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It’s a scary feeling when you see great opportunity for your business but have serious doubts about your ability to capitalize on it. That’s precisely the situation Jim Beck, CEO of Nature’s Best, found himself in more than a decade ago. The distributor of vitamins and health and beauty aids had an outdated warehousing system designed for an industry that had completely changed. The health food craze was taking off in a big way and presented nearly limitless opportunities for Beck’s business to grow. Instead of just vitamins, the company could now sell frozen foods, chilled products and other products…
When Eve Yen arrived in the United States 20 years ago from Taiwan, she wasn’t thinking about building a multimillion-dollar business, she just needed a way to support her family. “I was bringing my daughter over here for the schools, for a better education,” says Yen, founder, owner and president of Diamond Wipes International Inc. “My thinking was if I could have one machine, I could make money to pay the rent.” Building the business from a small restaurant wipe supplier to the largest consumer and industrial wet wipes manufacturer on the West Coast wasn’t easy, but Yen had her…
The word “love” is not often used in business, but at Silverado, it’s a word we use every day. In fact, it’s a central part of our core operating philosophy. It’s fitting that a company dedicated to enriching the human spirit would echo a loving and caring outlook, but we take that even one step further. For us, love is an actionable idea — one that we characterize with the phrase, “Love is greater than fear.” And we’ve found that this mantra has made a positive impact across the business. It’s such a powerful concept that I get mixed reactions…
Marketing seems to be a weakness of most business owners. We are great at our core business, but when faced with a myriad of marketing options in today’s digital world, it’s often easier to do nothing at all. Marketing needs vary based on the point you are at in your business cycle. In the early stages of my company, I needed to grow, but didn’t have the funds or resources to do much marketing. But the techniques I put in place were so successful that I continue to use and share these methods today. Here are a few seeds you…
We’ve all heard stories — many of which have taken on legendary proportions — about extraordinary service provided by the likes of Nordstrom, Disney and Ritz-Carlton employees. The luxury retail and hospitality industries have elevated customer service expectations in every business category, from fast food to financial, and yes, even pediatric hospital services. The difference is that at the Children’s Hospital of Orange County, nothing less than children’s lives are at stake, and it’s our honor, privilege and sacred obligation to serve. The prospect of entering a children’s hospital can be terrifying. A parent’s most precious gift, his or her…
Working capital. Every business needs it, but at what cost? One path to obtaining affordable working capital is through factoring, a simple and easy concept to understand. Factoring companies provide businesses with working capital by purchasing their client’s outstanding receivables. Typically, a factoring transaction is an arrangement between three parties (client, factor and vendor) all of which are businesses. The business owner understands his or her profit margins and the expense associated with factoring while the factor evaluates the risk. In most cases, the increase in cash flow will not only justify the cost, but actually lower operating margins by…
Despite their vital role in the global economy, entrepreneurs are often misunderstood. “By developing new businesses, they create jobs, increase economic activity and drive innovation,” explains Maria T. Pinelli, global vice chair, Strategic Growth Markets, EY. Yet, she says, decades of academic research into the topic have produced no universal definition of entrepreneurship, and no agreement about the precise traits and behaviors that characterize entrepreneurial leaders. As founders of the EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year™ program, the world’s most prestigious business award for entrepreneurs, EY undertook its own research to unlock the entrepreneurial DNA. “Although entrepreneurs operate across a…
It seemed as if Alan J. Fuerstman could not have picked a worse time to open two new hotels. In late 2008, the economy was in free fall as the global recession took hold. Leaders everywhere found themselves scrambling to see how deeply they would have to cut their expenses. And in the midst of all that tumult, Fuerstman prepared to open a new property in Beverly Hills, Calif., for Montage Hotels & Resorts. “My concern was we’d be opening a hotel in a market in Beverly Hills that had been traditionally running occupancies in our luxury sphere in the…
Year-end audits can be headaches for companies, as management takes time from busy schedules to gather information required by auditors. But a little preparation can make for a much smoother audit process. “The first quarter is as busy for management as it is for us,” says Kami Refa, a partner at Moss Adams LLP. “But if the right control processes are in place throughout the year, the preparation for year-end audits become relatively easier, since the majority of the auditor’s requests should already be prepared as part of the company’s annual closing process.” Smart Business spoke with Refa about year-end …
