Micro Business School - How to Calculate Your Hourly Rate

The thinkVAULT Micro Business School Step Two: Calculate Your Hourly Rate.  

In Step One, you determined exactly what business to go into. You met the first basic criterion: You're good at it. The second key factor: Someone else will pay you to do it. Keep in mind that if you wouldn't pay you for it, odds are that few other people would either.
There are a few exceptions to this, but your mindset about your product or service will affect your ability to market and sell it.

The next critical question for you to answer is:

How much revenue do I need?
This is the "quick and dirty" rule is this: You must cover all of your living expenses. If you have no savings - a common shortcoming in this society - then you must plan to cover your expenses quickly. This may mean incorporating a Plan B into your strategy.

Calculate your annual financial needs by starting with your pre-business-owner family budget:
  1. Include housing, food, household supplies, and utilities.
  2. Next, add transportation expenses - car payment, gasoline/fuel, maintenance, parking, etc.
  3. Remember your "hidden paycheck" as well.
    • health and dental insurance.
    • life insurance.
    • formerly reimbursed expenses, such as cell phone, internet access, etc. 
  4. Do you have growing children
    • They'll need clothes and shoes
    • Are they under the age of 12? Include childcare costs.
  5. Add in other essentials and discretionary expenditures. 
    • Savings - emergency fund and retirement. 
    • Clothing for you - over the course of a year. 
    • Cash donations to church and charities.
    • Vacation - plan for it, whether or not you get to take one.
    • What else do you need? Record and plan for it.
  6. Total the numbers and multiply it by 1.30 - about what you'll need to cover taxes.
The list can get long and detailed. I recommend using a spreadsheet for the process. Remember not to cross-mix weekly, monthly, and annual numbers. You are calculating what you need for an entire year.   

Your Real Hourly Rate:
It's higher than you think.

You should now have a total amount for the year that may scare you a bit.
  1. Calculate the number of days you will work.
    • On average, start with 240 days. Or... 
    • If you checked the calendar for exact Monday - Friday working days, then subtract your planned vacation days.
      This may be 5 or 10; remember this in Year One. 
    • Decrease the number further by 5 more days - a "fudge" factor. 
  2. Now... divide the financial needs amount by the number of days above. That's your minimum DAILY rate. 
  3. NOTE: You have yet to calculate the needs of the BUSINESS
  4. This first number is just what YOU need to live.
If you have not already begun, immediately gather and record what your necessary business expenses will be. Carefully managing your revenues and business expenses will govern the availability of the cash you calculated above as family needs. 

Necessary business expenses, and exactly what to include, will be covered in another entry -- Step Four!

Step Three: The first 5 tasks you must do to gain momentum. Check the next blog entry.

E-mail us if you have a question about calculating your hourly rate. 
This Micro Business School series is for new and emerging business owners: Those people who neither have the time nor an immediate need for a formal business plan.


Micro Business School - What Do You Do?

Introducing: The thinkVAULT Micro Business School. 
As I look back on the many challenges that my clients, and I, have faced, a recurring theme emerged. We have all wished, at some point, for someone to take us by the hand and say, "Here's what you need to do." Or at least: "Here's what I did about that."

So, in the interest of living up to my original vision:

A profitable, viable, solidly planned, and well-organized business for everyone who has a genuine passion for building one.

...let the "hand holding" begin.

Who is this for?
The focus is women starting or growing a micro business. Typically those who have:
  1. Never owned a business before.
  2. An urgent need to bring in income. 
    • Downsized, laid off, employer out of business.
    • Head of your household, primary breadwinner.
  3. A belief that all economic conditions present opportunities.
If you see yourself described in the list above -- regardless of your gender -- thinkVAULT can help you with starting and growing your business. You know for sure that you don't have time to "attend the School of Hard Knocks." That is a long and painful road to take... Neither do you wish to "fly by the seat of your pants." That stopped working, well before the 20th century ended. The world and business move too fast...  

If you want to save yourself a lot of time, and money, come along on this journey with us.  
If you have a pressing concern or burning issue, send an e-mail or leave a comment below. 

Step One: Choose something to do.

Make TWO lists, on two separate sheets of paper (or in two different files, if you're using Word):
  1. Things you're good at doing. 
    • Remember, you need to start making money. What are you really good at doing, RIGHT NOW?
    • Litmus test: Would three other people who know you -- and will tell you truth -- also say you're good at these things? 
    • Sit your list aside or close the file. NO cheating on part 2, below!
  2. Things you would pay someone else to do. You will only be able to sell what you believe to be of value.
See which skills appear on both lists. Rank your top three. If you need a tie breaker, which one would you wake up and do at 4:00 a.m. and keep doing until midnight? 

Step Two: Can you make enough money at your number one choice. And just how much is that? Check the next blog entry; this post will be updated, once it's "live" for reading.

E-mail us if you have a question about how to choose YOUR something. 


