Archive for March, 2010

Art Lennig to Lead Georgia Association of Business Brokers

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010


ATLANTA, Ga., March 10 (SEND2PRESS NEWSWIRE) — Art Lennig, a regional director of Murphy Business & Financial Corporation, has been elected president of the Georgia Association of Business Brokers (GABB) for 2010.

The Georgia Association of Business Brokers is the state’s only professional organization and Multiple Listing Service dedicated to buying and selling businesses and franchises.

Other GABB officers are:
Vice President, Eric Gagnon, founder and president of We Sell Restaurants and
Secretary, Dave Chambless, principal of Abraxas Business Services.
Treasurer, Matt Slappey, owner of the Decatur office of Murphy Business & Financial Corporation,
Past president Van Watkins of Coldwell Banker Commercial Metro Brokers.
Members of the GABB Board of Directors include Tom Burdick of Metro Brokers/GMAC; Henry Hicks of Georgia Business Associates; John Jugovic, an associate with Prime Business Investments, Inc.; and J. Snypp III of Preferred Business Brokers, Inc.

GABB President ART LENNIG became a Business Broker in 2000 after more than 20 years of owning and operating his own businesses. He enjoys working with his clients to help them accomplish their goals and dreams. He served in various leadership roles with the GABB, including Secretary (2004), Treasurer (2005, 2006, & 2008), Membership Chairperson (2007 & 2008), Director (2007), and most recently 2009 Vice President. Art is a member of the International Business Brokers Association (IBBA) and has earned his Certified Business Intermediary (CBI) designation. He received the Senior Business Analyst Award from the Society of Business Analysts in 2003. He was graduated from the University of Evansville, Indiana, with a B.S. in Marketing. Lennig lives in Acworth.

GABB Vice President ERIC GAGNON founded and is president of We Sell Restaurants and Gagnon previously worked in the financial services industry for Bank of America, Bank of New York and Big Five accounting firm KPMG as Director of Business Development. He is a graduate of Francis Marion University and the University of Montreal. A frequent speaker and writer about restaurant brokerage, he has been designated a Business Industry Expert by Business Brokerage Press. He is a member of the Georgia Restaurant Association, the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) and Business Brokers of Florida (BBF), and is the preferred broker for Georgia Restaurant Consulting Group. Eric is a licensed Broker in both Georgia and Florida.

GABB Secretary DAVE CHAMBLESS is a principal with Abraxas Business Services. Chambless has served in sales, marketing, and executive roles in technology firms, as CFO for public and private companies and as a management consultant. Also a CPA, Chambless serves on the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG) Board of Directors, chairs its Leadership Council and is chairman of TAG-Finance. He also serves on the boards of the Grant Park Conservancy, Southeast Atlanta Business Association and is actively involved in All Saints’ Episcopal Church. He volunteers for The Samaritan House of Atlanta, where he formerly served on the board for 15 years. He has served on the Board of Resource Opportunity Center of Atlanta and is on the Advisory Council of 24/7 Gateway, a homeless services center sponsored by United Way of Atlanta. Chambless has an MBA in Finance from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor of Industrial Engineering degree from Georgia Tech.

GABB Treasurer MATT SLAPPEY owns the Decatur office of Murphy Business & Financial Corporation, where he works with businesses of all types, ranging from $100,000 to $10,000,000 in gross sales. He earned his Board Certified Intermediary designation through Murphy, is a member of the IBBA and sat for his CBI exam in November at the most recent IBBA Conference. Prior to becoming a Business Broker, Matt worked in management for a Fortune 100 healthcare company and holds an FAA license as an airline pilot, qualified in both airplanes and helicopters. A native of Decatur, Slappey earned a B.S. in accounting and economics from Presbyterian College.

GABB Past President VAN WATKINS is a 16-year veteran in the Business Brokerage industry and a Lifetime Member of the GABB “Million Dollar Club,” and has served on its Board of Directors for the past six years. Also a member of the Atlanta Commercial Board of REALTORS®, he has won many annual and quarterly company awards at Metro Brokers Commercial, including “Agent of the Year” (2006), “Top Business Broker” (2005 & 2006) and “Top Commercial Agent” (2007), and is a member of the “Summit Century Club” for exceptional performance. His past experience includes portfolio & financial management, executive level positions in numerous 501(c)(3) charitable organizations and humanitarian concerns. Watkins earned B.A. in religious studies from the University of Alabama.

