December 2004

Cover Story

Finance fix.its: Multiple choice

Phil Dworsky?s grandfather came to the United States from Europe in the early 1900s with little more than his skills as a cooper. But he turned those talents into a barrel refurbishing business that stayed in the family?s hands for more than 90 years.

When the third generation sold Consolidated Container Co. to a public entity in 1998, it began a string of four ownership groups in six years. Customer service dropped. Employee morale sank. And the once-solid company had begun to lose its way. Continue reading →

Letter From the Editor


Calling all small-business owners who would like to win expert help to build their companies: You can now enter the Upsize Growth Challenge 2005, presented by Fredrikson & Byron, our unique contest that selects three winning presidents and matches them with experts to help them grow. Continue reading →


Legal fix.its: Inner circle

When Chuck Dorsey took over as CEO of Plymouth-based Halo Innovations Inc. in 2003, he made meeting the company?s attorney, Dan Tenenbaum of Gray Plant Mooty, one of his first priorities.

?I don?t know whether other companies do this or not, but Dan is at every one of our board meetings,? says Dorsey. ?Any communications I have with the board, he gets copied on. He gets our monthly financials, he gets regular updates that I send to the board. Continue reading →

Tech fix.its: Natural selection

Technology. It?s a word that puts a sparkle in some business owners? eyes and strikes fear into the hearts of others.

But it?s impossible to do business today without incorporating technology, whether it?s a customer database, a high-tech phone system, or an entirely new product. Finding a vendor who will truly understand your business is key in order to make the most of your technology budget. Continue reading →

Marketing fix.its: Empire building

No matter how well a company is managed or how compelling its products, marketing challenges will always abound.

Here?s a sampling of some difficulties faced by smaller companies that found themselves in a marketing puzzle, and how they managed to put the pieces together. Continue reading →

Business Builders

Finance fix.its: Management

When a significant change such as a merger or acquisition occurs it is wise to pay special attention to the human capital in your company. Continue reading →

Finance fix.its: Cash flow

As the owner of every small business knows, earning a profit is one thing. Managing cash flow is another. Continue reading →

Finance fix.its: M&A

One of the most common tax dilemmas arises when an owner attempts to sell a business and discovers the net after-tax proceeds substantially reduced by the dreaded double tax that impacts a C corporation. Continue reading →

Marketing fix.its: Advertising

Your company is excited. You are rolling out a new product. An advertising campaign is chosen as the best vehicle for spreading the word to your consumers.

The company?s internal advertising department begins work on the project, or an outside agency is retained. The "creative" staff comes back with various concepts by which they believe sales will be generated. Continue reading →

Tech fix.its: Service

Your company wages a battle every day in the war to win customers. Troops of employees armed with knowledge and experience come face-to-face with the super-human powers of the Web.

Information such as real-time stock quotes (once accessible exclusively through stockbrokers) and homes-for-sale listings (available only through certified real estate agents via the multiple listing service) are now accessible to just about everyone. Continue reading →

Tech fix.its: Web content

?I just visited your Web site. I?d like to talk to you about what I found there.?

Imagine, for a moment, one of your customers saying this. Or a prospect. Or a shareholder. Or a potential employee.

Would you cringe? Or would you prepare for a compliment? Continue reading →

Legal fix.its: Compensation

Did August 23, 2004, come and go before you were able to conduct an audit of your workforce?

Employers must ensure that all employees are properly classified as exempt or nonexempt under the new Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) regulations. They may have to change classifications, job descriptions and payroll practices accordingly, and implement new employment policies. Continue reading →