Case Study: SME Capital Markets: Educating the Small Business Owner

IntroductionSmall business owners spend years growing their dreams into income streams that support them and their families. They sink every dime they have into developing websites, offering new products, and getting in front of potential customers. Over time, these businesses grow into entities of pride and value. It is impossible not to feel proud of an endeavor that started as an idea and evolved into a way to earn a substantial or comfortable living.In the process of becoming a consistent and viable way to earn a living, small businesses become inherently valuable. Owning a business is like owning stock, only you own all of it. The problem, though, is finding a way to recapture some of the value you have created. Imagine owning a $1 million dollar business, but not being able to access any of that $1 million. It is a challenging situation, and it is not unique. Small business owners tend to have nearly all of their wealth in their businesses, which means that they cannot diversify their investments and protect themselves from normal business risk.There is a way out of this predicament, and SME Capital Markets is ready to help. With a plethora of resources and advice available, small business owners can learn how to take their businesses public on Going public is not the exclusive domain of large companies with hundreds of millions of dollars in their war chests. A small public offering can be a viable way for small business owners to recapture some of the wealth they have created.Your Most Valuable AssetSmall business owners tend to have the vast majority of their wealth tied up in their businesses. This means that you can take the actual cash that you earn (after expenses), but you cannot tap into the full value of your business. For private companies, a rule of thumb is that your business is worth 2.5 times earnings – essentially 2.5 times what you make after business expenses and salaries. After you pay all your expenses, including your salary, you have a certain amount of cash left over. Your business is worth more than twice that amount, but you cannot reach the total value. So, you have a dilemma.SME Capital Markets helps small business owners increase the value of their companies and access that value. Focused on small companies, SME Capital Markets provides information and advice on how to go public. The information and advice is focused on the issues that smaller businesses face; large companies should look elsewhere.SME Capital Markets offers all the resources that small business owners need to make an informed decision about going public. The website offers reports, original research, and mountains of data. Using this information, small business owners can decide if going public is right for them. If it is, they can contact the company’s principal, Brad Smith, to explore a public offering in more detail. Prices for information are quite reasonable, making it easy for small business owners to understand what it means to go public, and whether to take the next step.Cashing OutSME Capital Markets offers real advice for small business owners. Their goal is not to drag you into a difficult decision that is not appropriate for a business of your size. Instead, they prefer to help you make an informed decision. If the decision is to go public, they will help you every step of the way. Electing to go public is a serious decision, requiring a considerable amount of work (just to make the decision). SME Capital Markets endeavors to make this a realistic option for small business owners while not pushing them into unnecessary complexity.There is a special environment for small businesses that go public – the Over the Counter Bulletin Board ( OTCBB ). Unlike the big IPOs of the dotcom days, the OTCBB is for smaller companies that want to generate more capital (either for growth or as a way for the business owner to cash out). Stock prices are lower, and the stock trading patters are a bit trickier than for large companies. This venue, though, allows successful small business owners to recapture much of the wealth that they created – and otherwise would not be able to touch.Going public also can increase the value of your business. As mentioned earlier, the value of a small business usually is determined by multiplying your earnings by 2 ½. Not bad, right? Your business is worth more than twice the income it generates. By taking your small business public, though, it could be worth much more. Public companies tend to trade at more than 5 times the company’s earnings, so by going public, you can double the value of your company.That is the goal of SME Capital Markets. They want to help small companies that are ready to take a big step. But, they want to help in a way that only works to the benefit of the small business owner.How the Web HelpedSME Capital Markets chose to market its services via the web for many reasons. Essentially, the web opened a much larger market to the company than simply pursuing clients through word of mouth networks or traditional print advertising. Small business owners represent a diverse, disparate market. Small business owners can be hard to find. Print advertising would have been inefficient, since small business owners read the publications that matter to their businesses. A small online retailer, for example, is more likely to read publications that cater to online retailers than small businesses. The information in the former is much more directly valuable.The information offered by SME Capital Markets is easily delivered over the web. Small business owners can save up to 10% of the cost of a report by downloading it instead of paying for shipping and handling. The information is easy to find, and customers can access it quickly. As a result, using the web for its major presence was natural; SME Capital Markets can make its products more accessible and less expensive by operating online. This helps SME Capital Markets fulfill its mission of helping small businesses make difficult decisions without having to spend a fortune.Lessons for Small BusinessesSME Capital Markets offers a twofold lesson for small businesses across the country. First, the services offered by this company offer small business owners a way to tap into the value of their businesses while potentially increasing that value (by going public). Also, SME Capital Markets has used the web as a way to communicate information quickly and efficiently to a distributed audience without having to increase its prices to reach this audience.Helping small companies is fundamental to the mission of SME Capital Markets. In the world of finance, fortunes are made with larger businesses. To enter the small public company space requires a focus on service instead of astronomical profits; there is no other reason to enter that market. Consequently, SME Capital Markets remains focused on its purpose of helping small business owners enjoy the wealth they have created but cannot access. Going public is not the right decision for every small business, but SME Capital Markets can help you decide if it is the right decision for you.In accomplishing its mission, SME Capital Markets has demonstrated the importance of using the web. The entire business would not have been viable without a way to reach a diverse, fragmented market. With the development of a simple website, using prepackaged and inexpensive components for processing payments and disseminating information, SME Capital Markets was able to launch in a short period of time and begin to serve its constituency. Its materials are accessible to entrepreneurs who may not be able to find them otherwise.SME Capital Markets used the web to assemble expertise, generate information, and reach its market quickly and effectively, demonstrating the potency of an online presence for small businesses. With the work of SME Capital Markets, entrepreneurs can focus on new growth techniques while learning the flexibility of the online business environment.Copyright 2006 Daniel Scheff

Are Erotic Photography and Pornography the Same Thing?

