Friday, May 25, 2012

CROWD FUNDING; a good source of capital for my Business ?

imageThis article was written by Dennis Wright, SCORE Orange County Chairman

That was a question I couldn’t answer when recently asked.

Now I’m not known for being caught without words, but there I was, unable to give that business owner the definitive response he was looking for. Why was that, why couldn’t I answer that question… because the rules have yet to be written. And there will be RULES.

The JOBS Act was passed, certainly, and an element within it is the idea of crowd funding. But now the regulators have at least 270 days to craft language that spells out how it’ll work; from who can apply, the forms that’ll be needed, reporting requirements and procedures, establishing an SRO (Self Regulatory Organization) and intermediaries or funding portals, a source of data that will facilitate SEC (Securities & Exchange Commission) oversight and on to who can invest. Lots to be done yet!

I guess I could have simply said: “that depends”. There is enough uncertainty surrounding the matter this point. But all things considered I think a better response would have been: “we’ll have to wait and see”. Not every business is the same, not every business owner is in the same position, so in spite of the promise Crowd Funding holds it may not be the right solution for all.

So that’ll be my response next time I’m asked: “we’ll just have to wait and see”…

4 Money Trends to Watch — and 2 You Can Ignore

This article was written by Kevin Casey on May 21, 2012

Your business can’t do much without money, but your financial health hinges upon far more than just making the cash register ring. Given the abundance of advice, stats, and other data available, how do you avoid information overload and uncover what’s important to your enterprise?

The Intuit Small Business Blog asked a few financial pros which recent news headlines are most relevant to entrepreneurs like you. Here are four money trends worth watching — and two you can ignore (for now).

Trends to Watch

1. Retirement plans are changing. If you offer an employer-sponsored retirement plan, now is a good time to reassess your choices. Likewise, if you have never offered a retirement program, now may be a good time to consider doing so. One reason is the pending implementation of new government rules on how 401(k) fees are disclosed. Financial adviser Sean Dowling, president of The Dowling Group, says the change will give small businesses more investment advisers and plan administrators from which to choose. “This is a boon for business owners and plan participants, because pricing is already growing increasingly competitive,” he says. Dowling recommends that employers review their existing plans, even if they just recently set them up. “Many employers are going to be surprised by the amount of money they are paying.” Meanwhile, financial planner Adam Koos, founder and president of Libertas Wealth Management Group, notes the increasing popularity of adding a Roth 401(k) option to company-sponsored retirement benefits. These plans, once rare, enable participants to save after-tax dollars and withdraw their investment gains tax-free in retirement. And, unlike the Roth IRA, there’s no income limit for eligibility, Koos notes.

2. Cutting costs isn’t just for recessions. Brett Anderson, president of St. Croix Advisors, says financial belt-tightening is now a standard operating procedure rather than a short-term survival strategy. When it comes to reaping a profit, keeping costs in check can be just as effective as increasing revenues. “While we all saw the necessity for expense reduction and right-sizing our small businesses in 2008, even four years later this focus on expense reduction for the sake of the bottom line is no less important.”

3. Health care, health care, health care. Anderson adds another item you’ve probably heard before: health care. The pending U.S. Supreme Court case and upcoming presidential race bear watching, whether you’re just worried about your own insurance or a group policy that also covers your employees. “As health-care legislation churns, business owners need to keep their ears to the ground to make sure that they, as well as their employees, stay abreast of requirements and potential cost implications, so they aren’t sunk by unforeseen expenses,” Anderson says.

4. Interest rates will inevitably rise. An extended period of rock-bottom interest rates may have created a false expectation that they’ll stay that way forever, according to John Hauserman, president of Retirement Quest Wealth Management. He says a variety of factors, including the U.S. government bond market, could cause rapid changes in interest rates — and they don’t really have any place to go but up. “Now might be a fine time for small-business borrowers to lock in financing rates, while avoiding locking in rates for their savings.”

Trends to Ignore

1. Consumer spending is up. Economic headlines are continuing to turn a bit rosier in the wake of recessionary doom-and-gloom. Don’t let that wield too much influence in your decision-making. “While studies show that consumer spending is up, this will not necessarily impact every business,” says Patricia Stallworth, author of Squeeze the Most Out of Your Money. “It is important for owners to keep a watchful eye on their own businesses and their cash flow versus what they read in the news.”