We’re in the midst of a crisis of leadership — a situation that has weighed down economic development in the public and private sectors, says H. Eric Schockman, Ph.D., chair and associate professor at the Center for Leadership at Woodbury University, where he focuses on nurturing the next cadre of leaders coming up through the ranks. “We know that leaders aren’t born,” he says. “There’s an evolutionary process of skills, training and maturation that defines leadership development. There’s now a burgeoning demand for better skilled, analytically-trained people to move into positions of leadership.” Smart Business spoke with Schockman about the…
In a typical organization, 5 percent of revenue is lost to fraud, according to a 2012 global fraud study by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. According to the study, fraud cases result in a median loss of approximately $140,000, with most lasting about 18 months before they’re detected. What surprises many companies is that it’s not the new hires who are commit fraud — it’s longtime employees.“The ones that have been with you for 20 or 30 years are the most problematic,” says Scott Swearingen, a partner at Moss Adams LLP. “They’re trusted more, so more opportunities for fraud…
Executive compensation is something stockholders really don’t care about when a company is profitable and stock values are going up and paying dividends. And right now, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is seesawing around a record high 16,000 mark. But there are times when people do wonder what’s going on. Last year, Bloomberg Businessweek compared executive compensation to the average workers’ pay. The highest ratio was at the J.C. Penney Co., where the CEO’s annual compensation was $53 million. His workers’ pay, on average, was $29,700 — a ratio of 1,795-to-1. He was fired shortly thereafter because he had spent…
Friday, 03 January 2014 04:59

Weighing in on health care reform: Orange County

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The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, often called the Affordable Care Act represents some of the most far-reaching government overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system since 1965 when Medicare and Medicaid came into being. It will be phased in over time, but a number of changes have been delayed and won’t be in effect until 2015. The act focuses on increasing the rate of health insurance coverage for American and reducing health care costs. Here’s what some area businesses have on their minds about health care reform as the time nears for the full impact of the ACA: Loren…
Thursday, 19 December 2013 10:56

How Joseph Lacko is helping social media evolve

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Joseph Lacko is a patient man, and that’s a trait that is often in short supply in the entrepreneurial world. His ability to sit back and monitor the competitive landscape and let it guide his decisions is one that can easily conflict with those around him. “My goals are a little more abstract,” says Lacko, who is the creator of San Clemente-based Koomkey. “It drives my developer a little crazy. He wants us to create these solid benchmarks, and I just feel that social media is in a constant state of evolution. If we’re going to be a serious player,…
This wasn’t the same company Jim Beck had joined right out of high school back in 1972. Beck had married into Nature’s Best, a distributor of vitamins and health and beauty aids. It was owned by the family of Beck’s wife and he went right to work as the company’s technology guy. “I was responsible for all the major technology initiatives that supported the business,” Beck says. “And in the early 2000s, from my technology perspective at an executive level, I started to become aware that our processes for warehousing no longer fit our business.” In Beck’s words, Nature’s Best…
Each year, we produce and promote 25 nationally and internationally televised mixed martial arts events to more than 125 countries around the world that are seen live here in the U.S. on Spike TV in 100 million homes. In the complex world of live sports event production, everything that comes before the actual event produces significantly more stress than the event itself. The preparation, structure, timing and elaborate and hyper-specific sequential orchestration place immense stress on every member of my team. As we prepare for our 110th event in February, here is a small collection of focal points that should…
Fear is a wild emotion for many reasons. When you bring fear into business, however, it can be a distraction, handicapping your growth and blinding you from opportunity. Unlike fear in a horror movie, where you know only bad things can happen, fear in business is quite different. Those who can overcome it will often achieve great results. When you find yourself saying, “I’m afraid,” try to determine what is really making you afraid. Is it a fear of making cold calls? Is it making contact for that big deal or asking a business alliance for help? Once you have…
There are very few written policies that are required by law to be provided to employees, but there are certain policies companies can adopt to protect themselves and reduce their liability exposures. This can either be done though a company handbook or by distributing individual policies to employees. “Courts have said that by advising employees of certain information, the burden shifts from the employer proving something didn’t happen to the employee proving something did. That can be a significant difference in an employer’s ability to defend itself both in terms of success and cost,” says Jeffrey Dinkin, a shareholder at…
