Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Network News

Okay, so last Tuesday I went to my first networking meeting. Today is Tuesday and I was going to go to today's meeting too. I really was. I asked my ex to take our daughter to school so that I could go. The meetings are at 7:30 every Tuesday morning. They last 90 minutes. The rules state that you are expected to arrive on time and to be at every meeting. If you can't make a meeting you are to send a stand-in. You may attend two meetings gratis, but by the third meeting you must decide whether or not you want to join the group, IE, fork over $430.00 and start to share in a purposeful networking experience.

I love the concept. Only one person from a particular line of work is allowed in each chapter, so there's no competition. The members of each chapter....well, in the one I visited, one is a plumber, another a contractor, a realtor, a roofer, a car salesman, an insurance guy and promotional items person....etc, ...they all keep one another's cards with them at all times, so that if they run into a client who needs...oh, let's say the plumber has a customer who also needs roof work done, well, the plumber would immediately give the customer the card of the roofer from his networking group. At the next meeting the plumber writes down the referral on a little piece of paper...everyone does....they write down all the referrals they made during the week, then those papers are given to the appropriate, referred members. (I know this explanation is becoming dismal, but bear with me) These are considered warm leads. The roofer can now call the plumber's customer and say, "Hi, I'm Don the Roofer. Your plumber, Fred is a friend of mine and he says you need some roof work done."

The organization is called Business Networking International. <--link

You can go check it out because I DO think it's a good idea. I just don't think I'm responsible enough to meet the group's standards. This morning is a case in point. I did not make the meeting. I didn't wake up until 7:00am. My boyfriend said the funniest thing when I woke up. He said, "Can you make it anyway?"

Um...that would be a big N-O. Remember, the meeting started at 7:30 and was a 15 to 20 minute drive away. I mean, maybe if I brushed my teeth, pulled my hair into a ponytail, threw on some jeans and a shirt and raced out the door....maybe, but that hardly makes a good impression on a hardcore networking group that will vote on your acceptance into the chapter plus...I had to go straight to my day job after the meeting. No, I was not going to be able to make this meeting.

Besides, there's another rule that concerns me. The business that I'm promoting, ALLWOOD FLOORING, (I'm working on a website or else I'd have a nifty link to my website for you to enjoy. BE PATIENT!) in the networking group must be my full time job. Well, it isn't. I'm trying to get the business up and running so that it CAN be, but for now...I have to keep my day job, if you know what I mean. Kids need insurance and all that good stuff.
I know I would make that 430.00 back. I know I would. I could cough it up, but...things aren't exactly all flush right now. They will be. I also need to buy a truck or van for my business. Something used and cheap that I can put some signage on, put a crew in and send out into the world. I'm waiting on a tax return for that purchase, but an extremely frustrating act by my ex has delayed my ability to file my personal taxes. I swear I thought divorcing him would mean an end to his ability to screw me over financially. Alas...I was wrong. But that's another story that I might tell you on another day.

For now, check out BNI if you have a small business you'd like to grow. Let me know what you think.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

In My Estimation

I think my company has it's first job. I had to design an estimate sheet today. My boyfriend helped me work out the kinks. He has his estimate sheets set, but he writes up the numbers by hand in the middle of a preprinted sheet. I wanted mine set up to where I could insert the information on the computer and then print them out and sign them. My computer illiteracy proved difficult to overcome, but at 11:00 on Sunday night, I finally have it done and have emailed the estimate off to a contractor.
I think we'll get the job and I'm ready to celebrate making my company's first dollar.

I really like doing this. It's hard to find the time for it, but actually doing the work is fun. I liked designing the estimate sheet. I like trying to figure out the business stuff. The only downfall is that there isn't enough time in my day. Something's going to have to give. I look forward to the day when I can quit my regular job.

Nighty Night. I'm off to bed.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Get a Brazilian

