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Best of… for the week of August 13, 2012

August 21, 2012 Leave a comment

Anderson Valley Brewing Company Hop Ottin' IPA

Here’s my round-up (a couple of days late) of last weeks best stories and articles for Small Business and Beer Business.

Small Business

I often advise clients on when is the right time to incorporate or form a business (i.e. start acting as a business and not as a person) and why. Thanks to Nina Kaufman (@ninakaufman) for summing this up in this short video. 3 Reasons to Incorporate Your Business http://www.entrepreneur.com/video/224126

In real estate, it’s all about “location, location, location.” In small business, it’s all about “planning, planning, planning.” That means that, at least for a period of time, your personal and business life will revolve around your business plan. Make sure it’s thorough. Why Your Business Plan Is Probably Incomplete http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/224195

Remember, even if you’re small business, it’s not all about you. Your team (internal or external) is what will make the biggest difference to your success. To Be Number One, Get the Right Number Two http://blogs.hbr.org/kanter/2012/08/to-be-number-one-get-the-right.html

More on Leadership: Crisis management is a topic for every small business person. What makes a good manager in a crisis? When Good Management Is a Matter of Life and Death http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2012/08/the_leadership_mistakes_that_l.html?awid=4678865509342592577-3271

Ok, so that’s what to do. How about what not to do (on a day to day basis)? The Seven Deadly Sins of Management http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2012/08/the_seven_deadly_sins_of_manag.html

Continuing on the HBR bandwagon (they’ve had a great week!)… I remember a line from a movie “everyone *thinks* they have a sense of humor, even the ones who don’t.” Everyone *thinks* they’re a good boss. Are you? Really? Are You Sure You’re Not a Bad Boss? http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2012/08/are_you_sure_youre_not_a_bad_b.

Employee of my dreams? I don’t think so. I’d settle for a “good” employee. Maybe even “decent.” There are days when I’m desperate enough to take someone as basic as “breathing.” Here’s some things to look for in your employee search. How to Hire the Right Employees for Your Startup http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/224191

Beer Business

Here’s an interesting article on what may be a direction for the beer industry/business down the road. Focuses on the technology and sensory options for deconstructing and developing a beer. Yeast of Eden: the future of beer http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2012/aug/13/yeast-eden-future-of-beer?newsfeed=true

Love that many small farmers and agri-businesspersons are rediscovering the economies that drove our great grandparents. It used to be that brewing beer on the farm was the norm, not the exception. Here’s a great story on it. Maryland farmers try beer production http://www.baltimoresun.com/business/bs-md-ca-farm-brewery-20120813,0,3856297.story

Good LORD! Have you been watching this story unfold? Heineken & Tiger Beer. here: http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Southeast_Asia/NH15Ae01.html and here: http://t.co/bFzVv59j and here: http://t.co/fAHyOCGc

You know that right after they planted it, they had to have made beer from it. Can we brew again with einkorn? Bulgarians cultivating ancient einkorn grain http://goo.gl/GQM0E

I happen to think that there should be more of this sort of cross-pollination between the alcohol industries. Cheers to Anderson Valley! Anderson Valley Brewing Co. forms partnership with Wild Turkey Bourbon http://beerpulse.com/2012/08/anderson-valley-brewing-co-forms-partnership-with-wild-turkey-bourbon/

Here’s an interesting article out of the UK. I don’t know that this is a huge issue in the US right now, but with the rising cost & popularity of craft beer, maybe we should be on the watch for tax dodges like this. Bootleg Beer Hitting Lawful Traders http://goo.gl/wY6y4

Speaking of prices fluctuating (up anyway), here’s a good video and article about how/when beer prices shift. Grin and Beer It: Some Beer Prices Will Increasehttp://t.co/KALtGRKN

Love Oskar Blues‘ beer, and I’m thrilled they’re coming to NC. IF you haven’t heard, they’re planning on brewing their Dale’s Pale Ale in NC before the end of the year! I was a project manager in a former life/career. For something of this scale, that’s a really, *really* fast build . Cheers to them! Beer Guy: Oskar Blues plans quick build http://www.citizen-times.com/article/20120816/ASHEVILLESCENE/308160019

Not to be outdone, Sierra Nevada has accelerated their build timeline as well. They’ve moved their “open” date to July 2013 (another *fast* build). Sierra Nevada changes opening date to July 2013 http://www.blueridgenow.com/article/20120814/ARTICLES/120819909?p=1&tc=pg

