Innovating Through Artistry

Archive for the ‘Legal’ Category

5 Decisions

In Author: Lisa Canning, Employees, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Entrepreneurial Evolution, Legal, Outside Your Comfort Zone, Risk on September 26, 2009 at 11:22 am

buffet-image.jpgJust got back from a wonderful clarinet-buying trip at Buffet-Crampon, the clarinet manufacturer I represent, who is in Jacksonville, Florida. It was an especially pleasant trip. My flights left and returned relatively on time, I was offered a convertible to drive as my rental car, and the B&B I always stay at, The Fig Tree Inn, offered me a new room – the nautical room- which I loved.

AND searching for great clarinets felt particularly easy this time. (I swear the French have good days and bad days drilling those damn holes in grenadilla wood. But this time, the great instruments fell one right after another all in a few serial number rows.)

dreamstime_6275191Anyway, while I was having all this fun, I had a thought that you might enjoy reading about 5 decisions I made this week. So here they are in no particular order:

Five. My ability to have insight into a situation, make a decision and take action quickly– usually a skill set that makes me money, saves me time and I trust to protect my entrepreneurial life, cost me. I was just about to close on a small condo in the city, that I intended to use periodically and also rent out occasionally to clients, when abruptly the mortgage company cancelled their mortgage commitment to me. I had made the mistake of advertising it online at Lisa’s Clarinet Shop that it would soon be available to customers passing through town. This particular mortgage company, as is the case now with so many of them, will not currently write any investment property mortgages. I did not think of this property as an investment property so it never dawned on me they would–my mistake. As a result, the seller became impatient and I lost the property.

Oh well. A bomb blew up in the mine field. It happens. ( It’s just in hindsight you feel pretty dumb. It’s that classically-trained-perfect-artist-syndrome inside of me- got to do it “perfectly” EVERY time. Though, neither my real estate broker or attorney thought to ask the question either… hmmm- they are suppose to be my trusted advisors who guide me to achieve what I am trying to accomplish. That is what I pay them for.)

Four. I made the decision of changing my new Not for Profit ensemble, The Bite-Size Arts Ensemble™, to a DBA (“doing business as”) designation, underneath the umbrella of Entrepreneur The Arts®. By doing so, I have turned ETA into a Not-For-Profit. Up until right now, ETA did not have a corporate identity. The reason I decided to do this is because truly the work of ETA is mission based. Changing the way WE ALL think about, and learn to create and act on, the imaginative potency of the arts as a catalyst for change- for us, inside corporations, universities and government too– just like President Obama is trying to do again by utilizing the creativity and artistry inside the NEA to communicate his agenda to the American people- this is a mission that is going to take a village and should be a NFP. (Oh, and if your not sure if you believe me google the equivalent of “The White House in bed with the NEA” and include a few words like propaganda, partisanship and socialism. Is this really what you want to see happen? Are we really going to lie down and just accept letting others lead us towards becoming an extinct breed? Does innovating your artistry matter to you? What if this is truly how you need to learn to leverage your artistry so you can experience change– and see how someone can change how they feel about themselves and the world because of what you do? )

Three. Likewise, I had an inactive LLC (Limited Liability Corporation) set up for the book I wrote. The one that Susan Schulman, (Richard Florida’s agent) agreed to represent on my behalf, Starving Artist Not! (That at Susan’s insistence became Build A Blue Bike) — but the book never sold–

And so this legal entity has been sitting idle.

So this week, I decided to remove the name Starving Artist Not! on the articles of incorporation document and sent a name change to the Secretary of State to replace it with The Institute for Arts Entrepreneurship™. Since The Institute of Arts Entrepreneurship™ is founded in the concepts of developing an artist into an artistic entrepreneur, the same founding principals in my book, it seemed to make sense. And of equal importance, since the school’s purpose is to help artists create artistic ventures, and not to act as angel investors, we will not, and cannot, assume liability for others actions or businesses.

Equally, this change in our legal status made good sense– we should be an LLC and limit our liability.

Two. I decided to hire, part-time, an actor, Shawn Bowers, who has this amazing gift for social media. After careful consideration I decided if social media was good enough as the primary PR engine for President Obama’s campaign to be elected as President, its plenty good enough to serve as the platform for my PR to promote ETA and IAE. Shawn wrote the press release titled “Chicago Arts Incubator at Flourish Studios” in two hours beautifully, didn’t he? On his first week on the job he set up a Facebook page, Twitter account and identified over 50 blogs and websites to send press to about ETA, Flourish Studios and The Institute for Arts Entrepreneurship™. He is off to an A+ start.

One. I managed to decide I would submit an mp3 of my recording of “Shiva” to the folks at UT- Austin who are in charge of organizing the The International Clarinet Association Conference for 2010. I asked to play and I think they might just let me– but I’m NOT advertising they are here. (That already cost me once. I hope the lesson is now learned.) Bless their hearts- really. They get SO MANY requests and everyone comes with their agenda’s jockeying for position– I hate to add one more to their load.. it seems always so political to me. Most of these conferences feature the same twenty-five GREAT artists year after year. No imagination required. Hope this one in Austin steps outside the ICA’s comfort zone a little bit and extends far into the great musical list of creative imaginative and freelancing less-well-known clarinetists.

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The Grass is Always Greener (for making green)

In Author: Melissa Snoza, BOOKS: Learn and Grow, Interesting Articles, Legal, Marketing, Money on September 5, 2009 at 9:21 pm

First, a big thanks to fellow ETA blogger David Cutler for featuring Fifth House Ensemble in his new book, the Savvy Musician, advance copies of which are available on his website prior to the full release in November. If you’ve been reading his posts, you know that David brings an incredible energy to the concept of being a working, entrepreneurial musician, and his book is sure to be a great resource all of us who are working to create new opportunities in the field.

