business if they have the right tools, and Adams Online Ventures is based on the concept of bringing the right people and resources together to create success.

Contact: Erica Adams, Erica@popularthoughts.com

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Watch and enjoy this trailer for a 2007 documentary about entrepreneurship, “Call of the Entrepreneur,” from the Action Institute… It’s a great picture of three modern entrepreneurs in very different circumstances, trying to carve out their niche of success. Lots of inspiration and food for thought here…

“Call of the Entrepreneur” is a positive, fascinating portrayal of what makes entrepreneurs tick. People who are willing to take risks (and sometimes risk it all) to pursue their visions and passions are at the root of business evolution, and this film makes that clear. There’s a somewhat spiritual slant to some of the content (the Action Institute was founded by the Rev. Robert Sirico), but religion isn’t a main theme here; creativity and the spirit of the entrepreneur are what shine through.

You can order the DVD of “Call of the Entrepreneur” here, from Amazon.com.

Inc Magazine has released its 2010 list of the top American entrepreneurs under the age of 30! To see the coolest young business creators this year, check out this slideshow of photos, facts and financials.

It’s a diverse group, featuring men and women of all ethnic backgrounds, industries and interests. There’s the founder of Foursquare (a company valued at almost $100 million), two canvas bag designers, some blog simplifiers, a sports marketer and a pair of wine aficionados, just to name a few. What they all have in common, of course, is youth and the drive to succeed.

popular thoughtsOf course, all a good entrepreneur needs is the drive-to-succeed part. Youth is optional. Newsweek recently reported that workers over 35 are more likely to be innovators. In fact, the article notes, “As it turns out, the average founder of a high-tech startup isn’t a whiz-kid graduate, but a mature 40-year-old engineer or business type with a spouse and kids who simply got tired of working for others.” And the age that people are willing to start fresh with a new idea and take real risks is actually going up, while the number of entrepreneurs in the under-35 age bracket is going down.

Now THAT’S something to chew on.

The moral of the story is that you shouldn’t let age be a factor in your pursuit of your dreams. Entrepreneurs are getting older all the time, and they’re still coming up with great ideas, unique innovations and major successes. There is zero reason to let age hold you back; in fact, in this economy, it’s more important than ever to seize opportunity when it comes. Some people are even predicting a boom in entrepreneurship now that baby boomers are reaching the take-the-leap years.

If you need some extra inspiration, think about this: Zynga, the company that created Farmville and lots of other borderline-addictive games, is set to pass a billion dollars in revenue next year, and its CEO, Mark Pincus, is 44. If he can turn a dream into a success, why can’t you?

Scott Adams knows a lot about doing business online. And he should – He’s been in the industry for the past 15 years, working on projects that help millions of consumers. He started as a programmer but quickly stepped into the role of leader, becoming CEO of HD Publishing Group and overseeing the launch of a variety of products during his tenure. Now, he’s the CEO of Adams Online Ventures, and he’s making his expertise available to a wider community of businesses and individuals.

From his bio:

Scott is well-known and respected in the online business community, the card-not-present payment community, and the affiliate and Internet marketing community. He’s also furthering his connections through his efforts in the corporate speaking world, and these connections have proven to be among the most valuable of his experience. His ability to assess a business’s needs, establish a plan for growth, and build on that company’s foundation of strengths is what sets Scott apart from the other business “experts” marketing their services today.

One of Scott’s current sites is Popular Thoughts, a fledgling community of budding entrepreneurs who share ideas, skills and discussions in order to develop their concepts into real-life projects. As the site puts it, “great ideas become popular thoughts, and popular thoughts can mean real success online!” Through Popular Thoughts, Scott has several projects in the works, including a product that allows consumers to watch TV online, a Facebook game, and a project involving methods of unlocking iPhones. Scott encourages people to discuss their own ideas, needs and projects at the Popular Thoughts Facebook page, and he is always looking for ideas that he can help to grow into solid successes. If YOU have a great idea for an online product or service, Scott might just help you get the resources you need to make it happen!

From paycard and card-not-present projects to marketing compliance, and from networking and keynote speaking to helping the next great ideas come to life, Scott Adams has a wide variety of expertise, experience and resources available. He can frequently figure out what a company needs and use his great connections to answer those needs, all with excellent communication, dedication and integrity.

Have you ever had a situation in which you had the right resources in your company but couldn’t seem to get anything done?  Have you been on a committee in which no decisions appeared to be made?  Or have you been part of a team in which the people were great but few if any accomplishments came out of it, and those that did were painstakingly slow to happen?

This is a common problem in many businesses right now. When too many people are involved in a project, the decision-making process gets bogged down and things rarely get done.

Here at Adams Online Ventures, we believe in a streamlined approach that we call Cellular Methodology.

@1Thing4Green turned into a multi-million dollar product through the use of Cellular Methodology

@1Thing4Green turned into a multi-million dollar product through the use of Cellular Methodology

Here is how it works: When we take on a project, we analyze it and determined the needed key resources.  We then create a “cell,” a small group of experienced, qualified people, and assign those key resources to that cell. The cell is then encouraged to work as a nearly independent business. They can use some of the shared resources from the larger group, but generally, they work on their own and get the job done.

The “job” in this case entails everything needed for the project.  For example, consider that the job is a new web service.  In that case, the cell would probably consist of a Marketer and a Programmer. They would build the system, market the system and work to grow the business.  They would essentially “own” the project, and this ownership mentality leads to a drive to succeed and excel with the endeavor. After all, when one’s name is on a new product or service, one has a greater interest in seeing it through and turning it into a success.

We’ve found that Cellular Methodology works exceptionally well if implemented correctly.  It results in strong products, great services and completed projects that can eventually grow in to full-blown businesses in surprisingly short time.

Geurilla Optimization was invented by Scott Adams and involves fast, instinct-based marketing and testing

Geurilla Optimization was invented by Scott Adams and involves fast, instinct-based marketing and testing

One of the key principles of Popular Thoughts is moving FAST.  We use a term that our founder coined called Guerrilla Optimization which means to drive traffic to a website and review the site statistics multiple times in one day and then make changes to optimize it for revenue, impressions or whatever metrics you’re trying to achieve.  We’ve had great success with using this model.  Basically combining Statistics/Math with “Gut Instincts” and Experience.