Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Highlights of the Week

Remember the dot-com heydey, when garages were the preferred business venue and professionals slaved away for the promise of equity in vaunted startup ventures?

Those "roaring 90s" are long gone, but startup firms still offer equity in exchange for professional services. I answer a question about how to make such arrangements and whether they're always a good idea in my Smart Answers column today.

In this week's podcast, I talk to a family business expert. Unfortunately, he says, too many family-owned businesses are behind the times technologically and also lag in strategic planning. During good times, small companies can sometimes skate along with sloppy management, but in a recession they need to sharpen their strategy or risk failure.

Finally, BusinessWeek.com's Entrepreneur Journal is a fascinating first-hand account from a couple with a terrific idea (sole covers for athletic cleats) who struggled for years - and went through $100,000 - before they brought that idea to fruition.

The takeaway: Don't monkey around with amateurs. Hire pros who are experienced in the industry you're trying to break into if you want to succeed.


  1. Good point about small companies managing in good times with sloppy management but risking failure in a recession.

    I would add that this definitely applies to larger companies. Many companies today are in trouble due to lack of planning, not simply due to lack of credit or reduced sales.

  2. I don't know that much about larger companies, but I wouldn't be surprised if they lack planning also, sadly enough.

    Certainly, the CEOs of many large companies were short-sighted and took way too much risk in recent years. That's for sure.