Monthly Archives: January 2012

January 2012 Newsletter

By |January 28th, 2012|

The January 2012 Newsletter was e-mailed out to MSBA members today.  If you are registered with us and received your newsletter, you would have found some great information on:

How the Career Forum went in D.C.
MSBA joined the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Hiring Our Heroes “Alliance” and what MSBA’s role or purpose is within the Alliance
How […]

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Confession: Little Things, Big Cost

By |January 23rd, 2012|

We’ve all heard the phrase, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” And in most instances, I would have to agree. But when it comes to running a business, failure to pay attention to the small stuff can have a huge impact on your bottom line.

Small stuff? What small stuff, you say. Here’s a list of a few of the little things that taught me big lessons and ways you can avoid them.

Confession 1: I Forgot to Include Packing Materials into My Pricing

What can you get for a box of packing peanuts? Not much, which is surprising since they run about $10 a cubic foot. And what about boxes? You’d think you could find empty boxes on the cheap, but I found myself paying over a $1 a piece or more. Then there is packing tape, labels, and the gas it took to take the boxes to Fed Ex. On average, every order I sent out cost me at least $2 in packing materials.

That doesn’t sound too bad. Two bucks, no sweat, right? Maybe not, if you are selling high end goods, but for me and my little gourmet food company, the average price of a box of cookies or gourmet baking kit ran about $7.50. That price was a one hundred percent markup over cost. So forgetting to include the costs of those packing materials ate a huge chunk of my profit! Thankfully, most of the orders that were filled were not just one item. However, in hindsight, I should have been smart enough to factor those costs into my pricing.

Solutions:

There are any number of solutions to this mistake, all of which include just being smart about how you do things. By the end I had figured a few out:

Buy shipping materials in bulk.

If you ship items regularly, buy things like boxes and packing pillows or peanuts in bulk. It might be a bit of an investment up front, but it will save you money in the long run.

Recycle if you can.

Reuse boxes from other purposes and save all the packing material that comes in shipments you receive. For me this was tough because I didn’t want to send a box that had another company’s logo or name on it. But, if I could cover that logo with a strategically placed shipping label, I absolutely used it.

Consider using the U.S. Postal Service.

This is another one that may or may not work for your business. Depending on the type of item you are shipping and to where, this might not be your best or most cost effective shipping method. But consider that priority mail boxes and flat rate boxes are free. My post office even gave me free priority packing tape. And flat rate boxes might just be my favorite invention of the century.

Add the cost into your price.

Perhaps the most obvious solution of course is to tack a bit on the price to cover your costs. I am not suggesting you do a mark up on the cost of your boxes and tape, but adding them into your pricing keeps it from minimizing your bottom line. By the time I closed, I was charging a fee for orders under $20 to cover my costs.

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Possible FREE License

By |January 18th, 2012|

A great opportunity is now available to you, a military spouse entrepreneur!  On February 14th, Imagine Tomorrow will select one very lucky military spouse to receive a FREE license valued at nearly $10k.  We would like to thank MSBA Member Shelly Geist for initiating the lead in how this donation came about.  Thank You Shelly!

If […]

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Confessions of a Former Business Owner – An Introduction

By |January 16th, 2012|

One of the most challenging experiences in life is business ownership. And there is perhaps no greater disappointment or heartbreak than making the decision to close that business. I know this heartbreak all too well.
 I started my business, The Sensible Gourmet, just after losing a job in 2004. The loss of the job was unexpected […]

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Overcoming Military Spouse Business Challenges

By |January 13th, 2012|

To say that a Permanent Change of Station (PCS), the military term for moving to a new duty station, has a significant impact on military spouse employment is an understatement. PCSing poses numerous and sometimes insurmountable challenges to maintaining a career. According to the 2010 Blue Star Family Military Lifestyle Survey, “Forty-nine percent of spouses felt that being a military spouse had a negative impact on their ability to pursue a career.”

For a growing number of pioneering spouses the choice to become their own boss provides a meaningful solution. But self-employment packaged with constantly moving your headquarters comes with its own set of challenges, such as finding the motivation to restart after multiple moves and absorbing the business costs associated with a move.
The Military Spouse Business Association (MSBA) is an organization founded and run by military spouses whose mission is to encourage entrepreneurship as an employment option for military spouses and provide guidance through the often murky waters of military business ownership.
Reinventing the wheel can be discouraging for a business owner.MSBA’s Facebook page offers spouses an opportunity to share their stories, share their successes, offer suggestions, and keep each other uplifted. MSBA also facilitates local member meet-ups. Local meet-ups provide an opportunity for business owners to obtain motivation and support along with some assistance in understanding the local business rules.
Military spouse entrepreneurs face numerous cost hurdles with every move.Expenses range from moving business equipment and supplies registering the business in the new location, registering a trade name at the new location, and advertising the business.That is not to forget other regular business expenses such as website fees, attorney fees, tax accountant fees, state taxes, federal taxes and any membership dues.
You won’t find this piece of advice in any business manual:“Be sure to include starting over when moving your business every 2-3 years into your business plan.Don’t forget to factor in moving to a location where you’re not even sure if you can legally run a business.”However, most military spouse entrepreneurs and business owners must do just that.Frequent relocation is a challenge military spouses overcome in different ways.
In addition to rules and regulations promulgated by local, state and federal governments, military spouse business owners may also be required to comply with rules specific to a post or base where they may be stationed.For example, depending on a service member’s job, the spouse may not be able to market his or her product or service to the service member’s subordinates.In the case of on-post businesses, the military spouse’s business may not receive permission to operate from the base or post commander because the commander believes the business may compete with existing Exchange businesses.
 A related challenge faced by military spouse business owners, which is not faced by their civilian counterparts, is the possibility of moving overseas and attempting to operate their business under the sometimes murky SOFA rules.SOFA stands for Status of Forces Agreement–SOFAs are entered into between the United States and countries in which they have a military presence.Among other things, SOFA rules impact whether spouses may work in the host country, or operate a business there.A common request from overseas spouses is to clear up some of the questions they have when they learn they may be running a business outside of the United States.To date, there has been no comprehensive guideline issued addressing the often varied, if not conflicting, information.MSBA is developing a manual that will provide a transparent and easily understood guideline for legally operating a business in a host country.
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Banners Are In

By |January 7th, 2012|

Both of the banners came in last night.  They looked great!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The promotional materials that will help military spouses “grow with us” also came in today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Orders & Rack Cards

By |January 4th, 2012|

The MSBA Rack Cards came in the mail today 🙂  When I opened them I was excited!  To physically see something for the event that is the result of long MSBA phone calls, makes it more “in your face.”

We ordered the backdrop banner on Monday morning.  Military spouse Kara Acosta, owner of K. Acosta Media […]

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