know the reason, you can either try a different tack with that person or use what you
learned to improve your approach with the
5. Parlay, parlay, parlay. Dazzle
prospective investors with your latest sales
order. Use a newspaper mention to attract a
key employee. At every turn, take what you
have and parlay it into something more.
6. Go fast, but don’t rush. Do not
waste a moment. Rush jobs, though, can
come back to haunt you later. Do things
right the first time—every time.
7. Be the smartest. Immerse yourself
in your subject matter deeper than anyone
else on the planet. Be the undeniable expert
in your field and you’ll not only have the
respect of the people around you but you’ll
sleep better at night, too.
8. Be the dumbest. You don’t have
to be Superman. Surround yourself with
superstars who are smarter and better
than you in areas where you’re weakest.
A good leader with a great team is a winning
combo. Take off the cape!
9. Under-promise, over-deliver.
Always try to set expectations slightly
lower than you know you can achieve. If
you’re conservative when forecasting future
milestones and you beat them every time,
investors will love you.
10. Find your rock. Building a business
is not for the faint of heart. To keep your positive attitude, find someone who roots for you
and supports you. Go to that person regularly
to recharge and keep you on course.
These tricks of the trade made all the
difference for me in my 2011 start-up. I hope
they’re part of your magic in 2012. C
2011 WAS A banner year for me. Among
other things, I stayed true to my entrepreneurial calling and started up an exciting
new renewable-energy business.
To help you realize the full potential of
your own business opportunities in 2012, here
are a few tricks that worked for me while I
was getting my business off the ground.
1. Don’t be fooled. Money is out there.
If banks won’t lend and bootstrapping with
your own money isn’t an option, try angel
investors. Angels invested $9 billion into
small businesses in just the first half of 2011,
with a 13 percent increase in start-up-specific investments. Someone’s getting
funded. Why not you?
2. Business plan follows life plan.
If you live true to who you are, you’ll be
a better business leader. Make sure your
business plan is sensitive to non-business
3. Rehearse your pitch. Develop a
well-oiled presentation of your business. You
need a one-liner, a one-minuter and a one-hour version so you’ll be ready for any and
all opportunities. You want people walking
away thinking “wow.”
4. No doesn’t mean no. Every time
you get turned down, ask why. Once you
Costco member Rich
Sloan is co-founder
nation.com), a leading business advice
and networking site
More in archives
On Costco.com, enter
“Connection.”At Online Edition,
search “Rich Sloan.”
Until now, videos of this quality were reserved for companies
with substantially larger marketing budgets. Google research has
shown that companies that effectively leverage video can expect
better customer engagement and retention: Online video boosts
brand recall by 50 percent and likability by 26 percent. C
Show your story
GOOGLE AND AMERICAN EXPRESS OPEN have launched a
tool to help small businesses produce online videos about their companies, telling their entrepreneurial stories. My Business Story (www.
youtube.com/mybusinessstory) enables the creation of professional-quality video—free. You can use existing photos or videos or shoot
new ones to upload to the tool, then add free music and graphics
with My Business Story’s editing tool. There are even helpful tutorial videos to teach you how to shoot a great video.
IF YOU’RE IN the business of selling
things, it’s likely you must collect a tax
on each transaction. And for small-business owners, managing sales taxes can
be a big headache.
For starters, the debate over
Internet taxation is growing. Last year
at least nine states pushed bills that
would require online retailers to collect
sales taxes in states where they do
business, whether or not they have a
physical presence. Discussions are also
under way at the national level to have
Congress close the tax loophole for
In addition, audits are on the rise.
According to a research paper by the
Aberdeen Group, state and local governments are scrutinizing companies
to compensate for revenue shortfalls.
Businesses can open themselves up to
potential fines or penalties if they are
not transparent and accurate in tracking
collections, creating and filing returns,
and paying the states.
Complicating the issue is the fact
that sales- and use-tax rates, rules and
jurisdiction boundaries are constantly
changing. Businesses can’t assume
their tax information will remain current
for any length of time.
The solution, advises Costco member Scott McFarlane, CEO of Avalara
www.avalara.com), which specializes in
online sales-tax management services, is
for small-business owners to be proactive
and systematic in dealing with taxes.
Pay attention to legislation.
Understand how state-level Internet
sales-tax laws affect your operations in
the states in which you conduct business. Consider how you would manage
your business should federal legislation
pass requiring online merchants to collect sales taxes.
Automate your sales-tax management process. Affordable, automated solutions are available to help
small and medium-size businesses simplify their sales-tax process. Many companies outsource this function, just as
they do payroll management.
Keep up with filing. Filing and
remitting sales taxes in a timely manner
reduces risk and cost, as most states
offer on-time discounts.
McFarlane says a good source of
more information is the Streamlined
Sales Tax Governing Board ( www.
streamlinedsalestax.org), which provides sales-tax information, training
material and links for businesses of
all sizes. C