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If you have started your own business, StartupNation might be your best bet for some basic entrepreneurship tips and tricks.

Want some free advice? Well, if you’ve started your own business, or you’re anticipating making that big leap, StartupNation might be your best bet for some basic entrepreneurship tips and tricks. Hosted by Birmingham-based brothers Jeff and Rich Sloan, Startup Nation offers advice and insights for businesses seeking that elusive ingredient for success. The Sloans recently talked about their growing empire and the current startup market.

How did the idea for StartupNation originate?

We’ve have always had a fascination with entrepreneurship, and we’ve turned our business ideas into reality several times. When we were teenagers, we sold HUD houses for large profits over a short period of time. While we were in college, we ran a successful Arabian horse farm. And later on, we successfully invented and marketed The Battery Buddy, a device that prevents dead batteries on cars.

Because of these experiences, we wanted to share our passion for entrepreneurship and provide inspiration and information to aspiring and existing entrepreneurs so we created StartupNation in 2001.

For people unfamiliar with the Web site and the radio program, how would you describe what you do?

Through a multimedia platform, StartupNation provides information and inspiration to help people transform their entrepreneurial dreams into real businesses. We provide personal touch points and contact with the audience to empower people to take their ideas and start a business, as well as drill down to the challenges with growing an existing business.

Just to go into more detail, StartupNation includes our nationally-syndicated, one-hour talk radio program On that show we try to continuously turning people on to starting and growing businesses, StartupNation Radio is nationally-broadcast on more than 40 stations throughout the country every weekend.

There’s also “Small Business Blasts,” a short-form radio program. On a regular basis, entrepreneurs receive brief, inspirational instruction and information from the country’s top experts on important small business processes and procedures via radio vignettes, online content, e-newsletters and printed publications.

We also do coaching–webinars, teleclasses, and one-on-one sessions. Entrepreneurs and business teams can sign-up for one-on-one or group coaching with experienced mentors who will provide step-by-step guidance and help in making their business ideas a reality. Our Web site >www.startupnation.com< has more information on weekly "Webinar Wednesdays."

Speaking of our Web site, it’s visited every day by small business people looking for inspiration and insight they can rely on. The site’s tools and tips lead targeted audiences to efficient information, guidance, and useful products and services

We will also have a book published by Doubleday out this May, also entitled, “StartupNation.” The book examines every aspect of smart entrepreneurship, including how to write a business plan, how to raise money and how to take advantage of your skills and past accomplishments and focus on what you love to do.

Entrepreneurship is a timeless, American endeavor. StartupNation highlights this American pastime, and makes people believe they too can take control of their own destiny and stop working for “the man.”

What are some common mistakes people make when starting their own business?

It’s essential to develop a life plan before deploying a business plan when starting a business. Many people don’t take the time to consider what kind of life they want to have and how their new business will fit into that plan.

It’s also very important to manage the use of capital to start and operate the business. We’ve seen many new entrepreneurs spend a lot of money renting office space and buying new office equipment that they can’t afford. And their business is very short-lived due to financial difficulties.

How would you describe the current climate among technology start-ups? Are investors starting to get over the cold feet they had following the tech bust a few years ago?

Technology startups are back. Unlike during the dot-com era, today’s new tech companies must be built on fundamentals, develop a sound financial plan and present well thought-out goals in order to obtain VC funds.

Within the tech sector, what are some areas that are tending to attract more investment capital than others?

Nano technology, new CRM solutions, identity-theft solutions, and biotech.

What about in general? What types of small-business start-ups are doing well in 2005?

There has definitely been an increase in home-based businesses. Many stay-at-home parents are starting new online businesses using the services of eBay.

Is the home-based business model continuing to gain momentum, or is it leveling off?

We believe it is continuing to gain momentum. As new online services are created to help people further their small business goals, we will continue to see a rise in home-based businesses.

If someone has what they consider a million-dollar idea, what do you propose as a sensible first step?

It’s essential to protect a business idea, or intellectual property, with the appropriate patent, trademark and/or copyright. That way, new entrepreneurs can compete with large organizations and share enough information with the right financiers and potential marketing partners to get a business off the ground. We highly recommend working with an experienced intellectual property attorney to obtain the appropriate documentation and registrations.

What are some good ways for entrepreneurs to hook up with other folks who are trying to get an idea or business off the ground?

Obviously, networking is a key part to getting financing and meeting the right people to move a business forward. New entrepreneurs can help their businesses by attending events where key VCs, financiers and executives will be. Try joining organizations in your industry, local small business groups, country clubs and the chamber of commerce.

Are there federal and government funding sources that entrepreneurs should be aware of?

All entrepreneurs should be aware of the Small Business Association Web site. There is a wealth of information there for new business owners along with the latest news on funding sources providing by the government.

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