"Behold the beauty of Brazilian Walnut wood floors. This wood seems to glow with any light that touches it and it is one of the hardest woods you can put underfoot. Beauty and durability? Yeah...I'll take it. Sure it costs a bit more. You're always going to pay a bit more for exotics in any arena, such as women, but this is a home investment, whether you're staying in your house until the day you die or putting it up for sale next month, good wood floors will always pay off."
Okay...that was me practicing a pitch for my new biz. How was it? Maybe I'll leave out the part about exotic women costing more, even though it's true. You get what you pay for, right? I mean, you don't want to hook up with particle board. Not that non-exotics are particle board. Non-exotics can be beautiful and durable too. I have oak floors in the entire upstairs of my home. Those floors are gorgeous, but I DO have Brazilian Walnut in my kitchen and it too....is quite lovely...glowing the way it does.
Note to self..take pics of my floors to post here.
Legal mumbo-jumbo: The above picture is NOT from my home or from any house I've done. I haven't even won my first job yet. That pic is from the trendir.com archives. but I wanted to show you what Brazilian Walnut looks like.
So why would a middle aged female journalist start a wood flooring business? I know, it's random, isn't it? I mean, wood floors have nothing to do with me. No one in my family had anything to do with them. We didn't even have them in our homes.
It's my boyfriend.
He has a wood floor business as did his father before him. At first I was like, "Wood floors, *YAWN*." But you know what? After being around him and his business, I stopped yawning. I became enthusiastic about his work and his biggest fan. I enjoy the fact that he does floors in the best homes and businesses in our city. I love seeing before and after photos....his transformations are just wonderful and I know...I KNOW that these beautiful wood floors change the financial and aesthetic value of the homes they grace. So, basically...I liked his business, but never thought about doing it myself. I mean...that's a guy thing and I'm a woman who cherishes her pedicures. Besides, he's already doing it and I don't want to compete against him...
But still...
Turns out he can't grow his business any bigger than it is right now. And I have some ideas to do things a little differently than he does. My unique twist has been enthusiastically received by everyone who has heard about it. So, with help from someone who has decades of experience in the wood flooring industry behind me (that would be my boyfriend), someone who will help get business for me (at least he said he would, but I haven't seen any business yet.) , someone who I think might be happy to pass the torch (my boyfriend is 11 years older than me) I am going to start a wood flooring business of my own and at some point, he might do away with his business (but not any time soon, I hope).
I have all my insurance squared away, I'm registered with every governmental entity that might want money from me should I ever make any and I have an accountant to make sure I did all that government...financy stuff right. I think use of the word "financy" adequately illustrates my need for an accountant.
Now it's time to get to work! I just....um....well, I can't find any work. My boyfriend and I have spent so much money already, but I suppose I need to spend more for a bit of advertising, eh? And I just visited a networking group this week....networking....I've never had to network before. I'm going to have to think about this purposeful networking proposal. Especially since they would like to have $430.00 from me up front. *choke* These people are clearly serious about their networking. They are hardcore and a bit scary, but that could be good, right?
Okay, I'll take your card and get back to you about the networking.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Knock on Wood


My name is Susan. That's me and my daughter over there. I live in Oklahoma City. Now, before all you urbanites and Californians get too carried away imagining conestoga wagons and Indian mud huts, let me tell you...we only have a couple of those things hanging around these days. It's a new century for Oklahoma. We just celebrated our Centennial. We had fireworks and wagon drives (um...okay, so maybe we have more than a few conestoga wagons hanging around) we washed the Buffalo herds and got them all spiffy. Did you know you can drive through a wildlife refuge in Southwestern Oklahoma and see wild buffalo? Sometimes you even have to stop your car and wait for them to get out of the road so you can go on you merry little way down to Meers for a burger as big as a pie plate, but I digress. We had all of our Oklahoma celebrities come home to spend the actual State Birthday, um...day with us.

Oklahoma City has transformed itself from a stagnant little city, to a rambunctious upstart. Our energy companies are pumping lots of mulah into the state's economy, medical research companies are discovering OKC...we have revamped our downtown area's entertainment district and strengthened school budgets. I love Oklahoma City. It offers me all the amenities of city life with out all the headaches like "Dallas-esque" traffic and gang violence. And the icing on the top of our "It's a brand new century for Oklahoma" cake is news that the NBA Board of Governors has approved moving the Seattle Sonics basketball team to OKC. This will be Oklahoma's first professional sports franchise in like...EVER. They'll be here by 2010. Can you believe that's only 18 months away? Good lord, I remember all the hoopla of 1999 like it was yesterday.

So this is where I live and almost as if catching my city's spirit for reinventing itself, I am doing the same. I have been a television journalist my entire life, but I have just put everything in place to start my own business in a completely unrelated field. Wood Floors.

This should be fun-ny. I'm a 41 year old woman...with NO experience doing wood floors and ZERO business sense. But I'm going to try to make this work. I'll be writing about my exploits on this blog...about the crazy things they make you do when you start a business, about trying to juggle my full time job, my kids, my boyfriend and...this business start up. Think I'm biting off too much? Maybe...maybe I am, but the new century looms and it is time for me to take a step in a new direction. The future looks bright.