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Tag: Answer

Brainstorming To Start A Small Business – Questions To Answer

Hello readers and potential future entrepreneurs. I understand the feeling; desire to create, operate, and succeed. Throughout my professional career, I have learned that there are numerous steps that must be taken in order to organize opening and operating a small business. I have put together a few questions which aspiring entrepreneurs should, at the very least, consider reading over. There are many questions that may arise with opening a small business, and I will address a few of those questions briefly in the following list of questions one may ask while brainstorming.

What type of business do you want to open? There are various business endeavors an entrepreneur could involve themselves in. It all comes down to what knowledge one has, or is willing to obtain. Are you a restaurateur? Repairman? Plumber? Home health / assistance? Do you have experience managing or working at such establishments? Do you need formal education from an institution? Will you work as a sole proprietor, or a partner / member? Research limited liability companies (LLCs) in addition to sole proprietorships and partnerships. S corporations are another option, but they are for business with stockholders, and may not be right for your particular business application.

What kinds of licensing and/or permits are required? Each business will have different licensing requirements; it all comes down to what the entrepreneur ultimately chooses to do. A restaurant would need food safety licensing in addition to basic business licensing, and if alcohol is on the menu – there is another permit the entrepreneur would need to legally sell alcohol on the premises. Repair oriented businesses would need at least the business license to repair, but if they sell parts as well, they would need to have “retail” listed on their business license in addition to “repair”. Health care services require at least formal education and licensing as an LPN, RN, or one of several other health care related licenses. Be sure to check your state’s laws to ensure what is necessary to operate your type of business.

What training / education / certifications are required to legally run this business? We touched upon this in licensing / permits, however there is much more involved than the required licensing. For example, one cannot operate a vehicle collision repair business without the knowledge of performing those types of repairs. There are schools that can be attended to learn what must be learned to effectively operate nearly any kind of business. However, there are also businesses where experience is enough to operate effectively without needing any formal education (lawn care, house cleaning just to name a couple). Also, there are certifications for training in nearly, if not all, care industries.

Does this business require a storefront? Retail establishments will undoubtedly need a storefront. Bear in mind, retail business will have a much larger initial investment than a service based operation. That initial investment is inventory. Some service businesses may not need a storefront to operate, as much of the service performed could very well be on-site. If a storefront is necessary, be sure to consider delivery or on-site service if it is feasible for your operation.

How much will it cost? This number will vary wildly based on the type and size of business you are planning. For smaller businesses, this number could be as low as $ 200 for a license and/or permit, or as high as a million dollars or more. Obviously, inventory is very expensive, and so are specialized tools for performing extremely precise work. Calculate the expected opening and operating expenses. Determine what size storefront is needed (if applicable), and research local commercial realty properties, locations, and prices. It is absolutely cheaper to rent in the short-term, although the thought of owning property that is paid off is very tempting. Prices on most things will vary based on your location. Employees are another cost, if your business warrants employees. When employees come into the equation as opposed to sole proprietors or partnerships, one must add extra insurance for the business (unemployment insurance comes to mind). Check with your selected insurance company for which types of additional coverage are required, and if offering health insurance can be done reasonably. Those employees will also need to have taxes paid on their wages – part from the employee’s paycheck and part from the company. Another potential cost is repayment of loans, if you don’t already have the capital needed to open your business. Basic operating expenses are not to be forgotten, as heating/cooling, Internet connectivity, and utilities will be regular expenditures for any storefront. On-site service operations cost very little when compared to a physical storefront.

How can an individual pay for this? If you do not have the funds available, which is very common, applying for loans is a way to attain funding. Be sure to have a business plan with projected expenses and revenues. There are other ways to gain funds for a business. Look into grants. While they are not very common, they are a potential source for assistance nonetheless. If many people believe in your dream, one could possibly acquire donations from those individuals.

What about accounting? Bookkeeping is a necessity – research which accounting/bookkeeping software would work best for the type of business you are planning. Point-of-sale (POS) systems are needed for “ringing up” and selling inventory or goods to the customer. POS systems keep track of sales, sales taxes, employee labor dollars spent, and many other items. If you are apt at creating spreadsheets, you may be able to keep track of your own inventory depending on your particular business model.