In an article published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, David’s mention of 5HE’s dual business model was mentioned. When we formed in 2005, we created both a 501(c)3 nonprofit (Fifth House Ensemble) and an LLC for our private events business (Amarante Ensembles, LLC). Same folks, different purpose.

As a young group, we knew we wanted to provide a wide variety of services, including those that would serve the public good (performances, educational programs), as well as those that would help to keep us fed (weddings, private events). We formed both businesses at the same time in order to be able to keep these activities separate financially, and in order to be able to market them in completely different ways.

Since the article was published, I’ve been getting many inquiries from arts organizations both established and emerging about how and why we did this, wondering if the same model would work for them. Interestingly, in most cases the concern is less about the types of services being provided and the best business structure to manage them, and more about how to raise the most money in the shortest amount of time. Inevitably, those who began as a for-profit think that they will raise more from donated funds as a non-profit, and vice-versa.

My first question is always, “why do you want to do this?” A business structure is about the most effective way to manage the types of services you want to offer, so you have to consider what is a good fit for your goals, not just your bank statement.

If you are a performing arts organization that is committed to work in the public schools and bringing performances to underserved audiences, changing from not-for-profit to an LLC will not help you raise funds from venture capitalists, unless something changes about the services you offer. What will you tell them about their return on investment? And do the people you are serving have the resources to pay big bucks for what you do?

Conversely, if you are a for-profit company that has been successful selling tickets to shows, merchandise, and DVDs, and you are attracted to the extra money you think you will bring in as a non-profit but loathe paperwork, is switching to 501(c)3 status really a good fit? Given that you don’t want to be the one to do grantwriting, annual reporting, financial management worthy of public scrutiny, board agendas, and all of the other tasks that go into managing a nonprofit, you may end up paying staff a large part of the added revenue you would see from changing structures.

The only real reason to have a split structure (in my opinion) is if you have services that are distinctly different enough to warrant that. If there is overlap, not only is the purpose for your choice not clear, but you also risk running afoul of the IRS. I remember fondly the conversation I had with Mr. Botkins, the IRS agent who reviewed our 501(c)3 application, about how we had created these two entities for the sole PURPOSE of keeping for- and non-profit activities separate. The IRS doesn’t like seeing for- and non-profit organizations to be connected in any way, via common control (similar officers/managers), contracts, or other financial arrangements.

Know yourself, the type of work you want to do, your tolerance for paperwork, and the types of people you want to serve. Be realistic about how much you have the potential to earn or raise. If the structure you are considering isn’t a good fit for your services, don’t be tempted to follow what you perceive to be the greener pasture, or you may certainly find yourself out in the cold. The best way to get more green is to make sure that what you do is serving the people around you in the best possible way, which will inspire customers to pay for your work, or donors to support its creation.

Melissa is the flutist and Executive Director of the Chicago-based Fifth House Ensemble. Like what you read here? For more music entrepreneurship tidbits, visit www.playingclosetothebridge.wordpress.com, brought to you by members of 5HE.

An Entrepreneurial Lesson and a Little Bit of Magic

In Author: Lisa Canning, Emotional Intelligence, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Leadership, Legal, Money, Networking, Outside Your Comfort Zone, Risk, The Idea on July 30, 2009 at 9:03 am

Lisa 2009Today I drove into Chicago to meet two women who run and own a two-year-old-child- development center. For the purposes of this post, they and their business will remain nameless, but the jist of their story I will share because it holds a few really important entrepreneurial lessons…. and a little bit of magic.

First- a little bit of background: My meeting with these women was my first. I was referred to them by another client. They expressed interest in finding a business coach, so I made the trip to meet with them.

What I learned while I was there: These two women have created a center that over the past two years has grown from an idea, into a business plan, to a real physical location that now 100 families 3-5 times a week use weekly for their children to play and learn through arts based experiences.

These ladies are extremely intelligent, well educated, hold advanced degrees, and have had very successful careers. They were inspired to start a business together based of their common interests and past lives where they realized the importance of arts education and what it could bring to a child’s developmental learning through play. Childs Play Touring Theater, which I have written about before, has a similiar focus through theater- another extraordinary business in its own right.

But my point in sharing their story with you, is to reveal how close they are to failing in their business. While they bravely and fearlessly invested their time and money for the past two years, and risked their futures while passionately embracing their mission, they are finding themselves feeling uncertain about their future in business mostly because they did not plan for change in their business plan.

Every business plan changes. We start with one on paper and then need to keep revising it as we go. These women wrote their plan and then when it no longer made sense to follow it, stopped using it as a measuring stick.

What I mean by this is that a business plan is written with both intellectual mastery of your venture and emotional mastery of your understanding of what it will take to accomplish. It is written with a certain level of profitability to achieve, sales and specific offerings in mind. When any one of these elements is not being achieved, as a result of economic conditions, clients needs and desires or for any other reason, it is extremely important to revisit both your thinking and emotional understanding of what has changed and why.

This allows you to not only figure out how to get “back on track,” or find an equally new parallel track, but it also educates your “gut” –increasing your awareness– about what it looks and feels like when the sand under your feet is shifting and you need to zig or zag, right then. This awareness becomes critical as your venture grows, and remains critical through out the life of your entire venture.

So, as a result of having distanced themselves emotionally from their plan, and not continuing to revise their course, NOW they have a real problem- their business might not survive.

What created their problem? Where was the zig they missed acting on?

With an extraordinary economic downturn looming unannounced before they opened, plain and simply- their passion lead them to open in a large location and spend more on space than they now can afford. The business did not grow as quickly as they had projected. While they have retained customers through this downturn, they have not added them, as predicted in their plan. Having not taken a salary in two years, they are now weary, their planned savings has run out and their landlord wants his money for rent past due and frankly wants them evicted.

So what would you tell them to do? Pray? Close their doors and run?

Sometimes, in key moments in a venture- when everything can turn to dust ( and everyone has these moments) the chemistry is perfectly ripe for magic to happen. Let me explain.