Christmas Fun - Santa's Upgraded Sleigh

What might Santa's sleigh look like with some 21st century upgrades?

A bit of shameless corporate self-promotion on the part of
General Electric.Click each listed improvement to see a detailed description.

E-mail us if you would like help with removing obstacles to your business growth and success. 


Goals or Resolutions - Which Is Better?

Are goals or resolutions better for business owners?

This entry is from guest blogger, Cindy Hartman of Hartman Inventory Systems.  a business and personal property inventory company

As each year comes to an end, if you’re like most people, you begin to think about what you didn’t achieve the past 12 months and what you plan to work on “next year.” Often, though, “next year” always remains as “next year.” Kind of like the statement that “tomorrow never comes.”

The end of one year and the start of a new one encourages most of us to create New Year’s resolutions. But resolutions are rarely kept. I read a statistic (I can’t remember where) that showed 83% of resolutions are broken by January 31. I wonder what the statistic is by July 31. Or the following December 31. My guess is that the number is quite high.

I think it’s because a resolution is often just a thought or desire -- perhaps stated out loud, but rarely written down. Yet, when people set goals, they usually assign actions and deadlines to each item. Goals are then easier to achieve because you are holding yourself accountable.

Consider your business. Would you rather make a resolution to double your revenue or have a goal to do so? If you resolve to do it, it’s probably a thought or wish. But if you make it a goal, you’ll be more focused. You’ll most likely create a budget, a marketing plan and a monthly action plan. And here’s the key – you’ll measure your progress month-to-month. You’ll have numbers to determine if you’re reaching your desired revenue. And through this assessment process, you’ll have time to change your processes to improve your results.

Turn your resolutions into goals. Measure your progress, and December 2010 will be a much more rewarding year end because “next year” became “this year” -- for whatever desired outcomes you’ve chosen. 

Happy New Year!

E-mail us for help and solutions for setting, measuring, and reaching your business goals.  

© 2009 DMMI Associates LLC – All rights reserved


Supplier Diversity - What is Expected of the Suppliers

Exactly what is expected by a large corporation of a diverse supplier?
All too often, I encounter an emerging MBE or WBE company whose owner sees being diverse as its key strength. While this can be an important part of a marketing strategy that's targeting larger corporations, it cannot be the main benefit.

The Dell Corporation published a list of 12 qualities they look for in prospective diverse suppliers. Certification -- i.e.: having and proving diverse status -- did make the list. It's number 12. See this page:

thinkVAULT helps its emerging MBE and WBE clients to focus on listed quality 1: Cost Competitiveness. We focus on assisting you with:
  1. Clearly identifying what market and operational objectives will work for you.
  2. Finding world-class tools that will help you with meeting those objectives. 
  3. Using those tools in a manner that will benefit both your bottom line and those of your customers.
Would your company be both ready and able to meet the type of qualities that Dell Corporation has specified? Be sure of your answer before you contact your big-corporate prospects. 
Oh yes, we can also assist you with #12. See this related post.

MBE/WBE Certification Made Easy

E-mail us if you would like help with removing obstacles to your business growth and success. 


Cost Effective Business Tools: Customized Video Greetings

Customized Video Greetings Can Make the Impression You Want.
Click the Play arrow for a demonstration - just 3 minutes.

If you want to impress your clients, business colleagues, and prospects, here's an environmentally-friendly choice: 
Your message in a Flash Video. Convey your holiday or seasons greetings, expressions of thanks, or a marketing message in a unique way. Printed cards are tangible -- and often fun, but by their nature, the message is limited. 

I received a colorful card just this week. It probably cost the business owner at least $1.00, plus the postage. He also had to add a separate sheet of special offers -- kaching, added expense. There is a greener, cost-effective, and wonderfully engaging way to relay the message: 
You can include it all in one video. 

Order Your Customized Video Below. 
Select your video options...
Select Length - Music Combo

Select Length - Music Combo

Describe your style preference

Will you provide media files?

Your video will be ready within ONE business day of the receipt of your art and/or media files.

Questions? Click here to get more info.

© 2009 DMMI Associates LLC – All rights reserved


Thanksgiving Greetings from DMMI-thinkVAULT

Thanksgiving Greetings from DMMI-thinkVAULT. 
A video message - just TWO minutes.

Would you like to have a customized greeting message, similar to this one, for your company?

Click here for more information and to order.

Video messages can help you to relay information, event announcements, and more. Contact us for ideas. 

Interested in that Business Check-up? Click here to get more info. 

© 2009 DMMI Associates LLC – All rights reserved


The Entrepreneurial “Itch”

More and more people are feeling the Entrepreneurial "Itch" to start a business.

This entry is from guest blogger, Cindy Hartman of Hartman Inventory Systems.  a business and personal property inventory company

Today’s economy has turned many peoples’ lives upside down. There have been downsizings, closings and forced early retirements. Even those who are still employed are considering their desire to own their own business and feeling "if not now, when?"

