NYTECH: Advice on Growing a Business
By Lauren Keyson
At the NY Technology Council’s Holiday Party last week, several of the members talked about their companies and had advice for entrepreneurs and startups, including attorney William Bierce of Bierce & Kenerson, a corporate and technology law firm that focuses on taking small companies global and handling their corporate, tech, information, property employment and finance. His firm helps startups grow quickly and provides the following advice for entrepreneurs: “First you need to have some hooks to hang onto, and those hooks are basically starting an intellectual property. You also need your agreement with the people who you are working with, because if you can’t get along with your cofounders, you just spoiled your opportunity so get squared away fast, have a clear idea, and have a good game plan. It’s important to really understand the infrastructure upon which you build your business. If you have no infrastructure, you do everything solo and you’re not quite sure – it’s what you don’t know that’s going to hurt you.”
Lou Garay is a marketing strategist at Squeaky Wheel Media, a digital agency that focuses on building websites agreed. “If you are going to start a new business or even just launch a website for your business, you need to plan ahead. You need a strategy, because without one in place it’s not going to work officially. Groupon is a perfect example – right now they are having a lot of issues in terms of their board and their CEO and their profits are down. But had they been more than a regular startup, and had a better plan in place, they would not be in the predicament they are in now — teetering on getting rid of their CEO.
Lou Pizzileo is a partner at Cohn Reznick, an accounting tax consultant for early to mid-stage venture funded software digital media companies, said that it was never too early to hire a specialist. “First, accountants are important especially with respect to taxes — that’s usually where we first develop the relationship. A business needs to keep its financial house in order. We also help when companies go to raise capital, either from angels or the venture community. There are lots of opportunities to structure correctly, and there are refundable incentives in New York that are often overlooked.
Michael Lopez is a NYTECH board member and a partner at EisnerAmper, a large accounting firm steeped in the emerging technology community. “Do it right from the beginning, that’s the reason to hire a firm like ours. There are lots of things that young entrepreneurs don’t know about in regards to the financial aspects of their business. They are bright people with great ideas and great technologies, but they have a problem growing the business. They don’t know a lot of the nuances of the financial side of business, even the proper formation of a company, what to do early on, making sure that their payroll issues are taken care of properly making sure that their tax issues are taken care of properly, making sure that all of their insurance issues are taken care of properly. For example, a company came to us because they have two people on their payroll — not a lot of dollars on payroll. They never procured worker compensation insurance and got a notice in the mail from the NY Department of Labor Board charging them with a $50,000 penalty for not having coverage on the two employees that they were paying $50,000 a year. So they ask, ‘What should we do? We didn’t know first of all that we needed something as simple as getting an insurance broker to get workers comp and disability coverage for our company.’ They need help from an accountant in resolving the issue of NY State coming down hard on them.”
Ron Cabral of ReGroup, IT data and managed services, is in sales. When he parted ways with his employer, he decided to start his own company. His suggestion for entrepreneurs who want to do the same? “Persistence, that’s all it is. You have to keep going, you have to make sure you have a target you want to get, and you just keep doing it. It’s not easy, it’s really hard to do sales, but if you build a relationship with the people that you want to do business with, they need to see that you are genuine. If they see that you really just want to help, and are not just there to make a sale, then they will do business with you. It’s just persistence.”