When Withdrawing Is Better Than Fighting By Cliff Ennico

“For the pasclifft several years I have run a small service business with a partner. We are 50/50 owners of a limited liability company but have never signed a formal agreement.

“Over the past year, we have found ourselves disagreeing more than agreeing on things. Late last year, I discovered that my partner had formed her own company and was pitching business to some of our LLC’s clients.

“I called her on the carpet for this, and she came back with an offer to break up our company. I was only too happy to do this, as the company has hardly any assets, but when I read over the details I learned she was proposing to take virtually all of the best clients for herself, and wanted me to agree that I wouldn’t solicit these clients for a period of five years after the breakup!

“The relationship is clearly turning poisonous, and I just want to get out of it, although I don’t really want to hand everything over to her. I was the one responsible for developing most of these client relationships, and I doubt many of them will want to do business with her unless I’m involved somehow. There are one or two I may want to continue working with.

“What is the best way to end this relationship?”

Here is a rare — very rare — situation where NOT signing a formal agreement is actually a good thing!

When you form an LLC with two or more partners, it is customary to sign an operating agreement — similar to a partnership agreement — describing how the business will be run, how the partners will share profits and losses, and so forth. Normally, not signing this agreement and doing business on a handshake is a bad idea, as it opens the door to disagreements and arguments down the road.

In this case, though, probably the best thing this reader could have done is NOT sign an agreement with this partner. Why?

Because operating agreements also contain numerous clauses restricting the outside activities of the LLC owners. It is not uncommon for agreements of this type to prohibit owners from competing with the LLC business or soliciting customers for a period of two to three years after withdrawing from the company.

Had this reader signed such an agreement, she would be forced to dissolve the LLC and spend lots of time (and legal fees) negotiating with her “ex” over who gets what after the breakup, who can manage which clients, and so forth — just like ending a marriage. And as in many divorces, the negotiations can get quite heated. In extreme cases, the dispute may be thrown into judicial dissolution — a court-supervised breakup of the LLC where the judge can almost be counted on to make all of the wrong decisions about how assets should be divided.

As I understand it, the LLC has no assets except for maybe a little cash, maybe some equipment and supplies that can be easily replaced, and (most importantly) its list of customers, suppliers and other relationships. Just like a law practice that doesn’t own its clients, a business like this doesn’t own these people. While the partners may haggle over who will handle what accounts, ultimately the client decides whom they wish to do business with, and they can go wherever they wish — to another company altogether, if need be.

Because these partners never signed an operating agreement, each of them is free to do whatever they wish except steal the LLC’s trade secrets (this is prohibited by statute in most states). If the LLC has any debt, the debt remains with the LLC and neither partner is personally on the hook.

So here’s what I might recommend to this reader: Instead of engaging in a long, frustrating and fruitless negotiation with your partner, withdraw as a member of the LLC instead. Have your attorney draft a simple, one-page letter, in which you:

—Sell your 50 percent interest in the LLC to the partner for $1 and other good and valuable consideration, the receipt and sufficiency of which are hereby acknowledged.

—Resign from all positions as a member, manager, employee or agent of the LLC.

The letter of withdrawal should be effective as of the last day of the immediately preceding calendar year, and you should send it certified mail so you have proof of receipt.

But that’s it — get away clean. Then, wait a little while, set up a company of your own, and start telling your ex-clients where they can find you.

Your partner won’t be happy — in fact, I predict she will be quite furious — but as long as you avoid saying anything negative about her, and you don’t steal any LLC trade secrets (for example, be sure not to use a business name that’s too similar to the LLC’s name), there shouldn’t be anything she can do about it legally.

Cliff Ennico (crennico@gmail.com) is a syndicated columnist, author and former host of the PBS television series “Money Hunt.” This column is no substitute for legal, tax or financial advice, which can be furnished only by a qualified professional licensed in your state. To find out more about Cliff Ennico and other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit our Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2016 CLIFFORD R. ENNICO.  DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.

