The Lauren Conrad Complete Business Plan

Lauren Conrad hopes that her new upcoming reality show will feed off her new businesses as well as feed off the show, a very crucial step for Lauren to take. Lauren’s ultimate goal is that her new ventures become a big, natural brand where Lauren won’t need to have cameras in front of her constantly, or cancel her show in other words.

Lauren’s fame started way back on Laguna Beach followed by The Hills where it’s made her a well-known brand to the millennial generation, with top-selling books and top sales at Kohl’s.

Being a good girl with relationship saga is what made Lauren Conrad a success on MTV without relying on sex-tapes and being friends with someone famous.

The Hills success had its’ drawbacks according to Lauren where she wasn’t seeing ancillary revenue from the show, or getting proper promotion of her original Lauren Conrad Collection, or Adam DiVello’s decision to edit out how The Hills success affected her life ultimately leading her to leave the show in 2009. Read more on The Lauren Conrad Business Plan. You can see another top news such as Paramore Start Work On New Album and Vanessa Hudgens is a Skin Care Sweetie.

The Complaints About Auto Defects Increased Sharply

Driver complaints to federal highway safety regulators soared this year, spurred by a slew of Toyota Motor Corp. recalls and a rush by other automakers to announce fix-it campaigns that focused the public's attention on auto defects. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration received more than 40,000 complaints through Dec. 14, according to an analysis by automotive research firm That's four times the volume of recent years.

"People are now more aware that there is an agency called NHTSA and that you can complain to it. Complaints are a good thing," said Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety. Toyota, long considered one of the most reliable brands, was the subject of more than a quarter of the complaints. Its ratio of complaints to 100,000 vehicles sold jumped to nearly 87 so far in 2010 from 37 a year earlier. This month Toyota agreed to pay $32.4 million in fines for failing to promptly inform regulators of defects in its vehicles, instead allowing millions of potentially dangerous vehicles to remain on the nation's roads.

Nissan Motor Co. had the second-worst ratio, at nearly 62 complaints per 100,000 vehicles sold; Volkswagen was third at nearly 58. The industry average was 47 complaints per 100,000 vehicles sold, up from fewer than 30 in 2009.

NHTSA is hearing from people such as Mark Cox of Leesburg, Va. He filed a complaint after his 2003 Subaru Legacy sedan and his 2004 Nissan Quest minivan failed routine state safety inspections because of clouded headlight lenses.

"They start to oxidize, and that reduces the amount of light that is transmitted out of your headlights. That is a safety and durability issue," Cox said, adding that he learned to file the complaints while reading about the Toyota auto defects issues.

"Maybe as more people bring these issues to light, and NHTSA looks at them, some of these problems will get fixed," Cox said. He still hasn't heard back from the agency, though. Nor has Hisham Alam of Huntington Beach, Calif., who filed a complaint with NHTSA this year after the engine in his 2002 Toyota Highlander froze. "The engine loosened from its bolts, breaking the head gasket and causing the oil and coolant to spill out," Alam said. "The dealer said it would cost $7,500 to fix." He found similar Toyota complaints on the NHTSA site and decided to file his own in October. He wound up paying $2,500 to an independent mechanic to rebuild the engine. Source:

The Importance of a Credit Card

John Clarke, of Arroyo Grande, California, is a credit card cowboy. He and his wife Karan have three different rewards cards, with each one pegged to a different closing date, 10 days apart. He uses each card for 10 days, beginning on the day after its billing period closes. That means that he gets roughly 50 days of free float before he has to pay any bill, and he gets at least $1 of cash (and often more) thrown back at him in rewards for each $100 he spends. "It's like a business," he says. "Why in the hell would I want to pay cash for anything?" Clarke is one of the few who make the credit card game pay off for them. They never pay interest. They rarely pay annual fees, and then, only small ones. They collect hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars of rewards every year. And they spend most of every month living off of OPM: other people's money.

That's getting easier to do again, as credit card issuers have returned to aggressive marketing and focused more than ever before on the good credit score toting top of the market.

US consumers received approximately 1.2 billion direct mail offers for new credit cards in the third quarter of 2010, a sharp increase from the 391 million received in Q3 2009, according to data from Mintel Comperemedia. Roughly 84 percent of those offers were aimed at folks with FICO credit scores topping 700, reported research firm Synovate. And 41 percent of those rewards (as compared to 28 percent a year ago) were cash-back rewards programs.

"They aren't scaling back any more, they are getting more aggressive," observed Curtis Arnold, publisher of the card-comparison website, That provides new opportunities for the Clarkes of the credit card world. They tend to always be in the market for new card offers, and they have little loyalty to one card when another presents a better deal.

Winning card users do tend to concentrate on the same handful of cards that come up over and over again in conversations about generous rewards programs. Here's a look at some of those most popular and highly rated rewards cards and the people who are really squeezing them for all they are worth.

The Fidelity Investment Rewards American Express Co. Card
Investors like Los Angeles photographer and video artist Robert Nock are building portfolios with this card. It pays 2 percent back on all purchases, delivered directly into a Fidelity investment account. (A similar card links to Fidelity 529 plans.) There's no cap on rewards for the year and no annual fee. "A flat 2 percent back is pretty spectacular," says Curtis, who calls the card "the best of breed."

Nock, a graduate student, puts his whole tuition bill on the card, as well as his photography equipment and other everyday charges. As a result, he's charging between $25,000 and $50,000 a year, an amount approximating his annual income.

If he's charging $4,000 a month, He'll earn $960 a year in cash rewards, which he'll send to his Roth IRA and brokerage accounts. If he does that every year, and earns 7 percent annually on his invested rewards, he'll build a $13,574 balance in 10 years.

Blue Cash from American Express
Big spenders can do very well with this program, which has no annual limits. They earn 1 percent cash back on every day purchases, such as gasoline, groceries and drug store items, and 0.5 percent back on everything else, until they spend $6,500 in a year. Then their rewards get supercharged: they earn 5 percent back on everyday purchases, and 1.25 percent back on everything else.