GABB Board member TOM BURDICK is affiliated with Metro Brokers/GMAC, providing Business Brokerage services to sellers and buyers of main street businesses in the greater metropolitan Atlanta area. Burdick is also a member of the Atlanta Commercial Board of REALTORS® and the IBBA. Burdick, who lives in Alpharetta, has a B.S. in electrical engineering from the University of Alabama.

GABB Board member HENRY HICKS is the CEO of Georgia Business Associates, Inc., a Certified Business Intermediary, Merger & Acquisition Master Intermediary and Fellow of the IBBA. He chaired the board of the IBBA in 2002, was editor of the IBBA News, and is a past treasurer of GABB. He is chairman of the founding board of the Business Intermediary Education Foundation, a member of the Atlanta Commercial Board of REALTORS® (ACBR); the Roswell Rotary, and past chair of the board of the Child Development Association of Roswell; Hicks was CEO and chairman of the board of a North Carolina savings bank in Rocky Mount, NC, which he took public with an IPO in 1985. The Roswell Jaycees named Hicks “Jaycee of the Year,” and he is an elder and past treasurer of the Roswell Presbyterian Church. He earned a B.S.I.M. from Georgia Tech in 1962 and a Masters in Public Administration from Georgia State University in 1966.

GABB Board member JOHN JUGOVIC, an associate with Prime Business Investments, Inc., has worked in the small business community in Atlanta for nearly 30 years. He has a strong record of success in Operations and Finance in both high-paced environments with significant growth, as well as start-up ventures applying strategies for achieving aggressive business goals. Jugovic has managed acquisition and reorganization of entrepreneurial enterprises in the medical devices, distribution and consumer products industries. Jugovic earned a B.S. in chemical engineering from Purdue University and was recently awarded the Certified Business Intermediary (CBI) designation from the IBBA.

GABB Board member J. SNYPP III grew up in Atlanta and graduated from Georgia Southern University. Snypp spent more than two decades in the office furniture business before becoming a Business Broker and has been with Preferred Business Brokers, Inc., for almost 4 years.

Experienced brokers with the Georgia Association of Business Brokers (GABB) can help a buyer find businesses for sale, negotiate a fair price and obtain financing. A broker can help an owner evaluate and price a business, market and advertise to prospective buyers, negotiate and close a deal.

The GABB Web site ( lists hundreds of businesses for sale throughout Georgia, as well as around the country.

NEWS SOURCE: Georgia Association of Business Brokers

Google Launches “Ad Innovations” Destination

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Google Starts Site to showcase Innovations in Advertising

Google has launched a new site to showcase its latest innovations in advertising. It’s called, appropriately, Google Ad Innovations.

“The principle behind the advertising products we build at Google is simple: ads are information,” says Vice President, Product Management Susan Wojcicki. “But the type of information that ads provide is getting more varied and inventive all the time, and as a result ads are getting more interesting, social and useful.”

Users can break Google’s offerings down by search, display, mobile, measurement, and all features. Under search, you can find more info about product listing ads, search funnels, and location extensions with multiple addresses. Under display, you can find stuff about remarketing, the YouTube video targeting tool, the ad creation marketplace, above the fold advertising, and YouTube Insights for Audience. Under mobile, you’ll find info about click to call phone extensions. In measurement, you’ll see search funnels again, and analytics intelligence.


By now you may be asking yourself: WHY?

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Why is it important for me to consider my company culture during the current economic state?

Many of us have been impacted by the current state of affairs economically and we are frantically trying to make the ends meet; both personally and professionally. It’s hard enough sometimes to end the each month in the black and spending time focusing on company culture doesn’t seem to be a priority.

Maybe it’s not the “time” that is the issue but how we look at the “time”. I would propose that taking the time to work on your company culture is not an expense but an investment. By establishing a strong company culture, you are planning for the future (whether the times are prosperous or not).

Recently we had the chance to speak with Tony, our CEO, about what he would do differently if given the chance and his response may surprise you. Tony shared with us that he would have placed a much stronger emphasis on culture from day one. The main reason Tony stated for this was that “it’s so much easier to get right when you’re smaller versus waiting for later down the line.”

