Archive for the ‘business’ Category

Life, Temporary?

September 28, 2011

Today’s project of fancy is: Tina Roth Eisenberg’s, a site that sells kid friendly temporary tattoos for design interested adults.  Click around and take your pick: four Popsicles, one half eaten? Small rainbow made to fit on your fingertip?  Or, my favorite, a “late” watch – designed as a band that wraps around the wrist – available in multiple colors.

From the looks of it, Tina started by making something that she’d like to buy.  Then she asked other people to design more of the same.  Last up she set up a nice and simple way for people to buy some for themselves.

The process may not have actually been that easy.  There may have been arguments between designers, e-commerce scams, profile troubles and even shipping and handling mishaps.  But from what I can tell from the site’s simplicity – there wasn’t much room left for failure.

Part of the magic could be Tina’s already active group of designy friends.  She’s not only the creator of – but also of Creative Mornings, known by designy people as a meeting worth waking up for. Her design studio, studiomates, is based in dumbo and houses a collective of create young people.

Is seems that she’s recently  left her client design work behind to develop more of her own products – including TeuxDeux – a friendly looking, free, web based to-do app – with an add on iphone app.  What’s more fun than making lists, I ask you? Trying it out is next up on mine.


Mind Your Money

September 8, 2011

Mind Your Money is the second post in a series of five posts about Must Dos for Self Starters.  The first post was yesterday, on how to respond to requests in a reasonable amount of time.  Today we’ll focused on money matters.

Too often what we want is not the same as what is sensible.  Nowhere is this more dangerous than online shopping  in your own venture.  Here are five simple ways to watch over your short-term goals and long-term possibilities when you’re starting a new business yourself.

1.  Make a Spreadsheet

You’ll want to have a few spreadsheets, actually: 1) for  the year – with separate lines for the amount you think you’ll make each month & 2) for the month – with separate lines for the amounts you think you’ll make and spend that month.

So for example, if you were starting a pottery business and aimed to sell $1000 a month in pots every month, first make a yearly spreadsheet with 12 lines and add that column up to a projected $12000 in sales.  Keep a column open for actual sale amounts to be filled in later.

Next up make another spreadsheet for each month of the year include both the money you think you’ll spend and the money you think you’ll make – like this sample.  Keep three months of spreadsheets ready and waiting with projected sales and expenses.  The actual balance each month carries over to the next spreadsheet.

2.  Rest and Review

Carve out a little time each month to review the spreadsheet with you and your executive team.  Numbers don’t lie – but every so often we humans make mistakes.  Use this time to catch any misconceptions, misunderstandings or mismanagement before disagreements or disappointments arise.

Check back in with your yearly spreadsheet and enter your actual balance for the appropriate month.  You’ll review the yearly spreadsheet no more than four times unless you are making big changes to your projected monthly revenue frequently.  Your yearly sheet will tell you how well you did after, say, three months, six months or twelve months of operating.

3. Change where necessary

You may love the turquoise glaze you bought in September, but if you haven’t made more sales as a result you may decide to stick with the basic materials for October or until you have some decent cash flow.  Spent less trekking your wares around the city than you expected? Treat your buyers with hand printed thank you cards for their purchase.  Make changes to your spreadsheets for the following three months of projected expenses when adding or deleting line items.

4. Be Realistic

It’s not important for your actual $$ amounts to be the same as your projected $$ amounts.  The projected number is just there to give you a basis for analysis.  What you want is to blow your projected $$ amount away; but that takes some time.  Even if you find yourself way below projected amount one month, don’t worry – as long as you have enough in the bank to cover the next three months of expenses, you’re in the clear.

5. Ask an expert

These documents are good for discussions.  Don’t be afraid to show other people the numbers – being visible in an essential part of making money.  Other people experienced in reading spreadsheets may see opportunities or oversights.

note to the reader: I did not go to business school and as such do not know proper finance terms.  Richard Branson learned the difference between net and gross with a fishing metaphor.  I just like to think of what goes in and what goes out and then what’s in the bank after I’m through.

got your own business?  tell me how you keep your numbers happy without obsessing over how much is in the bank at any given time

Respond Right Away

September 7, 2011

“I read this.  It was good.  Thank You.”  A friend of mine send me these three sentences in response to an email.  I could have been disappointed because she was so short in her reply, but I felt grateful for her email – because she responded right away.

Jen, my friend and partner in a chinatown guest house project, was really good at getting back to people as soon as they emailed a request.  Twenty-first century communication, she’d call her method, but really she knew that when people don’t get a response in twenty-four hours or less, they start looking elsewhere.  Even if she wasn’t sure about availability or we already booked she’d make sure to say so in a pleasant and time-efficient manner.

Do you want to go out for ice cream? Who doesn’t! See, answering quickly is simple.

Challenging questions can seem to require more time.   Like when there’s a job offer you’re not sure about, a press inquiry that seems challenging or an invitation you are hesitant to accept.  But letting time delay your response can mean  confusion not clarity; without direct answers, people tend to fill in the blanks.

No smart phone? Set aside a time once a day to get back to people who contacted you since the last time you checked. If the email is harder to write than the time you have allotted, just write what you can. Even in difficult moment, sharing some part of what you think can be more important than how exactly you answer.