Once you acknowledge the entrepreneurial “itch”, how do you decide what to do? An essential step in the selection process is determining three key criteria that this new adventure must meet. There are others, but these three are essential: 

  1. Passion.
  2. Financials.
  3. Skills/Abilities.
The first, Passion, will steer you toward doing something that feeds your values, allows you to serve a purpose and give you something more than money to drive you to succeed. When your daily efforts feed a passion, you will enjoy each day and it will not feel like work.

The second, Financials, is very important. Be realistic on what you can spare and your risk threshhold level. There are a plethora of opportunities no matter what your financial situation. Ask others, do some research and be creative!

The third, Skills/Abilities, helps you realistically asses what you are able to do. But don’t forget the all-important opportunity to learn something new. Having the ability and desire will bring you the encouragement to learn and grow.

There are other criteria you will want to add to this list, but these three will get you going in the right direction. Once these decisions are made, you have a good outline of what type of businesses to investigate. You will have eliminated some and discovered others you wouldn’t have initially considered.

Narrow down all of your options, first by making sure they align with your three criteria. Then ask a simple question: Do I want to do this? The question may seem to be almost ridiculous, but if you focus only on the criteria, this seemingly obvious question might be left unanswered!

Be honest with yourself, and no matter how inviting something is, if it doesn’t meet your passion, financial position and abilities, plus you honestly cannot see yourself doing this day after day, don’t even consider it!

Making this decision is a life-changing event. Make sure you feel the passion so you can enjoy your next career! 


E-mail us for help and solutions for enhancing your business' mission.  

© 2009 DMMI Associates LLC – All rights reserved


MBE/WBE Certification Made Easy

Are you hesitating...

...to get your MBE or WBE certification because you find the application process a bit intimidating? 

Does the whole idea of gathering all that paperwork make you break out into a cold sweat?

Sweat no more! 
DMMI Associates LLC is coming to your rescue!

This guide covers all of the critical steps for municipal or state MBE or WBE Certification. 

  • Learn what paperwork and records to find and gather. 
  • Know what errors and exceptions may cause your application to be summarily REJECTED -
    The Dreaded Ding
  • Discover the ONE thing that most often causes a delay in the process
Click the Add to Cart button below to  *ORDER*  your guide:
"How to Prepare a "Ding-Proof" MBE/WBE Certification Application - City/State

Once your purchase is completed, your 5-Step Guide content will be delivered to your e-mail box shortly.

Make Your Selection Below, Based on What Best Fits You

Own more than 1 business? Y/N

Yes: Will each be certified?


thinkVAULT Launches "Global Entrepreneurship Week - Indianapolis" Info Hub

Global Entrepreneurship Week: Passing the Legacy to Our Youth

This is only the second annual Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW). It's still growing across the globe. If you have a business already up and running, or if you have only a business idea, you should be aware of this event. One of the reasons the event exists is to introduce the concept of business ownership to young people everywhere.

I encourage you to visit the Global Entrepreneurship Week - Indianapolis Page on Facebook. Become a Fan and contribute your thoughts and ideas for 2010. 

Be sure to post your comments and updates on the Fan Page

© 2009 DMMI Associates LLC – All rights reserved


Entrepreneurship Is Not A "Swing for the Home Run" Game

Can You "Swing for the Home Run" as an Entrepreneur?

One of the greatest mysteries about entrepreneurship and start-ups is how a business owner can ensure success. Here's the catch: 
You can't.

That is not to say that you cannot be successful. You just can't "ensure" it. The best you can do is prepare well, execute well and repeat those actions CONSISTENTLY. Then, if you do fail -- learn from it. Pick yourself up and shout: Next!

This article, on the Wall Street Journal's website "How to Decide if Entrepreneurship is Right for You" presents five questions all prospective business owners should ask themselves before starting a business -- with or without employees. A key point is the first one: Make sure you believe in, and are passionate about, whatever your venture will be. Avoid any business or industry that someone else has convinced you will "make money for you." If you don't believe in it, your prospective clients or customers won't either.

If you have not seen these two prior blog entries, I suggest that you read them, as well.
Several days ago, and with more than a wee bit of mirth, I put up a post in the spirit of swing-for-the-fences. It was the middle of the World Series. The metaphor fits...
The premise was simply this: Raise $20,000 from a base contact pool of about 450 social media connections. "Success" would have required that on average, each one would literally buy in at $50 or so, or that the campaign would expand geometrically -- i.e.: virally.
What were the odds of that happening? Slim and none! 

Yet, this is exactly what too many start-up business owners do. Their business is important to them, so they feel confident that everyone they know will
  1. want and/or need to do business with them.
  2. tell all their friends. 
  3. repeatedly spend their hard-earned money with them.
This is rarely true. It's also not likely to sustain you.
What you can do is plan well and work smart.