He went on to share that “alignment” was key; that is making sure everyone believes in the same vision and that they are on the same page and moving in the same direction.

It isn’t about creating the “right company culture”, as if there is only one out there, but rather it is about creating a culture that is right for you and making sure that everyone of your employees is on board and owning it. If we are working together for a common good, we have a great chance of success then if we are all moving in different directions.

Zappos Insights is here as a resource to help you create a culture that is right for you; one that will help you reach your “next level”. It’s your company. It’s your dream. It’s your vision. Where do you want to go?

Wherever it is, we would like to help you get there. Until next time.

Zappos Insights | the official Zappos Culture Training

P.S. This video interview with Tony is available for you to watch for FREE on

Pennsylvania Business Brokers Association’s Spring Conference

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Greetings PBBA Members, IBBA Members, Associate Members and other professionals.

Pennsylvania Business Brokers Association’s:

IBBA Course #355 offered on   Thursday April 15, 2010 and our

Fall Conference/workshops on  Friday     April 16, 2010.

LOCATION: Holiday Inn in Denver, PA conveniently located just off exit 286 of the PA Turnpike in the Lancaster/ Reading area.

Final Deadline for receipt of Registration and payment was Wed March 31, 2010 but, now Extended to Mon April 5, 2010 for Conference Attendees.
The Agenda for both days including the course description, Registration Form and Directions are attached here in pdf format and will also be posted on our web site at under Resources> Educ Seminars. For your convenience, I have also listed much of that information below.
For the last 10 years The Pennsylvania Business Brokers Association has proudly hosted numerous conferences and educational seminars, workshops and IBBA accredited courses for the benefit of Business Intermediaries in PA and the surrounding states..

We are proud to host another IBBA 8 credit accredited course:

Thursday April 15, 2010 - IBBA Course #355Managing the M&A Buyer Process (8 CPE Credits)  This course introduces new tools and processes to efficiently find a buyer who can close a deal. Learn how to establish a “demographic footprint” of the buyer, create a prioritized list of buyers, qualify the target list and create a targeted plan to sell the business. Find out how to talk to buyers and work with them during the initial tour of the business. It is recommended that participants are a CBI or M&AMI or have equivalent background, and have taken Course #301. Other recommended courses include: #304, #307, #335, #341 and #380.

Course instructor: Doug Robbins, FCBI, MCBC, M&AMI, CM&A, CSBA, CMEA
President and Founder of Robbinex Inc. We are honored once again to have one of IBBA’s best instructors.. Doug has graciously agreed to come from Hamilton Ontario, Canada to share his expertise in deal making in the US and Canada. Past attendees of Doug’s courses speak highly of his knowledge and experience.  For further information on Doug and/or Robbinex please go to:

Friday,  April 16, 2010 - Spring Conference -  Special Guest -   Doug Robbins (see above) long time IBBA member

We are thrilled that Doug has agreed to stay over for our Friday Conference and share his thoughts on current market conditions.

The New Norm: by D.M. (Doug) Robbins

constant change

The world is changing fast, …. so fast in fact that we are unable to appreciate the changes that have befallen us during the past five years. The rate of change will actually accelerate during the next five years. Can you picture the world of business brokerage five or ten years from now?  Learn about the impact that technology has had on the current recession, and the real impact that technology will have on “your tomorrow”.

Robbins, a dynamic speaker and one of the world’s longest practicing business brokers (since 1974), will walk you quickly through the evolution of the profession during his career, by illustrating the impact on his company, Robbinex Inc.  He will then predict what he  believes things will look like in five years and what his team at Robbinex is doing to prepare for tomorrow.

Why Your Brand Needs to Be on Facebook Now

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

Dallas Lawrence is Chair of the Social and Digital Media Practice at Levick Strategic Communications, the nation’s top crisis communications firm. He blogs on emerging digital media trends and best practices for social media engagement on Bulletproof Blog. Connect with him on Twitter @dallaslawrence.

With 450 million users globally (and millions more being added each week) Facebook (Facebook) is dominating the web in unparalleled ways. Yet, even as the social network has steadily grown over its short but remarkable history, many brands have remained on the sidelines of the social media revolution.

