Our monthly newsletter, Link Newsletter, is full of tips, reminders, and timely advice to help you stay well informed when it comes to your business and personal finances. If you have questions about any of the articles, feel free to email Damon Yudichak at Damon@yudichakcpa.com.
Focused Information for the Small Business Owner
Volume 2, Issue 3
Portrait by Charles Gupton
To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.
American Track Athlete
(1951 – 1975)
In This Issue
10 Years Together
Tomorrow, March 31, my wife Angel and I celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary. A lot has happened since we started our lives together ten years ago. In August 1999, I finished my enlistment in the Army and moved to Raleigh to begin my accounting degree at North Carolina State University.
I met Angel shortly after I moved to Raleigh and after a short courtship we were married March 31, 2000. Angel comes from a large family. She had three older brothers and when she was born, her mother was so excited to have a little girl that her name became Angel.
Once we started dating, we were inseparable. For Halloween that year, she dressed up as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz and I was the Tin Man. I painted a pair of pants and shirt silver and wore a big red heart around my neck.
We have had some really amazing times together. When I finished my undergraduate degree, we spent six weeks chasing baseball. We drove around the eastern half of the United States visiting 19 major league baseball parks and seing 29 games. I still smile when I think of the times we’ve had together.
Along the ten years, there were also some difficult times. Times when we didn’t agree and times we were not happy with each other. Despite the difficult times, we have both worked through our issues. She has always supported me in my decisions. Like the one to start graduate school in the middle of our first pregancy and the one to start a business in the midst of one of the worst recessions in history.
When I asked Angel to marry me ten years ago, I didn’t know what life would look like in the future. I didn’t really understand that we would be building a life together. I’m thankful to you Angel and for the life we have together.
Damon’s Big Lesson
The month of March this year has been one of the busiest months of my life. I knew it was going to be a busy month, but I really didn’t realize that it was going to be this busy. There were a couple of things that I wanted to make sure I accomplished this busy season.
This tax season has been very eventful and busy. I’m pleased that many of the people that I have met over the last year have been referring work to me and it has been a wonderful experience.
This month I met with a new couple. We briefly talked and I started looking through the tax documents that they brought with them. I got about half way through and I had this impression that I had missed the boat. I had not spent enough time talking with them to get to know them.
I stopped reading and just began asking each person about where they were from and what they liked to do. It turned out that I had a number of things in common with them. They both liked reading. One person talked about how he liked to read books about mountain climbing. I had read a number of books about mountain climbing and we talked about that.
Afterward, I spoke with the individual who referred this couple to me and he remarked that they had a really good time. I found this quite humorous because generally talking to a CPA about taxes is not a “good time.” I really enjoyed getting to know both of them. I have to think that the extra half hour I took to socialize was worthwhile. It’s important to take time to get to know people.
This month’s book is How To Succeed in Business Without Really Crying by Hal Bowles. In the space of five years, Hal Bowles and his partner Blake Hardin built their Raleigh, NC based advertising agency to a ten person agency at its peak.
Ultimately they and their firm became victims of the Great Recession. Once Hal realized his agency would not live on, he spent some time to reflect on the lessons he learned from his five years in business. The result of his reflection is How to Succeed in Business Without Really Crying.
Hal details what he and Blake did to make their firm successful. He also swallows the bitter pill and reveals what led to the end of the firm. Were it not for a couple of decisions, the firm would still be with us today and not resting six feet under.
I was able to read the manuscript of How To Succeed Without Really Crying prior to its publication. Hal is an excellent writer and sprinkles each page with great humor. Part of why the comedy is so poignant is due to how true Hal’s lessons resonated with my own experience running a service based business. Part of the reason I enjoyed the book is it is concise and each word has meaning.
He shares stories of his run-ins with racists, wife beaters and sex fiends. As you can imagine, this makes for some incredibly uncomfortable situations.
Some of the lessons I learned from his book are especially valuable for the small business owner running a service based business such as:
•Don’t go it alone
•If you’re not growing, you’re dying
•Good, Fast or Cheap, Pick 2
•Avoid speculative business in hopes of getting future business.
The Marketer’s Mind
Every marketing effort should have a purpose. If I do not know what that purpose is prior to executing the marketing effort, then I am better off not spending the time, money or effort on the marketing activity. Marketing is very valuable, but it is a major investment in the growth of a business. Even if the marketing activity does not require one to write a check for it, there is the opportunity cost of spending the time on the activity.