If you are up for THAT challenge, go ahead and get started. We can help you with that. Find your market niche and claim it.
Consistent base hitters contribute to the score more often than home run hitters. DMMI will help you to score. 

Are you following me on twitter yet? I use that 140-character space to both find and disseminate information and inspiration. Join me! 

Also, watch this space during November. You will find practical tips and steps to take toward starting and growing a viable business. I will present them from the perspective of "Must Haves" and "Nice to Haves" solutions-wise, with an eye for what you can do

  • For free or low-cost  [$].
  • Affordably, for a fee [$$$].
  • WithDeep Pockets [$$$$$].

E-mail us if you would like help with removing obstacles to your business growth and success.

© 2009 DMMI Associates LLC – All rights reserved


Strategic & Tactical Challenge: Raise $20K in 61 Hours

Proving a Theorem - Strategic and Tactical Challenge to Raise $20,000 in 61 Hours.

This is a test. It definitely is not only a test. This is measurable goal. By 06:00 a.m. EST on 3 November 2009 (U.S.) this test will be done.  It is a "once-only" test. You are invited to participate in its outcome and help to prove the theorem.

There is a critical mass of internet-based interaction being tested here. 
  • Does thinkVAULTer have enough followers, fans, and friends in the e-verse throughout the varying levels in the tV network to reach this goal?
Theory Camp One says: "Yes. Definitely." Proof of this theory, however, is being sought.

The web application at ubulu.com -- which apparently works only for famous people -- illustrates how many degrees of separation two people are away from each other. See example... 

So, are there enough connections, and few enough degrees of separation, for the e-verse to respond in the time allowed? Let's find out. BTW: The person who helped to gel the concept behind this test has nearly 68,000 twitter followers. Degree One, for this test, is much smaller.

Oh yes, you can get a great return, i.e.: VALUE for your dollar. You have a few choices.

  1. You may simply e-send $49.95 or $99.95 and receive a personal Thank You message and an awe-inspiring e-certificate -- suitable for printing and framing -- in recognition for your having participated in the Great Social Media Experiment. Why? Because you want to and you can...  
  2. You may purchase a mini-research session. 
  3. Ask your question. It must be straightforward, and fact-based.
    See the video below for an example and explanation.

    1. What is YOUR question? What do you need to know (or just want to know) that you don't have the time to research for yourself?
      Your video response, with an audio explanation, will be posted on-line with a link uniquely for you. It will be password protected, so only you can get to it. Sound good? Let's get started...

    Why am I doing this? Two reasons. 1) to test the power of social media and how the various levels within an e-network can respond to a stimulus. 2) My son - who has dubbed himself "lionVAULTer," has a project to fund. So, we decided to test this theory. Are you game?  

    Please note as well: No questions of a lewd, crude, illegal, or immoral nature will be answered. If you do that, you will not get your money back! Everyone else gets a Satisfaction Guarantee. Now...

    Go for it!

    Select Your Choice or Choices

    Lv details here or on webpage

    Continue below, if necessary:

    E-mail us if you would like help with defining or improving your processes.  

    © 2009 DMMI Associates LLC – All rights reserved

    Thanks for Participating

    Thanks for participating in the "Strategic & Tactical Challenge."

    Watch for an announcement about the results, posted on this site by close of business on 11/03/2009.

    © 2009 DMMI Associates LLC – All rights reserved


    thinkVAULTer Vault To Profits Contest

    ANNOUNCING - thinkVAULT's Contest: Vault to Profits.
    Is this you? New business owner -- i.e.: a start-up? Then this is YOUR contest!
    This is a rare opportunity to get a jump start on moving from Start Up to Profitability quickly.

    If you are among the 
    • Downsized
    • Rightsized
    • Single Parents, just laid off... 
    • The simply ready-to-be-in-business
    who can't wait months to generate a livable income, you are in the right place to get your business on the right track. You won't get rich quick, but you will be able to support yourself and your family - doing something you love.

    Vault To Profits Contest

    What You'll Win:

    The Foundation Week of my

    "30 Days to a Profitable Services Business" Bootcamp - PSB2

    *** Just 5 Lucky Winners ! ***

    Each will have the opportunity to participate in an Inner Circle Startup Group.
    Upon completing their first week, the lucky winners will have in hand their own personalized:

    • 6-Part Power Pages Success Map -- including...
      Your pre-startup checklist
      Your Day One "Must Haves / Must Knows" -- EXACTLY what you will deliver, to and for whom
      The most cost-effective way to do Your One Critical Tactical Thing
      How to Find Your First Ten Clients / Customers
      ...and MORE
    • First preference for seats in the continuation of PSB2
    • Preferred Status for slots in the thinkVAULTer 2010 Getting to the Next Level class

    Here's How to Enter & Win

    Write a COMMENT below, describing...
    1. TWO problems that could stop you from going into business  -OR-
    2. TWO items that would help you start tomorrow, if you knew or had them
    3. THEN, post a back link to your blog -- if you have one -- to this Page 
    Easy Entry: Click Here to E-mail your COMMENTS.

