Minute by minute

my thoughts on making the most out of all of life's minutes…


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Word Up Wednesday – Disposable -v- Discretionary Income

Many times people use or hear the term “Disposable Income” and think – this is all the money that people have leftover to do whatever they please.  Play money.  Not play money is the Monopoly sense….but money with which to play.

This is, however, incorrect.  Disposable Income is that income that is earned minus taxes.  So basically – disposable income is take-home money.

Within Disposable Income all your expenses need to be accounted.

On the contrary – Discretionary Income is all the leftover money that one has after taxes and expenses have been taken out.  

Discretionary income = (Gross income – taxes – necessities)

From both a personal and business standpoint, it is important to acknowledge both incomes.

For personal:  Your disposable income needs to include things like food, mortgage, cars, utilities…all your normal expenses.

Then after all those are taken out – you can budget things like vacations, gifts, fun stuff from the discretionary income pile.   $$$

From a small business owner aspect….you need to realize which income stream does your service or product fall into for your clients or customers.

It is pretty sweet if you are in the disposable income side.  But don’t take that for granted.  You need to keep yourself in a status that makes your service or product a “need” in their eyes.

If you happen to fall into the discretionary income part…that’s not a bad thing. People spend a lot of money of things they don’t technically need.  And just because times are tough and people are cutting back, they aren’t cutting back on everything.  Just make sure you are offering your service or product to the best of your ability, which will make it really hard to cut out of your customer’s lives.

Happy Wednesday!

~Amy

My eBook – Making Time for Dinner, Time saving tips for on the go families is now available  for Kindle on www.amazon.com  And for a limited time, it is free for Prime subscribers.  Please check it out and leave a review!

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Tips on Tuesdays – When it comes to advertising….ask!

Happy Tuesday Everyone!

Here’s a question for all my small business owner readers.

Do you advertise? 

Here are a couple follow up questions:

  • If not, why not?
  • If so, do you know what works for you and what doesn’t?

One of the questions I ask whenever I am conducting a Time and Energy Audit with someone is about advertising and how it is working for them.  I’m always so surprised to learn that:

 

  • Yes – poeple do advertise.  But no – they don’t know which advertising practice is working best for them.

It is really very simple…ASK!  Anytime you are contacted by a new client or customer, ask them where did they hear about you?  Same thing goes anytime you run a specail or host an event, ask every person “how did you hear about this event?”

That’s step one.  The next step is to keep track of the answers.  This can be as simple as keeping a tick chart – – for every advertising option given, that one gets a little tick.  Then it is just a matter of tallying up the totals over a set period of time.

If you different advertising but in the same genre – like you are running an ad in the different newspapers in your area, dig deeper.  Ask “which paper did you find my ad?”

Finally, if you get a referral from a named customer, a handwritten thank you goes a long way.

Advertising takes money and effort.  Make sure yours is working correctly for you.  Analyze your data after a set amount of time to determine what works.  Those that don’t generate a lot of leads, stop using them.  Those that do bring in the business, increase your efforts there.

I’m available to help audit your advertising stragety  – give me a call if you’d like to chat.  (This phone conversation is 100% free – leave me a comment with your email address so we can connect.)

Happy Tuesday!

~Amy


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Thursdays Takes – – Dive into the Shark Tank

Do you watch Shark Tank?

If you are in business for yourself – I highly recommend this show.  It airs on Friday nights on ABC.    As a small business owner, I have learned so much from this show.

If you like good entertainment and GOOD reality TV – I highly recommend this to you too.

The premise of the show – five “Sharks” who sit on a panel and watch presentations from business owners who are asking for an investment in their company.  If the sharks like the product or business ideas, they will offer the money the business owner is requesting for a stake in the company.

I think it is so wild to watch the Sharks go into a real life feeding frenzy when they see a company they want to invest in.  It is exciting to see them all literally chomping at the bit.

But in addition to the entertainment factor of the show, the Sharks are all very successful business people and although they might not always invest in a company – they do offer some great advice to the business owners.

A couple of things I don’t love about the show:

The overall emphasis on money.  Especially Kevin.  All he talks about is money and that is his driving factor. He will only invest in a company if he can make lots of money.  The other sharks will allow emotion to play a part in their decision to invest or not and if they like a person  – I think they put on a “mentor” hat and truly want to help the person get to success.  (Robert is my favorite, I think I have a bit of a crush on him….)

It also frustrates me that many of the business owners have tried to get into national chains (e.g. Sharper Image, Sam’s Club, etc.) but because they don’t have the connections, they are turned down.  Once they get a Shark behind them – all the doors open.  To me – that is a sad state that we live in today, people with money and connections can get in.  People without, don’t.

But let’s not end on such a negative note…..

Regardless of the outcome, being on The Shark Tank is a boost to any rising viable company.  Even if the Sharks don’t invest, the free publicity of their product on national TV is a sure way to find other investors or opportunities.

Check it out.  It’s on tomorrow night – then – let’s talk about it.

Happy Thursday Everyone!

~Amy


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Word Up Wednesday – The Law of Diminishing Returns

The Law of Diminishing Returns – – da da daaaaa (dramatic music plays). What in the world is the Law of Diminishing Returns?

Actually, it is a pretty simple concept, it’s the finding of the balance that is the hard part.

Definition: The Law of Diminishing Returns – (n) – The tendency for a continuing application of effort or skill toward a particular project or goal to decline in effectiveness after a certain level of result has been achieved.

The most common example of this law is that of fertilizer.  Imagine you plant corn  in a 200×200 plot.  You plant the appropriate number of seeds per row and appropriate number of rows per the plot.  You tend to it by watering it, keeping it free from weeds and birds and  your payoff is a modest yield of corn.