Erotic photography and porn are the same thing, right?That’s the most frequent question I get when I tell people that I researched erotic photography. But according to my colleagues and I, we’d tell you ‘No, it’s definitely not porn.’ And so would the photographers who take these types of pictures. And we would know. Because we asked them.Generally, erotica is material for the purpose of arousing or titillating individuals. Porn, on the other hand, is for the purpose of sexually arousing or gratifying individuals.We used the term erotic photography because it captures a broad range of work including boudoir, semi-nude, nude, sensual, erotic, and explicit. Some photographers preferred the term boudoir. It’s French so obviously it sounds classy and boudoir conjures up images of lingerie and satin sheets versus penetrative sex.But not only did we ask the photographers if erotic photography is the same as porn, we asked what a typical erotic photography photo shoot looks like, how it works, who their clients were (not their names, just general descriptors), and how the photographers create this sexually intimate atmosphere with clients.So what does erotic photography look like? Well, it’s usually women who have pictures taken for themselves. It could be a gift for a partner (hello Santa) or a gift purely for themselves. This was a major difference between erotic photography and pornography.In pornography, the end user (person looking at the photos/film) is not usually the individual in the pictures or film. But for erotic photography, usually the end user is featured in the pictures.There is a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ that differentiates these pictures from pornography… soft lighting, black and whites, softly focused or features of the shot that are purposely out of focus, strategic shading, nakedness that’s not full on crotch close-ups.Another reason women had these photos taken: to document a time in their life. This could be at any time or maybe after a pregnancy or after a mastectomy. The coolest was when women were just feeling hot and wanted the pictures to prove it. For more on women who have these pictures taken, read Amy Muise’s paper.Very few photographers will take pictures of males. This is because most photographers are not comfortable having a male client come into their studio to whack off on camera (well not right onto the camera…you know what I mean) which is what a lot of men want to do if it’s a hot female photographer. Many photographers said they just did not find the male body that aesthetically pleasant to photograph – erection or no erection.We spoke to one male photographer who does specialize in photography in the gay community and he said that many of his male clients also wanted to be captured in a beautiful way.Sometimes couples came in and had photos taken together. Some photographers made them keep this PG-13, some photographers gave them the green light to do whatever the clients wanted – aka an ‘interactive’ erotic photography session.What else was cool? There was no typical client. For the women…these weren’t all size 2 women who wanted to take sexy photos. Women were in their young 20s to the 60s, no typical body size, and ethnicities also varied. Too few men to generalize, sorry boyz.Another misconception about this type of photography is that the photographers must be perverts. Not true. Erotic photography was commonly a part of their larger photography business and it was vital for them to remain professional with their clients at all times (even more so than a typical portrait session because of the nakedness).Erotic photography is not the rub ‘n tug of photography. No ‘happy endings’ here.Unless you consider clients who were blown away at how awesome they looked in their pictures as a happy ending.As an aside to the project, I had my own erotic photographs taken. It was much harder than it looked. And no, I didn’t have sex with my male photographer!Original article:

Create Added Value to Your Home: Consider a Bathroom Home Improvement and Kitchen Repair

When you want to add value to your home there is probably no better place to start than with a well done bathroom home improvement and kitchen repair project. Many home improvement plans include one room or another, but as this article will discuss it can be extremely valuable to consider combining both the bathroom home improvement and kitchen repair as one larger project. You may find that you save money by doing both at the same time too.The kitchen and bathroom are two of the most heavily used spaces in the entire home. The kitchen is often considered one of the primary places in the home. Perhaps, the most beneficial improvements you can do when consider a bathroom home improvement and kitchen repair project is to start with the kitchen and bathroom counter tops. Many people start with the bathroom and kitchen cabinets, but often times you can make a change to the counter tops, and then get by with just touching up the cabinets to cleverly save a couple of hundred dollars.Stop and plan before you rip those countertops outWhen choosing your countertops you will want to decide on three very important factors before you get too far involved with this project.One – How easy do you want to make them to clean?Two – Will you use any tile on your counter tops?Three – Could you possibly add an additional sink?If you are thinking about selling your home you may want to strongly examine more closely the look of your counter tops rather than how easy they are to clean. If you are considering tile accents for your counter tops this could rapidly involve a little more expense, but if your home is in the higher value range it may be a smart way to go. If you have the space it would be wise to consider definitely adding an addition sink in the kitchen. Maybe you could even add a vegetable sink.Saving money with a little barteringSince you will be doing both a bathroom home improvement and kitchen repair you can buy both countertops at the same time, and perhaps save a little money with some bartering. You might get a better deal with this method by visiting your nearby building supply and dealing with the owner of the store directly rather than a larger corporate building supply company. Your next bathroom home improvement and kitchen repair project should be a success if you plan ahead and think about the matters discussed in this article.