Facebook was the most visited site on the web for the week ending on March 13, 2010, surpassing even Google in week-long stats for the first time in history, according to Hitwise. The shift in user habits and audience targeting is palpable and it provides marketers, brand managers, issue advocates, and political campaigns today with an age old choice: Adapt and change or face irrelevance and extinction.

A Social Media Parable

In many ways, the fundamental decision facing those looking to compete in the next decade of social media dominance is reminiscent of Dr. Spencer Johnson’s bestselling business tale Who Moved My Cheese? It’s the story of two mice named Sniff and Scurry and two “littlepeople” named Hem and Haw who find themselves facing this same predicament.

As the fable unfolds, the book’s four main characters arrive in their maze one day to find that their once abundant cheese supply has disappeared. Sniff and Scurry knew this day was coming. They recognized that their cheese supply was dwindling and set out to find a new source.

Hem and Haw, on the other hand, hadn’t noticed that their cheese was running out. Rather than adapt, they retreated into the all-too-human reactions of fear, denial, and disbelief as they hopelessly waited for the change to prove passing.

For those who have not read this late-90s change agent bible, I won’t spoil the ending. The moral of the story however is clear: Change happens. To survive it, you must anticipate it; and to be successful, you must embrace it.

Realizing the Critical Value of Facebook

Facebook Logo

In the modern day maze that is the digital and social media realm, these lessons were again on display as the online community debated the value of the new Facebook user statistics this past week.

Viewed simply, the cheese moved again this month –- and just as intelligent companies adapted their marketing and communications models for the advent of Google (Google) over the last decade, Facebook’s dominance has forced another “change or become extinct” moment. To thrive in a rapidly changing marketplace, corporate communicators must understand that the shift now underway is just as powerful as the one that transformed Google into the modern Yellow Pages and turned a Silicon Valley start-up into a $200 billion everyday necessity.

Unfortunately, most of today’s C-Suite decision makers lack the foresight of Dr. Johnson’s furry friends Sniff and Scurry. Far too many executives still see Facebook as a vast, uncontrollable outpost for college slackers –- one better equipped for picture sharing and random life updates than corporate reputation management, crisis response, and brand bulletproofing.

But the numbers don’t lie. Almost half-a-billion users each spend an average of nearly 6 hours per month on the site –- inhabiting networks that are largely free of corporate messaging, spam, and expensive advertising. This ought to make at least a few corporate titans rethink that next $1 million Super Bowl ad buy (even if Google did buy its first in 2010).

3 Ways Your Brand can Get Started on Facebook

Facebook users are openly sharing their life’s passions, personal interests, and their affinity –- or lack thereof –- for corporate brands, political candidates, and the key public policy stances. In effect, they are openly sharing every bit of marketing data a 21st century company covets.

For those still wary of change but now ready to dip their toe into the waters and begin to understand and benefit from the power of social, there are three free and relatively painless steps to begin the journey through the social media maze:

  • First, evaluate your current advertising efforts and identify how they can best be tailored to Facebook. Consider allocating 10% of your current Google AdWords or online advertising budget to a 90-day trial run on Facebook. Be sure to develop clear benchmarks for success, and remember, unlike Google AdWords, Facebook ads rely on both keywords and a variety of demographic information –- information you no doubt have already identified as key indicators of your target audience(s). You can now put this information to use to further micro-target your advertising buy, narrow the net you are throwing in the online marketplace, and increase the return on your investment.
  • Second, conduct a survey of your employees to see who is already on Facebook and thus, who may be your company’s most social media-savvy employees. You may find that your workplace is brimming with talent just waiting to be unleashed. For now, these future brand ambassadors may be ideal candidates to develop your Facebook presence and initial advertising program.
  • Finally — and this may seem obvious — become a face on Facebook yourself. Become familiar with the site, its features and the value hundreds of millions of people find in the world’s most populous online community. It may ultimately not be for you personally, but as with almost every new platform, the best way to understand its value is to give it a try yourself.
  • For those still looking for meaning in the numbers released earlier this month, the message is clear: Not only has the cheese moved again, the entire creamery has up and relocated. It won’t be coming back. And no manner of hemming and hawing is going to change that fact.

