Small Business Logistics and Distribution Made Easy
One of the trickiest pieces of the startup puzzle can be to figure out, how will all of this actually work? The logistics, that is! You’ve got a great idea for a product or service, brilliant ideas for marketing it, but how exactly will everything actually get from point A (creation) to point B (your customer)?
A well-researched and thoughtful logistics and distribution plan will save you lots of time and stress in the long run. We’ve gathered a few fantastic resources for considering everything that goes into this type of planning to make it as easy and comprehensive as possible.
Entrepreneur Zeynep Ilgaz says to consider all distribution options when starting out, including the choice to completely bypass a website or physical storefront in favor of distributors. This may be a great option for certain business types; she describes the upsides saying, “Distributors will buy in bulk from you (helping you generate more revenue) and help you market and promote your products. Mastering these relationships early on has the potential to jumpstart your small business’ success.”
Check out Zeynep’s article, “Distribution 101,” to learn more about how to secure a distributor and how to maintain a strong and fruitful relationship with them.
Consider the International Option
If you haven’t already considered the viability of doing business internationally, it may be high time. Dip your toes in the water with a fun and informative webinar titled “Going Global” presented by USA TODAY columnist and author of The Small Business Bible, Steve Strauss, and Amine Khechfe, general manager and co-founder of Endicia. Together they show you the possibilities for how to take your business global and discuss topics including:
- Why this is the best — and easiest! – time ever to take your business global
- What you need to do to get your business ready
- What you need to do to get your website ready
- International shipping made easy
- Getting a handle on exporting regulations
- 5 rules for creating a successful global business
If after careful consideration you determine that international is the best route for your business to spread its wings, you’ll want to check out these international logistical tips from Laurel Delaney, President of GlobeTrade.com, a company dedicated to helping entrepreneurs and small businesses go global. Check out her 3 posts on the topic:
- 9 Third-Party Suppliers Who Specialize In Shipping Internationally
- 12 Characteristics That Lead to Export Success
- 13 Things a Global Freight Forwarder Can Do To Move Export Cargo
Whether your business expands overseas or stays on home soil, getting your logistics in place as early as possible will certainly pay off in the long run in quicker order fulfillments, less wasted employee time and happier customers. For one-on-one expert assistance in planning the logistics of your small business, reach out to a SCORE mentor. It’s completely free and you’ll avoid reinventing the wheel by gaining the insight of others who have tackled the logistics puzzle before.
About the Author:
Bridget Weston Pollack is the Vice President of Marketing and Communications at the SCORE Association. She is responsible for all branding, marketing, PR, and communication efforts. She focuses on implementing marketing plans and strategies to facilitate the growth of SCORE’s mentoring and trainings services. She collaborates with SCORE volunteers and develops SCORE’s online marketing strategy.
Veteran Entrepreneurs Honored as White House Champions of Change
The energy in the room was inspiring as 11 veteran and veteran spouse entrepreneurs took the stage to be honored as Champions of Change on August 27. Invited to the White House to be honored for their extraordinary achievements, these “Champions” are community leaders who empower veterans and give back to the veteran community.
Throughout the event, there was one constant theme: Veterans are natural leaders. Military training provides veterans with a skillset that translates directly to entrepreneurship. “People might learn leadership in various ways, but there’s no place like the military,” said Champion Louisa Long Jaffe who attributes the problem solving skills taught in the military as one of many reasons veterans not only make successful entrepreneurs, but also great employees.
The Champions also spoke of their passion to serve; a passion that has evolved from serving their country in uniform, to serving their communities by creating jobs, providing solutions, and contributing to economic growth.
Among the audience were Daymond John, Kevin O’Leary and Robert Herjavec, sharks from ABC’s critically-acclaimed Shark Tank. In a panel moderated by Kelly Perdew, West Point graduate and season two winner of NBC’s The Apprentice, the Sharks, tough, self-made, multi-millionaire and billionaire tycoons and several business owners funded by the Sharks, expressed gratitude to these men and women who continue to serve their nation by contributing to economic growth and spoke to the Champions about the struggles and rewards of owning a business, paving a road to success.
Rhett Jeppson, Associate Administrator of the SBA’s Office of Veterans Business Development, delivered keynote speech highlighting the importance of veteran entrepreneurs in our economy and encouraging the Champions to be leaders in the community.