You see when I was driving down to meet them, I was following the directions my GPS was giving me. As I left the expressway and turned on a major road that intersected with their street, I looked to my left and saw a business that sold kids furniture that had a name that was extremely similar to theirs. At first I thought maybe it was their location. But then I realized, while the name of this business complimented theirs nicely, it was an entirely different business.

Thinking nothing more about it I drove to my meeting. Well, as their stress filled tale unfolded before my eyes, and we began to brainstorm about how they could avoid bankruptcy and closing their doors, I remembered the building with the sign I saw around the corner from them. I quickly asked them if they knew the owner and the business and they said yes. In fact the owner of that business had made a point, on several occasions, of coming to visit and offering advice and encouragement. In turn, they had referred business to him.

It was right then it popped into my head that their business was an excellent marketing opportunity for the owner of this childrens furniture business. His store would benefit from having a play center inside of it. Why? Because nothing but parents walk in and out to pick up their kids. Parents could browse while they wait for classes to finish or as they come and go with their kids.

By pitching the idea of moving their business into his store- which by the way is a huge store with lots of extra space- not only could their synergy help each of them, but potentially these women could negotiate a free place, or almost free place, to run their business because of their ability to bring in clients to the furniture store daily and build traffic and interest for his products. Not to mention the fact that currently the owner is not open Monday through Friday- but only by appointment- and by allowing these woman to run their business in his space, he would have built in store hours and be open for business as these women easily could allow people to browse and set up the owners appointments.

It turns out that this owner is a furniture manufacturer first, and a retail store owner second. He also runs large print advertisement in major publications–the same ones that would help these two women and their business. By encouraging him to include in his advertising that he hosts a learning development/play center for children inside his store, it will only add to the communities positive impression of his business and interest in it.

Seems as though, magically, we might have stumbled into not only a clever marketing proposition for both businesses but also a way for these two women to not close their doors. And the most magical part about it was that for the most part, the idea that held the most promise and quickest fix for them was right there for the taking– if they could have been a little more able to zig and zag.

It just took them inviting a total stranger in to speak with them, with a good mind for out of the box ideas, and a lot of experience “zigging and zagging,” to let them see the connections they already had and could leverage.

Next week these two ladies have asked me to take the lead in negotiating this vision over lunch with the owner of the furniture store. I hope the cosmos keeps the fairy dust sprinkler on until then–when your parched enough to die, a little goes a long way to restoring you to life.

Show Me The Money

In Author: Lisa Canning, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Legal, Money on July 14, 2009 at 12:06 am

In the last couple of weeks I have been trying to help a couple of small businesses establish their legal identity, understand why they need to, as well as find financing. Below are some great articles and resources for a variety of issues related to these topics. As for financing, while there is no questions it is really a TOUGH TIME to find money, it is still possible. While traditional lines of credit from name brand banks seem virtually guaranteed to be declined in this economic climate of bank failures, if you are creative, there are still ways to find the money you need to build your business.

Here is a list of terrific resources I thought you would like to know about:

BUSINESS FINANCING

SBA – Financing a Startup
http://www.sba.gov/smallbusinessplanner/start/financestartup/SERV_BANKERFRIEND.html
SBA article on financing your startup

StartUpNation.com – Dispelling the Myths about Factoring
http://www.startupnation.com/articles/1213/1/AT_Alternative_Business_Financing_Solutions.asp
Alternative Business Financing Solutions: Dispelling the Myths about Factoring

Alternative Federal Credit Union
http://www.alternatives.org/businessloans.html
Sample of alternative credit options

Prosper.com
http://www.prosper.com
Prosper is an online community for person to person lending. Individuals borrow money from other individuals on a secure P2P loan marketplace.

Checklists for Commercial Loans & Lines of Credit
http://www.vcb-ca.com/businessloans.html
Typical checklist of items required to apply for commercial loans & lines of credit.

BizBuySell.com
www.bizbuysell.com/guide/b_finance_1.htm
Article on sources of financing, and where to go to look for money.

BUSINESS STRUCTURE AND RECORD KEEPING

IRS – Frequently Asked Tax Questions and Answers
www.irs.gov/faqs/faq-kw146.html
IRS article of frequently asked tax questions.

IRS – Business Tax Information
http://www.irs.gov/businesses/index.html

IRS – Keeping Records
http://www.irs.gov/publications/p583/ar02.html#d0e1782
Article from IRS regarding keeping accurate records.

Cash Accounting vs. Accrual Accounting
http://www.nolo.com/article.cfm/ObjectID/08E205EE-E8B6-4D25-A2B01C3AC318E291/catID/1745D9A3-D50D-4AAD-BFB3ED609A4EE3F5/111/ART/
All businesses need to choose one of accounting methods. This article reviews two methods of accounting; Cash Accounting

HCMPublishing – Choosing A Business Structure
http://www.hcmpublishing.com/Small-Business-Book/Business-Structure.html
Small Business Structure. Comparision and discussion of LLC, S-corporations and c-corporations.

TaxGuru.com – S-Corp vs C-Corp
/www.taxguru.org/corps/scorp.htm
Comparing corporate structures of S Corporations vs. C Corporations.

Scoreknox.org – For Profit versus Non-Profit
/www.scoreknox.org/library/versus.htm
For Profit versus Non-Profit

Non For Profit Corporation Information
www.form-a-corp.com/non-profits_QA.php
Advantages and disadvantages of nonprofit corporation; starting a nonprofit corporation by incorporating your business today.

PowerHomeBiz.com – Why Incorporate?
http://www.powerhomebiz.com/vol128/incorporate.htm
Article on the true value of Incorporation

Benefits of Incorporation
http://strategis.ic.gc.ca/epic/internet/incd-dgc.nsf/en/cs01357e.html
Why Should I Incorporate?

BizFilings.com
http://www.bizfilings.com
Incorporate Business – BizFilings helps you incorporate your business, form a Limited Liability Company (LLC) or a corporation.

BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT SUPPORT

The Small Business Start-Up Guide
http://www.isquare.com/chapter3.cfm
Advice and assistance for the entrepreneur, home and new business owner.

AllBusiness.com
http://www.allbusiness.com
AllBusiness.com provides information, products, and services for entrepreneurs, small businesses, and professionals to start, manage, finance and build a business.

Startup Nation
http://www.startupnation.com
StartupNation is your source for small business advice – participate in our entrepreneur forum, get help starting a business, and find resources to work from.

Entrepreneur.com
http://www.entrepreneur.com
Caters to international business people who are actively seeking opportunities abroad. Includes searchable issue archive, also browsable by date.

Score
http://www.score.org
Free online and face-to-face business counseling, mentoring, and training. Business help and advice for small businesses just starting or for existing businesses

SBA – Small Business Administration
http://www.sba.gov
An electronic gateway of procurement information for and about small businesses. Search engine for contracting officers, marketing tool for small firms.

Jump Start Your Life- I have the spark plug

In Accounting, Art, BOOKS: Learn and Grow, Cooking & Food, Creative Support, Customer Service, Employees, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Entrepreneurial Evolution, Entrepreneurial Tool Box, Fashion, Health & Wellness, Leadership, Legal, Marketing, Money, Music, Networking, Risk, The Idea, Theater/Film, Writing on January 7, 2009 at 1:16 pm

dreamstime_3139037One of the reasons I want to write books is because books, art, poetry and film, as examples, all intrinsically are built to last. Their very form offers easy “spark-creating-experience” access, like a hand full of nourishment going right into our mouth. Love that rush of energy that follows, don’t you? You know, the part before you get tired?

While it is impossible for a memory to replace the actual real time experience of ephoria, or intense joy, anger or sadness– only the kind a work of art can deliver, it can be waiting eagerly for you on a shelf, if it’s a book, or hanging on your wall.

What a basic concept entrepreneurship is for artistry, and yet without this simple “must have”, generations upon generations have defined who we are and what we are capable of creating for others in life, through a very narrow, confining, and as I see it, rather destructive single lens.

In honor of the power of the written word to enlighten and transform, here is my recommended reading list to jump start your very best you in 2009.


Do You Want to Become More Entrepreneurial?

* Small Giants: Companies That Choose to Be Great Instead of Big, by Bo Burlingham

* The Art of The Start by Guy Kawasaki

* Awakening the Entrepreneur Within: How Ordinary People Can Create Extraordinary Companies,
by Michael Gerber

* Who’s Your City? How the Creative Economy is Making Where to Live the Most Important Decision of Your Life, by Richard Florida

*The Illusions of Entrepreneurship: The Costly Myths That Entrepreneurs, Investors, and Policy Makers Live, by
Scott A. Shane

*Bounce!: Failure, Resiliency, and Confidence to Achieve Your Next Great Success, by Barry J. Moltz

*Birthing the Elephant: A Woman’s Go-For-It Guide to Overcoming the Big Challenges of Launching a Business, by Karen Abarbanel and Bruce Freeman

Marketing Maven
* Unleashing the Ideavirus by Seth Godin

* The New Marketing Manifesto: The 12 Rules for Building Successful Brands in the 21st Century (Business Essentials) by John Grant

* The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell

* Coercion: Why We Listen to What “They” Say by Douglas Rushkoff

* Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable by Seth Godin

* The Anatomy of Buzz: How to Create Word of Mouth Marketing by Emanuel Rosen

* The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use News Releases, Blogs, Podcasting, Viral Marketing and Online Media to Reach Buyers Directly by David Meerman Scott

Organizational Development
* The Discipline of Market Leaders: Choose Your Customers, Narrow Your Focus, Dominate Your Market by Michael Treacy

* Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t by Jim Collins

* The Art of Profitability by Adrian Slywotzky

*First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently by Marcus Buckingham

* Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham

* Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ by Daniel Goleman

* The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

Financial Health Check
*The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom: Practical & Spiritual Steps So you Can Stop Worrying by Suze Orman

* Finance Your New or Growing Business: How to Find and Raise Capital for Your Venture by Ralph Alterowitz and Jon Zonderman

*Conscious Finance: Uncover Your Hidden Money Beliefs and Transform the Role of Money in Your Life by Rick Kahle

*The Seven Stages of Money Maturity: Understanding the Spirit and Value of Money in Your Life by George Kinder

*The Soul of Money: Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Life by Lynne Twist

Reaching for Greatness
* The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander

* This Time I Dance! Creating the Work You Love by Tama Kieves

* Make the Impossible Possible by Bill Strickland

* The Everyday Work of Art by Eric Booth

* The Courage to Teach by Parker Palmer

6 Tips for Using Free On-line Business Tools

In Accounting, Art, Cooking & Food, Creative Support, Customer Service, Employees, Entrepreneurial Evolution, Entrepreneurial Tool Box, Fashion, Health & Wellness, Interesting Articles, Leadership, Legal, Marketing, Money, Music, Networking, Risk, The Idea, Theater/Film, Writing on January 6, 2009 at 1:33 am

January’s Entrepreneur Magazine offered these six tips on using free on-line tools:

#1
Just because it’s there doesn’t mean you have to use it. “Because there’s so much out there, businesses have a tendency to be like a kid in a candy store,” says Drew McLellan. “Start with the strategy of what you want to accomplish, and then find the tool that will allow you to do that.”

Adds Mike Whaling, “It’s a matter of figuring out which tools are right for your business. Know your audience, and then go to where they are already having conversations.”

#2
You don’t have to figure it all out by yourself. McLellan suggests doing a simple Google search on a tool or task you want to accomplish. “You’ll find people talking about it,” he says. “And people are incredibly quick to share what they know.”

#3
Don’t lose your company’s brand. Using a variety of tools can lead to an inconsistent company image and voice. Says McLellan, “Run it through the litmus test of ‘Is this right for my business? Does it portray my business the way I want?'” Whaling also emphasizes thinking about what your business’s name will be associated with because many free tools are ad-supported.