Business Broker Appointed to New Board Position

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

Bob Watson, Certified Business Intermediary® with ENLIGN Business Brokers of Raleigh, NC, has been named as Public Relations and Membership Committee Chair by the Carolinas-Virginia Business Brokers Association (CVBBA). Watson is the current Vice President of the board of directors of CVBBA, and the president-elect for the 2011 term.
Watson attended the CVBBA’s spring conference in Richmond, VA that was held March 5th and 6th, 2010. The committee assignment was formalized at the CVBBA board of directors meeting held on Saturday, March 6th, 2010.
“The CVBBA’s leadership and membership are committed to becoming more recognized by the professional teams involved in our clients’ transactions. We believe that more formal public relations activity can also raise awareness in the general business community of the important services that qualified business intermediaries bring to the planning, valuation, marketing, and transaction of businesses,” said Watson. “As we expand our broker and affiliate member base, we are maximizing public relations efforts to inform and educate more people about what we do, and how we do it.”
About the CVBBA
The Carolinas – Virginia Business Brokers Association is a regional affiliate of the International Business Brokers Association, and is a non-profit corporation created to unite those engaged in the sale of business opportunities in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia for the purposes of:

Maximizing and enhancing public awareness of the business brokering profession and association members.

Promoting the professional development of its members through educational opportunities and networking.

Developing a more efficient market for the transfer of business ownership through encouraging cooperation and communication among members, thereby better serving member’s clients.

Developing and encouraging a code of ethics among its members to set high standards of conduct and professionalism required for co-brokering confidential business sales.

MBBA West Meeting & Lunch

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

MBBA West Chapter Meeting

What: MBBA West Meeting & Lunch

When: Tues., April 13th, 12:30 – 2:30; Most second Tuesdays of the month.

Where: Grand Rapids Association of Realtors Office;

660 Kenmoor S.E; Grand Rapids, MI 49546

Directions: Off Cascade Rd., 1 Block East of I-96, Exit 40A

Agenda: Hector Vasquez of Bizilla, LLC, introducing their new business broker

listings site: Bizilla will also be our lunch sponsor! Meeting & Lunch provided @ 12:30.

R.S.V.P.: Please confirm your attendance with Tiffany, MBBA Administrator at by 3pm of the preceding Friday.

Upcoming Meetings:

May 11th, Liquor License Update, presented by the Michigan Liquor Control Commission

June 8th, Todd Smithee, of Conrin, is a certified consultant for www. , will present Customer Relations Management (CRM).

July 13th, Annual Planning Session & Outing, T.B.A.

CVBBA Newsletter

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

CVBBA Newsletter

Spring Conference Update

March, 2010

CVBBA Member Update

March 23, 2010

The Spring Conference was a big success.  All those who attended felt that the Hotel facilities were great, the courses and the workshop content were very well delivered and we all learned a lot.  I know I surely did.  Not even counting the great Hotel and great networking venue at the Tobacco Company.  I got comments from the old pro’s, “one of the best conferences ever.”   So now we have a high hurdle to get over for our next fall conference which will be in Myrtle Beach in September.  For those of you that could not make it, you missed out on a great learning experience.  And you missed out on saying Hi to old friends and networking with the experts.  Please try to make Myrtle Beach.

I certainly want to thank our Major Richmond Conference sponsors Copeley Capital and Carousel Capital for a great reception and networking event.  And I want to particularly thank that was our resident sponsor who went way out of their way to facilitate a great experience for all.  They even helped with transportation to get us back and forth to the reception.  At the conference, I was disappointed that they did not get a chance to fully explain their new website and special offering for CVBBA members.   If you have not signed up and put your listings up on please do so immediately.  It is a great site, great people, and a very Broker supportive attitude.  They will do whatever they can to help you out.  Give them a try.  By the way, if you are a CVBBA member you can sign up by April 1 and you get 3 months free service.  And they are making it very easy to get your profile set up and will help with uploading your listings.   Go to or give them a call on 877-249-2910.  The basic price is only $39.95 for premium service and $19.95 for standard.

And thanks to our General Sponsors as well.  Thank you Wells Fargo SBA Lending, Benetrends, Inc., Machinery & Equipment Appraisals, Inc.   Please keep them in mind when you need these kinds of resources.  Their contact info is on our web site.