I’ve never understood where the stigma for Contract Brewing came from. Just because you don’t physically *own* the equipment, it’s not really brewing? Please. I’ve got to give credit to Shaun O’Sullivan at 21st Amendment Brewery (563 2nd Street, “that’s right, cans.”) – I like his re-invention to calling it Partner Brewing. Contract is Not a Dirty Word in Brewing http://www.craftbeer.com/pages/stories/craft-beer-muses/show?title=contract-is-not-a-dirty-word-in-brewing#.UC0wG69w_N8.twitter

I *just* posted on this a few weeks ago. Sounds interesting, I’d like to hear more. Oregon Public House: The First Nonprofit Pub (VIDEO) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bus-52/oregon-public-house-video_b_1773883.html

Here’s good article on the dangers (no matter which side of the fence you’re on) with market consolidation in the beer industry. One Company Will Soon Control Half of the U.S. Beer Market http://business.time.com/2012/07/03/one-company-will-soon-control-half-of-the-u-s-beer-market/

Speaking of market consolidation… U.S. Department of Justice formally requests more info on A-B InBev/Modelo deal http://beerpulse.com/2012/08/u-s-department-of-justice-formally-requests-more-info-on-a-b-inbevmodelo-deal/

Market impact: How will the weather/crops so far this year effect the beer industry? Here’s the skinny – USDA August 2012 Crop Report: update on barley, hops and applehttp://beerpulse.com/2012/08/usda-august-2012-crop-report-update-on-barley-hops-and-apples/

Just for fun

I love Mental Floss (http://www.mentalfloss.com)! Here’s one of their recent goodies: 11 Tips for That Benjamin Harrison Birthday Bash You’re Probably Planning http://www.mentalfloss.com/blogs/archives/138568 (back when being many meant facial hair! Benjamin Harrison – our last bearded president).

Best of… for the week of August 6, 2012

August 10, 2012 1 comment
At the beer garden

At the beer garden (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ok, well, it’s that time again… time to recap the week. But, I took an unexpected week off last week so I need to catch up. Here’s the best from the last TWO weeks!

Small Business

As folks look to form businesses, you have to ask yourself questions about what kind of structure makes sense for your business. I love the title of this article, it’s worth a read (by the way, the answer is “No.”) Will a Corporation or Limited Liability Company Protect You from Yourself? http://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/will-a-corporation-or-limited-liability-55959/?utm_source=jds&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=bizlaw

We always talk about intellectual property and social media here. It’s a growing area and no one really knows how some things are going to shake out. AND it’s growing faster than things CAN shake out in some cases. Here’s a new one re: copyright. What’s the impact of Pinterest on your copyrights? Let It Slide: Copyright Infringement On Pinterest http://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/let-it-slide-copyright-infringement-on-04280/?utm_source=jds&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=bizlaw

Crowdfunding is another issue where things are taking off much faster than the legal framework can adapt. Here’s a good article on some points to consider before you jump in. How To Make Sure Your Crowdfunding Dreams Don’t Turn Into An Investor Relations Nightmare http://techcrunch.com/2012/08/05/how-to-make-sure-your-crowdfunding-dreams-dont-turn-into-an-investor-relations-nightmare/

Here’s another Nina Kaufman item. Great little video about Terms & Conditions on your website. Think you only need to worry about that if you sell online? You’re wrong. Tune in. 3 Reasons Why Your Website Should Include Terms and Conditions http://www.entrepreneur.com/video/223931

While we’re touting Nina, here’s another of her videos on an oft-overlooked subject. Who is your partner? Do you know who you’re getting into business with? You better! Sometimes it’s easier to get divorced from a spouse than to disengage from a business partner. How to Know If a Business Partner is Right for You. http://www.entrepreneur.com/video/224127 also, be sure to follow Nina Kaufman at @ninakaufman on twitter.

