Four Steps for Starting a Business Today
Edward Hess: The hurdles are higher to starting a business today than they were in 2006. 2006, financing was easier, consumers were spending, jobs were plentiful, if you started a business and failed you could easily go get a job. Today financing is not plentiful. Consumers are not spending and if you fail, getting a job is probably very hard, so I would be very risk adverse today and again I would start a business part time nights and weekends and keep my day job until I was sure it worked unless you had substantial wherewithal, money, family and friends that could support you or the other big if, if you’ve got a big customer who says go start this and I will buy from you and I will help finance you or you’ve got multiple customers.
Let’s say for example you want to open up a deli that you don’t have a great New York deli in the town you live in no matter where that is and you want to have a great deli, thick sandwiches, high quality homemade bread.
Step One: Research the Competition
First you need to do your research. There are very few ideas that I'm going to come up with or you’re going to come up with that are truly unique. Somebody has done it before.
Step Two: Identify Your Compelling Customer Value Proposition
Then I would sit back and say how am I going to be different, what am I going to offer to the customer that is compelling and different that is going to get the customer to change.
Step Three: Start Small
Then I would figure out how to try and start small. For example, I wouldn’t go out and borrow a lot of money in the beginning. I wouldn’t go out and rent space before I even tried. I’d look at either farmers markets or some type of kiosk type situation. How can I make some sandwiches and go out and try and sell them and see what customers think?
Step Four: Get Granular
Then you do the numbers if you will and you go down and say what is it going to cost me a month an my operating expenses. If my operating expenses are $5,000 a month how many sandwiches do I have to sell every day?
I would be cautious, conservative. Experiment, try, build up a customer base, but I wouldn’t take a lot of financial risk in today’s marketplace unless you have a big nest egg.
Directed / Produced by
Jonathan Fowler & Elizabeth Rodd
In the current weakened economy, financing isn't plentiful and fall-back jobs are scarce. But there is still plenty of opportunity out there for entrepreneurs.
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- The Yugoslav Wars started in 1991, but never really ended
- Kosovo and Serbia are still enemies, and they're getting worse
- A proposed land swap could create peace - or reignite the conflict
The death of Old Yugoslavia
Image: public domain
United Yugoslavia on a CIA map from 1990.
After the wars
Image: Ijanderson977, CC BY-SA 3.0 / Wikimedia Commons
So when was the last shot fired? Perhaps it never was: it's debatable whether the Yugoslav Wars are actually over. That's because Kosovo is a special case. Although inhabited by an overwhelming ethnic-Albanian majority, Kosovo is of extreme historical and symbolic significance for Serbians. More importantly, from a legalistic point of view: Kosovo was never a separate republic within Yugoslavia but rather a (nominally) autonomous province within Serbia.
Kosovo divides the world
Image: public domain
In red: states that have recognised the independence of Kosovo (most EU member states – with the notable exceptions of Spain, Greece, Romania and Slovakia; and the U.S., Japan, Turkey and Egypt, among many others). In blue: states that continue to recognise Serbia's sovereignty over Kosovo (most notably Russia and China, but also other major countries such as India, Brazil, Mexico, South Africa and Iran).
The government of Serbia has made its peace and established diplomatic relations with all other former Yugoslav countries, but not with Kosovo. In Serbian eyes, Kosovo's declaration of independence in 2008 was a unilateral and therefore legally invalid change of state borders. Belgrade officially still considers Kosovo a 'renegade province', and it has a lot of international support for that position (2). Not just from its historical protector Russia, but also from other states that face separatist movements (e.g. Spain and India).
Despite their current conflict, Kosovo and Serbia have the same long-term objective: membership of the European Union. Ironically, that wish could lead to Yugoslav reunification some years down the road – within the EU. Slovenia and Croatia have already joined, and all other ex-Yugoslav states would like to follow their example. Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia have already submitted an official application. The EU considers Bosnia and Kosovo 'potential candidates'.
Kosovo is the main stumbling block on Serbia's road to EU membership. Even after the end of hostilities, skirmishes continued between the ethnically Albanian majority and the ethnically Serbian minority within Kosovo, and vice versa in Serbian territories directly adjacent. Tensions are dormant at best. A renewed outbreak of armed conflict is not unthinkable.
Land for peace?
The protracted death of Yugoslavia will be over only when this simmering conflict is finally resolved. The best way to do that, politicians on both sides have suggested, is for the borders reflect the ethnic makeup of the frontier between Kosovo and Serbia.
The biggest and most obvious pieces of the puzzle are the Serbian-majority district of Mitrovica in northern Kosovo, and the Albanian-majority Presevo Valley, in southwestern Serbia. That land swap was suggested previous summer by no less than Hashim Thaci and Aleksandar Vucic, presidents of Kosovo and Serbia respectively. Best-case scenario: that would eliminate the main obstacle to mutual recognition, joint EU membership and future prosperity.
If others can do it...
Image: Ruland Kolen
Sceptics - and more than a few locals - warn that there also is a worst-case scenario: the swap could rekindle animosities and restart the war. A deal along those lines would almost certainly exclude six Serbian-majority municipalities enclaved deep within Kosovo. While Serbian Mitrovica, which borders Serbia proper, is home to some 40,000 inhabitants, those enclaves represent a further 80,000 ethnic Serbs – who fear being totally abandoned in a land swap, and eventually forced out of their homes.
Western powers, which sponsored Kosovo's independence, are divided over the plan. U.S. officials back the idea, as do some within the EU. But the Germans are against – they are concerned about the plan's potential to fire up regional tensions rather than eliminate them.
Borders are the Holy Grail of modern nationhood. Countries consider their borders inviolate and unchanging. Nevertheless, land swaps are not unheard of. Quite recently, Belgium and the Netherlands exchanged territories so their joint border would again match up with the straightened course of the River Meuse (3). But those bits of land were tiny and uninhabited. And as the past has amply shown, borders pack a lot more baggage in the Balkans.
The controversy around the Torah codes gets a new life.
- Mathematicians claim to see a predictive pattern in the ancient Torah texts.
- The code is revealed by a method found with special computer software.
- Some events described by reading the code took place after the code was written.
- Facebook and Google began as companies with supposedly noble purposes.
- But pressure to return value to shareholders came at the expense of their own users.
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