Thursday, September 30, 2010

Maximizing Profits or Just Get to Make a Profit

My SCORE meeting this week was about maximizing profits. They were shocked at what I was charging for my services. Apparently I'm working for peanuts and I thought I was doing well! We went over the last invoice I sent in to a client and they came up with a $5.36 per piece assembly. I'm not making enough money to make this venture worth while. They told me I could be making more money at McDonalds. And get a free meal with each shift.

SCORE- Service Corp Of Retired Executives

They said forget about maximizing profits, I have to get up to making a profit. We have to figure out per unit cost for each piece I assemble. I also have a variable going on, as I have employees I have to factor in. There's also shipping involved. The clients pay for shipping BUT I have to add on handling charges which they said is 2-3% total on an order. I was charging hourly but what they said makes sense. All companies charge shipping and handling if they are fulfilling orders per order and shipping out. While I don't pay for shipping, it's still my time to put the product in baggies, wrap in bubble, put in the box, go online to make a shipping label, print label, tape up box, tape on label, arrange the pickup. They're right, that's a lot of handling. And as the business takes on more orders, clients and shipping responsibility, I have to make sure I'm not giving it all away for free.

We're going to figure this out with all the new clients and get the existing clients up to speed. I'm fortunate I have these guys to help me with new clients so I can do this right the first time and from now on. Next week I have to bring in my financials so they can look at my numbers. Eesh! I hope those aren't too much of a laugh or appalled looks shooting my way. I think I'll bring a bottle of good liquor so we can have a toast before I become toast.....

I started a Quickbooks class this week! It's an eight week course led by Jim, one of the SCORE guys. Everyone says how easy Quickbooks is, it's not a quick process to learn all the lingo and where to put things in the right place. Once all these numbers get plugged in, you get to see the whole picture of what's going on. There's no room for mistakes when things don't add up. I have my homework cut out for me this week!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

How Can We Get Small Businesses Paid On Time?

My meeting with SCORE went well today. Ben and Vince were pleased and proud that I managed to be able get some aging accounts receivable caught up a bit. Now I have to stay the course and make sure payments are kept up. They are sticklers for when something is billed and getting the payment due. We'd like to be as small business owners. It is hard to confront other small business owners because they are waiting on payments from vendors or retail giants. You don't want to spoil good relationships with that uncomfortable subject called "bill is due". But money is money. You need it to keep your business operating. It's a hard pill to swallow. I want to keep everyone happy. Even if you owe me.

Why is it that retail stores make you wait so long for payment? It's just seems so unfair that they can take your product, have it on the sales floor selling it, and paying you some 30-60 days later. Or how about canceling an order when you're just about finished filling it? Or the COD payment that the store keeps refusing your shipped finished product, sending it back multiple times, because they "forgot" the check. Again.

Why can't they pay for the order when they get it? Would we be able to go into Macy's, pick up a necklace, go to the cashier and say, "I'm taking this. I'll send you a check for it in 60 days."? You'd be arrested for shoplifting. So why do they get to do that to your business? Why is there no union or revolution against this practice? Is this the way we keep this economy going in this day in age? With record fast technology of wire transfers, electronic payments and paypal? Make small businesses wait for money (check's in the mail!) that they can't lay out for long stretches like the big box stores? Who can survive that?

It's a bumpy road to follow. I can't answer any of those questions for you, I'm just as mad as heck with you. How can we stop this? Let us know so we can rise up, receive payment when product is released so everyone can keep the cogs moving. What if we could all do that? Nothing leaves the studio, home office, warehouse til money is in the bank. Just like when you shop for that necklace at Macy's, we have to pay for it before we leave the store. We may be wearing something that was made by a small business, that hasn't been paid yet for making it, who's struggling to pay their bills. C'mon stores, boutiques and retailers! Pay them!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Beer Garden Tour 2010 Fourth Stop: Loreley Williamsburg Beer Garden

Yesterday we checked out the Loreley Beergarden in Willimasburg, Brooklyn to celebrate our friends birthdays. It's a carved out on a corner of Frost and Meeker, right off exit 32B on the Brooklyn Queens Expressway. So it's a tad loud. But it's a sweet cozy space, the outside is surrounded by a high sculptured brick fence and it's well shaded with the beergarden umbrellas. The space inside was beautiful with a large skylight, the bar is open on both sides so you could sit outside or in. The space used to be a filling station.

The legend of Lorelei

They have 12 imported beers on tap and a the German menu of small plates and entrees. Get a basket of pretzels with your first round, made to order, soft and hot. I think our crowd ordered just about every beer, and we got the wursts and the cold platter. I want to go back and try those classic German dishes, Eisbein and Rheinischer Sauerbraten.

Bathrooms are individual, nice, clean and kind of dark, so I don't know what use the mirror is, you can barely see it. Odd, hidden, dark lighting.

