Does Your Company Need a Policy for Transgender Employees?

The 24/7 media circus surrounding former U.S. Olympian Bruce Jenner's transition from male to female has raised several questions in employers' minds: Do we have transgender employees in our organization? If so, what are our legal obligations to them, if any?

If you are a small employer with employees in only a single state, the answer is ...Read more

When Selling on, Success Is Spelled 'SCOE'

Over two million Americans make a full-time or part-time living selling merchandise on

Roughly 200 of them attended last week's Sellers' Conference of Online Entrepreneurs (SCOE) in Philadelphia, a semi-annual trade show focused entirely on the do's and don'ts of selling on Amazon, eBay, Etsy and other popular online retail ...Read more

Seeking an Entrepreneurial Solution to a Smelly Problem

For the past year, I have taught an MBA-level online class on entrepreneurship and small business management for a local university.

Rather than give students a traditional final exam, with multiple choice and true/false questions, I have adopted a Zen exam approach. Each question is a real-world entrepreneurial challenge that not only tests ...Read more

Getting First Place in a Business Plan Competition

As my readers know, twice a year I judge the Connecticut Business Plan Competition (, where students from business schools and undergraduate business programs throughout Connecticut compete for cash prizes and mentoring from leading business experts, in a format very similar to the popular "...Read more

The New, Improved (But Still Problematic) Regulation A

When last week's column, "Equity Crowdfunding, A Year Later" was released last week, a number of sharp-eyed readers sent emails saying, "Hey, Cliff, great column, but didn't the SEC do something about this last month?"

Be assured, dear readers, I look at the website of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission several times a week looking ...Read more

Equity Crowdfunding, a Year Later

In October 2013, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission issued proposed regulations to implement the provisions of Title III of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act of 2012. Under Title III, startup companies would be allowed to use crowdfunding websites (such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo) to raise money for their companies from ...Read more

Dealing with Competition: Knowing Your Competitive Advantage (part 2 of 2)

Once you have identified the four different types of competitor (identified in last week's column), you now have to develop a strategy for crushing each and every one of them.

No matter what business you are in, your success will come to some extent from the failures of others. And you can't just sit around and wait for them to make mistakes....Read more

Dealing with Competition: Knowing Your Enemies (Part 1 of 2)

As my readers know, I frequently judge business plan competitions throughout the United States.

Just about every time I do one of these, I hear an entrepreneur say that his business plan "has no competition."

Every time this happens, the audience laughs. Why? Because they know better. Every business has competition. If you don't have ...Read more

The Only Four Reasons to Do Anything

"I left corporate America a few years ago. While I wouldn't go back in a million years, I have to confess that I'm struggling right now.

"In addition to running my own Internet business out of the house, I'm on the boards of three local nonprofit organizations, and I've been teaching classes as an 'adjunct professor' at two local colleges. I ...Read more

Dealing With Open Source Software in a License Agreement

"We are a small software company. We have spent years developing and copyrighting our product, which is frequently bundled with software created by other companies.

"We recently received a notice from a software company we've never heard of saying we have to hand over the source code to our product. Apparently, this other company's product is...Read more

How to Build a Successful (and Lawsuit-Proof) Benefit Corporation

"Some friends and I are thinking about setting up a benefit corporation or 'B corp' for our business, which has a strong social mission. We realize these are very new, and don't want to do anything that will cause trouble for us or our investors down the road. What should be doing to make sure things go smoothly and we actually have the ...Read more

Fan Fiction, 'Robot Chicken,' Fair Use and Copyright Laws

"I am a professional by trade, but evenings and weekends I'm involved in a local amateur theater group.

"Just for fun, our group set up a YouTube channel and recorded some short videos involving characters from popular movies and television shows and mixing them up. For example, we had actors dressed up like characters from the medieval-...Read more

How EBay Can Get Its Groove Back

It's hard to believe that eBay, one of the early Internet pioneers that celebrated its 20th anniversary as a public company last year, is viewed by many today as a stodgy, late-stage company. But so it seems.

Earlier this year eBay, under pressure from shareholder activist Carl Icahn (we used to call these people "corporate raiders"), ...Read more

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