The blue cash Amex is actually Arnold's favorite card. "With six kids plus an exchange student, we charge more than the average family," he said. "But we're getting well over $1,000 in rewards this year."

Small business plays a vital role in today’s economy. It is now easier than ever to establish a new business. According to the US Small Business Administration, small businesses pay over 45% of the US private payroll. Small businesses also employ over half of all private sector employees and provide 60-80 percent of new jobs over the past 10 years. With about 28.5 million small businesses in the US alone in 2005, virtually all financial institutions now offer small business loans to qualifiers for a percentage. So why apply for a small business credit card?

Keep Track of All Your Small Business Expenses
The first and most obvious reason for a small business credit card is to separate personal finances from business related purchases. With your small business credit card, you can make all your transactions by phone, internet or in person. Then get periodic statements detailing all of your business expenses.

Business credit cards are accepted virtually everywhere that you shop. Covering business purchases with employee’s personal money can get very messy. So instead of relying on cash, use a business credit card. Most credit card issuers offer a credit limit for employee cards as well as different methods to monitor how the card is used.

You no longer have to dread the year-end nightmare of trying to track where and when you spent your money. It’s like having all your book-keeping done automatically for you! In a digital world, why should your business have to collect every last printed receipt?

Establish Your Small Business
A credit card with your business name on it gives your business credibility. A business credit card looks a lot more professional than paying from your own wallet. It also gains the respect of financial institutions. Just by owning a business credit card, your business can build credit. So when you need that business loan, you will get the best interest rate and qualify for higher amounts. As your credit builds you might also qualify for a lower interest business credit card.

So even if your business doesn’t have a 6 figure budget, a business credit card could help your business grow. You never know when your business might suddenly need extra money. Office equipment might need immediate replacement. Without a business credit card, financing could drastically interfere with your daily routine.

Earn Rewards with a Business Credit Card
You can also save money and earn rewards. Certain business credit cards give you cash back on all your purchases. Other cards give you varying cash back percentages depending on where you shop…gas stations, grocery stores, office supply stores, etc. A cash back business credit card is a great way to increase your profit margin.

Other cards give you airline travel rewards just for using your credit card. For instance, if your company has frequent business plane trips, then small business credit cards that offer travel miles, hotel accommodations or travel insurance are most suitable. This type of credit card could give you travel discounts, free flights, free companion travel or upgraded flight seating. Not only does a small business credit card provide convenience and rewards, it also helps to build business credit for the future of your company as you watch it grow! Research the business credit cards available and find the card that best suits your business needs. Finance your business for today and tomorrow.

Brooklyn Decker - Just Go With It

Brooklyn Decker - Just Go With It. Yep, now it's time to relax. Brooklyn Decker was born on April 12, 1987. She is an American fashion model best known for her appearances in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, including the cover of the 2010 issue. In addition to working for Victoria's Secret for the 2010 "Swim" collection, she has ventured into television with guest appearances on Chuck, Ugly Betty and Royal Pains.

Brooklyn Decker, world class WAG and one of the hottest women of the world, recently did a hot photo shoot for the Felina lingerie, showing off all of her good sides and triggering a frantic search on the internet for her lingerie pictures. The 23-year-old wife of the tennis star Andy Roddick, looks exceptionally sexy in plenty of panty and bra sets in the steamy photo shoot, meant to promote Felina Lingerie.

In addition to be a successful model, Brooklyn Decker’s career outside modeling is also taking off, as she has landed a number of roles in movies also. Brooklyn Decker's movie career includes the blockbuster with Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston under the title of “Just Go With It” whereas her upcoming projects have a movie with Rihanna and Alexander Skarsgard called “Battleship”. Not only movies, but Brooklyn Decker has also made appearance in Television shows.

the 66 safest vehicles for 2011

The number of cars and trucks awarded top safety honors by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety more than doubled for 2011, with 66 vehicles cited as best for protecting occupants in front, side, rollover and rear crashes.

The Virginia-based industry-supported group, which prods automakers to improve the safety of vehicles, announced its Top Safety Picks for 2011 late Tuesday, honoring 40 cars, 25 SUVs and one minivan. Among automakers, Volkswagen AG and Hyundai Motor Corp. and its Kia unit had the most vehicles honored — nine. Only 27 vehicles qualified for last year's award, after the group toughened its standards in 2009, requiring automakers to do more to strengthen vehicle roofs and protect occupants during rollover crashes. Read more on Insurance Institute.

The Reason For Small Business Failure

Nearly half of all small businesses fail within the first two years of operation. The number one reason for business failure is inadequate planning. The second reason is under-capitalization.

So before you mortgage your house, or go into debt financing your business, you need to know if your business is going to do more than survive -- you want to know if it's good enough to thrive! Here are three things successful businesses that have stayed in business for five years or longer have in common:

1. The idea. A successful business start-up always starts with an idea. Something that makes your business stand out from all the rest. So how do you know if you've got a good idea?

You've probably got a good idea if you can answer yes to any of the following questions: Does your idea provide the solution to a significant problem for your target market? Does it satisfy a need or want? Does it create an opportunity?

The most successful businesses either fix problems (either real or perceived), or they increase your customer's pleasure. They create a repeat need for a product or service among the target market.

2. The market. Your chances of survival are better if you can answer the following questions with a yes: Is there already a market for your product or service? (It's much easier to fill a need than trying to create an entirely new market.) Can your target market afford to buy your products or services? (If they can't afford it, it doesn't matter how great it is, you won't sell any!) Will your target market perceive your product or service as valuable? (If they want it, but don't think it's worth what you're selling it for, you won't make any sales.)