Another reminder.  Do not forget to try our Go To Meeting service.  Go to and learn about the basic service.  If you were at the Spring Conference you were given the login and password information, however, if you have miss-placed or do not have this information, call or e-mail Judy and she will give it to you – 336-352-5123.  This is a free benefit for all members that we are trialing.  Let us know what you think and if you find it useful.

For those of you who have not renewed your 2010 CVBBA Membership you have until March 31 to do so.  Your CVBBA Board continues to add useful and meaningful benefits that make your membership a valuable tool.

We will keep you posted on the website regarding the upcoming Fall Conference in Myrtle Beach.

Gary Gunderson


What Do You Really Do to Earn Your Fee?

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

Sellers often question what they are getting for the fee they are paying the business broker.  This places the business broker in a defensive position, having to justify his commission.  This occurs not only at the time the listing is taken, but also at the time when the broker has found a ready and willing buyer.  The seller then realizes that he or she really has to pay the commission.

Regardless of whether or not the seller asks what business brokers do, we think it’s important that the seller be told.  Sellers should know exactly the job business brokers do, including the following:

  • We work with the seller in establishing a price for the business.
  • We prepare a marketing strategy to maximize the price.
  • We are knowledgeable and skilled negotiators working on his or her behalf.
  • We interview, screen, and qualify prospective buyers.
  • We market the business through many different methods, including our own database of buyers, the Internet, our network of brokers and industry experts, trade publications, newspapers and other sources.
  • We will show the business only to qualified buyers, allowing the seller to run his business.  If the prospect has questions or wants to meet with the seller, we will arrange a time that’s convenient, and we will attend all meetings.
  • We will work with the seller’s outside advisors to help make sure the sale progresses smoothly.
  • We will assist the buyer in dealing with the various governmental agencies for licensing, permitting, etc., telephone and utility companies, and any other outside service providers, to facilitate an orderly transfer.

By informing the seller out front what you “bring to the table,” he or she will be more convinced about why it is important to use your services.  And, by seeing you actually doing all of the above, any seller would have a difficult time not believing you have earned your fee.

Business Brokerage Press


Never Work for Chump Change

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

How much you should pay yourself, how to make the most of empty space, and what to do when under legal attack

When my co-author, Bo Burlingham, and I launched Street Smarts in December 1995, people would often ask us if we were worried that we might run out of subjects to write about. We just shrugged and said, “We’ll see.” But we soon realized we had no concerns on that score. We had only to read the mail that readers began sending us. Each letter described a unique situation that demanded its own response.

One of my few regrets about the column has been my inability to answer more of those letters and, later, e-mails. While I was running my businesses, I simply didn’t have the time. I’m still a pretty busy guy, but developments over the past few years (see the series of columns called “The Offer,” beginning in November 2006) have given me some breathing room, and I’ve used it to step up significantly my pro bono work advising entrepreneurs. The time also feels right to extend that effort to the Street Smarts column.

In the past, we’ve devoted one or two columns a year to answering your questions. Now, we’ll be doing that in every column — unless, of course, something dramatic happens in my business (or elsewhere), in which case I’ll break away to bring you an update. We also encourage you to post queries and comments online or write to me directly at In addition, we’re going to hold another contest like the one we ran last year. The three winners will get an all-expenses-paid trip to New York City to spend a day with me at my offices in Brooklyn and to visit Inc. You can find the details online.

In the meantime, let’s get the ball rolling:

Dear Norm,
I have a booming business connecting people with people. For example, I helped the Today show find a woman to propose to her boyfriend on Sadie Hawkins Day, and I worked with the Boston Symphony Orchestra recruiting young people to introduce to classical music at Tanglewood. I also organize business networking events and host several speed-dating sessions a month. I’m working more than 100 hours a week, and I charge $50 per hour for my services. I should be in great shape, but I can barely make ends meet. Can you help me?