#4
Push your preconceived notions aside. MySpace and Facebook aren’t just for the kiddies anymore. Says McLellan, “There are a lot of people conducting business on [these sites].”

#5
Does the tool have staying power? For every successful blog, video website or social network, there are dozens that won’t make it. So, again, talk with people online and discuss their experiences with the tool to gauge its stability and reliability.

#6
It may be free, but you still need to invest. Just creating a profile won’t cut it. Making the most of these tools requires time and effort, says Whaling. “There’s an investment in reading other people’s blogs, commenting on posts, getting involved in the community and building relationships.”

Can you get someplace in life for nothing?

In Accounting, Art, Author: Lisa Canning, Cooking & Food, Creative Support, Customer Service, Employees, Entrepreneurial Evolution, Entrepreneurial Tool Box, Fashion, Health & Wellness, Leadership, Legal, Marketing, Money, Music, Networking, Risk, Theater/Film, Writing on January 5, 2009 at 1:25 am

Is it ever possible in life to get somewhere for nothing and have it be somewhere really good? Over the decades, we certainly have heard that “there is no such thing as a free ride” and that “if it’s too good to be true, it likely is”.

But these days, thanks to the internet, there is lots of FREE stuff online, much of which supports the entrepreneur and a start-up venture.

According to an article which appeared in Entrepreneur Magazine this month, Gary Vaynerchuck, co-founder of Wine Library, has been taking advantage of free business tools for nearly three years to grow his 11 year-old wine retail business. Using a combination of web-based tools, such as social networking, blogging and video, he’s taken his company to annual sales of $50 million. One way Wine Library uses these tools, is to notify his friends of daily specials by using MySpace, Facebook and Twitter, in place of email. His success with these tools has even landed him two book deals and regular speaking engagements across the country. “Building brand equity and connecting with your consumers through these social tools has a global impact on your business and your brand,” says Vaynerchuck, 33.

Alison Boris, 38, and Kathi Chandler, 31, have also been capitalizing on free tools since nearly the beginning of their LA based hand bag boutique, called AllyKatStyle. Besides a MySpace page, they also have profies on Digg and StumbleUpon, which are community content sharing sites, to grow their business.

All these free tools also mean that for even a small business, the “little guy” can look a whole lot bigger, not to mention more sophisticated. With a price tag of FREE, it’s hard not to want to take advantage and get on the ride to somewhere great.

Have I gotten your attention? Good, then let’s get you started:

Communication/Email
Dimdim ( dimdim.com)- open source web conferencing application; free basic service
Jott (jott.com)-voice-to-text service for creating notes, lists, e-mails and text messages; free basic service
Oovoo ( oovoo.com) -video messaging, chatting and conferencing
Paltalk ( paltalk.com) – Group IM, chat and video call application
Plugoo ( plugoo.com) -direct chatting with any blog or site visitor
YouSendIt (yousendit.com)- send files up to 2GB; free basic service

Content, Media, Video
Audacity (audacity-sourceforge.net) Open source software for cross-platform audio recording
Blip.tv: (blip.tv)- Video blogging, podcasting and video sharing service; free basic service
BlogTalkRadio (blogtalkradio.com) radio network for users to host their own shows
DropShots ( dropshots.com)- Video hosting and photo sharing
Feedburner ( feedburner.com)- media distribution services for blogs and RSS feeds
Fix My Movie ( fixmymovie.com)- Video enhancement service; free basic service
Paint.NET ( getpaint.net)- image and photo editing software
Phixr (phixr.com)- picture and photo editor
Seesmic (seesmic.com)- Video conversation platform
SlideShare ( slideshare.net)- Share and embeded slideshows. Powerpoints and PDF’s into web pages
VideoSpin ( videospin.com)- video-editing software

Financial
BizEquity ( bizequity.com) – company valuations
Mint ( mint.com) – personal finance, money mangement, budget planning and financial planning software
MyBizHomepage (mybizhomepage.com) – financial dashboard for small business Quick Book users
QuickBooks (quickbooks.com) small-business accounting software; free simple start 2009 download)
Wesabe (wesabe.com)- Financial advice, analysis and planning

Marketing, Networking, PR
Wordpress (wordpress.com)- Blog publishing tool
Craigslist ( craigslist.org)- Online classified and job posting network
CollectiveX ( collectivex.com)-Create social networking and collaboration sites for groups
Digg (digg.com)- content sharing site
Linkedin ( linkedin.com)- Business social networking site
Pligg ( pligg.com)-Open-source, community-centric site for discovering, rating and sharing content
PolicyMap( Policymap.com) -Geographic and demographic information system for creating custom maps, tables and chartes; basic free service
YouNoodle ( younoodle.com)-Netowrking for startups and valuation with Startup Predictor
YourPitchSucks (yourpitchsucks.com) PR pitch reviewing and advising
Stumble Upon ( stumbleupon.com)- Content sharing site

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CutePDF Write (Cutepdf.com)- PDF creator; free basic service
Dabble DB ( dabbledb.com)- Create, manage and share online databases; free basic service
Doodle (doodle.com)- Schedule, and coordinate meetings and other appointments
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SurveyMonkey ( surveymonkey.com)-Create and publish custom online surveys; free basic service
ThinkFree Office ( thinkfree.com)-Office productivity suite; free basic service
WuFoo (wufoo.com)-HTML form builder for creating interactive forms;free basic service

Project Management, Collaboration
Remember the Milk (rememberthemilk.com)-Task management solution and to-do lists
Socialtext (socialtext.com)- Wiki and website collaboration; free basic service
Team Task ( teamtask.com)-Collaborative project management and community website builder
Yugma (yugma.com)-Web meeting and collaboration service