3. Your ability. Do you have the people, the resources and the knowledge to be able to consistently provide your products or services to your target market? Can you maintain a competitive advantage? Do you have enough manpower? Can you purchase the supplies and materials you need over the long run?

Your first step always is to create a solid business plan. Your business plan is more than an essay on "Why I deserve to get funding for my idea" however. Don't spend all the time creating a business plan and then toss it in the bottom drawer of your desk. Your business plan should be a living, breathing roadmap that helps you make sure you're on course and reaching the goals that you set for your business.

The second step to business survival is getting enough financing. Although the term "bootstrap entrepreneur" describes most small business owners, having enough capital to be able to keep your business afloat is vital to your survival.

When you're creating your financial analysis of your business, make sure you're being realistic about costs and expenditures, so that you give yourself the cushion you need to succeed.

If finding financing is a problem, either because you don't have enough credit or equity, or there are other problems, take the time to look into the resources that are available in your community. There are a wide variety of grants and loans (including microloans) for entrepreneurs, if you know where to look.

Some great resources will be:
-The Small Business Administration
-Local Small Business Development Centers
-Women's Organizations
-Local University or Community College
-Chamber of Commerce
-SCORE (The Association for Retired Executives)
-Nonprofit organizations that work on economic development in your area

Use other successful business models as a guide. When you're getting started, look around. What businesses are successful? Why? What is it they're doing that is working? What attributes do you admire, and why? You stand a better chance of succeeding if you're modeling someone who is already successful.

Find a mentor. Most entrepreneurs have great skills and abilities, but no one does everything well. You probably already know what your strengths and weaknesses are. (If not, there are many resources and tools that can help you figure it out!) Rather than ignoring your weaknesses, find a mentor who can help you either build your skills in your weaker areas, or offer advice for getting what you need. If you take the time to plan to succeed, you could be creating a legacy that will be enjoyed by future generations, and that other entrepreneurs will look at as a model for building their own businesses.

Meet Puerto Rico! Puerto Rico Convention Bureau

Say hello to the Puerto Rico Convention Bureau (PRCB), somewhat similar to PR Dive In 101, the bureau's website shows the opportunities the caribbean island of Puerto Rico offers for local and international corporations interested in having and hosting their events and/or conventions on the island.

Once you enter their interactive website, you are mesmerized with the colorful pictures and all the options you can choose from. First, you have the "Planners" option, here you can start to plan, manage, or promote your event in Puerto Rico. Then you have the "Members" option, where you can grow your network or grow your business by joining the PRCB. Next, is the "Media" option, where you can informed on the latest news from the premier meetings and convention destinations in the Americas. And lastly, you have the "Puerto Rico" and "Convention Center" options. Here you can explore and learn all about the destination and acquire all the necessary information of the largest most technologically advanced convention center in the caribbean.

Joining forces with the PRCB would have a great outcome for both the bureau and PR Dive In 101. This partnership will encourage both local and international corporations to consider Puerto Rico as one of their firsts options when looking for a venue. This is a great way to increase the island's tourism numbers, in addition to helping with the economic revenue in the island.

Showcasing all the opportunities and all the options corporations have in order to create their corporate events and/or conventions, is only a small part of what the bureau really does. On their website costumers can plan and manage their events. Definitely, we want to create the same vibe and recognition as PRCB. This is why doing a partnership or membership with them will help get our brand and name out there, in our desired industry.

It is nice to know that others have the same interest in showcasing what our native land has to offer. Remember to consider Puerto Rico as a venue for your next corporate event or convention.

For more information visit their website. Puerto Rico Convention Bureau

Official PRCB website

Crazy Money Making Ideas

Sometimes new money making ideas are immediately usable. However, sometimes you just have to let your imagination run wild and be impractical. This is a way to get that creativity going, and no matter how crazy the ideas may seem at first, there is usually a way to bring them down to earth, as in this first example.

Rental Cabins In The Air

I started with a crazy thought: "What if people could rent a cabin up in the sky for the weekend?" Right away my mind tries to make sense of the idea, and because the over-all goal is to have profitable innovations, it looks for ways to make it into a money making idea. I first imagined cabins which are suspended under large hot-air or helium balloons.

As much fun as it might be, this didn't seem very practical. When I explored the idea further, though, I wondered if existing balloon-ride businesses could tap into other markets. If, for example, the gondolas were outfitted properly, and the balloons tethered, so they could be allowed to float two thousand feet overhead, would meditators then pay for a peaceful meditation retreat in the sky?

Another thought came to mind. Balloons could be high in the air, but easily cranked back in on a line. This might be simpler and cheaper than traditional rides, which involve chase vehicles and unpredictable landings. Perhaps this could be another way to make money with the balloons, charging a lower rate for simple up and down rides, and so getting new customers that couldn't afford the usual rides.

This is how a crazy idea comes back to earth. Perhaps even the "weekend cabin in the sky" idea could someday be a money making idea, but if not, that's okay. The point here is to get the creative flow going, and then find more practical ways to channel the output.

More Crazy Money Making Ideas

The following are pure imagination. I leave it to you to find a way to make these ones into potential money making ideas. Good luck and have fun!

- Put seats on the wings of an airplane and sell rides to thrill seekers.

- Sell advertising scratched out on the face of the moon.

- Rent out the animals at the zoo.

- Start an underwater school.

- Make a roller coaster course people pay to take their personal cars on.

- Sell pets genetically engineered to die young, for those who hate long-term commitments.

- Rent out children to undecided prospective parents.

- Have marriage insurance policies that cover the cost of a divorce, just in case.

- Have a swimming pool restaurant; diners sit in floating seats and eat off floating plates.

Scan the list and stop on any of the crazy ideas that catch your attention. Chances are good that you can find some way to transform it into a more practical idea, and that is the point. This exercise in imagination may be fun, but it is also a profitable technique for generating money making ideas.

