How can I increase my client base? That was one reader's problem in November's Network; another wanted to help her husband make the switch from large company to small, while a third needed guidance in redesigning his store. As you'll see above, Inc . readers had some useful advice for all three. Meanwhile, this month's questions focus on management, capital, business incubators, and software. Can you help?
In the past few years I've read a number of articles about smaller companies using part-time executives to round out their management teams. This sounds like a great idea, but I can't find a company that has actually done it. I'd like to hear from someone who has gone this route. Does it work in practice or just make good copy? I'd also like to hear from people who have successfully marketed this service.
Lawrence E. Nelson
Plan Ahead Inc.
Palos Park, Ill.
I own a part-time home-repair business, and I've found the demand for handymen is tremendous. Within three years, I hope to make it my full-time occupation. This could be quite a business as soon as I get it organized, but the key to that will be personal computers. My problem: I can't find software to perform all the functions I require without a lot of programming. I've started writing programs with the help of a database, but my time is limited. I can't afford a professional programmer, and college students, while cheap, aren't always dependable. Any ideas?
Edward Ray Hetrick
Hetrick Repair Service
North Ridgeville, Ohio
Capital from Canada
My firm handles investor relations for companies trading on the Vancouver Stock Exchange (VSE). Despite its reputation in the United States, the VSE has proved an excellent source of venture capital for our clients, enabling them to become viable companies. Now, one of them, the manufacturer of a single-engine flying boat, has decided that its future lies with U.S. investors. But we have had difficulty generating any interest, despite a great deal of positive trade press and overwhelming demand for the product.
Is a listing on the VSE a de facto liability in the United States? Or is my client's predicament no different from that of any small company with a unique, specialty product in a complex industry? I'd particularly like to hear from similar small manufacturers.
Vancouver, B.C. Canada
Starting an Incubator
I thought I had an original idea: transforming an idle distillery and bottling plant into a home for small-business start-ups. But I subscribed to Inc. in August and soon learned that the business incubator concept has been around awhile. I'm glad to see it works, because it's what our community needs to replace a dying industrial base.
I still want to put together a business plan and see if an incubator can work in our town. Where can I get additional information on existing facilities? Have federal or state governments set up funding programs? I'd appreciate any good advice.
Perfect North Slopes