Financial Planner Meeting

Today we had our bi-annual meeting with our financial planner, Jim, to discuss our personal finances.  These meeting are always wonderful.  We have a good relationship with him and we always have great discussions, even outside of the realm of our finances.  He started our meeting picking our brains for advice on how to cook the perfect steak.  I know, every man thinks he has the magic key to cook when it comes to a grill, but they have nothing without a Big Green Egg.

Meet the Family

Meet the Family

I speak the truth.  We have been to so many prestigious steak houses and I can’t say those places aren’t good, but it is extremely hard to replicate it at home.  You need something that can get MEGA HOT, like 900 degrees, and the Egg can!

show me the money

Great movie.

So we told him about our Egg and our experiments with a variety of foods on it, from baking goods to smoking meats to searing steaks.  At the end of our meeting he said I gonna buy a Green Egg today!  I am not kidding when I say this is literally the 5th Big Green Egg we have sold, we are not a dealer so we didn’t actually sell them, but really we should totally be making some commission by now!

Aside from all our talk about the Egg we spoke briefly about the status of the business.  We are both a little disappointed with the launch of this business, it just seemed like there was no fire to get the ball rolling.  Purchasing equipment was a big hold up, actually it was the main reason we could not do anything.

Jim is a great person to get you fired up about something you are passionate about.  I don’t know if he is excited for the prospect of us making more money, which he would be in charge of so he would make more money?!?  Or that he is genuinely excited to get this business on the roll because he believes in us and wants us to succeed.  I am pretty sure it is the latter.  So when we left the meeting I was, of course, super pumped up about next season!

The main purpose of this meeting was to review of finances and make sure we are on the same page with what he is doing for our money.  All of our stocks are doing well and we are planning for retirement at a moderately aggressive pace.  He had some minor suggestions for the transfer of various stocks to maximize our pay-back  other than that everything was good.  We are at the time in our life when we are considering children and he suggested we start contributing to a 529, Louisiana’s College Savings Plan.  It is apparently one of the best in the nation, can’t say that too often in Louisiana…so we’re proud!  If you need more information the link is below.

https://www.startsaving.la.gov/savings/overview.jsp

I have been reading many blogs lately on business, start-ups, inspiration, and personal wellness.  All of them are related in some way, in the big picture.  Today, I found myself googling local business competition in our area and saving their websites to my bookmarks.  I think it’s a good idea to check-in on the competition from time to time, so why not make it easier for me!

Whenever I’m at the computer for no real reason I, of course like many others, end up on Pinterest.  While staring blankly at my Pinterest feed, scrolling in a zombie like fashion, I stumbled upon a wonderfully insightful blogger.

Portrait of pretty young business woman smiling

I was particularly interested in her post about the 10 skills you need in business.  I have seen post like this a number of times.  It’s like everyone basically says the same thing over and over again with different pictures to get you to keep reading.  I like her though, she seems real.  I’m pumped up about everything she has wrote.  I want to take the reins and jump into the business again with full force.  So I have decided to do everything I can to make these guys successful for next season.  I need to get all the planning done ahead of time so they are not worrying about what event is coming up soon.

End of 1st Season

The 1st crawfish season has come to a close.  This season started pretty rough with a very long, cold winter which caused the crawfish to remain underground well into the farming season.  In addition to that, each of the partners have been so busy with their personal and professional lives, it was very hard to schedule any jobs together.  Plus we didn’t get our custom-made pots until May…can’t boil without pots!  We did get a chance to help with a school fundraiser boil of 2,500 lbs.  which was a wonderful experience on technique, efficiency, and precision.  We were able to break in the new pots for family with a 4 sack boil in one pot!  These pots are HUGE!

We had 1 job offer for a boil for 300 people.  This would have been a great experience but we, unfortunately, had to decline.