    Contest Rules.

    The 5 winners will be selected at random from all entries after 5:00 p.m. EST, 6 November 2009 when the contest closes.

    Winners will be notified by e-mail NLT close of business, the next business day: 9 November 2009 

    Good Luck! 

    E-mail us if you would like help with starting or reshaping your business.  

    © 2009 DMMI Associates LLC – All rights reserved


    Assessing Value - How to Decide If It's Worth It

    How to assess the value of an e-service.

    I've been a fan of on-line services for quite a while. There are many good ones, several offered by well-known, successful, and solidly backed corporations. Some are free; some charge a fee. The question you must be able to answer: 
    Is it worth it?

    Just recently, I came across an offered service that just didn't add up. It also illustrated why you must actually READ those Terms of Service texts before checking that little "I agree" box underneath them. Caveat Emptor: some services will try to charge you twice, without delivering comparable added value.

    One of the hottest social media sites, as of this posting, is twitter. In fact, if you are reading this blog, it's likely that you tweet. You may also be familiar with the hundreds -- if not thousands -- of applications written to work on and with twitter. So, imagine my excitement upon discovering that PayPal -- a tool that I use -- had developed some apps. 

    twitpay looked pretty good. Nevertheless, due diligence lead me to check into the Retweet Commerce Suite. Oh, my! So, let me get this straight... 
    Through your use of Retweet2Buy (RT2Buy™) eBay deserves to gross approximately 18% of your twitRevenue, simply for providing a clever way for you to use an existing PayPal account? They also claim the right to hold your funds for 30 to 60 days (while they make more money from your money), before they release it to you. 
    "The amounts due to you from sales of your content will be paid to you via your Twitpay account within 30 days after the end of each month once amounts due to you equal at least $10."  (From the RT2Buy TOS).

    Furthermore, they get to leverage your digital content, using or reusing it as they see fit. Thus, essentially negating the fact that you still "own" it. 
    "With respect to your content, you hereby grant Twitpay and its affiliates the worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive, transferable right and license, including the right to sublicense, to (i) distribute, use, reproduce, modify, excerpt, adapt, prepare derivative works and compilations of, publicly perform and publicly display your content on the RT2Buy services or in connection with any syndication or other distribution arrangement thereof with third parties, in any media format or medium and through any media channels; (ii) host, cache, store, archive, index, crawl, create algorithms based on, modify or transcode your content to appropriate media formats, standards or mediums as part of the RT2Buy services; and (iii) use your content for and in connection with advertising, promotional or commercial purposes, including without limitation, the right to publicly display, perform, reproduce and distribute your content in any media format or medium and through any media channels."  (From the RT2Buy TOS). 

    Nice try, eBay, but I think your next billion may have to come from other sources.  I must admire your moxie -- just cannot agree with the approach. Let us hang our own money out to dry... where we can still get to it. 

    E-mail us if you would like help with finding or improving e-tools that work for you.  

    © 2009 DMMI Associates LLC – All rights reserved


    6 Time-Proven Paths to Business Success

    Be a Business Genius Using These Six Time-Proven Paths to Business Success.

    When I first gave this presentation at a speaking engagement six years ago, I was a relatively new business owner myself. In the process of updating it, I have personally come to appreciate the revelations in it much more. It is from that perspective that I humbly offer you the opportunity to share in and gain from the wealth of knowledge to which I've been led.

    You will find an overview of this presentation, "Driving an Armored Car" at this link: 
    It runs for about 5 minutes and is slides only / no audio, on SlideShare. 

    If you are interested in seeing and hearing the complete 25-minute presentation, it is divided into 5 snippets, with each part running about 5 minutes. 
    This approach makes it convenient for you to digest the concepts, a little at a time. In any case, I hope you use this as an opportunity for reflection and preparation for your next steps -- in business or in life. 

    You are encouraged to leave comments or questions, below. Responses of interest to other commenters will be posted here. 

    E-mail us if you would like help with starting or reshaping your business.  

    © 2009 DMMI Associates LLC – All rights reserved


    Using Knowledge Sharing to Grow Your Business

    Sharing Knowledge Can Help Others and Grow Your Business.
    This entry is from guest blogger, Cindy Hartman of Hartman Inventory Systems. 

    Social media is often used to share knowledge, and there are many people doing just that. You can learn something on just about any topic you choose - earning money as an MLM associate, how to "go green", exercise and diet, how to grow your business, gardening, the law of attraction, marketing, customer service, car maintenance, travel, and even social media itself ... the list goes on forever. 