Web
Google Alerts ( google.com/alerts)- E-mail updates on choice of query or topic
KickApps ( kickapps.com)- platform of applications to integrates social features into a website
Microsoft Office Live Small Business (smallbusiness.officelive.com)- Create a company website, domain and email; free basic service
Synthasite ( synthasite.com)- Web hosting and building
Weebly ( weebly.com)-Website and blog creator
Widgetbox (widgetbox.com)-web widgets for various applications
Woopra ( woopra.com) -Web tracking and analysis application; free basic service

How The Grinch Stole Christmas

In Accounting, Art, Cooking & Food, Creative Support, Current Events, Customer Service, Emotional Intelligence, Employees, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Entrepreneurial Artist Contest Contestants, Entrepreneurial Evolution, Entrepreneurial Tool Box, Fashion, Health & Wellness, Interesting Articles, Leadership, Legal, Marketing, Money, Music, Networking, Risk, The Clarinet Shop, The Entrepreneurial Artist Competition, The Idea, Theater/Film, Writing on December 23, 2008 at 3:04 am

f91ddde14399af3663324567dfa4My wish for you, ON CHRISTMAS DAY,
will be for you TOO, to keep the GRINCH at bay!

But if by chance, you simply cannot,
Band mighty together, as a great big Who-Ville lot!

WWHHYY????? Smarty-Arty, I hear you say?

BECAUSE, with all your JOY stirring together,
the grinch who came to visit, just might feel a WEE bit better.

Merry Christmas, my dears, what’s your ETA,
to ENTREPRENEUR The Arts, in a new innovative way.
PLEASE COME WITH ME, lets ride far, far and away!

signed your friend, an artistic missionIST, a student of Dr. Suess-a-visionIST, gliding, and sent with love.

EMI Media Settles with ETA

In Entrepreneurial Tool Box, Legal, Risk on January 28, 2008 at 6:38 am

eta_eye-1.jpg
FINALLY, what began almost a year ago, Entrepreneur Media Inc, publisher of Entrepreneur Magazine, has agreed to a settlement with Entrepreneur the Arts. While they verbally agreed to settle last June, it took another seven plus months to get their final settlement. So, needless to say, this has been a bit of a worry.

If you would like to know more about what happened, I wrote a series of posts about my battle with EMI. ( They are all under the category titled legal)

However, essentially what happened is that I elected to pursue placing a trademark on my logo for Entrepreneur The Arts, with the guidance of a trademark attorney, and much to my surprise, and his, we were served with the threat of litigation if we did not cease using the word Entrepreneur in the name.

EMI media has threatened and successfully stopped many start-up ventures and even others well established ventures from using the word ( see my post titled Tongue Tied). Fortunately, for me, while one of very few, I was able to reach a settlement with them by agreeing to permanently display a disclaimer with my logo. If you look at the ETA logo, you will see there already is one there. While my attorney was negotiating with EMI, as a good faith effort, he suggested I place a disclaimer under the logo to further demonstrate to EMI Media that there was no possibility that anyone coming to my site was confusing my website and work with their publications or website.

However, my settlement, reached last Friday, requires now that a differently worded disclaimer appear. Soon you will see different words under the logo.

It is a relief to once and for all have this behind me. Choosing to fight a two ton gorilla was a risk and it did cost me some money. But as a result of taking this risk, unlike many others who simply folded their tent and changed their business name, I was able to continue to use my name- Entrepreneur The Arts, get my trademark and refrain from a legal battle with EMI Media.

My hope is that as a result of my efforts, others who encounter the wrath of EMI might be able to also save their business name, that uses the common word entrepreneur, in their start-up venture.

Entrepreneur The Arts vs. EMI Media

In ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Entrepreneurial Tool Box, Legal on June 15, 2007 at 10:39 pm

A few months ago, as those of you who have been reading this blog know, EMI ( Entrepreneur Magazine) threatened me with a trademark infringement lawsuit for use of the word Entrepreneur in my name. EMI has a reputation for sending their high priced attorney’s after anyone who uses the word; and most have caved in and traded their name in for another that would not cause a stir with EMI.

I, however, was unwilling to do that. There is no other way for me to express, in any other way, what I believe so passionately is needed in the arts. It’s time we put some entrepreneurial action into our art, that we Entrepreneur The Arts, which is why I made the word Entrepreneur a verb.

In any event, my attorney called today, and EMI has agreed to drop their threat of a suit in exchange for a disclaimer that Entrepreneur The Arts is in no way affiliated with EMI ( Entrepreneur Magazine). My application for trademark was recently approved through the trademark office also so this is all great news.

But my real point in blogging about this, is to illustrate the point that it would have been far easier for me, as a new start up, to have chosen to pack up my name, like all the others, and choose another than live with the uncertainty of a lawsuit hovering over my head for the last few months. But sometimes the difference between success and failure is in holding true to your beliefs; even when it seems difficult to believe you can succeed.

Standing up to a corporation that has over 36 million a year in advertising revenue alone was not an easy choice for me to make; but having a good attorney and simply not giving up served me well.

Karma

In Emotional Intelligence, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Entrepreneurial Tool Box, Legal on March 29, 2007 at 3:23 am

Ya know this whole mess with Entrepreneur Media could be something that weighs me down. But it’s really not.

It’s because I am a firm believer that everything in life happens for a reason- a GOOD reason- if you are enough of an explorer to uncover the GOOD reason.

Over the past week, I have met via phone and email at least 3 others who have experienced the wrath of EMI. I have learned from each of those individuals something valuable: about their business, what they value, their drive, energy and passions. This negative thing has afforded me the opportunity to, be it brief, see a snapshot of what it’s like to be another passionate entrepreneur.

I also received a call from a customer of mine, who seems to know the owners and offered to try and help ( great karma if nothing else).

The outcome of your life and your livelihood stems far more from what comes from your heart than what your brain and mind can ever tell, convince, insist or decide for you.