This article sounds like it’s directed at big business, but the principles apply to every innovator (as a small business owner, that’s you!) and it’s worth a read. The Planning Fallacy and the Innovator’s Dilemma http://blogs.hbr.org/anthony/2012/08/the_planning_fallacy_and_the_i.html?awid=7946997658421232138-3271

Beer Business

In Oklahoma, they’ve formed a brewing cooperative. It’s a different legal structure that has advantages and disadvantages of its own. Looks like it’s working out for them right now. Oklahoma City brewing cooperative aims to grow beer culturehttp://newsok.com/oklahoma-city-brewing-cooperative-aims-to-grow-beer-culture/article/3697637#ixzz22glEIQ8g

One of my favorite subjects: North Carolina Beer! Here’s a guide for you out-of-towners. No place like foam: Your guide to cool microbreweries in North Carolina http://www.chicagotribune.com/travel/vs-travel-north-carolina-microbreweries-20120730,0,1960437.story

Still on NC… Boulevard Brewing jumps on the bandwagon with distribution. Many breweries are leap-frogging over other surrounding states to get into the NC market. Boulevard Brewing Company Entering Georgia and North Carolina in 2012 http://www.brewbound.com/news/boulevard-brewing-company-entering-georgia-and-north-carolina-in-2012

More on NC! Oskar Blues to start production in Brevard in December http://www.blueridgenow.com/article/20120805/ARTICLES/120809916

On the other end of the spectrum, how would you like to be labeled with “only” and “first” when it’s something the rest of the country doesn’t see as a big deal? Beer from here: Alabama’s only brewpub opens at Heroes in Weaver http://www.annistonstar.com/view/full_story/19718633/article-Beer-from-here–Alabama%E2%80%99s-f%E2%80%8Airst-brewpub-opens-at-Heroes-in-Weaver?instance=home_lifestyle (by the way, Good for them!)

Here’s a question I come back to again and again: If you’re a brewer/brewery, how do you balance between what you like to brew/drink and what sells the best? Here’s one take from Magic Hat (the article is mostly about Angel City Brewing, but scroll down). Under wing of new owners, Angel City Brewing begins again http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/la-et-angel-city-20120803,0,3552857.story

Nice little article out of Columbus OH on how beer gardens are changing the “bar” experience. Even at public venues.Gemütlichkeit! Beer gardens fare well http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2012/08/05/beer-gardens-fare-well.html

Good discussion of how the Beer Business reflects (or is reflected by?) the global economy. The State Of The Beer Industry Perfectly Reflects The Global Economy http://www.businessinsider.com/beer-a-reflection-of-the-world-economy-2012-7

Unless you’ve been living under a beer-deprived rock for the last few years, you know that collaboration projects are on the rise. They’re a great way to build the beer culture, share ideas, and create new and exciting beers. What makes a good collaboration (on a business/legal level)? Best Practices for Successful Collaboration http://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/best-practices-for-successful-collaborat-97122/?utm_source=jds&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=bizlaw

This may be the year for mega-deals in the beer business. By August, the total amount changing hands is over $35 billion (that’s with a “B”). In deals, brewers hop to it. http://www.jg.net/article/20120805/BIZ/308059961/1031/BIZ

Despite the consolidation in some markets/segments, in the US, we’ve hit a 125 year high in total number of breweries. Woot! BREWERS ASSOCIATION REPORTS 2012 MID-YEAR GROWTH FOR U.S. CRAFT BREWERS http://www.brewersassociation.org/pages/media/press-releases/show?title=brewers-association-reports-2012-mid-year-growth-for-u-s-craft-brewers

Just for fun

Being a Trekkie (and I still use Trekkie, not the new-fangled “Trekker,” I’m old-school like that), I though this was an interesting infographic. The Science of Star Trek http://cheezburger.com/6493989888 or http://i.imgur.com/PAfaT.jpg

Best of… week of July 23

July 27, 2012 1 comment

Barley is a major animal feed crop as well as supply for the beer and distilling industries.

Okey dokey… here’s my wrap up of what’s happening and “things you should know” from this past week in Small Business and the Craft Beer Business:

Small Business

Love this: “(Q) How many lawyer jokes are there? (A) Three – the rest are true stories.” I’ve been following Nina Kaufman the last couple of weeks and she has some great insight. Her book: How to Choose and Use Attorneys is a good reference for any company, especially startups. Check her out at http://askthebusinesslawyer.com/ and  http://askthebusinesslawyer.com/how-to-choose-and-use-attorneys

Running a small business is always smooth sailing, right? Especially at home, nothing ever goes wrong there. For the most part, we all have families or lives outside of our businesses, what happens when the s— hits the fan? 3 Tips for Leading Your Business During a Personal Crisis http://www.entrepreneur.com/blog/224022