Building a Financial Forecast for the Business Plan

This is not the easiest of tasks in creating a solid business plan. When creating a business plan however, it is essential to have a reasonable set of numbers. This is something often much easier done through using the latest in business plan software as much of the work and calculations are already done for you.

It is usually among the first things an investor, whether an angel investor or Venture capital firm looks at, it is where many of your initial answers to investor questions will come from, and yet it is the dependent variable or result of many critical business decisions made to get to this point.

The following is an abbreviated summary – a "walk through" the Income Statement. Some questions are used and some guidance given as to the types of considerations that should be made as you iteratively plan, forecast, edit and massage this spreadsheet hundreds of times in the coming months.
We will assume it is a product-oriented business. This drives certain items to be on the Income Statement as follows:

It all looks pretty standard. We usually only go out for three years. Who knows what it will really be like out there anyway? Hopefully you can show an operating breakeven in the third year or less. If not, then you should extend the period of time. Also depending on the business, you may want to add some unique line items to the P&L, but this should cover most of your expenses.

Revenue: This should be a list of the sources of revenue you anticipate over the plan period. Product sales, warranty and maintenance/upgrade fees, royalty income from licensing, NRE, consulting fees, and revenue-sharing income should there be any. For purposes of the basic income statement, we would probably put the detail of each of these line items in a backup spreadsheet, and only list the total revenue with subtotals for Total Product Revenue and Other revenues.

Cost of goods (COGs):
All costs on a unit basis for the products manufactured are to be included. If you are buying specific test equipment that may be going on consignment to the manufacturing subcontractor, that should probably go elsewhere. You would then include a capital equipment deprecation expense under operating expenses, or even below the operating expenses before taxes, but surely not in COGs. Sometimes, warranty support costs you may incur in the first year or two for a product are included before the Gross Margin line. This is debatable and you should probably have a good accountant look into this.
Depending on what your monthly average runrate of units to be shipped is, you may want to use a local manufacturer and then consider an offshore manufacturer for higher volumes. Even in the latter case, sometimes they have local onshore facilities and then transfer offshore when the volumes justify it. We would go with a local manufacturer until you have all the manufacturing bugs out of the product and then turn on the volume. Taking it offshore saves unit costs sometimes, but will certainly increase manufacturing management expense.

In the detail worksheet where you rollup the COGs, break them out for the number of units per product type, average selling price (ASP) per unit and so on. This is important when you have multiple product lines. You can always go back and rework one or more line items when you have more data without upsetting the whole worksheet. The result of all this then feeds into the Income Statement Summary sheet. Learning curves for price reductions for example are the highest on the semiconductor content portion. Prices may actually go up in some BOMs where the discrete component costs have reached maturation and the precious metals (tantalum capacitors) or market demand are driving prices back up. Software average selling prices (ASPs) always go down at varying rates – we've seen as much as 50-75% per year to as low as 5% per year or even flat - look at how high Microsoft Office has held prices over the last 5 years – a benefit of monopolism.

Gross Margins:
This should probably asymptote toward 20-25% in volume. Probably more like 60-70% initially but that should go down by year 2 to way under 50% unfortunately. You might want to check out some public companies that are in similar businesses already and use their P&L as an example of what is reasonable for you.

Here you list the kitchen sink as follows:

We break out R&D into the hardware and software components plus any external contracting as separates. You may even want to have separate lines for H/W and S/W contract engineering if you expect to have both. This is usually so you can track outside expenses and there may be some additional R&D tax credits so breaking them out might help later (see your accountant to see if this is still necessary).
On R&D we look to see how many person-hours are needed to complete the project, times their burdened monthly or annual rate (burdens of 50% usually will include all headcount-loaded facilities expenses less capital equipment per employee – PCs, shared printers etc.). If you just take payroll and add personnel benefits (insurances, employer's FICA, etc. it is more like 26-27%, maybe as high as 30% but no more. Travel and Entertainment (T&E) for engineering is usually fairly low – we figure about $2K/qtr. per senior engineer and zero for junior types- this covers customer visits and the one or two trade shows they attend per year.

Capital equipment per engineer is probably about $10K/engr./yr. unless you are buying specialized CAD S/W which can get way up there >$1M per department is not uncommon.
R&D as a percent of total expense will likely be 40-45% of total expenses in the early phases and settle into about 15-20% of revenues in the out years. Again look at some business models for comparison.
If you are doing NRE work, the revenues come in above the line and usually the engineering hours spent on your side are listed under "COGs" as a "manufacturing" expense. You can do this as a product company so long as it isn't a big part of your total income over the plan period. If it would be a significant percentage you would want to reorder your P&L somewhat.

Sometimes the CFO will try to lump marketing and sales together. We hate this. They are two separate functions and how you balance resources between the two demands you separate them. For purposes of this P&L we have separated them. Marketing has staffing costs - salary times burden rates (same as for engineering). You might want to consider differences if they are in different states or countries, but we found even when dealing with Swedish and German groups, the deltas were not tremendous – but 5% can be a big number later. In the early years, it is not such a big deal.
Marketing costs to launch a company and product are important. They are non-periodic expenses and need to be planned for cashflow purposes especially. We would also build in the "ongoing" part of PR/marcom, collateral, website support, yadayadayada. Collateral costs are expensive. Capital equipment for a marketing/sales person usually will run only about $2K/person/qtr. with an initial $5K load upon hire. This of course discounts any really special tools needed. Capital equipment is usually scheduled separately and not in the P&L except for the capital equipment depreciation expense. Software usually gets written off as an expense item since most of it is much less than $1000 per package. This differs sometimes, but as a general rule, this is enough for now. T&E is about one trip every six weeks for the top marketing folks, once a quarter for others – this covers customer visits, trade shows, etc.
Any outside contracting you do in marketing should be included and counted separately.

