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Howard County MD Business Law Blog

Startups require intelligent planning

Although many Maryland entrepreneurs aspire to become iconic mavericks who fly by the seat of their pants, business plans are a must. Start-up company owners may be misled into believing they can survive with lean strategies that forego in-depth strategies or mistakenly think they don't require well-documented plans. On the contrary, entrepreneurs who have business plans could find it easier to make forward progress and take charge of their development.

Startup plans ought to be created by teams who work together to develop such documents over time. This process can keep employees on track as they determine whether they are actually reaching their goals. Consistently rethinking a business plan may also help companies prune unnecessary details.

Planning for businesses effectively

It is a smart move for small business owners to write business plans. Maryland entrepreneurs are much likelier to succeed when they have good plans in place. Writing an effective one involves stepping back and viewing the business through a holistic lens, including several key things.

One mistake business owners make is failing to think about and to include all of the key players who will help the venture to be successful. This list could include suppliers, consumers, subcontractors and others whose input and assistance are essential. Owners should both list all of these people and then include them in their plans. Owners also often work to come up with mission statements, and many of these statements are often uninspiring. Instead, they may want to think about what their visions are for their companies. By sharing those visions with everyone, getting people excited about the business is easier.

Personal planning for Maryland business owners

For many entrepreneurs, the line between business financial planning and individual financial planning may be blurred. This is because the success of their businesses may translate to their overall financial health. However, it is critical that a business owner not assume that financial success in business will translate to being successful with personal finances. Instead, business owners should take the time to answer questions about their current financial picture as well as plan for retirement.

While a business owner may have most of his or her net worth tied to his or her company, diversification still matters. If a death in the family or another financial emergency occurs, it may be necessary to leave the company, even if it's not the best time to sell. Therefore, it may be worthwhile to have another source of income in the event that a business owner is forced to sell at a loss or otherwise less than market value.

Why small businesses fail in Maryland

Studies show that around 80 percent of small businesses fail within the first 18 months of operation. This is generally not due to major and obvious mistakes or lack of effort on the part of owners. Instead, things like lack of marketing, poor customer service and a bad location can be all that it takes to keep a business from doing well.

No matter how great a product or service is, if people aren't aware that it or the business that offers it exists, the business will struggle and likely fail. It's important for business owners to determine what the best methods of advertising their goods and services are and to make sure that they are making potential customers aware of their existence.

Wine entrepreneurs share their business lessons

The biographies of those who have made it to the top of the business world through persistence and hard work are reliable sources of inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs in Maryland and around the country, but successful business figures can also provide those thinking of starting a commercial venture of their own with valuable guidance. The lessons learned by the founders of California-based Barefoot Wines were revealed in a June 20 article, and they could help budding entrepreneurs to avoid a number of new business pitfalls.

Business lessons tend to be learned the hard way, and the founders of barefoot Wines say that many entrepreneurs focus so much on the big picture that they fail to take care of more mundane tasks like securing necessary permits or paying attention to minor details. The founders also say that their road to success was unpredictable, and those hoping to follow in their footsteps should develop a more flexible approach.

How business intelligence can improve the business plan

Many business owners in Maryland and throughout the nation work hard to achieve success. Besides striving to keep ahead of their competitors, they look for ways to meet the needs of their customers and increase their customer base. Using tools such as an effective business plan can empower them to reach their goals and grow their company. However, as the business world gets more intelligent with the use of data, successful owners turn to the use of business intelligence to keep pace.

Business intelligence is the way a company collects and uses data in a way that will benefit the enterprise. Because there is a huge amount of business data produced on the Internet and from various other sources, it must be analyzed before a particular company can utilize it. To do this, information technology experts use a standard process known as cross industry standard process for mining data. When the information is broken down into understandable bits of information, owners can use that information to help them make important business decisions that will give them the advantage over their competitors.

Singer and record label settle to avoid court

Maryland music fans may be familiar with the work of British songwriter, singer and actress Rita Ora. The 25-year-old's debut album "Ora" was a huge hit in 2012, but she has not put out any records since. This may be in large part due to a contentious legal battle with her record label that she became embroiled with in 2015, but media sources reported on June 7 that Ora and Roc nation had reached an out-of-court settlement.

Ora agreed to release five albums when she signed with the Jay Z-backed Roc Nation in 2008, but she became disillusioned with the label and filed legal papers in 2015 claiming that her contract violated California law and should be ruled unenforceable. The singer said at the time that Roc Nation was more interested in promoting Jay Z's other commercial ventures than fostering musical talent. She has since said that the label devotes an inappropriate amount of time and resources to the music streaming service Tidal.

How small business owners can best manage their finances

Owning a small business takes confidence and the belief that an idea is worth pursuing. It also means being smart with money and ensuring that each dollar spent will provide a return on that investment. Ideally, Maryland business owners will treat their people as an investment as opposed to a disposable commodity. Investing in the long-term success of an employee may increase that person's productivity as well as his or her loyalty to the company.

For the most part, a business owner doesn't plan for his or her business to stay small forever. Therefore, it is important to think ahead of time about how and when to make big purchases. If possible, it may be more beneficial to make purchases on a business line of credit as opposed to a personal credit card from a liability standpoint.

Why keeping business plans simple may help business owners

Some prospective Maryland entrepreneurs get bogged down when they are trying to write their business plans for their new ventures. It is fairly easy to lose sight of the big picture when writing a business plan, and many people tend to get lost in the details.

When a business owner is just starting out, it is a good idea to focus on keeping the plan as simple as possible. The obvious focus should be on the big details, such as the goals for the company, existing competitors, the direction the business owner wants to go with the company and other such details.

Organizing finances in a small business

Maryland small business owners may want to start a few new habits if they don't do these things already. One is to separate business and personal expenses. The best approach is to have separate bank accounts. Business owners might want to work with an accountant to estimate taxes, and the business account can also be used to save up for these.

Profit is not the same thing as having a healthy cash flow, and businesses need both. Business owners should ensure that this is the case. They should also prepare for times when cash flow might be limited because invoices are caught in accounts receivable. A banker might be able to sit down with a business owner and discuss options including available lines of credit for times when cash flow is tight.