Let’s say everything is running fine. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Right? Not always. Apple is the king of improving or changing an already winning strategy. Why? When to Change a Winning Strategy http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2012/07/when_to_change_a_winning_strat.html

Are you an S-Corp? Make sure that you periodically check in with a business attorney so that you stay that way! S Corporation Corner: Practitioners Should Schedule Periodic Check-ups http://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/jdsupra-65136/?utm_source=jds&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=bizlaw

Since we’re talking tax implications, there are some changes on the horizon that you – at least – need to be aware of. The Fiscal Cliff: 3 Tax Changes You Need to Know Are Cominhttp://www.entrepreneur.com/blog/224051

We’ll segue from tax to other money matters. When is it (or is it not) worth your time/money to go after late payments from customers? here’s a short video (like 60 seconds) on when it’s a good idea. When to Take Legal Action Over Late-Paying Customers http://www.entrepreneur.com/video/223932 also browse around the rest of the website, there’s a ton of good information and I love these little 60 second clips on how-to, when-I-should, or other business tips from experts. And it’s free!

Moving on to intellectual property… here’s a great overview – again short and to the point – on intellectual property and when to use what. How To Make Sure Your Intellectual Property Is Protected http://alltopstartups.com/2012/07/24/how-to-make-sure-your-intellectual-property-is-protected/

I can’t let a week go by without something on Social Media. If you’re just starting up, here’s crash course on what you should be (i.e. “need to be”) doing for your business.  Social Media Lite: If You Do Nothing Else, Do This (Part I) http://openmindworks.com/social-media-lite-if-you-do-nothing-else-do-this/ and Social Media Lite Part II: If You Do Nothing Else, Do This for Your Brand http://openmindworks.com/social-media-lite-part-ii-if-you-do-nothing-else-do-this-for-your-brand/ Also, follow OpenMindWorks on twitter at @openmindworks_, a lot of great information and swell people.

Beer Business

I wrote a piece on whether a brewery could/should be a non-profit. Tonka Beer Co, takes it another route – donating all profits to charity. Tonka Beer Co. goes 100% nonprofit in effort to fight invasive species. http://beerpulse.com/2012/07/tonka-beer-co-goes-100-nonprofit-in-effort-to-fight-invasive-species/

Certificate of Label Approval (COLA) changes discussed by TTB. Good read to get some idea of what they’re going through also. TTB Addresses Label Approval Issues http://www.alcoholicbeverageslawblog.com/2012/07/articles/state-federal-beverage-license/ttb-addresses-label-approval-issues/

The midwestern US is taking a beating this summer in terms of weather. I haven’t heard of this having an effect (yet) on brewers, but it’s something (I think) to watch. Midwest drought worsens, food inflation to rise http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/07/25/us-usa-drought-idUSBRE86N1M120120725?feedType=RSS&feedName=environmentNews&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+reuters%2Fenvironment+%28News+%2F+US+%2F+Environment%29

On the other end: Soggy Summer in North Europe Delays Grain for Region’s Beer http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-07-26/soggy-summer-in-north-europe-delays-grain-for-region-s-beer

This is an interesting one. AB-InBev started registering trademarks for airports and now ZIP codes. I don’t know if this is quite the way to capitalize on the “buy local” trend. But the boys at the Big Beer companies aren’t stupid (they may be a lot of things, but they’re not stupid). We’ll see where this goes.  Anheuser-Busch creates “zip code” beers http://www.nj.com/entertainment/dining/index.ssf/2012/07/anheuser-busch_creates_zip_cod.html

While we’re on intellectual property, one near and dear to my heart: trademark. PLEASE work with an attorney before you build a brand or name so this doesn’t happen to you. Coronado Brewing asked to stop using the name, “Stoopid” http://beerpulse.com/2012/07/coronado-brewing-asked-to-stop-using-the-name-stoopid/ By the way, love both beers!

Not strictly beer, but related:  there are less… obnoxious ways to deal with possible TM infringement or unauthorized use. Jack Daniel’s Sends the Most Polite Cease-and-Desist Letter Ever http://mashable.com/2012/07/22/jack-daniels-trademark-letter/

The Brewer’s Association always has great resources (especially for members), but here’s a special one – August Power Hour: Food & Drug Administration Brewery Inspections and Reporting Requirements. Free to members (of you’re not a member, it’s not free, but it may well be worth the price of admission) http://www.brewersassociation.org/pages/events/calendar/show?title=august-power-hour-food-drug-administration-brewery-inspections

Just for fun

For the science and math geeks out there, this is just AWESOME : http://www.kleinbottle.com/ I’d love to see a one of these labeled with a brewery logo!