Ilana Eberson, The NYC Business Networking Group, New York City

I needed more information, and so I invited Ilana to come see me. When she showed up, I had her sit down and estimate the amount of money she’d made in the past year and the number of hours she’d worked. We then divided the first by the second. Sure enough, Ilana wasn’t earning anywhere near $50 per hour. The real number was closer to $7 per hour. She was shocked, but I wasn’t surprised. Like most first-time entrepreneurs, she’d had one overriding fear starting out, namely, that she wouldn’t make enough money to support herself and would be forced to get a job. The natural tendency in those circumstances is to undervalue what you’re selling, because you’re so desperate to generate cash. What Ilana undervalued was her time, her talent, and her connections.

For example, a cosmetics company might hire her to put together a list of women from the ages of 26 to 35, along with their contact information. She’d charge her normal hourly rate, neglecting to take into account all the time she’d spent creating her extensive list of contacts, without which she couldn’t have provided the service. Or she’d spend an hour doing an e-mail blast for somebody and charge $50, overlooking her travel time to and from the customer’s location. In fact, the total time for the job, including travel, was more like half a day. She’d then sweeten the pot by throwing in a second e-mail blast at no extra charge. That added up to a whole day of work for $50, or about $6.25 an hour.

I gave Ilana a homework assignment. I asked her to write down what she really wanted to do in the next year and how much money she needed to live on during that time. Up until then, Ilana had been too busy to look beyond the next month. The question was always, How am I going to fit in all the things I have to do? I figured that, in planning a whole year, she’d be able to put aside the things she felt obligated to do at the moment and think instead about her long-term goals. And that’s what happened. She suddenly became aware of what she was missing as a result of her frenetic schedule. And, eventually, she was able to cut back on money-losing activities, focus on her best opportunities, charge prices in line with the true value of her services, and say no to people who weren’t willing to pay her what she was worth. Above all, she realized that, in filling her schedule with so many small things, she’d stopped dreaming of the big things she wanted to do, and that gave her all the incentive she needed to change.

Dear Norm,
I have a transportation and logistics company that I’ve owned for nearly 15 years. Our headquarters is in a warehouse, and we have about 7,000 square feet we’re not using. I want to explore ways of getting some benefit out of this space. I’ve considered getting into records storage, but I don’t know where to start. Can you point me in the right direction?

Jim Wood, Maverick Express, Battle Creek, Michigan

Whenever you see a potential opportunity, the first step is to check out your assumptions. In records storage, for example, what counts is not square footage but cubic footage. I called Jim and asked him the height of his warehouse’s ceilings. He said they were about 18 feet high. So he had 126,000 cubic feet of space. Allowing 3 cubic feet per box, including open space and aisles, he had room for about 42,000 boxes. If he could fill the space at a monthly rate of, say, 20 cents per box, he could collect as much as $8,400 per month in rent. Of course, he’d have expenses. He’d need to buy or lease racks, as well as equipment to move the boxes around. He also had to consider what would happen after he filled the space. Where would he put the additional boxes his customers were bound to send him? And I cautioned him to remember that the business required a long-term commitment. He had to be prepared to keep the boxes more or less permanently. With all that in mind, does it still make sense to use the space for records storage? Only Jim can make that call.

Before making a big decision like that, however, it’s always best to explore all the options. I suggested that Jim ask his customers if they have any warehouse needs. He might well find a source of revenue he hadn’t thought of. Then again, he might decide that the smartest course is to use the extra space to create a stronger bond with customers by providing an additional service, such as storing skids for them or providing space for special projects. In a tough economy, there’s always pressure to reduce prices. I believe it’s far better to maintain prices and provide additional services instead, even if you don’t charge for them. You’ll protect your gross margins and make it tougher for competitors to lure customers away.

Dear Norm,
My company makes rollable, foldable ballet flats that save women from aching high-heel feet. I recently got a threatening phone call from a competitor whose company has a name similar to mine. I prefer to focus on sales and marketing, but I can’t take threats like this lying down. It looks like there may be a trademark/patent battle. Any advice?

Andrea Padilla, Spare Soles, San Diego

Try to work out a settlement, even if it’s not perfect. People shouldn’t waste time and money on litigation if they can avoid it. (See “Don’t Worry, Be a Little Unhappy,” April 1998.)

Norm Brodsky ( is a veteran entrepreneur. His co-author is editor-at-large Bo Burlingham. A paperback edition of their book, The Knack, was published in February under a new title, Street Smarts: An All-Purpose Tool Kit for Entrepreneurs.