Even though we didn’t have a “profitable” season, we were able to learn about our abilities for the seasons to come.  We still have to order business cards and develop a website.  We have an invisible facebook page, but I would like to wait for a website before we make it public.  The more I research web-design the more I’m leaning toward making it myself but I’m still trying to learn how to blog.

Decision Made!

My husband and I had consultations with 3 web-design companies. I complied all my notes into a beautiful PowerPoint presentation to show our partners. The prices range from $1,300 to a whopping $5,000. The 3 partners had a teleconference to discus the business plans and which company to choose. All votes are in…..they have decided to go with the least expensive company $1,300 which thankfully is located in our small town, so no driving into New Orleans every time I need to talk in person.

Now there is a second decision the partners need to agree on….a logo. This has become a bit of a problem. I would have liked to have the logo and the website completed already because I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this already but this business was supposed to be completely functioning at the start of this year. Well as you can probably guess that is not the case.

First there was the problem with not finding a location to house our business. Solution, we decided to be a catering service. Second, there seems to be a lack of prioritizing among the partners. I, of course, place everything relating to starting this business on high priority. I can completely understand their thinking because they all have full-time, very demanding jobs and I, well, have nothing but this business hanging over my head. To get the website moving we first need a logo. I would like to have the same company handle both the website and the logo, which would just make things easier. However, the partners would like to give their family and friends the opportunity to freelance the design. I love the idea of having someone we are close to do it for us. Unfortunately, I think this will only prolong us not having a logo and website because we will have to go back and forth with each person to get it right.

Like any small business owner, I want this business to be successful. At the same time I want it to be a growing experience, as it has already proven to be. I am so proud of our very small accomplishments thus far, our business is all I talk about. So I wish I had the ability to give the people I talk to about our business a business card, to view our website and social media sites, and to contact us for a gig. We own a business, I want other people to see that we are in business.

All in due time, I suppose I could be a little more patient.

Website scouting

It’s been a long time since I wrote a post.  There’s just been so much going on with the holidays and all.  We are an official business now, Hallelujah!  We have a tax id, so now I can go to the jewelry show anytime I want, whoop whoop!

I have been on the hunt to find the perfect person to fulfill all of our website needs.  I have been scouring the web to find the right questions to ask during our consultations.  I have even tinkered around with designing the website myself using a variety of hosting/template sites.

10 questions you should ask

http://diythemes.com/thesis/web-design-results/

10 essential questions you should ask a website designer

http://www.ericspellmann.com/ten-essential-questions-to-ask-a-website-designer.html

Keys to building your first small business website

http://www.forbes.com/sites/allbusiness/2013/12/10/key-steps-to-building-your-small-business-website/

20 plus ways to build a website or presence

http://smallbiztrends.com/2013/06/20-ways-build-website-web-presence.html

I figured since I have experience with WordPress it would be easy to figure out designing a business website, it’s basically just a blog that’s static.  However, it turned out to be really freaking frustrating because you can do exactly what you want to your website because it’s a template.  After an hour of trying to get a picture in the background of my photo gallery removed I through in the towel.

This failure lead me to research web-design companies in our area.  Today we met with a local design company.  I asked all my questions.  The company uses WordPress….is that legal.  The guy said,”after we develop your website, it is completely yours.”  We can make changes and updates on our own, which is nice that’s something I really wanted.  BUT if they use WordPress, does that mean that our website is basic just a template that I could have created on my own to being with?

The pricing of this company is pretty cheap ($1100-$1200) in comparison to other companies.  The hosting is $35/month which you are required to be hosted by them for a full year.  I will do more research to see if this is a good idea.  I read that if a company is cheap, there’s probably a good reason.

I have 2 consultations tomorrow.  One of the companies I’m meeting tomorrow @ 10am has already told me the basic cost is $4500, that the website takes 45 hours to develop, so that means they’re $100/hour.  The other company I’m meeting with @ 2pm has employed one of my close friends and I’m really just going there to get as many options as possible.

