Tuesday, August 4, 2009


I received my Zappos.com shoe order today, 24 hours after I placed the order. Wonder how they did it? Location.

Although their corporate headquarters is in Las Vegas, their distribution center and warehouse is located in Kentucky – right smack in the middle of the United States. Zappos.com can have their products reach their customers quicker through strategically leveraging the convenience of also being located next to the UPS Worldwide hub.

Yes, even in the age of e-commerce and Internet businesses, location still matters.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Exceeding Expectations

The greatest way to create a loyal customer base is to exceed expectations. I ordered some shoes through Zappos.com today, with the shoes expected to be shipped within 4-5 business days. A few hours later, I received an email that my order had been processed and would be shipped today priority at no extra charge, saying:

Please note that this is being done at no additional cost to you. It is
simply our way of saying thank you for being our customer.

As a customer, I felt valued.

Perhaps they planned on shipping it out today all along…but the way that it is portrayed makes you feel like you are receiving something additional. It can be a lesson to us all on how to ‘package’ our services to exceed our customer expectations.

On a side note, my husband used to be an auditor at the bank and Zappos.com was one of his clients. He had to go out and audit the inventory so that they could obtain the necessary financing. The company was amazing then, but has come a long way. Last month, Amazon bought Zappos for about $880 million.


Friday, July 17, 2009

Now that is an idea!

An idea is only worth something if (1) you can protect it and (2) you can exploit it. If you are looking for a laugh, check out the totallyabsurd.com website. There are plenty of ideas that are being legally protected, although the feasibility of being able to exploit these ideas remains to be seen….

A Cry-no-more strap on pacifier:

Cry No More - Patently Absurd!

A head-napkin (to help hunters remain camouflaged)":

Head Napkin -  Totally Absurd Inventions & Patents!


Insect balls (to keep the insects away while you are outside):

Insect Balls - Patently Absurd !


Totally Absurd Inventions & Patents, America's Goofiest Patents

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Are you feeling stuck? Exit strategies

Whenever I teach an entrepreneurship class, I typically end up spending at least one day talking about exit strategies.

There is a good outline and video offered by PBS Small Business School that outlines the following options for exiting your business:

1. Walk away

2. Give it away

3. Sell to someone close to you

4. Sell to someone like you

5. Sell to the highest bidder

6. Sell to your employees

7. Sell through a direct public offering

8. Sell into the private equity capital market

I have always found the first option of “walk away” the hardest to believe, but yet it is also the most frequent option taken by entrepreneurs. My guess is that for many of these entrepreneurs, their business is their job and highly dependent upon them. So, if they leave, so does their business.

The rest of the options involve passing along the business to someone else, typically and hopefully for a fee/profit. However, the whole crux of these options is that your business needs to be able to be passed along. This is harder said than done.

I recently was assessing the real estate and property management business that my husband and I started. Even if we wanted to exit, we are not quite at a point where we are able to sell it. Why? For starters, we have been rapidly growing over the past few years. Thus, processes are continuously being revamped, including our accounting procedures. This makes it more difficult to look back at the historical financials and have it understandable. We also have a complex assortment of legal entities. We need to figure out the best and appropriate way to manage the transactions between the entities and also have some historical financials that make sense. If someone were to purchase the company, some of the job/roles are dependent upon us and not easily transferable. For example, my husband has a buying network that he has built over the years. Not anyone can simply buy the business and take his place.

We have been making progress though, with the end goal in mind of being able to sell the business someday or at least delegating the tasks with less involvement on our part. We have begun to outline and document procedures, even those my husband partakes in. This is perhaps the most important task because even if we do not sell the business, it allows us to delegate the tasks and not be at a total loss should an employee leave. We are transitioning to an industry standard software for managing our real estate, with the intent of being able to better analyze the business. We are hiring good quality people and writing up their job descriptions.

And while I feel sort of stuck right now in that we do not even have the option of exiting our business…in due time we will be there.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

More E Reading Recommendations

BusinessWeek recently put out a list of reading recommendations for entrepreneurs. I like this list because they also include podcasts for those of you who prefer that option. I firmly believe that education is so important – it is those entrepreneurs that are humble and want to keep learning from others that are going go succeed, especially in this economy.

Summer Reading (and Listening) for Entrepreneurs - BusinessWeek

Monday, May 11, 2009

Entrepreneur Oasis

Here is a new resource for all those wanna-be entrepreneurs, existing entrepreneurs, and educators. It will take a while for this web resource to reach its full potential, but it definitely has promise as an up and coming website.


Monday, April 27, 2009

Time to buy?

Entrepreneurship involves discovering and exploiting opportunities. In many cases, this involves the start-up of a new business entity. However, entrepreneurship can also involve acquiring a business. In the current economic times, many businesses are being put to the test, and in some cases, not doing so well. This can equate to a great opportunity for someone to come in and take over an existing business with a fresh perspective, strategy and resources.

A recent question posted to BusinessWeek addresses how to buy a struggling company. The key takeaways…Many businesses are available at bargain prices, but be cautious – do your due diligence!!!

One way to identify struggling business is through a certified business broker. However, another more fruitful option is via word-of-mouth (use your networks!). One last suggestion is to be creative --- for instance, you could offer to come on board for free in exchange for a share of the ownership. Or, you could offer to purchase a failing division of the business (not the business in entirety). Don’t be afraid to approach a business owner, but do be respectful as there are many emotions that are associated with running a successful and failing business.

Link for full article: How to Buy a Struggling Company - BusinessWeek