“The most important role this group provides,” Jeppson said, “is that of a role model. As new veteran-owned small businesses start, their founders will look to acquire the knowledge and skills needed to be successful. It is the role of men and women like the ones standing with me here today to truly be champions for the veteran entrepreneur community and lead by example.”
About the Author:
ICYMI: SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet Answers Your Questions Live from Google HQ
Note: the live event has now concluded. You can watch the entire Q&A in the video link above.
Looking for tips on how to start or grow a business? Gain insight from the expert, join SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet as she answers your questions during a live Google Hangout-On-Air on August 27. The Hangout will be hosted on the Google Small Business Community. You can submit your questions before or during the Hangout.
Since being appointed by President Barack Obama to lead the agency that advocates and guides our nation’s entrepreneurs, Administrator Contreras-Sweet has made it a priority to meet with small business owners all over the country, to hear about their experiences, challenges, and opportunities in person and digitally. So join the Hangout and learn how SBA can help your small business start, grow and succeed straight from Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet.
Maria Contreras-Sweet, SBA Administrator
Whitney Lemon, Marketing Associate, Google
Wednesday, August 27
4:30 PM ET / 1:30 PM PT
RSVP and Submit Your Questions:
Watch the Hangout live on the Google Small Business Community or visit this blog article for a live stream of the Hangout.
About the Author:
Stephen Morris is online media coordinator for the U.S. Small Business Administration where he manages digital outreach to the small business community.
Use Your Business Plan to Get Ownership in Writing
Way too often, you can add up the percent of ownership in the heads of the partners and discover between them they think they own 200% of the company. That’s because one thinks the idea was worth 50% or more of the ownership, the other thinks the day-to-day work was worth 50% or more of the ownership, and another thinks having written checks and invested was worth 50% or more of the ownership.
What I particularly hate in this context is when people spend the time and do the work and develop the business without spelling these things out, and then, when it’s way too late, discover that they had radically different ideas about who owns what.
This is a great use of the business plan. If there’s awkwardness about who owns what when friends and family are involved, you solve that with the need to spell it all out for the plan. Don’t wait. Don’t wonder. Talk it out. The business plan is a built-in natural format that all of you can understand.
The key here is to get it in writing. That doesn’t mean legal contracts written and negotiated by attorneys, at least not in normal cases, and not in the beginning. What it does mean is getting your people together and iron out who owns how much of the company, and what the responsibilities are. And write that down – share it, so everybody is clear. And you can use it later.
Now, who owns what percentage?
Start with the money. Until proven otherwise, the one who put in all the money deserves all the ownership. That’s simple enough.
And then, from that starting point, if two or more partners agreed that one would earn ownership by working for free or less than market rate, then that can equate to money. Or if one contributes existing intellectual property such as written material or software code because that can equate to money too. But that should be spelled out and agreed upon before you start. Avoid vague promises related to so-called “sweat equity,” meaning work compensated by shares of ownership. Build a formula based on market value of the work. And put it in your plan.
And I personally don’t believe having had the idea, or not, matters. Ideas have no value. Work has value. Creative work and patents have value. Content has value. And money has value.
Always get a business agreement in writing!
I’ve said business plan above, but the underlying need here is bigger than the business plan. The plan is a great format, but let’s emphasize the main point: To me this is yet another example of why I’ve said, and written, over and over again, spell it out at the beginning and get it in writing. Not necessarily all legalese like a contract, but at least the basic points of agreements, with signatures. Here‘s what one lawyer (and I’m not a lawyer, so don’t think I’m giving you legal advice here) says about that:
It goes without saying: the best way to deal with a botched verbal contract is to avoid the whole mess in the first place. Get it in writing. People remember things differently. People don’t remember. People lie.
Get it in writing. And then stick to it.
About the Author:
Founder and Chairman of Palo Alto Software and bplans.com, on twitter as Timberry, blogging at timberry.bplans.com. His collected posts are at blog.timberry.com. Stanford MBA. Married 44 years, father of 5. Author of business plan software Business Plan Pro and www.liveplan.com and books including The Plan As You Go Business Plan, published by Entrepreneur Press, 2008.