 

Facing Your Online Selling Fears

Fear

Whether you sell on Amazon, eBay or another online marketplace, it’s a pretty sure bet that at some point in time, you have or will find yourself second guessing on an item and worry about whether you should purchase it or not. In fact, for many sellers making a purchasing mistake is their number one fear.

Unfortunately, this actually is a legitimate fear and one that all sellers have to deal with. The truth is, there are no sellers out there that make the right decision every single time. Everyone makes mistakes and even when you’re a seasoned seller there will still be an occasional time that you overbuy or even don’t buy enough.

There is some good news, however. As you gain more experience, or rather, learn the buying process through trial and error, you can reduce your fear and begin to cut down on your risk of making a purchasing mistake.

Keep in mind though that even with experience, it still isn’t always possible to predict how well an item is actually going to do. This means you have to face the fear and work to replace it instead by concentrating on the components of buying that you do know and can have control over.

Here’s some questions you can ask yourself that can help.

How much money do you have to invest?

Although this is a simple question, it might surprise you to learn how many sellers actually have no idea what they really can spend, nor have any real idea of what all they have tied up in inventory. Once you know these numbers, it can help you to move forward without fear because you know exactly how much you have available to spend.

How much competition do you have?

Logic would tell you that if a lot of sellers are selling the same item, then the item is hot and there are profits to be made. Sadly, this isn’t always the case. A lot of the time when there are a large number of sellers and a large number of sales, it is only a matter of time before one or more sellers will decide that it is time to start dropping prices. If this happens, you need to know whether you can still make a profit or not if you too have to start lowering your prices.

How many have sold or what is the item’s sales rank?

If you’re selling on eBay, you can generally take a look at completed items to get an idea of what is selling and how much buyers are willing to pay. If you sell on Amazon it’s not quite as easy, but numbers don’t usually lie. Check the sales ranking of the item you want to buy and see how it is doing in its Amazon category. Is it a top-selling item? Even if you discover that it is doing well, you still need to take care and do some due diligence. Is this the typical rank for the item or did it just have good day and it’s normally a slow selling item. If it is the typical rank for the item, the information can then go a long way toward calming your online selling fears.

Do you still have online selling fears or have you mastered them? Leave a comment below.

Online Selling: How to change direction without getting lost

Map

When you first opened your online store, you were probably excited about all the things you wanted to sell. You worked hard to build your brand and draw buyers to your store. As time has gone by, however, perhaps the inspirational flame doesn’t burn quite as bright, or you find that your brand is no longer a good fit for your business.

While taking your store in a new direction might be what you need or want to do, how do you change directions without getting lost and losing all those loyal buyers you worked so hard to get? Below are some ideas that can help make the process a bit easier.

Is it a real direction change or just a detour?

Before you start going off in a whole new direction, make sure the changes you want to make feel authentic. Perhaps you’re merely bored and looking for something new to hold your attention. If so, it may help to just take a step back and look for ways to expand your current brand instead of going out and trying something completely new. You may find that all you really need is an updated storefront or a new logo to bring back some much-needed inspiration.

The road map

If you were taking a trip, you wouldn’t just get in your car and head off in an unknown direction. Instead, you would use a map or GPS so you would know your route before you ever pulled out of the driveway. When you decide to change the direction of your business, creating a road map to get there can help to not only keep you from getting lost, but can also ensure that you are actually headed in the direction that you want to go.

Write out what you want to do and the steps you will take to get there. If you are opening a new store, decide if and when you will close your older store. You may decide that initially it is best to operate two stores until you can slowly phase the older store out or you may find you can simply combine the older store into the new store by way of a merge.

Involve your buyers in the process

The fear of losing longtime buyers is a scary one and can often keep a seller from making a much needed direction change. When you decide to change direction, keeping your buyers involved in the process can help keep them from feeling like they’ve been abandoned. They may even become your biggest cheerleaders for your new venture. Blogging about your proposed changes ahead of time or sending out a special newsletter to let your buyers know will not only make them appreciate that you are sharing the information with them, but can often bring some much needed support if you start having doubts about what you are doing.