Gary Mulloy discovered a company in the midst of a major transformation when he became chairman and CEO of Money Mailer in July 2010. He just wasn’t sure it was the right change for the direct mail marketing company. “The senior management team had a vision that it wanted to be a different kind of company with a different mix of products and services,” Mulloy says. “And it wanted to do that with different clients than the company was currently servicing. That theoretically can be done. But that is such a departure from what you have as a business that…
While brick-and-mortar stores add apps to reach customers on tablets and smartphones, e-commerce retailers are exploring ways to establish traditional storefronts, says Frank Kaufman, a partner and National Retail Practice Leader at Moss Adams LLP. “The hottest topic these days is the omnichannel approach. Retailers want to engage customers at all points,” says Kaufman. “It’s about how you push information to consumers. That could be through text messages, social media, or signing them up for a geo program so you can identify their location and send a coupon to their phone when they’re near your store.” Smart Business spoke with…
Rules added through the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act eliminate the prohibition on using advertising and general solicitation to court investors to buy securities in certain unregistered offerings. While this has created possibilities, it has also imposed conditions. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requires companies that generally solicit investors to take “reasonable steps” to verify that all purchasers in the offering are accredited. But there’s no bright line test to verify accreditation, says Michael Lawhead, an attorney at Stradling Yocca Carlson & Rauth. “Reasonable steps” are objective determinations made by the company in the context of each offering and…
Bjorn Rebney was not to be denied, even after spending 16 months meeting with 61 investors and walking out each time without a financial commitment to support his dream. “I characterize myself as pleasantly relentless, and I tested the limits of my pleasantly relentless personality when I was going out trying to get funding,” Rebney says. He had been hoping to get funding to launch a mixed martial arts business, a sport of which his passion for stretches back 20 years. “It’s as pure and straight forward as it gets,” Rebney says. “It’s one man vs. one man in a…
The Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS), passed in early 2012, mandates that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) adopt rules to help start-ups and small businesses raise capital. Because of this, companies can advertise, market and publicly disclose that they are fundraising. The change also allows companies to raise up to $1 million from a large number of “nonaccredited,” or non-high net worth investors. Smart Business spoke with Mark L. Skaist, shareholder and co-chair, Corporate and Securities Practice, at Stradling Yocca Carlson & Rauth about what this could mean for businesses.Why does it matter that companies can advertise that…
When Rupesh Shah saw headlines about companies cutting costs, staff and basically whatever they could to stay afloat, he wanted to take another course as the recession that began in 2008 tightened its grip on the American economy. “Anyone can cut costs, and that’s probably the low-hanging fruit,” says Rupesh, co-president at M S International Inc. “But we view cost-cutting as a last resort. If everything else fails, let’s look at cost-cutting. We said, ‘Let’s take a hard look at our business. If we know the industry is contracting, how can we expand our addressable industry?’” MSI is a distributor…
It is a little known fact that there’s a strong connection between the success of a deal and the team assembled to get it done. “Management needs to be very diligent about selecting members of its internal and external deal team; it’s critical that the teams have the right fit, experience and industry expertise,” says Goody Agahi, a shareholder at Stradling Yocca Carlson & Rauth. Smart Business spoke with Agahi about what it takes to assemble a strong mergers and acquisitions (M&A) deal team.What is a deal team and how is it composed? A deal team generally consists of key…
Business owners tend to put off succession planning if they don’t intend to exit in the near future. But circumstances can change quickly, and not having a plan in place could be a costly mistake. “Every business, large or small, will reach a point where a decision needs to be made as to the next step regarding ownership,” says Corinne Baughman, a partner at Moss Adams LLP. “Whether the transition is one year or 10 years away, it needs to be part of the overall plan for any company.” Smart Business spoke to Baughman about the process of succession planning…
Corporate governance has become a popular topic. While it primarily pertains to the governance of public companies, it can be a useful set of policies and procedures to help guide a private company by fostering discipline and informed decision-making. “Historically, private company boards have been more casual in how they’re organized and how they act, but more recently private company boards and their stockholders are looking for more accountability,” says Christopher Ivey, shareholder and co-chair of the corporate and securities practice at Stradling Yocca Carlson & Rauth. Smart Business spoke with Ivey about corporate governance for private companies and best…
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