I hope this brief listing of questions and potential answers has been of assistance to aspiring entrepreneurs. Although there are countless successful entrepreneurs who have little or no formal education in business, it is never a bad idea to research courses regarding administration and management. Be sure to take a look at the Small Business Administration’s website at for more helpful information.

The author, John Baker, is an educated entrepreneur, with over ten years of experience in small business administration and management. Opening any type of business is no simple task, as many things must be considered. With experience opening, operating, and managing small businesses, the author aims to help aspiring entrepreneurs in realizing their dreams. While the questions are not all inclusive, they are, at the very least, a good bit of information to consider throughout the beginning processes of opening a small business. Take the information provided and begin or continue working on your business plan on the road to entrepreneurship.

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Quora And The Quest To Answer Every Question

Adam D’Angelo wants the world to share its knowledge on the Internet. But can Quora grow beyond Silicon Valley and convince every human to do just that?

Larry Wong

In 2009, Adam D'Angelo and Charlie Cheever — two former early Facebook employees — were planning to build something new. They had not told anyone about the project, but word about the pair's activity spread — and that got the attention of Keith Rabois, an early PayPal executive.

“I knew both of them back when they were at Facebook,” Rabois told BuzzFeed News. “When I heard they were gonna do a company together, I told both of them I wanted to invest. They said 'we aren't telling what we're doing yet,' and I said I don't care.”

The site they created, Quora, is now at an important juncture. It has built a large and loyal following within Silicon Valley. And it attracts some of the world's best software engineering and data science talent, outmaneuvering prominent technology companies to get the best young brains into its offices, industry sources have told BuzzFeed News. Once there, they are put to work solving one of the trickiest challenges in computer science: how to train machines to understand the nuance and complexities of human language, and apply that understanding to a giant pool of data to build heavily personalized user experiences.

“We're basically building this map of who the experts are in every given topic of knowledge,” D'Angelo said in an interview with BuzzFeed News. “So it's this technical challenge around building out this map of areas of knowledge, and this database of who the experts are, and automatically updating that over time.”

But while the technical challenge is great, the company must also solve an equally vexing growth problem. To become truly huge — like, internet-in-2014 huge — it needs to break out of its core market of techies and become a mainstream site, as popular among NFL fans as it is among software developers. It's a challenge many Silicon Valley companies have faced in their lifetimes. Facebook eventually had to move away from college campuses. Twitter had to find an audience outside of media and technologists.

The trick for Quora, however, is that it has to ensure that the quality of its content remains high, because the network effects built into a site like Facebook — it's where all your friends are — don't necessarily exist to keep people on the site. To keep people coming back, Quora relies on the strength of its questions and answers and its overall pool of knowledge and experts. D'Angelo's bet is that people's curiosity and desire for knowledge — and desire to share their knowledge — will be just as valuable as the need to connect with friends or stream music.

“Most content startups just accept a reality where Google search or Facebook [News Feed] deliver traffic, and try to play by their rules and optimize their content for search, or for click-bait in your news feed,” Josh Hannah, a general partner at Matrix Partners, which has invested in Quora, told BuzzFeed News. “Quora is willing to invest significant time and money on the bet that the best content and the ability to show you just the content you want — both very hard problems to solve — can in the long run build a giant, independent destination.”

Historically known as a well of knowledge about Silicon Valley and technology, Quora has since extracted information on more than 500,00 topics from unexpected experts around the world. The list includes former astronauts, NBA statistic nuts, and even an early painter for Walt Disney films. Within the Valley, Quora is considered one of the quietest technology companies, keeping a low profile that is somewhat of a deviation from the industry norm.

D'Angelo and his team of a little more than 100, tucked away on two floors of a small office in Mountain View, Calif., are still in the early days of their site's mission. Quora, in their eyes, has still only amassed a fraction of a fraction of every possible question that needs answering. It has to battle a perception that it's primarily a question-and-answer service focused on the Silicon Valley crowd. And if it's going to become a lasting and vital part of the online landscape, much in the same way D'Angelo's previous company Facebook did, it's going to have to build a business.

