Small Business Questions & Answers

 

  • Ask About Recruiting

    Posted by Looking for Help in Office & HR | Saturday, May 26, 2012

    Dear Toolkit,

    What has your small business career taught you about recruiting (and also retaining) good employees? Is there a secret formula somewhere?

    Looking for Help

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  • Ask About Health Savings Accounts

    Posted by Feeling Poor(ly) in Office & HR | Saturday, May 26, 2012

    Dear Toolkit,

    Can you give us the inside skinny on the Health Savings Accounts we're starting to hear so much about these days? Will these save us from escalating insurance costs?

    Feeling Poor(ly)

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  • Ask About Competition

    Posted by Snack Attack Jack in Marketing | Saturday, May 26, 2012

    Dear Toolkit,

    I applied for a small loan to do marketing for my business. My banker wants a report from me showing how I evaluate my competition. I need to do this before he'll consider my loan request, but I'm not quite sure how to go about it. Can you help?

    Snack Attack Jack

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  • Ask About RFIDs

    Posted by O.T. Lunch in Marketing | Saturday, May 26, 2012

    Dear Toolkit,

    A potentially large customer has told me that I need to "get with RFIDs and away from bar codes" if I want to do business with his firm. Not wanting to seem completely out-to-lunch, I responded that we were developing our plan to do just that. Help! I haven't a clue what he's talking about.

    O.T. Lunch

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  • Ask About Salesmanship

    Posted by Sold on Retail in Marketing | Saturday, May 26, 2012

    Dear Toolkit,

    I've just taken my first job as a part-time sales person in a local store. I want to succeed at this job as I work my way through school. I hope the practical experience will help me have a career in retailing management after college. Can you tell me something about good salesmanship so I'll know what to strive for?

    Sold on Retail

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  • Ask About Debt vs. Equity

    Posted by Working Mother in Finance | Saturday, May 26, 2012

    Dear Toolkit,

    My little business is growing, just like my teenager and,  just like my teenager, it's eating me out of house and home. It looks like I'm going to need some financial support to get through this growth spurt. Can you educate me about my financing options so I can decide how to proceed?

    Thanks,

    Working Mother

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  • Ask About Collateral

    Posted by Insecure Loanseeker in Finance | Saturday, May 26, 2012

    Dear Toolkit,

    You seem to be tolerant of dumb questions so here's a doozie. What's the difference between secured and unsecured debt? And how do you view personal guarantees for business debt?

    Thanks,

    Insecure Loanseeker

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  • Ask About Auto Rebates vs. Low Interest Loans

    Posted by Remorseful Motorist in Finance | Saturday, May 26, 2012

    Dear Toolkit,

    I knew I should have paid more attention in my high school math classes. For the first time in 40 years I've found a practical application for those dreaded story-problem solutions. How am I ever going to figure our whether to take the manufacturer's rebate on a new car and run. . .or. . .to choose the tantalizingly low interest rate they're offering as an alternative?

    Thanks,

    Remorseful Motorist

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  • Ask About the Rule of 72

    Posted by Interest Ed in Finance | Saturday, May 26, 2012

    Dear Toolkit,

    Can you give me a clue about "The Rule of 72?"

    Thanks,

    Interest Ed

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  • Ask About Employee References -- Part 2

    Posted by Tentative in Tennessee in Office & HR | Saturday, May 26, 2012

    Dear Toolkit,

    A local businessman called me this morning to check references on one of my former employees. I am at a loss to respond to his perfectly reasonable and sensible request. If I tell him why the individual is no longer in my employ, I could probably be sued by the former employee alleging defamation of character or whatever. If I don't disclose the reason, I could probably also be sued, in this case by the new employer who might suffer severe consequences if the person, for example, runs over hapless pedestrians while driving the company delivery truck--just as he came close to doing on several occasions with our van.

    What do I do about giving out references on former employees? Looks like I can't win either way.

    Tentative in Tennessee

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  • Ask About Employee References -- Part 1

    Posted by Tentative in Tennessee in Office & HR | Saturday, May 26, 2012

    Dear Toolkit,

    A local businessman called me this morning to check references on one of my former employees. I am at a loss to respond to his perfectly reasonable and sensible request. If I tell him why the individual is no longer in my employ, I could probably be sued by the former employee alleging defamation of character or whatever. If I don't disclose the reason, I could probably also be sued, in this case by the new employer who might suffer severe consequences if the person, for example, runs over hapless pedestrians while driving the company delivery truck--just as he came close to doing on several occasions with our van.

    What do I do about giving out references on former employees? Looks like I can't win either way.

    Tentative in Tennessee

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  • Ask About Manufacturer Reps

    Posted by Branching Out in Marketing | Saturday, May 26, 2012

    Dear Toolkit,

    We're beginning to look at different forms of product distribution for our growing firm. What can you tell us about manufacturers' reps? Would this be a good way to go? And if so, how do we find one?

    Branching Out

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  • Ask About Workers' Comp Insurance

    Posted by Hiring in Hartford in Office & HR | Saturday, May 26, 2012

    Dear Toolkit,

    I'm about to hire some employees for my new business. Can you give me some basic info about Workers' Compensation Insurance? Do I really have to get this kind of coverage and, if so, how much will it cost me and where do I go to get it? And by the way, who dreamed up this whole idea anyway?

    Hiring in Hartford

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  • Ask About Wages and Benefits

    Posted by Expanding Entrepreneur in Office & HR | Saturday, May 26, 2012

    Dear Toolkit,

    Very soon I'll need to hire a few part- and full-time employees. How should I go about deciding what to offer these people in the way of wages and basic benefits?

    Expanding Entrepreneur

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  • Ask About the New Phishing Scams

    Posted by Confused in Chula Vista in Marketing | Saturday, May 26, 2012

    Dear Toolkit,

    I've received two emails from the IRS this week, each asking me in a slightly different manner to fill out some attached W-4 forms and fax them to a given number. I'm afraid to answer these and I'm also afraid not to answer them. Do you have any advice for me?

    Concerned in Chula Vista

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  • Ask About Product Pricing

    Posted by Grateful in Galveston in Marketing | Saturday, May 26, 2012

    Dear Toolkit,

    Please, please, please give me some direction on how to go about pricing my product.

    Grateful in Galveston

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  • Ask How To Segment Your Market

    Posted by Semantically Challenged in Marketing | Saturday, May 26, 2012

    Dear Toolkit,

    How do I figure out who or what "my market" really is?

    Semantically Challenged

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  • Ask About Irate Customers

    Posted by Trying Harder in Marketing | Saturday, May 26, 2012

    Dear Toolkit,

    I'm trying to work up a little training talk to help my employees better deal with the occasional irate customer. Any suggestions about what to emphasize will be appreciated.

    Trying Harder

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  • Ask About Boosting Business

    Posted by Lethargic in Louisville in Marketing | Saturday, May 26, 2012

    Dear Toolkit,

    My business needs a boost. Can you suggest a half-dozen things I might do to get back on the cutting edge?

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  • Ask About Trade Credit

    Posted by Rookie in Roanoke in Finance | Saturday, May 26, 2012

    Dear Toolkit,

    I'm a soon-to-be entrepreneur with more enthusiasm than business knowledge. Can you explain what "trade credit" is and how I might be able to use it as I begin my new business?

    Thanks,

    Rookie in Roanoke

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