Have you made a direction change with your online store? Leave a comment below.

That Kat Radio Episode 40 (My Real Karma) with Alex Nikitin

 

In segment one, Alex and Kat Talked about My Real Karma:

  • Alex explained what is My Real Karma and what it does to help online sellers.
  • Alex and Kat discussed about how My Real Karma got started.
  • Alex spoke about the people behind My Real Karma and their roles in the company.
  • Alex explained further the values of My Real Karma.

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In segment two, Alex and Kat covered more about what My Real Karma can do for eCommerce Sellers.

  • Alex discussed with Kat, that My Real Karma will show up on Google search, it will let members share customer’s feedback to build more trusts between the seller and the buyer. It will also streamline the inventory processing, thus saving time and increases sales.
  • Alex mentioned that My Real Karma has developed a badge that members can put in their website or product description.
  • Alex and Kat talked more about the badge and what it does.
  • Alex explained that My Real Karma cater to active online sellers and small businesses.
  • Alex and Kat talked about that My Real Karma can help sales by creating a public profile for the members that contains all the customer’s feedback and business information. It also lets members plug in their BBB score and Gov’t licenses and registration to be as transparent as possible that will help build more trusts.
  • Alex explained that My Real Karma sets up connections with all major marketplaces like Google, Ebay and Amazon and currently establishing social media connections.
  • Alex discussed that sellers can integrate their other international accounts like Ebay or Amazon with My Real Karma.

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Segment three Alex and Kat chatted more about how My Real Karma works.

  • Alex explained that My Real Karma lets sellers reach out and connect with other online sellers.
  • Alex spoke further that My Real Karma is an access controlled website and allows only online sellers use the website.
  • Alex and Kat discussed that My Real Karma is negotiating with some of the largest suppliers to bring into the marketplace, so members can find wholesale items to buy or even sell.
  • Alex spoke about the promotions or hot deals that sellers can offer from right within My Real Karma.
  • Alex explained further about Margin and P&L calculator and how they can help sellers track their numbers.

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Segment four Alex and Kat talked more about the future of My Real Karma

  • Alex and Kat discussed that My Real Karma is currently adding more data sources and more marketplaces to connect. It also building public profile with more information on it and finishing the development of a full featured marketplace.
  • Alex told Kat that the end goal of My Real Karma is for sellers to connect to Ebay, Amazon and My Real Karma. Ebay and Amazon for sales and My Real Karma for everything else.
  • Alex explained that My Real Karma is involved with online seller communities, they go out and meet with people and explain the benefits of My Real Karma.
  • Alex explained that My Real Karma is free.
  • Alex and Kat discussed about the ways listeners can learn more and sign up for My Real Karma.

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Alex mentioned to Kat that for every listeners that will sign up  for My Real Karma and invites a friend, they will donate a dollar to a charity of their choice and a charity of their friend’s choice. They will do that for all the users and friends they invite.They just hav e to click feedback and send them a message with the name of the charity and they’ll email  the confirmation number.

 

http://www.myrealkarma.com

http://www.inventorylab.com/?utm_source=thatkat&utm_medium=banner&utm_campaign=thatkat

Website:https://myrealkarma.com

Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/myrealkarma

Twitter:https://twitter.com/myrealkarma

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/my-real-karma-bb5919ba?t      rk=hp-identity-name

 

Thinking Like a Buyer: The Art of the Sell

Brain

Using psychology to sell a product is nothing new. In fact, every time you watch a commercial or see an ad, someone somewhere has done research to know just exactly what to say or do to help convince you to buy whatever it is the commercial or ad is trying to sell.