    When we started our business and personal property inventory company, Hartman Inventory Systems, one of our goals was and still is to educate people on the many reasons they need to have a list of their home and business belongings. So we did and still do the standard, tried-and-true methods. One is speaking engagements. We enjoy sharing our knowledge at Kiwanis, Sertoma, Rotary, Chambers of Commerce and church group meetings, explaining why one needs a home or business inventory and also how to compile one. I write a blog and electronic newsletter; I provide articles as a guest author for others' email and paper newsletters and blogs; and enjoy being a regular columnist for the Morgan County Business Leader

    Once we got comfortable with Facebook and Twitter, we thought it would be a great way to reach more people by offering our knowledge through this venue. Though every day we reach out to people who are posting or tweeting about insurance, burglaries, fires, estate planning, divorce, etc., we have organized an "event" per se. Each month, we establish a time for "Ask the Experts" and monitor questions and comments on Facebook and Twitter - a specific time to focus on providing the knowledge others are seeking regarding the need for an inventory. In between the questions, we post pertinent information such as "Be sure not to overload your extension cords when decorating for the holidays" and remind people to check their smoke alarm batteries. 

    In addition to reaching out to our followers, we are providing an opportunity for them to ask for help when they might otherwise hesitate. Social media is a new information highway that, used for the better good, can be an excellent tool to provide knowledge, to pay it forward, to give to others - to share. 
    How can you use social media to meet or enhance your business' mission statement? 


    E-mail us for help and solutions for enhancing your business' mission.  

    © 2009 DMMI Associates LLC – All rights reserved


    3 Ways to Avoid Costly Mistakes in Running Your Business

    Mistakes Can Cost Money and Customers - 3 Tips for Avoiding Them.

    We all make mistakes. Why? Simply because we are human. The better we are at avoiding mistakes, however, the less it will cost us in the long run. Money is one obvious cost. Credibility and customer confidence is the greater risk.

    Sid Kemp, in his article "Learn From Your Mistakes," estimates that "continued incompetence costs our society billions of dollars a year." Yes, he said BILLIONS. What if we could reduce this cost, in both time and money resources, by not making them in the first place? 

    To work toward that objective, consider these three ingredients: 
    1. Have a standard, preferably written, set of steps for delivering your product or service. This is called a process. If you follow your process, it is easier both for you, and anyone you hire, to deliver what is expected. 
    2. Know what your most costly step is. In other words, if that step gets flubbed, you will either lose money or lose a customer. Then, monitor that step like a hawk
    3. Have a predetermined way for handling problems and complaints. When the inevitable flub happens, know what you will do. 
      • Give your subordinates the power to act based upon that process. 
      • Minimize the inconvenience to your customer or client. Your response must make sense to them. (See this blog "You Don't Make Sense").

    Mistakes can be learning opportunities, too. For a few thoughts on that, see this article by Sid Kemp, for Entrepreneur.com. Head mistakes off at the pass and most of the time you will get the results that both you and your customers expect. 

    E-mail us if you would like help with defining or improving your processes.  

    © 2009 DMMI Associates LLC – All rights reserved


    5 Things You Should Know to Shape a Vision for Your New Business.

    Your Business Vision - 5 Factors to Consider.

    How do you see your business? What will it look like the day you start up? After 1 year passes? 2 years? 5 years? 
    To increase the likelihood that you will succeed over the long haul, answer all parts of that question for yourself. Write it down. 

    Oh, I know, it is much easier and simpler just to get things going. Unfortunately, that's a short-sighted perspective. Remember: The easy path rarely serves you well. Did you win any little league games without practicing with your team? How about learning to play piano -- or whatever your musical instrument of choice may have been? Practice may not make perfect, but it definitely makes it better. 

    How you define your business' vision will shape your mission for it. The two together will shape all of the marching orders for both you and any employees you hire.  If you start marching without it, you will eventually hit an immovable wall.

    Below is a starter list for bringing your vision into focus.

    1. Who will your customers be? 
      • What will you provide for them? 
      • What will, and should, they expect from you? 
    2. What range or scope of products and services will you cover?
      • Caution: Your business cannot be all things to all people.
        See this SBA overview on "Finding a Niche."
      • Start with what you are truly good at. 
        • Stick to that. 
        • Be able to do that with excellence. 
      • Expand after you master the step above.
    3. Do you see yourself with employees? 
      • How you answer this will drive many factors - not the least of which is your Business Plan
      • Will you have them Day One or hire them later? 
    4. How big will your company grow? 
      • Is the sky the limit?
      • How many employees would be too many for you?
    5. At what point in time will you leave your company? 
      • Retirement? Will you stick around as an Emeritus? . 
      • Will you, or can you, leave your children in charge when you leave? 
      • One of my clients is led by a 2nd generation descendant. Oh yes, and Grandpa Tippy, President Emeritus, has an office -- but rarely uses it. The firm is in good hands.

    Lay out a chart for yourself and answer these questions for each phase of your business. Keep it simple. You can make notes in a spiral notebook. Just make sure you get it done. Then, and only then, start your business. 