Technical support
This lost child gets put in so many different places. We like to include it under Marketing initially because they are (or should be) the closest to the product via the sales channels. Later when life gets bigger you can move this to a separate organization or under Engineering or Manufacturing. This is mostly political – the key is to cover the costs and be able to look at it separately. This is often the kernel for a later full-scale tech support/customer service operation so it is good to see how it grows initially. There is a lot of variation on how much resource you should put here. We usually start with one or two people who can double-duty for marketing to create and give presentations, train initial sales people, keep the website happy, and write tech manuals if you're really lucky. Later, all these functions get split out into more compartmentalized pieces.

Warranty support refers to the costs and resources dedicated to tracking down returns from customers, getting them turned around back into the field, doing the hot swap for failed or suspected failed units, keeping the configuration control database up to date so you know what has been shipped to whom and at what rev. level.

This can also be called Business Development – fancy name for a bag carrier, but also at some point in the company's growth an important role to separate from the marketing efforts. Business development usually takes on the role of creating strategic relationships where sales channels or customers are involved. If the relationship has to do with a technology or a new product arena then it should be handled by the marketing grunts.
Here you include their base salaries and any bonus/draw/commission plans they have based on their performance – bookings, shipments, big deals closed, etc. Overhead and capital is about the same as for marketing; T&E is usually twice that of marketing.

The executive staff salaries, benefits etc. go here, plus any manufacturing management expenses not related to the unit cost of the product being sold. Also any facilities or other corporate costs that don't make sense to allocate to departments should be captured here. Legal fees are a good example. Others are building rent, insurances, office supplies, corporate jets and villas, and other essentials.
And guess what's left!!!

Profit Before Taxes (PBT)
PBT will undoubtedly have minus signs, parentheses or red ink involved initially, but it is important to see what all your decisions have done to your improving bottom line over time. The questions and answers they will drive are: when is operating breakeven? when do you begin to achieve your "success model" i.e., your target Revenue/GM/PBT as a successful business, and when will you need more cash, if at all. Usually the fund raising should start 6-9 months before you run out. Don't wait until the last moment where you might have to take bridge loans and other ugly financing alternatives.
We can forego thinking about Net Income for a while, although when profitable your loss carryforwards may start running out and you may actually have to pay taxes. You have arrived when that occurs.
We hope this is some help. It wasn't meant to be a tutorial but to help you think through some of the considerations as you build your financial plan. The financial plan should be a good tool to help you make decisions and be able to see what the results of those decisions turn out to be.

Start the Movement!

Difficult…but Not Impossible: Start the movement!
The development of IN Entertainment Co.

To develop a brand, a company, service or product has its obstacles but certainly it’s not impossible. This is the case of IN Entertainment Co. designed to be the first specialized event/convention company in Puerto Rico.  This is an innovative idea that has a very promising outcome. Knowing the obstacles and the economic depression the world is facing, anyone would back down on following their dreams or hold back on their plans, but fortunately with a good idea, a good business plan, and a determined group of followers, maybe NOW is the moment. This is what Kimberly Fowler, CEO & founder of Yas Fitness Centers, tell us about overcoming the obstacles when it comes to opening a new business. Her most important step is the first one, taking the "Leap of Faith" in your idea and product. Now, how can you develop your idea into a success? Easy...starting a movement!

Let’s use Derek Sirves talk, How to Start a Movement presented at Here with the help of surprising footage he explains how a movement begins and all the factors that must be taken into consideration in order for it to be successful. With his unusual video presentation and comedic approach he gets his point across in a very entertaining way.

Get to know Derek!
Derek Sirves is the creator of a new project called MuckWork, where he wants “to lessen the burden (and boredom) of creative people”. A professional musician since 1987, he started CD Baby by accident in 1998 when he was selling his own CD on his website, and friends asked if he could sell theirs, too. CD Baby was the largest seller of independent music on the web, with over $100M in sales for over 150,000 musician clients. In 2008, Sivers sold CD Baby to focus on his new ventures to benefit musicians, including his new company, MuckWork, where teams of efficient assistants help musicians do their "uncreative dirty work."

Applying it to your idea:
As we learned with the Derek’s speech, a movement is easy to create. Remember that a leader takes the leap of faith, but without the followers the idea crumbles.  This is a great way to approach your idea. Take more time, explore your market and make sure you brand yourself and your product, idea or service in a way people support and follow. 

In conclusion, IN Entertainment Co. here we come! Remember every path has its obstacles, how you overcome them is the real key to success.

Video: How to start a movement by: Derek Sirves

Business Start-up Costs

If you are considering starting your own business, then you have no doubt considered the investment required for various business start-up costs. The first thing you need to do is find a market that your business can be successful in. Next you must look at approximately how much it will cost you in just basic business start-up costs; business licenses, lawyer consult fees and form preparation fees, accountant fees/accounting programs, inventory costs, business insurance, leases, and utilities are just a few of the standard traditional business start-up costs. You must also consider how you are going to support yourself and your family while you venture takes off; this could be at least two to three months, and you want to make sure you can pay your mortgage, all your bills, feed your kids, and have a little extra left over for incidentals, in addition to business start-up costs.

If you choose to not have a physical location for your business, you may want to consider offering your goods and services via a website or mail order catalog. This is a great way to reach a large audience all at once, but business start-up costs associated with this mode of doing business can be expensive as well. By the time you pay someone to create your website, host it, register your domain name, and start a merchant account, you have made quite an expenditure, unless of course you are capable of building your own website, which many people are. Yahoo! offers web hosting, domain name registration, business email, and store front options for a very reasonable price worth checking out. This is a great way to save on some of those business start-up costs that could otherwise break the bank.

The traditional way that business has been conducted in this country has changed dramatically since the advent of the World Wide Web, opening the door for a number of new ways to conduct business. You no longer have to have a physical storefront address to sell your goods or services, a rather archaic point of view. More and more people are buying goods and services on the internet, which is a great place to feature your business while keeping your business start up costs at a minimum. You don’t need to lease that 900 square foot shop for $2800 a month to sell what you can sell just as easily with a website and a little marketing campaign. Business start-up costs do not have to be astronomical, in fact, they can be quite the opposite. You can visit a number of online sources that offer an abundance of information on business start-ups costs and links to essential sites that can help you get your business up and running!

