Category Archives: Ask SCORE

Ask SCORE: How can I protect my intellectual property when working with strategic partners?

One way to grow your business is by reaching out to strategic partners who offer complementary products or services or who otherwise can work with you to the mutual advantage of both your businesses. Strategic partnerships can expand your market reach and help you achieve more sales. But giving another business intimate knowledge about your company’s inner workings may make you a bit uneasy. There’s some inherent risk involved in sharing confidential information and intellectual property (IP).

According to Marc Goldberg, a SCORE mentor with business startup and management expertise, “It is very easy to steal your ideas or even your unique approach to customer fulfillment. Very quickly you could generate a competitor by sharing information with the wrong people.”

For that reason, you need to take measures to protect your ideas, information, and innovations from theft.  Continue reading

Ask SCORE: What’s the best way to use social media for my small business?

You can bring out the human side of your business on social media.

Social media gives small businesses an interactive way to connect with prospects and customers, yet many businesses struggle with building relationships via the platforms they’re using. They fail to make their brands “human” on social media.

According to nationally known social media professional, Rachel Strella of Strella Social Media, “People relate more to other people than to a logo or brand image. This can give small businesses and solopreneurs an advantage over bigger businesses.”

Taking the human approach is successful for one simple reason, relationships are built on trust.  Continue reading

Ask SCORE: What do I need to know before buying a business?

Rather than building a small business from the ground up, buying an existing company offers the opportunity to move along the path to entrepreneurship more quickly. With all of the startup tasks already taken care of, a staff in place, an established customer base, existing vendor relationships, and processes and procedures laid out, you have a head start.

But that doesn’t diminish the importance of doing your research before making the decision to buy a business. Acquiring an existing small business requires substantial examination so you avoid the many pitfalls that befall eager entrepreneurs who leap before they look.  Continue reading

Ask SCORE | Should I run my small business from home?

Operating a business from home offers small business owners some significant advantages — and some disadvantages, too. Some entrepreneurs find running a home-based business works exceptionally well for them, while others do much better at a coworking space of in an office away their home. Consider the following pros and cons.  Continue reading

Ask SCORE: Do I need to copyright my website to protect it?

Your business’s website can be one of the most powerful marketing tools you’ll ever have at your disposal. Unfortunately, the better it is, the better the chances it will catch the eye of unscrupulous competitors. They might have no qualms about hijacking your written content, images or other elements and presenting them as their own.

How can you prevent people from stealing content and images from your website? Copyright!

Copyright protects the rights of creators of original works—such as literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works (for example, play scripts, movies, poetry, books, songs, photography and even computer software). It protects the way things are expressed/presented in works (e.g., the images, arrangements of words or music, etc.); it does not, according to the U.S. Copyright Office, protect “facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation.” When you create (draw, write, photograph, etc.) something original, copyright law automatically gives you ownership of the work. At the moment you create a work, copyright exists.

This is also the case with digital content, including websites.  Continue reading

Ask SCORE | Does your business need an advisory board?

BoardStarting and managing a small business requires paying attention to multiple areas of responsibility. Accounting, marketing, operations, sales, customer service…and the list goes on. Rarely do entrepreneurs have the knowledge and skills to adeptly strategize ways to successfully execute all of them on their own. To improve areas of their businesses and discover ways to streamline processes, some businesses enlist the help of advisory boards.

According to Penny Pompei, SCORE mentor and chairman of the Palm Beach chapter, ”It truly is very lonely at the top, especially at the top of a small business. You are expected to be all things to all people, and while lots of people have plenty of advice for you, they don’t fully understand your business, nor do they always have your best interests at heart.”

An advisory board consists of professionals with expertise in various business disciplines, who provide strategic advice to help an entrepreneur manage and grow the business. Unlike having a board of directors, having an advisory board doesn’t obligate a business owner to act on the guidance provided. Advisory boards offer an opportunity to glean knowledge from experts without the formality and structure of a board of directors.  Continue reading

Ask SCORE: Should I work with contractors or hire employees for my small business?

As your small business grows, you will reach a point when you can’t do everything by yourself. To get the help you need, you can choose to outsource various tasks to independent contractors or hire employees and delegate the work.

To decide which will make the most sense for you and your company, it’s important to understand some of the key differences between working with independent contractors and having employees on staff.

Years ago, I owned a “virtual” marketing services firm. I worked with a group of talented creative people — designers, illustrators, photographers, and others. I asked them to work on projects for my clients, and they often asked me to work on projects for their clients. We all had licensed businesses and we enjoyed working with each other.   Continue reading