The next year, you do everything the exact same way, but also add 1 part fertilizer to the mix.  You see your yield double.

The following year, you increase your fertilizer by one additional part, your yield triples from the first year.

The following years, three, four and five, you incrementally increase the amount of fertilizer you put on the plot, but now your overall increase starts to decrease from the first year.

Here’s the point – keeping all things equal and only increasing (or decreasing) one factor, there is a point at which the output will level out and eventually start to decline because of this increase.

 

Let’s say you are a small business owner, you are a marriage counselor who sees clients on a weekly or monthly basis and you are trying to increase your gross income.  The obvious way to increase your income would be to increase the amount of couples you work with each week or month.  And while this works for adding one or two more clients each week, BEWARE – there is a point when the increase outweighs the income.

Things to consider – are you physically capable of adding more and more clients to your daily schedule.  What sort of price does doing so cost?  Consider your overall health, your required rest needed to be fresh and mentally alert for each client meeting.  Don’t forget the added work that needs to be in the form of reports written, insurance claims, invoicing, etc.

The important thing about the Law of Diminishing Returns is to find the balance of where the maximum amount of input produces the maximum amount of output. Just remember – adding more and more to your plate, won’t always produce more and more income.

Because I like to apply business terms to your home management system, how’s this example.  

Imagine you do laundry every week (or maybe this is your reality and no imagination is required).  Every week you do laundry for your family of five and it breaks into 15 loads.  Finally, you are able to upgrade to one of the new fancy and extra-large capacity washer and dryers.

With these new machines, you are able to increase the size of the loads and cut that amount down by a third.  But you didn’t figure out the magic number was ten until you tried increasing the size of the loads so much that at some point the washer was shutting down or the clothes weren’t getting as clean – merely because the washer was packed too full.

Just like at home – it’s all trial and error and that’s what makes running your own business  or managing your home so exciting. You have that control over  your destiny and the fun and challenging part is getting to figure it all out.

One last important reminder – don’t be afraid to try things, just because you are afraid of diminished results.  For our counselor example – OK – so he overbooked himself one month and had a crazy/ultra hectic month.  Lesson learned – too many clients makes him cranky and overwhelmed.  Next step, reduce by 10% and see how that works, and again and again until he finds the right balance that works for him.

Good luck.  Are you struggling with ways to make adjustments to your business to find ways for increasing your income or decreasing your workload?  Give me a call – let’s chat about it.

Thanks for reading – Amy

 


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Word Up Wednesdays – Sole Proprietorship v. Corporation

Rock On!  You are a small business owner!  Now let me ask you a question – what type of business do you have?

I don’t mean – what does your business do, or what product do you sell or what service do you  offer.

I am asking –

Are you a Sole Proprietor or a Corporation? 

There are some very distinct differences between how your business is filed with the US Treasury and the Secretary of State.  The biggest differences are those between a Sole Proprietorship and a Corporation.

The important thing to remember  – A Corporation is a separate entity.  This means it files taxes separately, has shareholders and will protect your personal assets in most cases.

It is my philosophy that any business regardless of size or age can be a corporation.  But whether or not your business should become a corporation should be decided based on recommendations from your CPA and your attorney.

Here are a couple of things to consider:

Corporations:

  • Shareholders are not responsible for corporate debt.
  • Corporations can offer self-employment tax savings.
  • Corporations offer protection of personal assets.
  • There is more of a cost associated with setting up a Corp and you will be required to do certain things annually such as conduct a Shareholder’s meeting.

Sole-Proprietor (SP)

  • SP’s offer easier start-up abilities and simple tax filing.
  • An SP is a bit easier to operate and make changes instead of dealing with shareholders.

What sort of businesses should be incorporated?   Like I said above, this should be based on the recommendations of your CPA and attorney.  But here are a couple of examples to consider:

  • If you own a small hair salon I would highly recommend becoming incorporated.  Imagine if someone tripped and fell in your parking lot of your building.   Someone could easily sue for medical expenses, lost wages, etc.  If you are not incorporated – they can draw money from your personal assets – meaning your home, savings and retirement funds.  By setting up the business as a corporation – they will only be able to go after the business assets.
  • Maybe you offer house cleaning services in your client homes.  What if you accidentally clean a stain in the carpet with a cleaner that ruins not only the carpet but also the sub-flooring.  Most likely your insurance will cover this damage, but if you aren’t insured or are under-insured, the client could come after your personal assets to pay for the damages if you are not incorporated.
  • Assuming you are paying yourself a salary (which you should be as a small business owner) one way to help save costs is by being incorporated.  Your CPA can tell you which sort of Corporation would be best for your situation.

It is very easy to just put off the decision of whether or not to become incorporated, maybe because you don’t really understand this whole thing.  Or maybe because you believe you will always be diligent and not have any accidents.

The latter line of thinking – while optimistic, is very dangerous.  Accidents happen and sometimes they happen despite our best intentions.

If you are unsure or you really don’t understand the whole Corporation -v- Sole Proprietor – – a call into your CPA or attorney will help answer this question.  Fifteen minutes on the phone with either of them can save you tons of time and money in the long run.

I’m available to bounce ideas around if you are uncertain of what sort of business entity you should be.  I can offer examples of potential situations which might make your decision easier to make.  Shoot me an email and let’s talk about it (there is no charge for this service).  amy@amymunns.com

Happy Wednesday ~ amy

PS  – I realize that this is a day late – but I didn’t want to skip this week’s edition to Word Up Wednesday. Thanks