We often try and hide what is deep inside our hearts hoping it won’t show easily through. All too often we manage to allow our intellect to try and strangle the illogical, polarizing hold, that our heart has on our desires. But, by allowing our brains to run the show, we are not allowing ourselves the benefits that come from letting our passions hang out in plain view.

Yeah, I know it’s hard to want to let it all hang out. We come off as being extreme around or about something…

But what it attracts to you is far more valuable personally, professionally and financially.

Adversity is part of life and sometimes great adversity hits us when we least wish it to, feel able to handle it, expect it or deserve it. It’s really OK to stand in pain, in plain view, and vote for change with your heart and passion.

Try it. You might find, at a bare minimum, good karma surrounding you.

Santa Fe, Press, Publishers & Speaking

In Creative Support, Legal, Money, Risk on March 26, 2007 at 4:15 pm

Well a few days off has done me some good. I spent most of last week with my husband, Chuck, in Santa Fe New Mexico. We spent the week wandering through the insane number of art galleries there, enjoying much of what we saw, as well as spending a little down time at the worlds greatest spa, Ten Thousand Waves. I hightly recommend going there if you can– its quite the place and a real treat in the unwind department.

While I was gone, I had a press release written that I will be sending out to as many sources as I can regarding the reckless behaviour of Entrepreneur Media in their pursuit of trying to own the word Entrepreneur. While I cannot change what has happened to me, I certainly can try to make my feelings, and those of many others, known.

It’s a busy time for me as I finalize my book and continue to search for a publisher. It’s common for many new authors and established authors to build their audience through public speaking, blogging and at first self publishing; only to be picked up by a major publisher after their marketing is well under way. I am close enough to the finish line to be able to self publish fairly quickly, unlike the traditional publishing route that can take up to a year. So while I am interested in finding the right publisher I don’t feel overly concerned if it does not happen right away. Fortunately I have gotten enough positive feedback from a couple of agents to know that it is just a matter of time before I find the right publisher to pick up my book. This is all a new process for me and I am enjoying the challenges of it all.

I just found out yesterday that I will be the keynote speaker on May 4th for the 2007 Youth Entrepreneurship Conference . I will be presenting my keynote speech on Creative Value. Building my speech is a lot like playing the clarinet; practice, practice, practice.

What Can A Little Press Do?

In ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Entrepreneurial Tool Box, Legal on March 14, 2007 at 1:21 am

Well it seems that one tactic to fight Entrepreneur Magazine (EMI), might be to let the public know what EMI is doing to small start ups who use the word Entrepreneur and seek to trademark their slogan.  I  have decided to see if I can draw some interest in the topic, from a variety of media, who might be willing to run some articles on the topic to at least make everyone aware of their frivolous lawsuits and bullying tactics.

It is a real shame to see a magazine, that is supposedly devoted to helping young entrepreneurs and start ups, which I subscribe to actually, being so focused on hurting the very cause they claim so voraciously to support.  What a facade really, don’t you think? Their pro small business philosophy is clearly something that their marketing department creates to attract the 56 million dollars worth of paid advertising.

While I certainly did not see this problem coming my way, now that it is here, I intend to do the most I can with it to expose it to as many as possible, as accurately as possible, to ensure that others are informed, as well as to hopefully let public opinion continue to swell on the actions of Entrepreneur Media.

Removing words from the English language for the sole purpose of one company, and their profiteering, is simply unacceptable. Unlike the word escalator or cellophane, which started out as made up words by the company’s that created each, and both of whom where eventually forced to loose their trademark status because those made up words became the only word to describe those items– the word Entrepreneur was not a word created by Entrepreneur Magazine and clearly should not belong to them.

Keep the word Entrepreneur Free because it belongs to everyone who is one, wants to be one or will become one.

Tongue Tied

In Interesting Articles, Legal on March 13, 2007 at 12:41 pm

Here is an article that appeared in Forbes Magazine about the voracious battle Entrepreneur Media Inc. appears to be in with anyone that uses the word Entrepreneur in their literature or name. The word Entrepreneur appeared in the dictionary some 40 years before Entrepreneur Magazine received their trademark; which they have held for 25 years. However, Entrepreneur Magazine seems to think they own this word that is part of the English language. My suspicions were right on the mark, unfortunately, in this regard…

So what is the next step for Entrepreneur The Arts? My attorney has replied to their cease and desist letter with details of other cases that clearly do not support their claims. We actually have an excellent case against them as my attorney did do all his homework before we pursued registering the mark. Neither one of us, however, were aware of this ongoing issue with EMI. Clearly had we been, we would have thought differently about what words to pursue having a trademark placed on.

The life of an Entrepreneur is filled with hidden land mines! Welcome aboard!!

****************************************************************************

Tongue Tied by
Doug Donovan

TEPHEN MORRIS WAS THRILLED when Entrepreneur magazine plugged his Atlanta-based business, Kids Way, three years ago. Today, he and Vice President Misty Elliott wish Entrepreneur had never heard of them.

The magazine’s April 1997 article read like a free ad. It detailed how Kids Way teaches the 8-to-18 crowd to start businesses and listed contact information. “Kids Way also publishes a bimonthly newsletter, Young Entrepreneur,” Entrepreneur wrote. Within 20months the 2,000-circulation newsletter grew into a glossy with 16,000 paid subscribers. Today it doesn’t even exist–not in name, at least. Last year, Entrepreneur filed a lawsuit in federal court against Morris and Elliott, alleging that their use of the word “entrepreneur” violated the magazine’s trademark, and asking for treble damages.

Morris didn’t want to waste time on a costly defense and changed the newsletter’s name to Y&E, which has hampered subscription renewals. “It seems they’re going after the little guys who don’t have the resources to fight them,” says Elliott.

The nasty fistfight over intellectual property has taken some pretty strange forms these days–what with Amazon.com and Priceline.com putting a legal force field around their business models. But trying to corner the market on a word bandied about more often than “bandwidth”?

