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.

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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.

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!

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 😉

Business plan editing, #1.

Today my husband and I met with our financial man to discuss what he thought about our business plan’s rough draft.  When we got to his office we had some small talk first, as usual.  We have a great relationship with our financial advisor, which I think is key to really trusting someone with all of your money and life savings.  He was telling us about his business partner just got a hover craft and rigged it with night vision cameras to scope out his hunting property for game.  I think this is pretty genius but is also kind of cheating, but I don’t hunt so I really don’t care.  Then we started getting down to business.  He took out his copy of our business plan and I felt sorry for the poor paper…it was covered in markings, like my English 101 papers in college, YIKES!  He tore that thing up!  He started by telling us that it really needs to have more “business professional” terminology.  Most people write how they talk, us included, and that’s just not how you want to make a good impression on a person you will be convincing that your business will succeed.  He gave us some great advice on how we can improve it and reassured us that it’s not wrong and it will never be complete, exactly.  A business plan is used to set guidelines, or perimeters, to help us keep our business on a specific path.  Business plans are necessary, especially when partners are involved, to help everyone stay on track.  We have already seen how easy it is to deviate from the plan, but we revisited our original plan and decided it was best to stick with that.  A business plan is a living-document that outlines a businesses plan to growth over periods of time.  Our financial advisor said that most businesses take 6 months to finish fine-tuning their business plan and even after that it can still be adjusted or edited.

When writing a business plan there are some great resources on the web.  You can find samples to meet what you want for your own plan.  After writing your business plan, have someone read it for you that has no part in your business and who doesn’t really know much about the topic or industry.  Tell them to ask you any questions they have after reading it, those questions are the part you will need to fix.  Chances are the people who will be reading your business plan; lawyers, CPAs, banks, and investors, will have the same questions.  If you can clear up all those questions before you approach those people they will be more likely to understand exactly what you plan to accomplish and be willing to assist you.

After you get a few friends to read your plan and you make the necessary changes, get someone with an English background to help you with the grammar and business-ees.  A great low-cost option is to head to a nearby college or university and get an English major to work for you with this small task for a little money.  What college student couldn’t use some extra cash?

 

CPA, check!

I made the decision today with which CPA to choose.  I used the question and information I found on the web to ask really good questions to get a understanding of what they can do for us.  Over all, after our conversation, I feel like we would work well together. The CPA I spoke with seems like he legitimately wants the best for his clients business.  Ultimately a CPAs purpose for a business is to help them stay accountable and organized for all cash flow, right?  I mean, if we don’t make money he won’t really get anything out of the deal.  He said that our #1 priority right now needs to be getting a location.  Without an address, you can’t file for an LLC, tax license.

So as far as this business goes right now, we have everything but the location, dang it!  This is proving to be the most difficult part of all.  Every real-estate agent I spoke with has either come up with nothing or said we cannot have what we want inside city limits.  That just won’t do!  Therefore I press on…

After playing manager for the day, I received this lovely email for my hubby…

Thank you again for spearheading all this stuff for the business…I’ve been worried about “who” will do all this work because I physically can’t with my schedule and I hate waiting two weeks between making progress,   It makes me even more happy to know I can count on you to help with this..Love ya babe!

It’s so nice to be appreciated!

Setting up our Start-up

pay

This week I am on a mission to find a CPA for our small business, a commercial property Realtor, and a location that suits our business.  It’s hard making the decision for a CPA without meeting the person first.  I have narrowed it down to 2 in our hometown and 1 closer to New Orleans.  I wish it were as easy as clicking a button.

cpa

I guess there shouldn’t be so much pressure on making the right choice because we could always change our mind and choose someone else in the future.  Decisions, in general, give me some anxiety, always have, it doesn’t really make sense.  The biggest decision of my life is done and that one was actually easy.  Last year I tied the knot with the love of my life and I just knew it was right, I could feel it.

 wedding

Why is it that a life time decision is easy for me and a small decision like this is so hard?  I need to feel it.  Making a choice of what restaurant to go to for dinner is ridiculously hard for me, I always get the other person to choose.  My husband on the other hand ALWAYS knows exactly what he wants and knows how to make it happen.  He’s a “go-getter” and a delegator.  I mean that in a good way, he repeatedly impresses me with his ability to get people to do what’s needed for the completion of something.  Any time I get stumped with something I’m doing I think what he would be doing to get this done faster.  I never choose that path, because I never ask for assistance, but it’s interesting to think about how different we are, yet how well we work as a couple.

Great Blog to Reference:

http://dailygogetter.com/  His motto; Planning good, doing is better.

Why should I hire a CPA?

~Answer:   http://www.valueyourmoney.org/need-a-cpa2.asp

Keep in mind that you are looking to establish a long-term relationship. You want someone who will learn your business inside and out, and who will become a trusted advisor on major business and financial decisions and transactions. Look not only for technical competence but also for interpersonal and communication skills.

~I completely agree!

Defining your objectives and expectations will help you ask the kind of specific questions necessary for finding the CPA best suited to your needs. Think about the services you will need not just today but further down the road.

23 Critical Questions to Ask When Hiring a CPA

http://www.btkcpa.com/23-critical-questions/

I shortened it a bit…

  1.  Do they get back to you ASAP?
  2. Will I always be working with the same person?
  3. What services beyond “data entry” are offered?
  4. How can the accountant help us make more money?
    1. Before the interview they should have reviewed our plan and financial situation, do you think they have the best interest for the business in mind?
  5.  Do you consider yourself tech-savy?
  6. Who are your other clients?
    1. Get a feel of the type of business they work with.
    2. Get a feel of his work schedule; does he have the time and resources to meet our needs?
  7.  What kind of creative business advice can you offer?
    1. Ways to grow, ways to save money, ways to use money smarter.
  8.  What are your credentials?
  9. How much professional education do you get annually?
  10. Who will I be interaction with?
  11. What is your policy on returning phone calls?
  12. Are you available outside of the tax season?
  13. Are you a corporation of CPA’s or a business owner?
  14. When do you work?
  15. Do you conduct your own business and personal affairs in a reasonably efficient and responsibly way?
  16. How are your fees calculated?
  17. Do you charge for phone discussions?
  18. What can we do to help with your work and keep your fees to a minimum?
  19. Do you perceive any conflicts of interest?
  20. How well have you integrated computers and internet into your practice, and has it helped lower cost for clients?