    DMMI Associates is here to help you to find and use the best possible business growth resources available to you.  

    E-mail us for help with getting and keeping your business running well.  

    © 2009 DMMI Associates LLC – All rights reserved


    Starting Up Your Micro-Business.

    Five Critical Factors for a Micro-Business Start-up.

    If you are among the 25 million plus people that will be running a micro-business by the end of 2009 [Ref. SmallBizTrends.com] this entry is for you. Some will fold this year, but many more will start up. Here are a few tips for staying among the "thrivers" in the bunch.

    1. Cash is the lifeblood of your business; therefore: 
      • Know what the payback or return will be for planned expenditures.
        Base this on your own evaluations, not what the sales rep tells you. 
      • If you have a paying job, keep it as long as possible. You may be sleep deprived, but your bank account and your household will suffer less. That being said,...
    2. Get the highest quality (not most expensive) tools and equipment of your trade, that you can afford. 
      • Good business cards. See this checklist
      • A laptop computer, with wireless LAN, webcam, a big hard drive, and lots of RAM. 
      • Make a "must have" and a "like to have" list of other items. 
      • Avoid debt and credit card purchases. Use them prudently, if at all.
    3. Lease what makes economic sense, to conserve cash and yield tax advantages. 
    4. Invest in your web presence. The internet is the next great business growth frontier.
      • Choose a logical domain name. Don't pay more than $15 for one year to register it. Avoid the super-cheap services; there are hidden, costly inconveniences. 
      • Put up a website. It does not have to be fancy, but it must meet your business development needs. 
      • Avoid using your kids, best friend, or neighbors' kids for this purpose. Use professionals or a user-friendly service.
        IMG Online Business, one of our technology partners, has excellent packages. You may try it from the link above. 
      • Set up business-specific e-mail.
      • If hosting stretches your budget too far, at first, use forwarding from your parked site's registrar. 
      • Get set up to use e-mail software, such as Outlook, so you can send professional looking messages, A.S.A.P.. 
    5. Learn your market quickly and sell, sell, sell. 
      • Customers will not auto-magically appear. 
      • If you cannot sell your product or service, get someone who can. 
      • Sales skills will not guarantee success, but the business cannot grow without someone who has, and uses, them.

    DMMI Associates believes in bringing world-class solutions and resources to you.  

    E-mail us for help with any topics mentioned above.  

    © 2009 DMMI Associates LLC – All rights reserved


    Can You Afford the School of Hard Knocks?

    How Steep Is Your Learning Curve?

    Eventually most of us learn. We either learn through experience, formal education and training, or pain avoidance -- a.k.a. "The School of Hard Knocks." Mistakes that cause us pain or cost us money can be effective learning tools. The downside is that they are expensive, both in terms of time and resources. 

    So, ask yourself: How much time and money can you afford to waste? Yes, I said "waste" as opposed to "invest" -- the preferred approach. The key difference: An investment has an expected, measurable return. Conversely: Time lost is irreplaceable. Revenues, i.e.: money, left unearned is also in essence, wasted. Missed opportunities will cost you, one way or another. And yes, I speak from my own experience as one whose education has included courses from Hard Knocks U. 

    So... In the spirit of saving some of you both time and money, here is an opportunity to invest a couple of hours in your personal business "book of knowledge." Your only investment for the session is your time. I guarantee you a great ROI. 

    Do you know already what scripts you should be flipping to: 
    • shorten your learning curves and 
    • help you to grow your business faster? 

    Here's the link for the September 15th newsletter, from my brilliant associates over at Lushin, with some thoughts on that subject. To register for their 2-hour Executive Briefing on September 23rd, just click here or the <Register Here> link in the newsletter. 

    Take 2 minutes, as well, to see Paul Lushin's video explaining "Life's Scripts" at Lushin TV. 

    DMMI Associates believes in bringing great solutions and resources to you.  

    E-mail us for help setting a course for stable growth.  


    Costs Management 101.

    Sales Revenues Minus Costs Equals: PROFITS.

    Fear not. Cost Accounting is not the formidable beast in the real world that it was in business school. Well, okay; maybe it is. The painful truth is: To stay in business, you cannot avoid it, at least at a basic level. There is only one way to know if you are pricing your product or service correctly. Costs must be reasonably estimated before you sell anything. Detailed knowledge of the three main factors listed below should drive all your pricing decisions. 

    1. Labor - That part of the cost of goods and services attributable to wages, especially for direct labor. For more details on Labor Costs use this resource at Answers.com.
    2. Materials - the cost of the raw materials that go directly into a product. From the BNET Dictionary.
    3. Overhead - expenses that are not directly tied to making or delivering a specific product or service. See this page at BNET for more details.
    So, start your business on the right path. Get a handle on your costs from Day One and monitor them closely.

    DMMI Associates can help you with measuring your costs, if you need it. 

    E-mail us for help getting started.
    DMMI can help you to set a course for stable business growth.