2. Cash produces paltry returns. Another trend to tune out, Stallworth says, involves the nearly invisible returns business owners are getting on cash. In particular, short-term vehicles like savings accounts, certificates of deposit, and money-market funds haven’t been making anyone wealthy in recent years. “This may cause some owners to wonder if it is worth it to continue to invest their working capital,” Stallworth says, “but there are still options, and stopping investing is never a good idea.” Those options do require you to take on more risk and offer less liquidity, and Stallworth says that owners who can swing it could consider commercial paper, mutual funds, and ETFs as alternatives, while being mindful of related investment fees. Another option: “If businesses really find themselves with extra money, this is a great time to invest directly in the business or even purchase a piece of another company.” The bottom line: Don’t start stuffing cash under your mattress because it’s earning close to zero interest in the bank.

SCORE Mentors Business Students

The Orange County Chapter of SCORE has established a strong collaboration with the CSUF Myhalo Entrepreneurship over the past 7--10 years. During the most recent semester, 5 of our members serve as 'Student Coaches', assisting student teams both in class and directly with their respective clients. Other SCORE members have contributed offering advice in specific areas of expertise when SCORE was utilized as a potential solution for those student teams and their clients.

We are proud to build a base for future business owners and leaders by supporting the students at the Myhalo Entrepreneur Center.

Two teams from Cal State Fullerton’s Mihaylo College of Business and Economics earned first and third place honors at the Student Consulting Project of the Year Competition, a national contest sponsored by the Small Business Institute.

The competition combines student teams with companies through the student consulting program to match the companies’ needs. CSUF’s undergraduate team earned first place for their project for the Irvine staffing firm FORTIS Resource Partners.

The six business students enrolled in the “Marketing for Entrepreneurs” course taught by John Jackson, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship, worked with Fullerton alumna Kira Bruno, CEO of FORTIS, to develop a business plan.

“We met with the client as a group and listened to her story. After we identified the business challenges, the group divvied up the elements so we could each focus on specific sections,” said Crystal Gosselin, the student team leader. “Each of us then fed our respective section to make one complete, consistent consulting report.”

The graduate student team earned third place in their division.

The group of graduates enrolled in “Business Strategy Capstone” course taught by Dmitry Khanin, assistant professor of management, worked with Connection III Entertainment Corp. to create a 24-hour TV network.

“Their work was very professional and I appreciated the effort that the students put into the study, the amount of detail, and extensive resources, research and concepts they brought together,” said Cleveland O’Neal III, with Connection III Entertainment’s CEO.

Powerful Real Time Live Chat on SCORE OC Facebook

imageThis article was written by Michelle Russillo, SCORE Orange County Management Counselor

Social Media combines various activities of social engaging to help companies increase marketing opportunities to build customer relationships and increase sales. Being in the social networking marketplace is critical for business; Rieva Lesonsky is one of the leading people to teach SCORE clients how to increase their understanding of the critical marketing tools for Social Networking.

The live chat is free, convenient – just sign into Facebook, go like SCOREOC and then join the live chat. Get more information at You can use your mobile device.

Rieva Lesonsky, founder and CEO of GrowBiz Media, is a recognized small-business consultant and author of the book Start Your Own Business. Former Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine, Rieva has been meeting with, consulting to and speaking to America’s SMBs—and the big corporations that want to reach them—for over 25 years. This experience has given her an inside perspective on what entrepreneurs want, how to connect with them, and how to help them grow successful businesses. Rieva has worked with B-to-B marketers including American Express, Dell, State Farm and many others, and with organizations including ASBDC, SCORE and the SBA, to market to and educate entrepreneurs. Rieva is a featured blogger on the SCORE Success blog.

Join Rieva live May 31, 2012 at 9:30 on SCOREOC – Facebook

The chat will last half-hour.

To join the chat click to like and then join the SCORE OC Chat Group at

Rieva will be answering your questions, giving information and helping you grow your business while increasing your understanding of how to use Social Media to find new customers, promote your products, and most importantly increase sales. In addition , there will be SCORE OC members on-line to assist you with making an appointment with counselors for no-charge consulting, attend a workshop or learn more about SCORE OC services.