Best of… for the week of July 9

July 15, 2012 1 comment
Rochefort Trappist Brewery in Abbey of Our Lad...

Rochefort Trappist Brewery in Abbey of Our Lady of Saint-Remy, Wallonia, Belgium (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

NEXT! Here’s the roundup for this week:

Small Business

I heard a statistic that the most people will have an average of 5 careers in their working life. That means that there’s got to be a lot of people out there with life and work changes. Maybe the best person for the job isn’t the one with the most experience doing that job? Why I Like People with Unconventional Resumés

So… Pinterest, huh? Well, here’s some way that some businesses are using Pinterest to drive their business in real, tangible ways. 5 Ways Brands Use Pinterest To Authentically Connect

If you’re running a business, you’re a leader. Often, whether you like it or not. How do you ensure that you’re effective? Here’s one measure. How Effective Leaders Talk (and listen) – Podcast with Transcript

As en employer, you fall under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act). You have to make “reasonable accommodation” for employees with disabilities. What’s “reasonable?” 5 Reasonable Accommodations an Employer Almost Never has to Make.

There’s also the ongoing question(s) about employees and the role of Social Media at home and at work:  Legislatures Aim to Protect Social Media Privacy of Employees and Applicants

While we’re talking about “online” … Protecting Yourself Online Doesn’t have to Involve Legal . While we’re at it, was your password leaked? How to Check if Your Yahoo, Gmail, or AOL Password was Leaked

Lastly… remember to register your trademarks! Avoid a “Heart Attack”: Promptly Register your Trademarks

Beer Business

More on the effects of the AB-InBev/Modelo deal. Ripples from A-B/Modelo deal could extend far and wide.

Trademark issue specific to the beer industry: New Albion is a name that is near and dear to the heart of every small brewer in the US (or it should be, look it up!). Boston Beer Company looks to register the mark.  Boston Beer Co. may need to use ‘New Albion’ mark in order to register it

Woohoo! The coveted and long awaited 8th Trappist Brewery! New Trappist Beer on Sale in UK (maybe the US soon?)

Best of… for the week of June 25th

July 4, 2012 1 comment

 

English: Infographic on how Social Media are b...

English: Infographic on how Social Media are being used, and how everything is changed by them. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ok, so here’s the roundup for this week:

Small Business

 

Are you focusing on your social media marketing? Thinking about how you use social media to dive sales? What about a social media policy in your business? Here are 5 Bad Habits Small Business Have With Social Media.

 

Once you have defined how/when you’re using social media for your business, and what you expect, it’s time to think about Ways to Protect Your Reputation on the Internet. And another one: How to Protect Yourself on Pinterest.

 

Since we’re talking about reputation, if your a franchisee (or franchisor) Do You Have an Obligation to Maintain Brand Strength?

 

Also, you’re trying to do the right thing and make things better for your employees, but what are The Legal Concerns Implicated By Corporate Wellness Programs?

 

There’s a ton of places, blogs, and stories about how Health Care Reform will affect businesses. What’s the effect on small businesses? If you’re already having trouble making ends meet, what does this mean for you? Here’s a local story on thoughts and fears of small businesses.

 

For a little more in-depth analysis, here’s 5 Immediate Steps for Businesses Now that Obamacare is Upheld.

 

Beer Business

 

The big story in the last week is the AB-InBev / Grupo Modelo deal.

 

Also, Mississippi is headed the right way, is this a new market for your beer business? Or a chance for Mississippi to grow their craft beer culture? Mississippi to Celebrate New Law Allowing Higher Alcohol Beer.

 

Even in the beer business, you need to protect your reputation… whatever it is. Dark Horse Brewery Turns Down Nickelback Endorsement.

 

Does that make it global “kinderbier?” Coca-Cola and Pepsi Contain Alcohol.

 

Also, as you’re developing your marketing, take read over 3 Biggest Pitch Mistakes Every Brand Makes.

