Posts Tagged ‘cost’

What’s In The Name

by Robert Driscoll on August 20, 2009

2008-01-28-domain-real-estate-istockphoto572188-400x300Many different areas of business have been covered in the past several weeks on Activegarage.com from the dance of entrepreneurship , creating and protecting your intellectual property, to protecting your company’s data .  Our goal is to help people transform their world by coming up with uncommon offers in the marketplace. 

So, now you’ve come up with the next breakthrough and are ready to take your first step as an entrepreneur.  You’ve come up with a name for your company and have set up a corporation.  You’re excited.  Financial freedom is just around the corner.  You go to register your company’s domain name and you come to find out…someone already owns it.  Don’t give up. 

Here are some simple steps to help you to continue moving forward.

1.     Change Your Domain Suffix

If .com is not available, look to see if any of the other domains are available (.net, .biz, etc…).  Be careful though as you might be in violation of a possible trademark infringement if the other domain in use is a legitimate business.

2.     Change The Name Slightly

Work on finding variations of the name you want until you find one that is available.  Again, be careful with this option as well as you could also be in violation of a possible trademark infringement. 

3.     Buy The Domain Name

Domain names are bought and sold all the time at sites like GoDaddy.com or BuyDomains.com.  Having the right domain name online can help establish your company’s identity.  Determine what the value of building your brand without being able to use the company name and domain you desire and compare that to what it would cost to buy the domain you want.  If the latter is less, simply buy the domain and continue moving forward. 

4.     If You Already Own The Trademark

If you already own the trademark to your company’s name, you have some options.  If you are dealing with a cybersquatter, the first, and less expensive, option is to contact ICANN and file a dispute under the Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy.  The cost to go this route varies as it depends on the number of domains filed in the dispute and the number of panelist required.  You can also send a cease and desist letter to the party that is “squatting” on your desired domain.  A sample letter can be found here .  While this process might be time consuming and cumbersome, it is considerably less expensive than the final option. 

5.     Seek Legal Advice

When you’ve exhausted all of your options, this might be the only one remaining.  Before going down this path, consider the time and money it might take if you try to resolve this matter with the “help” of an attorney.  If this goes to court and you win, you could have all or part of your legal expenses paid for by the other party, but be careful as you could very easily lose and incur legal expenses and still not have the name you wanted for your business. 

Unfortunately there is no one way to resolve this issue, but it is important to understand that you do have options should you encounter this problem.  It is just as important to determine how much time and money you are willing to invest before you go after the name you want.  Sometimes it’s just easier to come up with a new name.

Help – it’s just more ROI!

by Guy Ralfe on July 29, 2009

Help maximize the return on investment

Description of Help (v):  to give or provide what is necessary to accomplish a task or satisfy a need; contribute strength or means to; render assistance to; cooperate effectively with; aid; assist:

Help is surely something that you would like to have in abundance in your personal and your business endeavors. Have you reflected on how much help is around us, and what it is to us?

Last week I led a value workshop for, hopefully, a future client. Our sales lady has been in communication with this organization for over a year now and in an effort to offer them help to facilitate moving forward with a deal a one day Value Workshop was suggested to help them identify their solution needs. We used a method called Pain ChainsTM developed by Keith M. Eades. This organizational assessment method enables you to evaluate the impact and value of an organizations pains. The concept is that pains in an organization are felt by individuals within the organization. These pains are often as a consequence of some other interdependent individual’s pain within the organizational process chain.

As an outcome of the value assessment, one of the pain chains the participants estimated, increased the costs at around 7% of payroll and another contributed to the loss of revenue in the order of 8-10% of revenue in a primary division. This accumulated cost, in a single year, far outweighs the solution costs and to think that they have lost a year already in indecision and likely another year between making a decision and realizing the benefits of which ever solution they choose. Ironically this organization helps their clients through their product and services offering in a very similar way.

At the end of the value workshop we asked for feedback and all responded very favorably to the exercise and how it had opened their mind to the impact of their problems and the urgency with which they needed to address the situation. However one particular individual’s feedback really stood out – while very enthusiastic about the outcome of the workshop and what had been revealed to him he concluded that “ …there was nothing in the session that we couldn’t have done ourselves!

That assessment is 100% correct, but what it doesn’t take into consideration is at what cost to you and your organization. Yes anyone can do just about anything given enough time, but time is the one thing we have no control over which makes it scarce and expensive. That is why we need help and that is why when we get help acknowledge it and realize how much it is contributing to your Return On Investment (ROI)!

Collaborative-PracticeThe frequently destructive effects of litigated divorce, especially on minor children, are well known. While the lawyers get much of the blame, the fault really lies with a legal system that, all too often, turns adversaries into enemies and spouses with common interests into winners and losers.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

There is an alternative that can provide all the legal protections of a court process, minus most of the downside. It is called Collaborative Practice (CP), and it deserves your close scrutiny. CP is different from litigation in three important ways.

1. The spouses agree in writing not to go to court. If either party abrogates this agreement, all professionals must withdraw.

2. The spouses agree in writing to provide all relevant information, whether requested or not.

3. While the final settlement must be filed with the court, the couple, not a judge, makes all decisions.

There is a core team of professionals, including an attorney for each spouse, a coach for each spouse, a neutral financial professional and, if there are minor children, a child specialist. When there is a family business, the couple retains a neutral business valuation specialist.