Sadly, most of your typical online sellers don’t use psychology, or rather, they don’t “think like a buyer” when they are running their online store. This is unfortunate since connecting with a buyer on a psychological level not only can help guide them to make a purchase, but can convince them that they should even make an additional purchase or two.

What drives people to buy?

You don’t actually have to do a complete psychological profile on your buyers to know what is driving them to make a purchase. Instead, you can simply look in the mirror to get a better idea of why people buy. Think about the last few items that you bought. If you’re like most people there were certain cues that drove you to make those purchases. Maybe the cue was that you were down and thought the purchase would cheer you up. Maybe the cue was that you thought the item you were looking at was a good deal.

Whatever the reason, once you realize the cues that make you want to purchase items, you can use this same psychology to encourage your buyers to make purchases as well. Let’s take a look at some of the cues and how you can use them.

Emotion: As you know from your own purchases, the biggest reason people usually buy something is because of how it makes them feel. To encourage your buyers to make a purchase, the biggest emotion you want to touch on when you are selling an item is the one of desire. Create images and word your listings to touch on the emotion of desire. This desire can be a reward, help them solve a problems, or make the buyer feel they “deserve it.”

Convenience: Although buyers may have to wait a day or two to receive their item, playing up how convenient it is for them to make their purchase on line is a great cue to entice buyers to buy. This is an especially good point to bring up around the holidays, since you can also play off the emotion of fear (another emotion cue); as in, if they don’t buy it now – it may not be there tomorrow and they may also not be able to find it in the store either.

Justification: Buyers like it when they feel good about buying something. If you can justify why it’s a good purchase for them, the psychology to buy it will be strong. As an example, the price you are selling the item for makes your item a great value or it will make their life much easier. Both are good solid reasons that apply to logical thinking and can help you make the sale.

Incentive: This is an interesting cue because it works off both the emotional side and logical side of purchasing. For instance, telling your buyer if they purchase one item you will let them purchase a second one for ½ price appeals to their logical side while the happiness from getting a great deal works off the emotional side.

Do you use psychological cues in your selling? Leave a comment below.

Ebay to shift focus from its online marketplace

kat7

Although eBay originally began as THE online marketplace on the Internet for sellers wishing to sell the unusual and eclectic, over the last few years, the company has been going through a bit of a metamorphosis. First, they began letting big name companies such as ToysRUs sell on the website, then they separated the marketplace part of the company off from PayPal (or perhaps, PayPal separated from them).

Now, CEO Devin Wenig states that the company is working to be more of a merchandiser or retailer instead of just an open marketplace as it has been in the past. According to Small Business Trends, Wenig made the announcement at a Goldman Sach Technology and Media Conference in San Francisco back on February 10. There, he told attendees that eBay is changing from an unstructured marketplace to a highly structured one.

As you know, over the last five years the company has tried to shift away from the hard-to-find items, such as collectibles and antiques and attempted to shift the marketplace’s focus to selling newer types of products like electronic gadgets and more trendier merchandise. In more recent months, the company has also tried to shift from its reputation as an online auction house to encouraging sellers to place their items for sale at a fixed price.

Although the strategy of the company hasn’t been completely made clear, it would appear that eBay is preparing itself to become more of a challenge to Amazon. As an example, improvements are being made to the website’s search capabilities which will make searchs for items become more structured (sound familiar?). As an example, instead of all of the items that are available for sale coming up in a search, categories will now appear, such as “brand new” or “best value.” The theory to do being that it will help narrow down a buyer’s search and give them better choices that are closer to what they actually want.

Another big change is an attempt by eBay to get seller’s items back into Google search results. As you may remember, after changes were made to Google back in 2014, many sellers suddenly discovered that their items weren’t showing up in Google’s search engine. The results were catastrophic losses for eBay and its sellers alike.

While what this will mean to sellers remains somewhat unclear, eBay seems to be going under the philosophy that simpler equals better. How you do you think eBay’s changes will affect sellers? Leave a comment below.