Space Heater Business.

Space heater is a one of most important tools to endure coldness in winter. A space heater is a self contained device for heating an enclosed area. Space heating is generally employed to warm a small room in the house, and is usually held in contrast with central heating, which warms many connected spaces at once. The reason people choose space heater is because the cost of space heater is lower than the central heating.  Space heater are usually portable or wall-mounted, and may use natural gas or propane as its energy source, but are most commonly powered by electric.

Space heater can be divided into two categories where one of them is that transfer their heat primarily by convection and another one is transfer the heat by radiation. The convection heaters, heating elements either warm the air directly or heat oil or another filler, which in turn transfers heat to the air. The example of convection heater is Big buddy heater. The air then warms the objects and people in the space. Convective heaters are suitable for providing constant, diffuse heat in well-insulated rooms. Oil heaters warm up slowly but do not reach dangerous surface temperatures while wire-element heaters that fan assisted can be reach desire temperature and can warm up the air more quickly. The example of radiation heater are Dimplex compact electric stove and Dimplex electric fireplace insert.

The Radiative heaters or halogen heaters usually comprise tungsten filaments in heat-resistant quartz envelopes, mounted in front of a metal reflector in a plastic case. They operate much like halogen light-bulbs, but radiate their energy primarily in the infrared spectrum. They convert up to 86% of their input power to radiant energy, losing the remainder to conductive and convective heat. The main advantage of radiative heaters is that the radiation they produce is absorbed directly by clothing and skin, without first heating the air in the space. This makes them suitable for warming people in poorly-insulated rooms, or even outdoors like a hall or garage.

The space heater that powered by electricity usually has ceramic or Nichrome heating elements, and may be fan-forced with a blower or a squirrel-cage fan to improve heat transfer. These often employ efficient heat pumps, which use reverse-cycle air conditioning to transfer heat to the inside from the outside. The other type of energy source is natural gas such as propane, butane, or liquefied petroleum gas. They may be convective or radiative, in the latter case by heating a matrix which then emits infra-red radiation. Gas heaters burn their fuel in air and produce carbon dioxide. In well-insulated rooms the oxygen concentration may drop and carbon monoxide may accumulate to toxic levels due to incomplete combustion. For this reason gas
heaters should be used only in rooms with adequate ventilation. But new technologies such as Big buddy heater and Portable Kerosene Heater have an ability to control the carbon monoxide level in the room.

As conclusion the space heater business should consider the type of space heater and its operating manual. This is important for the seller to suggest the most suitable space heater for their customer and provide the safety guide to operate the space heater. The knowledge from the seller will increase the customer trust and this will turn them into loyal customer. Beside that the basic technical skill about the space heater is really worth to help the customer if they have a problem with their

space heater.

Therefore I suggest 4 most compliance space heater:

Dimplex compact electric stove
Dimplex electric fireplace insert
Big buddy heater
Portable Kerosene Heater

Benchmarking: Avoid comparing yourself to the industry average.

Most organizations conduct employee surveys of various types either annually, every two years or sporadically. Some organizations use the data from the employee survey to affect real change that contributes to their ongoing success. There are organizations who like to focus on comparing their survey scores to the scores of other organizations and there are the organizations that do little with their survey results. The focus of this article is to discuss the middle group: those organizations that like to focus on and compare their employee survey scores against the average scores of all the organizations that are in a third party database.

Many surveying companies sell their services on the basis that they will be able to compare the scores of the one company against the average score of all of the organizations in their database. Comparing yourself to someone else is enticing. We have been exposed to comparative data from the first day we stepped inside a school. Throughout our primary and secondary education we were compared to the rest and typically this comparison was against the “class average”. We knew who the smartest and the dumbest kids were but it was the average that counted. Was I above or below the class average? That was important in terms of dealing with our own self esteem and dealing with our parents. This was not the case for all students. The parents of some students demanded top marks and that is exactly what those few students worked towards. They had to be the best. They had to have the top marks.

This was all very interesting but in the end it was irrelevant. When it came time to apply to university a new standard had to be reached. University entrance requirements varied but one thing was clear. Average marks were not good enough. In fact being above average in many instances was not good enough. University entrance requirements were demanding and one had to strive for a new and much higher standard than “average”. The profile or status of a university that you were interested in attending, determined the level of academic excellence you had to achieve.

It is puzzling to see how many organizations fall into the trap of placing a great deal of emphasis on comparing their surveys scores to a database that represents the average of a number of companies. These comparisons are sought not only for the overall scores of the employee survey, but for every question in the survey.

It would appear that a fundamental question needs to be asked by every organization-why are we conducting an employee survey in the first place and what are we going to do with the results. 

From a strategic perspective it would seem reasonable to think that an organization would wish at the very least, to demonstrate that the survey is helping the organization to achieve their strategic goals. In other words, they are conducting the employee survey as a way of obtaining employee information that can be used to improve for example, workplace practices in order to lift their employees’ working experience. In turn this will lift the customer experience and profits.

However, if this or some other strategic purpose is not being fulfilled by the employee survey than the value of conducting the survey is questionable. One could argue that comparing oneself to other organizations is in fact a legitimate strategic objective. It is worth knowing how you compare to the best. How does your stock performance compare to the best in your business sector-not the average of all the companies in your business sector but only the best? How do your employee survey scores compare to the best in your business sector-not the average of all the businesses in the database but only the best? 

Comparing oneself to the very best is legitimate especially if the best sets a benchmark that you adopt as your own. But to compare oneself to the average serves no useful purpose. If a senior management group knows that their scores are better than the average of all the companies in a database, strategically of what use is this information. Perhaps it may give them a sense of pride knowing that they are better than the average. But it may also lull them into a false sense of confidence. The question that should be top of mind is “are we really as good as we can be and are we really achieving a level of excellence that will sustain us over the long term.”