There is so much that goes into getting a business off the ground.  Having a website, social media resources, and email marketing up and running would be such a load off our shoulders.  We want everything to be perfect, yet there is so much room for error, find the right people for the job is critical.

During our consultation today, the marketing associate gave us some great advice.  He mentioned that we should get involved in the Chamber of Commerce in our area, something I never even thought of!

How Hard Is It To Run A Small Business? (INFOGRAPHIC)

Change is constant and extremely quick. This “Reblog” from smallfoodbiz.com shows graphic representation of a survey of smal business owners.
Small Business owners have to be up to date with technology and social media to get customers in the door and in tune with what is happening on a day-to-day basis. There is always competition, especially in our area, for new small food businesses. The businesses that have the ability to use the internet to broaden their outreach are winning the competition. Businesses can now use social media to determine where their customers are coming from, where they work, what they wish to gain when entering a new place, how much time they have to spend, and even what they like most or hate about a business. Today, email marketing and social media marketing are the best venues to reach consumers with some free options available. Small Businesses today need to make it a priority to make the internet their #1 marketing tool.
Before I try a new restaurant, store, or even a hair salon I check the internet for customer reviews and feedback. Yes, many people on post to sites like Yelp and UrbanSpoon when they are mad about poor service, but I like to give an honest account, with pictures, of my experience because someone might enjoy what I have to say and in turn give that business a shot.

Small Food Business

entrepreneurshipIn honor of Small Business Week, Constant Contact released an INFOGRAPHIC based on a survey they did of small business owners.  Is it harder, they asked, to run a business now versus 5 years ago?  The results may surprise you.

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Location Roadblock

Locations

I have been contacting commercial realtors in our area for over 2 weeks.  Unfortunately, I have been unsuccessful in finding the right location for our operation.  Did you know that Craigslist is actually a terrific venue for commercial listings?  I had no clue, a realtor gave me the insight to check it out.  I have 4 realtors working to find us a location, yet I have found better locations on freaking Craigslist!  That site is genius!

I’m going to continue my search for the perfect location.  In the mean time, we have decided our best route for our business at this time is to start with catering.  It will be like tailgating, but on a larger scale and for people we don’t know.  There’s money in catering, but it’s a lot of work.  I feel like with this route we will completely lose our weekends, but that is the price I am willing to pay to get this show on the road.  The best part is we LOVE to entertain, which is exactly what catering will be but we’ll get payed to do it!

Test Run

Before we start we have a lot of kinks to work out, as does any business.  Before we take on a big gig, we need to practice on people who actually like us.  We’ve decided to have a party with free food, of course, and give out anonymous comment cards so our friends won’t feel like they’re hurting our feelings.  After we do this a few times with friends and family we can move on the outsiders.  To get our name out we’ve decided that it would be a great idea to host a party inviting business owners in our area that we believe would recommend us to their customers and clients.  The party will give us the opportunity to develop relationships and give them the opportunity to taste our products.  Brilliant right?

Marketing

Before we do any of this our top priority needs to be getting our virtual marketing readying to go.  We absolutely need to establish a website and a Facebook.  Both of which can be totally free.  Virtual marketing should be the #1 form of marketing for every small business because of the fact that it is totally free.  Why would anyone pass up free?

We will be investing in the services of a professional web-designer for our small business because we believe a great website will be our main marketing tool.  Over the next few weeks I will be collecting pricings and getting more information on what a graphic/web-designer can do for us.  I have no clue what the going rate is for this, I really need to do some research.  I will not be a person who is “taken to the cleaners” because heads will roll!  LOL

Anyway, we have some great ideas about what we want on our website and I can’t wait to get that rolling.  I think it will be great.  There’s going to be pictures and videos and cajun music in the background.  I’m so excited!  Did I ever mention that my husband plays the cajun accordion?  He had one custom made, it’s beautiful with a crawfish on it.  That’s pretty unique, not many people can say they play or even know a person who plays…I’m so lucky 😉