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Growing: Personal Guarantees, then A, B, and C Pockets for an Entrepreneur’s Family Assets
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In the early 1980′s, serial entrepreneur Dick Fontaine and his wife Barbara faced difficult times when his bank called loans that Fontaine had personally guaranteed.

“I never dreamed (or chose not to acknowledge) that I was putting our entire net worth at risk.  I learned the hard way that personal guarantees put the guarantor at real risk.  Of course, I also didn’t foresee a 21% prime rate.”

After the bank called his business loans, Dick brought the family together for a conference.  His teen-age daughter was less worried about dinner next month than her fashion image, saying “This won’t affect my clothing budget, will it, Dad?” more…

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Business Card Etiquette?
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I was doing SCORE counseling when a client came in, threw her business card on my desk with the card facing her. What is wrong with this picture? 1) no value for the card, her name or her company — you don’t throw them at people 2) no introduction as to why I would want her card 3) most people can’t read upside down as well as they can right side up and 4) no respect for me, the counselor, who needs to place value in her company.

In short, yes, there is business card etiquette. Many of us know the Asian approach to giving and receiving cards. You wait until it is appropriate to give the person a card, you hand the card to them facing the client with both hands and you give them a minute to actually read and respond to the card. This may seem a bit formal for most of us, but I like it. There is in turn, etiquette for the card receiver. You thank the person for the card, take time to look and read it and respond appropriately. This little ritual places value on the card which actually represents the client and the company. Makes good sense to me.

Business cards should represent value (to the person and to the business). I see no value in collecting business cards like baseball cards as there is no prize for who gets the most. For years I made a collection of President business cards. I wanted all the cards I could get of Presidents and CEOs with the vision that someday my card would, also, read same. The vision materialized, but I used the title Managing Director instead of President. Same value.

Another big thing I like to do after the meeting is write a short note or two about the meeting on the back of the card to enhance the follow up “thank you.” I have a special passion for personal photos on business cards, but that is a story for another day.

Do I sound too structured to you? Do you find value in your business cards? Let me know your view?

-Betty Otte, SCORE Orange County
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