For example, employee turnover in the retail sector is fairly high. Most retailers take it for granted. Entec Corporation has been working with Gap Inc. Canada for several years. Gap offers excellent training programs especially for their associate managers and store managers. In 1999, Gap was routinely being raided by other retailers and their annual turnover rate for store managers was 39% and for associate managers it was 48%. This was costing Gap hundreds of thousands of dollars each year in recruiting and training. With over 200 stores and 10,000 employees across Canada, these costs were unacceptable. Entec Corporation was engaged by Gap to conduct an Organizational Health Survey. Gap acted upon the recommendations in the survey and was able to reduce manager turnover rates to 13% in one year.

But these lower turnover rates were accompanied by real business gains. For example, secret shopper scores increased by 5% after only eight months and sales in Canada over the last few years have improved to a level where the Canadian operation moved from being about in the middle to becoming one of the most profitable divisions in the world. The survey results were linked directly to the bottom line.

If Gap accepted “the trap of comparing themselves to the average” and accepted the conventional wisdom that “this is the average turnover rate in retail so we are OK”, they would not have saved thousands of dollars each year in training and recruiting. More importantly they would not have experienced the benefits that reduced turnover brought them; namely preserving human capital of highly trained managers that helped to grow Gap’s business. This last point is typically overlooked. The impact of a reduction in turnover of well trained employees to the bottom line of a company is considerably higher than the cost savings achieved from reducing recruiting and training.

Several points need to be considered when embarking on an employee survey: 
1.    Develop clear strategic objectives
2.    Measure towards those objectives
3.    Inform your employees of the survey scores
4.    Follow up with positive implementation
5.    If you must compare yourself to others, compare yourself only to the best

If this process is not followed the organization can expect:

1.    Employee participation rates in the survey to be low (30% or lower)
2.    Rising employee cynicism with the organization (why bother if the activity of completing an employee survey does not make a difference) 
3.    Employees become disengaged from the organization
4.    The organization loses an opportunity to make significant strides in performance  


The trap an organization falls into when they become focused on benchmarking themselves against others is that they lose sight of what is really important-what is it that we are doing well and where do we need to improve in order to create an even better organization than the one we already have. If you must compare yourself to others, compare yourself only to the best and do not get side tracked.

Why business planning should be ongoing

Most potential investors or lenders will want to see a business plan before they consider funding your business. Although many businesses are tempted to use their business plans solely for this purpose, a good plan should set the course of a business over its lifespan and with modern business plan software becoming ever more user friendly and sophisticated, the planning process is now faster and more effective than ever..

A business plan plays a key role in allocating resources throughout a business. It is a tool that can help you attract new funds or that you can use as a strategy document. A good business plan shows how you would use the bank loan or investment you are asking for. See our guide on how to use your business plan to get funding.

Ongoing business planning means that you can monitor whether you are achieving your business objectives. A business plan can be used as a tool to identify where you are now and in which direction you wish your business to grow. A business plan will also ensure that you meet certain key targets and manage business priorities.

You can maximise your chances of success by adopting a continuous and regular business planning cycle that keeps the plan up to date. This should include regular business planning meetings which involve key people from the business.

To find out more, see our guides on how to review your business performance and how to assess your options for growth.

If you regularly assess your performance against the plans and targets you have set, you are more likely to meet your objectives. Doing this can also signpost where and why you're going astray. Many businesses choose to assess progress every three or six months.

The assessment will also help you in discussions with banks, investors and even potential buyers of your business. Regular review is a good vehicle for showing direction and commitment to employees, customers and suppliers.

Defining your business' purpose in your business plan keeps you focused, inspires your employees and attracts customers.

Cash Flow Planning for Solo Professionals

You’ve heard it a million times – cash flow can make or break a business.  Lack of cash flow planning is the reason why many businesses fail.  In fact, many PROFITABLE businesses fail because of cash flow issues.  Without adequate cash flow, you can’t pay your bills and you can’t make plans for your business. 

So… what is cash flow planning?  Cash flow planning is projecting your future cash inflows from sales, services, and loans, and comparing them to your future cash flow needs (suppliers, salaries/wages, loan payments, taxes, etc.).  The difference between the two is your net cash flow.

Why is cash flow planning so important?  Cash flow planning can help you identify problems down the road, and fix them before they occur.  Cash flow planning can also help you make decisions such as should I attend that conference I’ve wanted to attend, should I buy the new computer I’ve been wanting, or do I need to work extra hard this month to avoid a cash flow deficiency next month? 

The first step in planning your cash flow is knowing where you spend your money!  Solo entrepreneurs need to have a good grip on both their personal and business spending, as most solo entrepreneurs rely on their business income to meet personal finance goals (i.e., pay the bills!).  So, you should track both your personal and your business spending, although I recommend that you keep them separate (that’s a topic all by itself).

What’s the best way to track your spending?  You can use pen & paper, spreadsheets or a software program.  The best method for you is the method that you will actually use on a regular basis.

You should project your spending for at least the next 12 months so that you include annual and other periodic expenses.  If you are experiencing a cash flow crisis, you should track & project your cash flow on a weekly basis, instead of monthly. 

If you are an existing business, you can project your cash flow for the next year by reviewing your expenses for last year.  If you are a new business, you will need to estimate your start up costs in addition to regular operating expenses. 

Start up costs include inventory, legal expenses, advertising, licenses & permits, supplies, and many more costs that you may not have thought of.  To research startup costs you should contact your local Small Business Development Center, contact a SCORE counselor, join groups of similar business owners, and read as many books or articles you can find on the subject.

