Paper Work

Determined to do things right the first time, I walked into the city hall to get a business license. A nice lady handed me a form and instructed me that I needed to register online in the Utah Division of Corporations and Commercial Code and then fill out the municipal form and hand it in to be considered/rehashed. I would then be told, in two or more weeks, if my application had been accepted. Then it would cost about $75 for the license. The reason for the state of our economy became a little clearer that day. I’d imagined that I would have the form done and handed in by later that day. Actually it took me a couple of days just to get the online registration figured out. I had to apply for an EIN (Employer Identification Number) before even starting that process.

I had to learn about the different business organizations, and discern which applied to me. This all probably sounds amusing to those who have done business for years or have been to business school, but most of this I learned as I figured out what to put on the forms.

For those who are just as ignorant as I, someday I’ll write my understanding of each business organization (with a link to the real definitions). As I delve into this maze of policies and regulations I’ll try to keep checking in here, that those who come after might have a reference of what they need to do (or not do) to get their business off the ground.

Sometimes you just need to step back and remind yourself that it’s possible, that others have done it, and that you have what it takes to make it happen if you just apply yourself and don’t let the thick of things sap your strength. In football they taught us to keep our feet moving and chopping with such intensity that our opponents would hesitate to grab hold of us, and if they did then we might break their grip. If we were doing the tackling then we needed to have so much power behind us that grip didn’t matter. Nothing is more exhausting than paper work.

—Post Ideas—

  1. Thrift ideas and paradigms from The Tightwad Gazette
  2. Study the scriptures for teachings found on value, wealth and finances.
  3. starting a business,
  4. getting the paperwork out-of-the-way, 5 most commonly used business organizations, taxes, municipal licensing, and all that comes with it.
  5. a typical bid
  6. capital, and buying equipment for the job
  7. on the job
  8. Employees

Pounding the Pavement

On a Saturday I had nothing going on but a fire in my bones to move forward and accomplish something. Instead of sitting down with pen and page to plot business ideas I decided to get out and try.

I chose window cleaning for several reasons. Firstly, a cousin of mine had a similar business and it had worked out pretty well for him and his friends. Second, it requires much less capital than most ideas I had kicking around in my head. Then, I have had a bit of experience from working for a janitorial service. Also, heights don’t bother me like they do many people.

So 8:00 Saturday morning I took off for main street. I was nervous but determined. Doing my best impression of Gregory Peck, I strode up to a hardware store. The first thing I did was buy myself a tape measure to help me get an estimate on prospective jobs. I bought the tape and then asked the employee if they would like to get their windows cleaned. The first thing I learned is that the manager makes those kinds of decisions. I also learned that most managers don’t work on Saturdays. Call back on Monday.

I went on to enter another 20 stores and businesses, offering window cleaning services. I learned several more things before I decided I’d had enough. Most businesses don’t open until 9 or 10:00 on Saturdays, and some don’t even open. Mondays are the best time to find managers at work. A business card is very convenient (though I’m glad I could work out some bugs before setting my offer in stone). Most people will want your card to call if they decide they want you. It is good to ask for referrals from everyone and anyone.

Everyone I met was very nice and polite, but, en fin I had contacted about 30 people and still didn’t have any work.

I noticed a couple of buildings that really needed cleaning up on the exterior but they were empty and up for sale or lease. Then I had the idea to call the real estate agency and see if they would let me bid on some of their buildings around town. If I could land a job like that I would be plenty busy and then I’d be able to show the locals my work. I called a couple different agencies and one accepted to let me bid on a building. Though I still didn’t have anything definite, that was enough to keep me from scrapping the endeavor. I felt like that was a decent start and rewarded myself with a doughnut. The bakery took my number but said they already had a regular cleaning.

I kept hearing that a guy came by regularly to wash everyone’s windows and that the guy was handicapped. One employee mentioned that he knew the man and said that he was considering quitting the profession. This was some interesting news. News that just might define the fate of my business. Had I given up after the first few establishments I wouldn’t have learned this valuable insight. It was like one of those omens mentioned in The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.

Woe To The Unjust

Just as Six Element expanded on Isaiah’s words, I wish to flesh it out a bit more. When we work for money we look at wages and basically try to do the least for the most, or try to become a scarce commodity like a doctor or a good mechanic, and wages are what we get. But when we work for others – not necessarily as an employee, but seek to add value to others, or make life better for them – we will never find ourselves wanting. Being valuable for what you do is one thing, being valuable for how you do it is irreplaceable.