With a sizable war chest of financing ($ 80 million from a round earlier this year), and the ability to potentially tap D'Angelo as an investor if needed (he's personally invested in the previous two rounds and generated a small fortune from his time at Facebook), Quora has risen to become nearly a billion-dollar company, without selling a single ad.

Quora has raised more than $ 150 million in financing overall, and its investors will say the company isn't as pressured for a sale or initial public offering, and can devote itself to very long-term goals and objectives without having to make money in the near term. Indeed, the board of directors of Quora consists only of D'Angelo and Matt Cohler — a partner at Benchmark, which invested in Quora, who was also an early Facebook and LinkedIn employee.

“The fundamental property is that the same person usually knows about a bunch of different topics,” D'Angelo said. “Because people know about lots of different areas of knowledge, it does end up with this natural diffusion process. At this point a very small percentage of Quora is Silicon Valley, and I think it can still spread much further.”

Jeanne DePolo

As Quora has grown, the challenge is ensuring that the community — often more diverse than what might be found on Wikipedia — adheres to a similar principle of ensuring questions and answers are high quality. “We want the content to last forever,” D'Angelo said, with each question finding the perfect answer that will remain evergreen for the life of the site. Other question and answer sites like Yahoo Answers have cropped up, but have become a well of generally useless and low quality answers. (One of the most prominent examples of this is Yahoo Answers' infamous “how is babby formed” thread.)

Quora is often compared to Wikipedia, one of the largest sources of information on the Internet. Despite becoming as large as it has — the English Wikipedia alone generates nearly 10 billion page views a month — Wikipedia is considered a generally reliable source of information thanks to rigorous policing by its community.

“If you look at all these other efforts before Quora, to get knowledge onto the Internet, a lot of them suffered from quality [issues], so that's a big problem,” D'Angelo said. “We need to build systems that can automatically figure out what's high quality and what's not, and encourage users to contribute high quality content.”

There might seem to be some overlap with Wikipedia, but D'Angelo still considers Quora a source of knowledge for an even longer tail of information on the Internet. Instead of a broad topic — like the International Space Station — Quora's information is by design intended to be more directed and nuanced. Each answer has a real name attached to it — such as when Clayton Anderson, who spent several months on the International Space Station, replied to a question of what it smells like on the ISS. Quora has focused its design on making sure its users are accountable, which in theory drives higher-quality questions and answers.

“A lot of way Quora works is not luck or magic, it's by design,” Quora director of design David Cole told BuzzFeed News. “The effect of [requiring a real name] is, all the things that happen you associate with real life, all the things about accountability are then brought into the product itself. I can see that you are a real person, you've had this real experience. I give this example, there's this comment where this guy said, this is an amazing answer, thank you so much for writing this. If you look at YouTube, you would never see something so sincere.”

Jimmy Wales, the CEO of Wikipedia, is an avid Quora user. He is also an investor in the company, a signal often seen within Silicon Valley that the services aren't in direct competition. If online commenting on some news stories was representative of the Internet as a whole, readers would “weep for the future of the species,” Wales told BuzzFeed News in an interview.

“It's just idiots yelling at each other, so you might think from that kind of a world, 'it's hopeless,'” he said. “And then you go to Wikipedia and say this is amazing, it's this gift from this great group of people. And if you go to Quora, you ask a question and get a lot of thoughtful answers. Any time you can find a way to harness those people, to get the nice people on board with what you are doing, I think it's always interesting.”

Getting those people on board and contributing to the site is at the heart of one of Quora's most important technical challenges: ensuring every question finds the user best equipped to answer it. When those two pieces come together, Quora ideally creates a virtuous cycle — both the questioner and the respondent feel satisfied and engaged — and creates content that attracts new readers. Those readers will then, ideally, join the cycle, asking and answering more questions.

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BuzzFeed – Tech