To improve your cash flow, you should:

1. Complete the first 3 steps.  You have to understand cash flow planning, track your cash flow, and project your future spending needs before you can improve your cash flow.
2. Create best and worst case scenarios and create appropriate responses to both scenarios.  For example, if your best case scenario is to increase sales by 50%, how will you use the profits?  Will you put the profits back into the company by investing in new equipment, training, etc.?  If your worst case scenario is a drop in sales by 50%, how will you continue to cover your monthly expenses?  By planning for the best and worst case scenarios, you’ll be ready for any situation.

3. When estimating your future income, realize that some people will pay late, and account for that fact in your projection.

4. Charge what you’re worth.  Many businesses, especially service professionals, under-charge when they are first starting out.  This is a great way to go out of business.  Make sure you are charging what you’re worth, and remember you’re in business to make money, not to give your expertise away for free.

5. Watch your business spending.  Focus on the value the item brings to your business, and avoid lavish spending (i.e., do you really need the fastest, newest computer available?).

6. Don’t hire until necessary.  Consider using virtual assistants or temporary employees before hiring permanent employees.

7. Give incentives for early payment for products and services.  On the flip side, chase down invoices the minute they’re late.  Charge interest or late fees to encourage timely payments.

8. Update your cash flow regularly.  Your cash flow plan will change frequently as your business grows.  You may want to update your cash flow plan weekly when you first get started, then switch to monthly once you’ve got a good handle on your cash flow.

Remember - whether you are a new or growing business, your cash flow projection can make the difference between success and failure.

Q&A with the Experts

A project in business is a collaborative enterprise, frequently involving research or design, carefully planned to achieve a particular aim. Whether your business includes selling a product or providing a service projects are everyday tasks. The event/convention production industry obviously is not the exception, and PR 101 had the opportunity to discuss very important points in the development of conventions with a talented local Puerto Rican PR firm; Eferrer Public Relations & Integrated Communications.

Eferrer is a boutique firm specializing in Public Relations and Integrated Marketing Communications, established in Puerto Rico.

“We believe success strives in being strategically creative. Offering our clients the perfect marketing mix based on a continuous process of analyzing necessities, opportunities and weaknesses of our clients, keep us on the competitive edge”
                                      -Eferrer Public Relations & Integrated Communications

PR 101 had the opportunity to have a Q&A with the company’s founder & CEO, Edaliz Ferrer. Here she gave some pointers on project (in this case Convention/Event planning) development, among other things.

PR 101: What are the main starting steps to create a convention?
Ferrer: The main points taken into consideration at the starting point in the creation of a project are the objectives, and the purpose of the project. You also have to take into consideration the audience that you want to address, the date, very important the budget, and the history; has the event been done before or is it new.

PR 101:  What are the key factors to a successful event/convention?
Ferrer: Definitely, I believe there are 5 key factors to a successful event. First would be the planning, this includes the brainstorming process and the determination of the roles within the work group. Another key factor are teamwork, and your ability of budgeting. Last but certainly not least, it’s a tie tied between time and sponsors, both equally important.

PR 101: Which are some of the common objectives for a prosperous convention?
Ferer: To be able to meet every objective established for any event is the best to determine how successful or unsuccessful the event truly was. This is why at the time of choosing the most common and most important objectives of a convention production I chose the following:
·      Earn triple of the investment
·      Be able to do the event continuously, at least once a year.

PR 101: Working on a PR firm, what is the most common request from clients that are looking for new venues to do conventions or events?
Ferrer: Every client is different. They have different needs, ideas, suggestions and requests. I can say that the most important qualities they search within new venues are the venue’s capacity, its cost and its accessibility.  

PR 101: Which are some of the common mistakes event coordinators or producers make, creating events?
Ferrer: Wow, at the time of making an event you have a great responsibility of meeting every client’s demands and request but sometimes we do have mishaps. No need to say that sometimes its trial and error what helps us get better through time. Some of the main mistakes are concentrating on the assembly, equipment, sound, and lights, and not on the content of the event. 

PR 101: What tips can you suggest for creating a one of a kind event?
Ferrer: A one-of-a kind event is not very difficult; you must have a good and creative name, an innovative idea, new opportunities to expand the market within sponsors and knowing how to target your market.

PR 101: Why is Puerto Rico is a good alternative for an event/convention?
Ferrer: Puerto Rico is a great destination either to do tourism or to create an event or convention. Considering the year round nice climate, quality service, a wide range of activities for all ages and preferences.  In addition you have the option of incorporating water sports, and top class nightlife. And remember Puerto Rico is part of the USA, which means that if you are American you don’t need a visa or passport to come and visit.  

PR 101: What venue in Puerto Rico would be a good choice to do a company convention?
Ferrer: The best one would be the Predo Roselló Convention Center.*

PR 101: What does Eferrer Public Relations & integrated Communications have to offer in the Event/ Expo/ Convention department? 
Ferrer: At Eferrer Public Relations & Integrated Communications we offer and guarantee the best production and content you can wish for.  Not only a one of a kind experience but attention to detail like no other. In addition we provide media exposition free from cost. In conclusion, we offer an unforgettable experience.

PR 101: Does Puerto Rico really does it better? Why?
Ferrer: OF COURSE! We offer great service, first-rate tourism; some of the finest hotels from 2 to 5 stars, plus affordable air fees and accommodations can be found easily.  You can have the best of worlds, Spain’s exotic history with hip modern cities and fine entertainment. Plus we speak English!
From left to right: Camila Calderon, Edaliz Ferrer, Diana Otero & Ishaa Lopez. Staff at Eferrer  Public Relations &Integrated Communications
So, consider Puerto Rico as a venue for your next event/convention. You won’t regret it. Special thanks to everybody on Eferrer Public Relations & Integrated Communications, especially Ms. Edaliz Ferrer for taking some time off her hectic schedule and sharing some of her knowledge with us. 

For more information on Eferrer PR Firm, add them on Facebook or  follow them on Twitter