 

Humor/For Fun

 

How to solve impossible problems: Daniel Russell’s awesome Google search techniques. Wow. Just wow. Since I saw this late last week, I’ve been looking at the interwebs totally differently.

 

Best of… for the week of June 18, 2012

Happy Hour

Happy Hour (Photo credit: joelplutchak)

Ok, so here’s the round up for this past week. I’m going to try and separate by topic area, but there’s a lot to cover, so buckle in!

Small Business

Beware the Paralyzing “Whac-A-Mole” Trademark Mentality

Trademark: develop a trademark strategy. First, don’t run after a trademark after someone else has started using it. Then don’t fall into the “whack a mole” trap of trying to secure marks after you’ve started using them in… unpredictable ways. http://t.co/710cu3ea

Is your business protected in Bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy, personal or business, is a serious matter. In your planning for bankruptcy or looking at your credit situation, make sure that your business is protected. http://t.co/kViHrDCS

You May Need a Lawyer for that

Start-up are often (wisely) concerned with saving money up front. When is it a good investment to pay for professional services (like a lawyer). http://t.co/Wz9xwvA4

Capital Gains Tax Opportunity: Permanent?

Be sure to keep up on what’s going on tax wise. Unless you’re not planning on making any money ever. http://t.co/7udiFixq

Social Media Tips for Trademark Protection

Ways you can prevent cybers-quatting and trademark-hijacking. http://t.co/7udiFixq

At Will Employment: Does it Matter?

If you have (or are gonna have) employees, you need to check this out. You’ll need to have an employee handbook or some set of personnel policies, but what should be in them/it? http://t.co/7udiFixq

Beer Business

Contract Brewing Revisited

Contract brewing goes through cycles, but remains an important part of our industry. How do your brewery and Contract (or Partner) Brewing fit together? http://t.co/Yj7Nmkew

So You Want to Open the Next Great Craft Beer Bar?

If you’re looking at opening a bar (or even just your taproom at your brewery), Chris Black of the award-winning Falling Rock Tap House shares his thoughts on what it takes http://t.co/a1vYcyOh

Financial / Progress Report from Boston Beer Co.

Check out how well one of the big micros is doing. http://t.co/bYnPgkms

Global Beer Prices (per pint)

Just saw this today. I don’t know if I’d say it was determinative, but it does give you a good perspective on how beer prices work at the consumer, front-of-the-house, lay-your-money-down level. http://t.co/Eog3Tsx7

Just for fun (Humor/Trivia)

Weird History. Follow them on Twitter for your daily dose of the absurd that seemed TOTALLY spot-on at the time.

Best of… for the week of June 11, 2012

June 15, 2012 1 comment
President Barack Obama delivers remarks to sma...

President Barack Obama delivers remarks to small business owners, community lenders and members of Congress in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC. Secretary of the Treasury Timothy F. Geithner has his back to the camera. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I thought I’d try something new on the blog this week… I’ve been posting some interesting articles that I’ve found on other blogs, websites, etc. that I think are particularly relevant to small businesses (especially breweries, which are near and dear to my heart). So, today, I thought I’d recap the “best of” for this past week. Let’s get started with…

Mark Sperling blogs about decisions by the NC Business Court

Ok, so this is a little dry for most business owners, but it’s occasionally worth a read or search. NC is one of the few states in the country that has a specialized Business Court specifically to hear business issues and cases, particularly complex ones. This is a great blog to check out from time to time, especially if you’re a business attorney. http://www.ncbusinesslitigationreport.com/

Peer to Peer Business Lending

There’s been a lot of discussion about Crowdfunding lately, here’s an additional twist: Peer2Peer lending. Businesses use other businesses as investment opportunities, cutting out the bank altogether. If you’re thinking about starting a business and need startup money, it’s worth a read. http://under30ceo.com/consider-peertopeer-p2p-lending-business/

Debt v Equity

Another great topic for startup businesses. I advise clients everyday on the difference between debt and equity and what that means to you as a business owner. Read this over before you finalize your business planhttp://venturebeat.com/2012/06/09/debt-vs-equity-which-is-right-for-your-startup/

USPTO Offers IP Awareness Assessment

This is more of a press release than an article, but it’s a great tool for small businesses to make sure they know what their Intellectual Property (IP) issues are. Need copyright? Trademark? What’s a “trade secret,” anyway? The USPTO has some great resources. Check out the press release at

http://www.iplawalert.com/2012/06/articles/patent-1/uspto-offers-ip-awareness-assessment/  and their main page at http://www.uspto.gov

Let’s start there for this installment. I’ll post more next week as things come up that are pertinent to small businesses and the craft beer industry.