How much am I worth if my money disappears? Keeping this question in mind might be the most important thing you can do to prepare for economic downturn.

 

The Six Element

“Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless.  What will you do on the day of reckoning, when disaster comes from afar?  To whom will you run for help?  Where will you leave your riches?”                                                                                                 – Isaiah 10:1-3 –

What do you trust to save you when hard times come?  The things you have amassed in times of plenty, or people?  The answer to that question can say a lot about the way you treat people in your workplace.

We all know this to be true on some level, but it bears repeating – people are more important than money and power.

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A Page from the Tightwad Gazette

I came across a book called The Tightwad Gazette which is a compiling of articles and discussions from a newsletter about frugal living. I want to summarize one article which holds a profound truth that applies to more than finances.

You and the Financial Edge

“You know someone who arrives 20 minutes late for everything. It could be work, to church, or for a date. He is always late because the 20 minutes falls within his margin of acceptability.

When they turn the clocks back from daylight savings to standard time, you’d figure he would now be 40 minutes early. However, he makes the mental adjustment and arrives the same 20 minutes late.

You also know people who arrive exactly on time, and people characterized by their chronic earliness. Likewise these people set their mental clocks so that they arrive within a time frame that is acceptable to them. In the case of the extenuating circumstance the early bird may arrive on time, the on-time person may be 20 minutes late, and the straggler will arrive 40 minutes late.

Your inner clock functions in the same manner as your sense of where you are in relation to ‘the financial edge.’ You have an inner sense of how close you can come to meeting your financial obligations and still feel comfortable.

During my single working years I maintained a checking account balance of $1,000 to $1,500. When my balance exceeded $1,500 I would spend. When the balance dropped below $1,000 I would cease extravagant activity. I could have saved more, but I felt comfortable with the $1,000 to $1,500 range from the edge.

Those who feel comfortable closer to the edge frequently find themselves saying, ‘I have only $10 to get me to the next paycheck.’

What of the individual who lives beyond his means? He builds a mental gangplank out beyond the edge where he teeters precariously.

The ‘$10-to-paycheck-guy’ and the ‘gangplank-guy’ will point to the extenuating circumstances that lead to his position near or beyond the edge. When an unexpected expense come along propelling them to financial depths, they do not accept responsibility. However, the person who maintains a cushion, given the same circumstance, will occasionally approach the edge but quickly work his way back to his comfort zone.

This principle of the financial edge helps my idea that we are all capable of raising our standard of living if we can adjust our mind sets. I heard a friend venting about never being able to get ahead and how debt is strangling him, even at a young age. He said that bankruptcy doesn’t sound like a bad thing since even with zero he would be better off than being in debt. I have to agree. However, if the debt was pardoned but he held the same spending habits, how long would it take for him to achieve his old financial status?

I used to have a hard time getting to work on time. I was always about 5 to 10 minutes late to work. One afternoon, about closing time, my boss told me that he had something important for me the next morning and that I should be there 30 minutes early. I made an extra effort to be there at 7:30, but with one thing and another I didn’t make it until 7:50 or so. I apologized for not making it in time for whatever he needed me for so early. When I asked what I had missed he gave me a clever smile and said not to worry, he had known that I  would be late getting there, but he knew that way he could get me to be there on time. I was devastated to realize that my tardiness was what he counted on. That’s all it took for me to understand that a change of mental boundaries was necessary.

In the same way that the late guy still arrives late with the gift hour due to the return to standard time, many of those living on the edge or out on the gangplank, fail to benefit by increased income. They might have more stuff or more fun, but they instinctively maintain the same distance to the edge regardless.

For most of us our relationship to the financial edge comes down to a matter of choice. The choice may be the decisions we make today, or we may be living with the choices we have made in the past. While the past choices cannot be changed, remarkably the ones we make today become tomorrow’s past choices.

We can make choices that allow us to take a giant step back from the financial edge and set up a cushion. A sustained effort to scale back will result in savings for more than just a cushion. We can save for long-term goals and increased financial independence.

— Amy Dacyczyn, The Tightwad Gazette