Deborah L.'s Feed
Aug 18, 2010
Aug 18, 2010

Entrepreneurs seek safety in the franchise fold

CHICAGO (Reuters) – If you can’t beat ’em join ’em. So said Corey Butcher, a health club entrepreneur who progressively purchased four gyms before deciding he needed some national muscle to stay healthy in the competitive Dallas market. Last year, Butcher brought all of his clubs under the umbrella of Gold’s Gym, a national franchise with some 520 U.S. locations.

“The problem was you’re fighting against the dollars of LA Fitness, 24 Hour Fitness and Bally’s,” said Butcher, 38, who prides himself on turning around underperforming clubs. “We needed some synergy in the corporation. Really the only way of doing that I felt was with a franchise.”

Aug 11, 2010

Small PR firms in survival mode

CHICAGO (Reuters) – When the recession took hold, Sally Hodge was forced to make some drastic changes at her small Chicago-based public relations firm, Hodge Schindler Integrated Communications.

She hunkered down, last year shifting to a four-day workweek for the firm’s nine-person staff – four full time – and cutting costs such as postage and unnecessary supplies.

Aug 4, 2010

Giftventure entertains kids with letters from Elmo

CHICAGO (Reuters) – The irony is that if Steve Mock had his own kids he may never have stumbled upon his creative concept for entertaining them.

The founder of Giftventure, an online startup that leads children on treasure hunts using customized letters sent from fictional characters, conceded he likely wouldn’t have had enough free time.

Jul 28, 2010

Entrepreneurs run with crowdsourcing model

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Every Friday afternoon the staff at cutting edge New York-based product development firm Quirky reviews ideas submitted by the public and voted on by its online community of consumers. Ultimately just one idea is chosen to be sold in Quirky’s online store.

“Of all the ideas submitted each week, we look at the most meaningful product we can bring to market,” said 23- year-old founder Ben Kaufman, the former teenage wunderkind who developed and sold Mophie, an iPod accessories company built on the back of suggestions from users. “It really doesn’t matter to us.”

Jul 28, 2010
Jul 28, 2010
Jul 21, 2010

All in the family at 100-year-old Ford dealer

CHICAGO (Reuters) – When Kelleher Motor Co. first opened for business in 1911, the average price of a home in the U.S. was $4,800, a stamp cost 2 cents and William Howard Taft was president.

Much has changed, but the Ellensburg, Washington Ford dealership still stands on the same site Jack Kelleher staked out more than 100 years ago. It has endured the Great Depression, two World Wars and the latest global recession, which has ravaged the automotive industry, crippling dealerships and forcing competitors – General Motors and Chrysler – to declare bankruptcy and take massive government bailouts.

Jul 14, 2010
    • About Deborah L.

      "Deborah Cohen writes a weekly column on small business for Small business coverage is a big change for Deborah, a former staff writer with Reuters, Crain’s Chicago Business, Bloomberg News and the Post-Tribune in Gary, Ind., whose prior beats focused on large public companies in the fast-food, telecommunications and advertising industries. She has written for Business Week's Chicago edition, the American Bar Association's ABA Journal, Indianapolis Monthly magazine, QSR magazine, Forward magazine, and Bloomberg magazine, among other publications."
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