Thanks for reading and please, let me know what you think in the comments!

Starting a business

April 10, 2012 1 comment

I gave a presentation yesterday to a group of folks looking to start a horticulture, landscaping, or plant nursery business. It was a great impetus to force me to write this post – that I’ve been meaning to write for a while.

So, let’s start with what you need to start and run a successful business in NC

  • A lawyer – a lawyer is going to be your best friend in the early stages. A lawyer will help you decide how to organize the business, what you need to do to be compliant, and how to protect yourself from future claims by creditors, potential liability, and other sources of risk. An attorney will also help you with whatever licenses you might need to operate in your state, county, or city (or all three!). Work with a lawyer to develop your overall business structure to protect your investment and yourself from future risks. Also, a good lawyer will work *with* you (not just *for* you), so you can help yourself and save money where possible.
  •  An accountant or bookkeeper – there is so much going on (especially early in developing your business) that it’s easy to make a mistake, forget something, or make a choice that will impact you later. When it comes to finances and taxes, you need to get an expert to help you understand the consequences of your choices: Do I start as a home based business? Is it cash-only? Can I claim mileage on my car for business? Even if you’re a professional accountant or bookkeeper, it’s probably a good idea to get an independent assessment in the beginning, if nothing else.
  • Business Plan – I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a business plan. Whether you’re trying to raise money from investors, trying to get credit, or just knowing what to do next for your own peace of mind, your business plan should be your road map. Your business plan may change over time (because your business may change over time!), but you should make every effort to follow you business plan. There are lots of resources (including the Small Business Administration) for putting together a solid business plan.

    business plan

    business plan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  •  Insurance – you will need insurance (in some form or other). Especially if you have anything to do with dealing with the general public, government contracting, or working with businesses (ok, so, pretty much if you do ANYTHING). Find a reputable insurance agent and let them work with you on what you need – you may not even know what or how much you need until you talk to your attorney or when you’re getting started. Whether you need liability insurance, premises insurance, malpractice insurance, or how much… don’t underestimate how important it is to protect your investment from accidents or potential claims.
  • Bank – the same way you need to find a good insurance agent, you also need to develop a relationship with a banker. Not only do you need a bank account, you may need things like merchant services (credit card processing), a lined of credit, a small business loan, or even just someone to call when you can’t figure out why your deposit is showing up in your account. Your banker should work with you to address your financial needs.
  • Policies, Procedures, and Systems – it doesn’t *really* matter if you’re using a fancy software system to manage your business or if you’re using good ‘ol paper and pencil. What does matter is that you can do it consistently and efficiently each and every time. You will spend a lot of your time, as a small business owner, on the administrative work that’s needed to keep the business running. Find forms, checklists, or whatever you need to streamline your routine processes and make them consistent. The less mental energy you have to spend on this aspect of the business, the more you can spend on…
  • Marketing – you have to go get the business. Most people start a business because the like doing the work. For example, if you’re a woodworker, you start a woodworking business because like woodworking. Here’s the bad news: you better be pretty good at selling woodworking too! As a small business owner a tremendous amount of your time will also be spent in actively searching for new business. You have to fill not only your workday, but tomorrow’s workday too. And the day after that, and the day after that, you get the idea. The more time you can spend here, the more – overall – successful the business can be or can grow to be.

This is really just a “getting started list.” My presentation included another bullet in this list: “about a billion other things.” As you develop your business, it can be overwhelming, complex, frustrating, and a bunch of other adjectives too. There are a lot of moving parts and it’s a stressful time. Get help from experts and remember – you get what you pay for! (beware of the free advice from cousin Earl).

And, when you forget something or make a mistake (and you WILL forget something or make a mistake), it’s OK. Small business is the backbone of the US economy. Millions of people own and run businesses everyday. You’ll get through it, there are people that can help – like lawyers. (sorry one last shameless plug)

This post is getting on the long side, I’ll expand on some of these themes in the coming days. In the meantime, let me know if you think was helpful in the comments and check out our website at www.jslawcenter.com

Next time: Business Structures in NC – what makes sense for you?

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