Mentors are great, but an increasing number of executives are finding that sponsors are the ones who really send you to the top.

This article was written by Jennifer Alsever, in FORTUNE Magazine, May 2012 edition. Reprinted by permission

Barbara Adachi was always a hard worker. But even after 11 years running the San Francisco human capital division for Deloitte Consulting, when it came to a key promotion she had something many senior executives lacked: an influential backer who believed in her.

Mike Fucci, a partner running the company's Eastern practice, had reviewed her candidacy for partner six years earlier. When he lobbied for her promotion into a new major role, she didn't feel ready, but Fucci convinced Adachi that he would teach her what she needed to know to be successful. Ten years later she now runs Deloitte's national human capital practice and has a coveted seat on the company's senior leadership team. "By giving me that chance and recommending me for that role, he put his reputation on the line," Adachi says. "We still are hand in glove, and I know he's got my back. He knows I'm 100% loyal to him."

In today's career maneuvering, having a mentor is nice. But having a sponsor is what will get you to the top. What's the difference? A mentor can coach you, give advice, and help prepare you for your next position. A sponsor will go out on a limb for you, open the door to your next job, introduce you to the right people, and make the case for you in those top-level conversations that could make or break your career. "A mentor will talk with you, but a sponsor will talk about you," says Heather Foust-Cummings, senior director of research at Catalyst, which has conducted research on sponsorships.

More: 5 ways to escape middle-management hell

The idea of sponsorship has gained momentum lately as companies aim to move more women into corporate leadership. A 2010 Harvard Business Review study of 4,000 high-level employees reported that 19% of men say they have a sponsor, compared with 13% of women. Yet women who have a sponsor in their corner are far more willing to negotiate raises and more likely to see more promotions, higher salaries, and more career satisfaction -- and get to the top. "Sponsorship is the only way to get those top appointments," says Sylvia Ann Hewlett, president of the Center for Talent Innovation and co-author of the Harvard Business Review study.

Sponsorship is gaining ground across the board. Research shows that the vast majority of both men and women feel more satisfied with their rate of advancement when they have sponsors.


The latest research has prompted several companies to launch new sponsorship programs. Unilever recently began hosting extended networking sessions to develop sponsorship opportunities, while Deloitte, PepsiCo (PEP), Intel (INTC), and American Express (AXP) have started programs aimed at helping their women executives find sponsors.

These relationships often can't be scripted. And protégés do not usually do the picking. Ramona Cappello, CEO of Corazonas Foods in Los Angeles, says her early career was shepherded by a well-placed executive at Nestlé. When he learned she'd been accepted to Harvard Business School, he told her to delay it for a year and promised that she would get a great education by staying with the company. She did so and rose to become assistant general manager at Nestlé in the mid-1990s, then VP at Celestial Seasonings, and an executive vice president at Kendall-Jackson. Her sponsor, Timm Crull, became CEO of Nestlé USA. "I was found," she says, "and he made sure I had all the right roles."

Are you a potential protégé?

Performance counts. Great work is a must, and before anyone can take a chance on you, they must see that you're loyal, trustworthy, and dependable. These executives are betting their own reputations on your career, says Heather Foust-Cummings, a senior director of research at Catalyst, a nonprofit dedicated to expanding women's career opportunities. "You don't take a donkey to the Kentucky Derby," she says. "No one will take the risk on you."

Find your star power. Don't assume that putting your head down and doing your work will get you noticed. You need to become a known entity, says Foust-Cummings. Volunteer for bigger assignments, attend conferences, and become active in your industry.

Don't force it. Most relationships evolve naturally and won't happen if you flat out ask someone to be your sponsor. Hedge your bets against your sponsor leaving the company by nurturing relationships with multiple people, says Sylvia Ann Hewlett, president of the Center for Talent Innovation.

Be confident. If you're worried you're not qualified for that major assignment or concerned about your 2-year-old at home, do not share your honest ambivalence with a sponsor. "Show you're hungry for an opportunity," says Hewlett. When you get feedback, handle it with a thick skin and be prepared to act on advice given.

Return the favor. Unlike a mentor, a sponsor will expect your loyal support in return. A sponsor benefits, too, from the "power of the posse" to build his or her own career. After all, no one gets to the top alone.