How to advertise your online store using Twitter

Emerging Media - Twitter Bird
There are several benefits to using social media sites such as Twitter to promote your online store. It can help you reach out to new customers, connect with your buyers, and (when done correctly) even help you gain the attention of social media “influencers.” Since you are able to reach out in real time, it can even allow you to have instant conversations with buyers, which in turn can help you build your brand.

Whether you’re new to social media or just want to up you game, below are some ways you can get more bang for the buck on this popular social media website.

Develop your Twitter identity

One of the hardest parts about marketing on Twitter is that most sellers who tweet, really don’t know what to say. One way to overcome this is to think of yourself and your store as a brand. Instead of random posts, use your Twitter account to give your followers an inside look at your store. Share relevant content, such as posts from your blog or information about new item arrivals, along with more general and personal updates that allow followers and potential buyers to get to know you better.

Embrace the hashtag

The hashtag, which was once upon a time known as the pound symbol (#), was designed as an easy way for people to locate and follow conversations about topics they wanted to keep up with. Creating a hashtag for your store is an easy way to help followers keep up with you and allows them to see not only what you are saying about your store, but what other people are posting as well. Make a point to not only use the hashtag when you post something, but include it on your business cards or invoices that you send out with your orders. Encourage your buyers to use your hashtag as well.

Don’t just post – participate!

One of the biggest mistakes that many Twitter users make is that they create a lot of posts, but don’t bother to join any conversations. Find relevant content in your niche to reply to and retweet. As an example, if you sell vintage clothing, you could find influencers in this niche and reply to or retweet some of their posts. You could also reply to comments about fashion trends or compare the similarities or differences between today’s styles and the ones that you sell. Remember, the purpose of this is not to directly promote your items, but rather to simply draw attention to your store, your brand, and then ultimately – the items that you sell.

Do you use Twitter to promote your store? Leave a comment below.

3 Ways to Refresh Your EBay Store

Refresh Logo Concept

When you’re running your eBay business on a day-to-day basis, it’s often difficult to take a step back to look for areas of your store that may need a little attention or updating. For most sellers, it’s simply “set it and forget it,” or rather, they open their store and after the initial setup, all of their attention is on their listings. It might not really seem important, after all, you are making sales…but taking some time to refresh certain areas of your store can not only help it to look better, but may actually help you increase your chances for bigger sales and higher success.

Refresh your About page

EBay gives you a little area on your About page where you can tell buyers a little bit about yourself and your store. It appears when someone clicks on your eBay user name and is also the page people can go to to follow you on. If it’s been a while since you’ve looked at your About page, take a little time to update the information there or reword it to reflect the type of seller you are today. You can also use it to add more information about your eBay business or provide a glimpse into what your store is really all about.

Refresh those Collections

A while back, eBay decided to do something similar to Pinterest and gave sellers an opportunity to create “Collections” (similar to Pinterest boards) of items they sell or like on eBay. While some sellers have taken full advantage of their Collections, others played with the concept when it initially started, but then never really did anything. Refresh your Collections by adding some new items to your Collections, if you already have the boards set up, or create some Collections with your current items. You can also generate a little interest for your store by following other people’s collections as many people will “Follow” back someone who has followed them.

Refresh your photo or logo

If you’ve been around eBay for a while, you know this is one of their favorite things to do. Over the years, eBay’s logo has been puffy and balloon like and then sleek and streamlined. If you’ve had the same old tired logo for a long time or your photo on your About page is several years old, updating it can breathe new life into your business and draw new attention to your store.

Have you refreshed or updated your storefront lately? Leave a comment below.

Is it time for you to join the online marketplace?

Cash register: "Welcome to our store"
Whether you own a brick-and-mortar store or simply want to make a little extra money, selling online is definitely the way to go if you want to increase your revenue stream. Interestingly, while selling on your own website use to be the way to go, today more and more people (and businesses!) are choosing to sell online in places like eBay, Amazon and Etsy.