We let our beautiful afternoon sooth into the evening, when the strand of lights came on and we had to leave this lovely little oasis. We were off to the Brooklyn Bowl to catch Those Darlins. It was just blocks away, right near the waterfront. It was a huge space, bowling lanes, big stage and dance floor, restaurant area, bars. There was so much room to mill about without feeling like you're crowded out. Large tables and benches you can sit without having to order anything. And it was a $5 door! It was a 23,000 sq ft entertaining mecca.

Happy Birthday Corinne and Juliet! Thank you for inviting me to a swell afternoon and evening!

All photos by Michael O'Keefe

Loreley Beergarden
64 Frost Street
(corner of Meeker and Frost)
Brooklyn, NY 11211

Brooklyn Bowl

61 Wythe Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11211

Thursday, September 16, 2010

An Afternoon with SCORE

I went to my first SCORE meeting today. This is a branch of the Small Business Administration that has offices in every state that work with small business owners succeed with advice and mentoring. These are retired business people with a variety of backgrounds who volunteer with FREE expert advice. I met with Ben, retired after 34 years at General Foods head of their marketing. Albert, former project manager of large development construction projects. Vincent, a project manager of a Fortune 200 (200?? I thought it was Fortune 500!) company. 90 years of business experience at one conference table. Another man, Jim, who came later, started almost every sentence with, "The law says......" He really knew about the law. I didn't get his story, but I highly suspect he is a retired certified public accountant.

What an eye opening experience this was. I wasn't doing a lot of things by the book but these are things that can quickly be taken care of to get me on the right path after my first meeting.

I have to get Quickbooks. Once I get on that program, I can fire my bookkeeper, which they deem, an unnecessary expense. I've had years of unnecessary expense. I cringe to think of that. I thought I didn't need Quickbooks. They told me it's a must. I will go out tomorrow and get it. You can get online support and my SCORE has a Quickbooks seminar class. They have webinars on several business subjects.

I provide a service that I don't tax because the finished product is for resale. So I have to get a Resale Certificate from all my clients.

Get my company either Limited Liability Company or Corporation. Why?? In case I get sued.
Will I really get sued? You could lose your house, they said. Oh....

Charging a 1 1/2% late payment fee on any over due invoices from the date I send them after my terms. My terms are 15 days. That's 15 days. NOT 15 "business" days. 15 days after the date. October 1, 2010 invoice will get a 1 1/2% late fee charge every 30 days as of October 16, 2010. They told me if I don't get paid by a client on their due date, not to send product back and refuse to do any more work for that client. They told me that I am not a bank, I am not loaning money to my clients. I did a service, I should get paid, that's it. No more Ms Nice Lady. Gulp!

Offer a 5% cash discount on invoices paid within 5 days. That one I really liked. Who wouldn't take advantage of that?

They set me up for counseling for next week, same time, same place. I have 7 days to show them I mean business so they can help me solve problems and move me forward to greater success. I highly recommend this free service to any newbie in business. BEFORE you get in too far. They really want you to do the right things, the right way, step by step. I have my work cut out for me but I'm really looking forward to their wisdom and experience. Go find your local office and set up an appointment, NOW!

Putnam County
34 Gleneida Avenue
Carmel, NY 10512

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

From Kitchen Table to Fashion Brand and Keeping it in America

I watched CBS's Fashion Night Out special last night. The stories I just loved were about the designers that literally started on their kitchen tables. And now? They are employing hundreds in America to make a great quality product here in America.

Take Rag & Bone. David Neville and Marcus Wainwright wanted to make a dark denim jean in a new and modern way. They handcrafted these jeans and from there, developed their line handcrafting all their clothes. They employ people here in the USA, from suit tailors to pattern makers to seamstresses who are experts in their traditional techniques. All done with high quality fabrics and exceptional craftsmanship.

I work with designers handcrafting their product here in the USA. There has been a serious movement that designers want to keep their product here, employ here and not go over seas. I applaud that. I support that. We need to keep it here. I have employed excellent experienced wire wrappers, bead stringers, peyote beaders, metal formers, solderers, feather gluers, painters. I could not have grown my business without the quality work of these blessed hand crafters. Each one has their powerful talent and I appreciate it with awe.

This is Courtney and Colette. They are my new full time employees that really bring it to the table. Colette is an awesome painter and free form jewelry designer. Courtney hand makes one of a kind jewelry and hair wear.

Scoutiegirl writes about this in her blog. She's a major cheerleader of the handmade brigade and the support that is needed to keep this handmade machine going. I love her support and bright outlook for fellow artisans.

There's change out there, get in there and make it happen. Support your local artisans, craft people, farmers, gourmands, moms who are beading at home, and unemployed office managers who discovered their hidden talents they have yearned to explore. Do it! Now is the time! Let's keep the movement going forward and keep it in America.