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Business Rx: More updates on last year's entrepreneurs

Monday, January 17, 2011; 30

Part 2 of a two-part series

Again, this week we check in with a few of the entrepreneurs we helped in 2010 to see how their businesses are faring. Here's what we learned:

The business: Leading Start Kids, a preschool with a leadership focus.

The original question: What's the most effective marketing strategy and growth strategy?

The advice: The challenge with your concept is that most people already have a day-care solution, so find people who aren't happy with their current solution or find new entrants into the market.

Since we talked to Llacey Simmons in June: "Leading Start Kids has made progress toward launching the first site. We are expecting to open in June 2011 for a summer camp program, and kick off the academic year with our curriculum in August 2011. On the professional development front, I am working toward getting my Child Development Credential and hope to complete the application process by February."

The business: Sayeret Operational Solutions, a security service for high-profile individuals traveling to dangerous areas.

The original question: How do I find new clients and market my unique business?

The advice: Become an expert and market yourself as such. Focus on specific markets and figure out who your potential clients are.

Since we talked to Eli Werdesheim in August: "Things have been moving forward and we've picked up some really good clients who are happy with our work. Word is starting to spread and we now have two small investors. We have worked six jobs and have received great feedback from each one. We are now struggling with how to price ourselves because we want to stay high end but we don't want to lose contracts for being too expensive."

The business: The Still Point, a holistic spa and wellness center.

The original question: How do we choose between opening a new store or franchising?

The advice: You need to ask the question "What's the end goal for expansion?" Think about what you're trying to accomplish by growing this business model because growth just for the sake of growth doesn't always work.

Since we talked to Tori Paide in September: "We actually are opening a new The Still Point, very much akin to the advice that was offered -- I am partnering with someone who I have known for a long time and creating somewhat of a 'quasi franchise.' Our conversation got me thinking about creating a new location and now we're about to sign a lease!"

The business: Slobproof, a line of odor-proof, moisture-proof and anti-microbial furniture.

The original question: We've filed for a patent for our touch-up paint tool -- how do we approach distribution for this new product?

The advice: A patent would be very difficult to defend -- instead, come up with a good product name and establish a brand. For distribution -- try to saturate the market so you can sell it anywhere from paint retailers to big-box stores to QVC.

Since we talked to Deborah Wiener in October: "We are still working with our contacts in China to produce a prototype, and I've also made contact with the home buyer at QVC and they are interested in the Slobproof brand. We are pursuing a Slobproof bedding package as well as Slobproof Storage pieces. The business: Nourishbysdl, a personal chef business.

The original question: What is the best way to structure my personal chef business and how do I attract a steady clientele?

The advice: Ask the people you are already preparing meals for if they can give you referrals; spread the word about Nourish using Craigslist, your own personal Web site, a blog, Facebook or Twitter.

Since we talked to Sharon Douglas in October: "I've been developing a plan to teach a class, working on a cookbook and networking with many new clients. I'm also having a Web site built! I was very motivated after talking to the experts at Smith."

Looking for some advice on a new business, or need help fixing an existing one? Capital Business and the experts at the University of Maryland's Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship at the Robert H. Smith School of Business are ready to assist. Contact us as capbiznews@washpost.com.

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