Although it may seem counterproductive to use another venue when you have already your own business website, there are some advantages to using a big online marketplace over trying to sell through your site.

First, you don’t have to spend a lot of money on marketing because it’s all already been done for you. As an example, Amazon not only helps you come up with keywords and ideas for listing your item’s product features, but they will help you showcase your products online. They also show you item rankings, so you know how your products are selling or how they are expected to sell.

Second, you don’t have to worry about getting your products to show up in search engines. Instead, as soon as your products are listed and appearing online, they appear in the marketplace’s built-in search engines and will even eventually get cataloged through the actual big search engines, such as Google and Yahoo.

So, what should you do if you do want to take advantage of selling on an online marketplace.

1. Take it slow. You will find there is a learning curve with each online marketplace. If you’ve never sold anywhere other than through your own store or website, it’s best to take them one at a time and learn about each separate marketplace before moving on to the next.

2. Research the fees associated with each marketplace. It can be a bit of a shock to have a super month in sales only to receive a large invoice for fees that you must pay at the end of the month. In some cases, you may find that you need to list your item for higher than what you actually sell it for in your store, or that the item is better suited for one marketplace over the other because of how much it will cost for you to list it there.

3. Remember that you are basically on your own. Although there is an abundance of training out there, you are pretty much by yourself when it comes to setting things up. Some sellers have found that it is easier to hire someone to initially set their online accounts up for them, or if you already have a full-time job, let someone else handle your day-to-day listings.

4. Start slow and see how it goes. Depending on what you sell, you may find that you are not prepared for the amount of inventory that you are moving. Make sure that you have a plan in place for replacing inventory as it sells and a strategy to help ensure that you can maintain the amount of inventory that you will need.

Are you considering joining the online marketplace? Leave a comment below.

Selling 101: What You Should Know About BOLOs – Part Two

EBRP police car 1 8-22-09

As you may recall, last week we talked about what you needed to know about BOLOs (Be On the Lookout Out for) items and what you should do if you locate one. This week, we are going to take things one step further and discuss whether or not you should share a BOLO when you find one.

 
Although the decision ultimately is up to you, there are some things you should consider.

 
First, is the item you have found actually a BOLO? In some cases, you may find that although the item you have found is listed for a high dollar amount, it may not actually be a good item to buy or share with others (if that is what you plan to do). If you’re listing on Amazon, you want to check for both the item’s rank and its ROI (return on investment) and make sure that both of these are good. If you are checking eBay, you want to look at completed and sold items, not just that there are a ton of item listings.

 
Second, you need to know if the item really is hard to find or if it is simply a popular item that has a good resell value. If it can be found at every Walgreen or Target, you may be able to buy it at a good price and resell or flip it for a good price, but it’s only a matter of time before other people discover it and start doing the same thing.

 

At that point, the market will most likely become over-saturated and no one is going to make anything. Even worse, if buyers discover they can pick one up at almost any store, you’re liable to be stuck with a bunch of the items that you may not be able to return.

 

If you discover that the item really is a BOLO and that it is hard to find, the next thing you must decide is whether or not you want to let other people know about it. As mentioned above, this is a personal decision for everyone. Some people feel that sharing is a way of giving back and believe in helping others the same way they were once helped, while other people feel that you need to protect your source and that business is business.

 

While it’s one thing to decide to share your own BOLO, before you share an item that you have found that someone else revealed in a group (particularly a private group), you need to determine how it will not only affect you, but the other person that initially provided you with the BOLO. Think about how you would feel if it was reversed.

Finally, if it is your own BOLO, decide whether it will really matter to you if the sellers you give the BOLO to refer it to others. If you share with a small group, then one of them decides to share, you will need to determine how you will handle it. If it’s going to be a big deal to you, then it may be best to just keep it to yourself.

 

Do you believe in sharing BOLOs with other sellers? Have you ever had a bad experience doing this? Leave a comment below.