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Minding Their Own Business, (With Some Help From Experts)

May 11, 2006 By:
Rita Charleston, JE Feature
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Many of us in this country, and certainly in the Delaware Valley, long for the day we can be in business for ourselves.

That fact was quite evident recently as dozens of men and women sat in the auditorium of the Federal Reserve Bank in Center City recently minding their own businesses - asking questions and helped along by the knowledge of a panel of experts from the Entrepreneurs' Forum of Greater Philadelphia, Inc.

Founded in 1987, the forum serves as a clearing house and focal point - offering entrepreneurs, inventors, investors and professional advisers a way to exchange ideas and investment opportunities.

Additionally, it is dedicated to fostering entrepreneurial activity among early-stage companies and eager, hard-working entrepreneurs, according to Richard Cohen, the forum's president and a partner in the full-service law firm of Duane Morris.

"We are here to foster entrepreneurial activity, as well as to provide support through education, seminars, workshops and other activities that facilitate relationships between emerging companies, and public and private-sector resources, while focusing on the critical issues facing all growing companies," explained the forum's president.

Monthly meetings usually start off by introducing entrepreneurs of several young companies, allowing them five minutes to describe their company, its basic philosophies and their missions.

Afterward, topics vary. On this recent night, the fodder for discussion was "Evaluating Your Company for Sale," complete with a panel of experts that included Michael Kopelman, vice president with Edison Venture Fund, an expansion-stage venture-capital firm that invests in technology companies; Curt A. Cyliax, president of E Edge Inc., which is actively involved in selling privately held business; and Andrew N. Wiest, ASA, a director in the Northeast Region of CBIZ Valuation Group, who has a vast number of years experience in the valuation and appraisal of business enterprises.

Get the Right Advisers
The discussion involved such issues as tax consequences, creating demand, choosing the right advisers and targeting the right people.

According to the panelists, the time to start thinking about an exit strategy for any business begins in the start-up stage, and continues throughout the cycle of the business.

Following the insightful discussion, many questions were raised by those in the audiences, many of whom were contemplating just such a sale.

"We appeal to a broad range of businesses," added Cohen, "providing many necessary services, not the least of which is useful advise they might need now or in the future."

Upcoming forum topics include:

• "When Do You Need a Board or Advisory Board, and How to Acquire One"(June 13); and

• "Capital: Where to Find It: How to Get It" (July 11).

For more information about the forum or to be added to the mailing list, call 215-640-3339.

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