    How You Set Up Your Business Can Be Expensive

    How You Set Up Your Business Can Save or Cost You Money.

    Our objective here at DMMI Associates LLC is to get good, timely information into your hands. No wheel reinventing here today, simply some justified kudos.

    This is the best 2-minute summary that we've ever seen on how your business structure choice can drive your income taxes up, or down. "Is Your Structure Costing You Money?" produced by Entrepreneur Magazine's Video Network. The video provides an overview of tax implications to consider.
    Fair warning: it's preceded and followed by about 15 seconds of commercial advertising. They have expenses and production costs, too! 

    Your business will be one of the following types, even if by default.

    1. Sole Proprietorship. – It's all on you: what you do, how you do it, along with all the liabilities. Income is taxed directly to you, as an individual. 
    2. Partnerships can be two or more business owners, splitting everything evenly, or in different proportions according to a written partnership agreement. 
    3. Limited Liability Corporations - LLCs are supposed to do just that: limit your liabilities. The recommendation offered in the video is right on target. 
    4. A Sub-chapter S Corporation or "S Corp" was the original hybrid corporation, but proved a bit cumbersome for many small business owners. The LLC was borne as a result. 
    5. C Corporations are the more classic structures that we know Big Business by. Your company doesn't have to be big to use it. The choice just needs to make sense from a net earnings perspective. There are LLCs with hundreds of employees, for example. The choice was driven largely by the tax numbers. 

    Was this helpful? Great! How else can we help you make your business life easier?

    © 2009 DMMI Associates LLC – All rights reserved



    The 10 Things That Must Be on Your Business Card

    Business Card Info Checklist.

    Make sure your business cards will work for you. After all, that is usually the very first piece of marketing collateral that you give to people. So, make a good first impression. Toward that objective, invest a few bucks in a quality, professionally printed card. You may think that it’s cheaper to produce them on your desktop printer, but you may leave your prospective customers with the wrong impression. A flimsy card or a perforated edge says “I’m not really serious about business.” Equally important: Proofread before your copy goes to the printer and after you receive them.

    Below is a ten-point checklist that will ensure your first impression business-wise is the one you want.

    1. Your Name.  “Well of course, I’ll put my name on it,” you may be thinking. But hold on… How often have you seen a business card with a person’s formal or legal name, but no hint as to what they like to be called? Why not say “William “Bill” Smythe?” Let people know what you like to be called, without them having to assume that it’s okay to address you as Bill, Cindy, or Deb, etc.
    2. A Title that describes what you do. One of my favorite examples is that of a colleague who calls himself “Chief Potential Officer.” When you see that, you would be more inclined to ask for more information about his company, wouldn’t you? It also better describes what he and his company are all about than “CEO.”
    3. Your Company Name – clearly spelled out in words, not just your logo. With my first business venture, only the logo was on my card. You cannot imagine the interesting guesses – that were close, but not quite it – that arrived in the mail. Furthermore, as the use of automated data capture expands, you want to help prospective clients to save your correct information.
    4. A Street Address for mailing. Your business is home-based? So what? If you’re concerned about looking too small, then add a Suite number. Get a P.O. Box for Accounts Receivable payments, if your mail at home comes late in the day. It’s worth the $6 to $10 average per month to have your cash available a day or so sooner.
    5. Your Contact Phone Numbers. – office and cell phone should be included, if you truly want to be reachable. Also, get a second telephone line or an IP phone, so you know how to answer incoming calls. Forbid your minor age children from answering your business line, unless they are on your payroll and properly instructed.
    6. A Fax Number should be included, because people do still send faxed documents. You also should be e-faxing documents to yourself and others. More about that in another article.
      An electronic, toll free fax number can be had for about $10 per month. If you want to save a few trees, this is a good way to help.
    7. Include your E-Mail Address, at your company domain. If you’re concerned about spam, then set up spam filtering on your e-mail account. There is no rule that says you must give a business card to everyone who asks.
      There is also no excuse for not having an e-mail account; there are too many places to get them for free. A domain, with e-mail forwarding or a web account can also be had for less than $25. Get one. Do it now.
    8. Your Company Tagline, or a few words about what you do. It’s better if people don’t have to rely on their memories days or weeks later when they need your product or service.
    9. Lay the card out in a Standard Font, with nothing printed smaller than 8 pt. Please don’t make us squint to read your card! As for font choice: Use Times New Roman, Arial, Helvetica, or any other crisp, widely used font – with or without serifs. Again, help the automated data capture process. If your prospective customers must manually correct errors that OCR software was supposed to read, you may miss out on business.
    10. Include White Space.  At least have some on the back of the card. A clean, uncoated, light-colored place to jot down a few notes is truly appreciated by savvy networkers.

    Was this helpful? Great! How else can we help you make your business life easier?

    © 2009 DMMI Associates LLC – All rights reserved