For the past six years Entrepreneur Media, the Irvine, Calif.-based parent of Entrepreneur, has protected its trademark name by going after small businesses that use the word “entrepreneur” in publications and on Web sites. Smart business, no doubt. But crippling to some of the very people it purports to help. Among the sundry victims: Asian Entrepreneur. The Diamond Bar, Calif. publication changed its name to Asian Enterprisein 1994 after receiving a cease-and-desist letter. “A legal fight would have put us under”, says publisher Gelly Borromeo. Publishing Entrepreneur. This Traverse City, Mich.-based outfit scrapped its print publication in 1997, and fled to the Web with a new name entirely, Independent Publisher. Says founder Jerrold Jenkins, “They just bully you.” Entrepreneur Illustrated.That’s the quarterly publication of Scott Smith, president of Sacramento, Calif.-based EntrepreneurPR. Smith is being sued. “They told me they’re going to wear me out by making my life a living hell,” he says. Smith insists he will contest the suit. http://www.entrepreneur.com.Never mind that the Web site was registered in 1994 by James Borzilleri, president of FreeClub.com–two years before Entrepreneurregistered its site, http://www.entrepreneur mag.com. Entrepreneur Media went after him last year. Borzilleri (whom Entrepreneurcalls a “cybersquatter”) sold out for a reported $50,000. http://www.entrepreneurs.com.Another legal target, Gregory McLemore, has set up a protest page at his Web site, http://www.entrepreneurs.com/free.html. This guy has plenty of money to fight back. He built and sold Toys.com to Etoys, and founded Pets.com, which went public in February, raising $82.5 million. “There’s a good chance that their trademark could be thrown out,” says McLemore, president of Pasadena, Calif. incubator, WebMagic.

Maybe. Folks like McLemore and Smith could fend off the legal attack by proving that “entrepreneur” is a generic term. Turning generic is what killed the onetime trademarks for cellophane and escalator and what the owners of names like Xerox and Kleenex spend small fortunes to prevent. “Entrepreneur,” of course, is rather different from Xerox because the company claiming to own the trademark did not coin the word. But Entrepreneur Media registered the trademark in 1982, and has the powerful Latham &Watkins of Los Angeles behind it.

The monthly was founded in 1978 by Chase Revel, author of how-to business books, including the 1979 “classic,” The Newest, Most Unique Ways People Are Making Money, Vol. II. The magazine filed for Chapter 11 in 1982.

Today Entrepreneuris owned and operated by Peter Shea, who bought the magazine in 1987. Circulation is up 36% over the past five years to 527,658. Advertising revenue for 1999 rose 8% last year to $56 million (before discounts), some of that from classifieds like “EXTRACASH! No fees, no memberships. For kit information, send $10 (refundable) to: Black Hole Innovations Inc.”

Next thing you know, they’ll trademark the words “golden opportunity.”

Entrepreneur The Arts vs Entrepreneur Media

In ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Entrepreneurial Tool Box, Legal on March 7, 2007 at 5:13 am

Tonight I received, in the mail, a letter from the law offices of Latham & Watkins (Big expensive law firm)  demanding that I remove my application for trademark of Entrepreneur The Arts.

According to Entrepreneur Magazine’s attorney’s, my trademark could be easily confused with their trademark.  If you read Entrepreneur, or ever have read it, do you really think there is anything to confuse you?

This is the second time in my life that this kind of letter has been sent to me, actually. The first time I was about six months into starting my first business in my college dorm room. A sheriff knocked on my door and served me with a “cease and desist” letter from a company that claimed that my name was too similar to theirs. Their letter demanded that if I did not stop using my chosen name they would take legal action against me, if I did not change it. Not really any different then this letter I received tonight. (Incidentally, I did manage to keep my name the first time.)

Through that first experience, which certainly was scary, I learned a valuable lesson that I will share with you now:

Any word that is used to describe an activity, like computer or consulting or entrepreneur, cannot become the property of one company because it is a word used to describe an activity that is universally known and required to describe that activity. It would be like taking the word computer or consulting or entrepreneur away from the rest of the world to use so that only one single company could use it for their exclusive purpose.   

What would we call that thing we use to read the web, blog, do our work and write our email’s on if we could no longer could use the word computer; because Apple Computer, through their trademark, took that word away from all of us??  Now I am exaggerating a bit to demonstrate my point– because the word computer, using my example, would really only apply in the context of  the use of a business name, and not the use of the word in any context. However, you can clearly see the impact to every business if basic common words were no longer available to be used.

As long as the rest of the words, after that descriptive word, are uniquely different, there is no basis for the claim; which in my case is definitely the case.  Thus Apple Computers and Dell Computers can co-exist as can  Kleenex Tissue and Scott Tissue, and every other example you can think of.

However the test I described above is only one of eight tests for what constitutes a trademark infringement.  Here are the other 7 that contribute to the decision by a judge.

  • Strength of the trademark
  • Proximity of goods or deliver-ables
  • Evidence of actual confusion
  • Marketing channels used are similar
  • Types of goods and the degree of care likely to be exercised by the purchaser are similar
  • Defendant’s intent in selecting the mark
  • The likelihood of expansion of the product line

The difference between the first time this happened to me and this time, is back then I did not realize that I needed an attorney to research my names choices and advise me on issues related to duplication of trademarks for potential litigation or that would raise concern.  However in this case, I worked closely with an attorney who specializes in trademarks who did his homework before we applied for the trademark.

Now having said all that, these kinds of matters can be costly to resolve, especially when fighting a giant; which will be something to consider. However before any fight ensues, my trademark attorney will talk to Entrepreneur Magazine’s attorney and see if this can be resolved before any action is taken.  A good attorney is worth every cent if he protects you and makes potential litigation something that is as remote and as minimal as possible. Every start-up business needs an attorney and here is a great example of one of many reasons why you do.

Not sure how this will play out but I would love your opinion on the matter. Would you confuse Entrepreneur The Arts with Entrepreneur ( the Magazine)?