With a neutral, two draining elements are greatly reduced – cost and stress.

The Cost is cut down as the hourly rates for financial and mental health professionals are typically much lower than those of family lawyers, the cost for CP is often less than with litigation. In addition to that, neutral business valuation is much less expensive, because there is only one expert, rather than two; and finally, there is no need for depositions and court appearances and, therefore, legal fees are also cut substantially.

The Stress from a protracted battle over the value of the business can take a heavy emotional toll. The non-manager spouse can feel over matched and at sea in a situation so laden with numbers and financial concepts. The manager spouse is often genuinely afraid that buying his or her spouse’s community property interest in the business will kill the goose that is supposed to be laying the golden eggs. Rival experts can exacerbate these fears and misgivings.

Not surprisingly, the business valuation professional in the Collaborative environment is quite different from the one that delivers an opinion in court. Here are a few of the key differences.

1. The function of this professional is to help the divorcing couple to agree on a value for the business that they understand and believe is fair.

2. The professional is free to deliver a preliminary report, which is open to criticism. If either spouse can make a persuasive case that revisiting an issue, reviewing a document or interviewing a person may have a material impact on the opinion, the expert should be happy to do so. This can never happen in court, where defending one’s opinion is the order of the day.

3. The expert is also able provide a range of value, rather than a specific dollar amount. This option is advantageous for two reasons.

• It is easier for the couple to agree on a range than on a number. Once this threshold is crossed, agreeing on a point within the range should be well within their grasp.

• A range of value allows the spouses to juxtapose business value and spousal support in ways that are beneficial to both parties. For example, a young spouse with a high paying job will often want to maximize the value of the business for use in an investment or retirement vehicle. S/he would probably be willing to sacrifice something in spousal support to achieve this goal. An older spouse with limited income prospects may be primarily interested in maintaining the lifestyle that the business has supported. This individual can afford to give a little in the value of the business in order to maximize spousal support.

When retaining a neutral business valuation specialist, the couple must make two key decisions: the valuation date, and the level of service. In court, the valuation date is typically selected because it is close to the date of separation (business highly dependent on the efforts of the spouse) or to the date of trial (many others, besides the spouse, contribute to the financial performance of the company.) In Collaborative Practice, neither of these markers need be dispositive. Rather, the decision revolves around practical issues, such as proximity to the end of the calendar or fiscal year, at which time the quality of financial information is usually much better than at other times during the accounting year.

In Collaborative Practice, the expert can offer a number of choices in service that accomplish different objectives and cover a wide range of cost. For example, if a valuation opinion were for court, the IRS or some other official body, an official opinion may be required. That is almost never the case in Collaborative Practice, and an unofficial report is much less expensive. In some instances, it is necessary only to review financial documents, rather than cover the entire business landscape – another way to save money. It is not necessary to satisfy a judge in this matter. Rather, the question is: What makes sense for the couple and their available resources?

My future posts will add detail regarding business valuation in the context of Collaborative Practice. In the meantime, if you or someone you care about is entering a divorce process, Collaborative Practice should be front of mind. You can learn more about this important option by visiting the Collaborative Practice website. The site will also help you to find Collaborative professionals all over the U.S. and around the globe


PhotoPopellThis article has been contributed by Steven D. Popell CMC (Certified Management Consultant.) Steve has been qualified as a business valuation expert since 1974, and has published extensively on this topic. CMC, a certification mark awarded by the Institute of Management Consultants USA, represents evidence of the highest standards of consulting and adherence to the ethical canons of the profession. Steve was a 2007 winner Collaborative Practice California Eureka Award for contributions to Collaborative Practice in this state.

Manage your costs, not just your $$$

by Guy Ralfe on June 17, 2009

A fundamental part of keeping the business going for an entrepreneur or a small business is maintaining the cash flow and profitability. You have to have enough resources to keep the business operational while you wait to receive the income from your products or services already delivered. I like to think of it in a bit of an agricultural way: You have to have keep buying feed and feeding the chicken to get it to lay the egg that you are going to sell.

In this economic downturn the common practice is immediately to start cutting costs. There is nothing wrong with that and it is actually the obvious thing to do since most businesses become complacent about managing operational cost during a growth economy. The trick is in knowing what costs you watch and cut. Going back to my chicken, if we start to compromise on how we feed the chicken, that is going to have an effect on what we have available to sell – if we drop the quality of the feed our egg will likely be smaller thus less valuable. If we reduce the amount of feed we give the chicken, then the rate of product available (eggs) will decline accordingly – ultimately declining until the chicken is dead and we are out of business! This is pure management of operational costs. If I then decided as the chicken farmer to spend two days a week mixing the feed for the chickens to save costs rather than going to the market and selling the fresh eggs this will also have a cost on my operation – lost opportunity!

What I see in reality is that we need to look at more than just the pure Dollar value of an organization’s operations and be more conscious of the other natural constraint that we have – Time. When a resource (man or machine) does one task or action, it not only performs that task but it also closes down all other opportunities at the same time – and this is a cost often overlooked!

We all have choices in what we do every day, and just like capital, we need to maximize the output from our Time.

…so as you go about your day, assess your contribution by what you are not doing and the cost of “Not doing” to your business?