As a small business owner, the biggest thing to remember with marketing is:
The goal of every marketing activity is to get people to either know, like or trust me better.
These key questions should be asked to determine if the marketing activity should be undertaken:
•Is it directed toward my target customer?
•Will it help me improve my relationships with existing customers, prospects or referral partners?
•Is it the best use of my money, time or efforts?
•Is it an activity I can afford to participate in on a monthly basis?
If I cannot answer yes to at least two of the above questions, I will not engage in the marketing activity. Why do I have to answer yes to at least two of these questions? The answer is quite simple. I am not Superman. I do not have unlimited time, money or energy. I wish I did, but I do not. There is an opportunity cost for everything I do. If I spend time at a networking event, it is time that I cannot spend working or being with my family.
This month I wrote down all of the marketing activities I engage in on a monthly basis. Here are a few of the items that I wrote down
•BNI weekly meeting
•Presenting at100 Days to Abundance
•Monthly dinner at Solomon’s
•Team Nimbus After/Before Dark
•Wake Forest Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours
•One on one meetings with others
The thing that I like best about the activities above is that they are repeating events that occur on at least a monthly basis. I see many of the same people at these events. I will have at least one client at these events. If I spend time talking with at least one client at the event, then the event is a success because I have been able to deepen that relationship.
Charles Gupton – Photographer Extrodinaire
Charles Gupton Photography 919-859-9898
What do you get when you mix a puppy, a hat and a camera? In the hands of a novice, you get a royal mess. Given the same ingredients in the hands of a master, you get a work of art and a lifelong memory. This month Charles Gupton shares with us how he creates fine art.
Charles did my photograph and it was a great experience. Prior to the photo shoot, Charles asked me a number of questions that made me determine what story I wanted the photograph to tell. I was delighted with the portrait I got from Charles because it resonated with what I initially wanted.
DY: Tell me how your business has changed over your career?
CG: The major differences I see in business over the last 10 years has been in the way relationships have made a difference. Technology has allowed everyone to seemingly have access to almost everyone. As a result, I’ve witnessed the power of personal relationships with my clients to transform the work we’re able to do.
DY: What have you done to differentiate yourself from competitors?
CG: There are two major areas in which I believe I stand apart from all of the other photographers in this region. First, deals again with the level of the relationship I try to develop with a client. By asking appropriate questions and getting a deeper understanding of their needs and the story they are trying to communicate, we can work together to use photographs to serve them better. Second, the two specialties of commercial and personal portrait photography are as different as the medical specialties of brain surgery and pediatrics. Although I’ve been doing commercial work for over 30 years, the personal commission work I’ve been doing the last several years is helping my corporate portraits have more power. And my corporate strengths have, from the start, made my personal commissions much stronger than traditional personal portrait photographers because I begin with a story or message in mind rather than a “What can we get done in a 30 minute portrait sitting” mindset.
DY: You describe your photography as fine art. Tell me more about this.
CG: Fine art images are those deemed valuable to hang as wall art vs. desk art. Desk art images are usually 8×10 or smaller. Wall art is usually 20×24 and larger. When I am commissioned to create a portrait, I always view it with the possibility that it could hang – whether it’s in a business or home environment – as a piece of fine art. I want my work to not just inform but to nourish people’s spirits.
DY: You have been able to transform your profession into providing a legacy for yourself and your customers. How were you able to do this?
CG: Leaving a legacy is about leaving a story that can be told to future generations. That’s why I start with the story and let that guide how I approach the images I’m creating rather than shoot a picture that I hope someone can tie a story to.
DY: What do you do to provide a unique customer experience?
CG: The word that consistently comes back to me from my clients is “fun.” That seems to be what very few people have ever experienced when having their portraits made.
DY: What is the biggest lesson you have learned over the last year?
CG: This is not a new lesson, but it has been constantly reinforced. That is, persistence in one’s objectives born out of a passion for serving others’ needs is a great motivating force for keeping on track when discouragement threatens our heart.
DY: What one piece of advice would you give to someone who wanted to start their own photography business?
CG: Actually several pieces. First, read “E-myth Revisited.” Second, apprentice with someone you admire and is already successful doing that work. Third, with those two in mind, consider whether you have the heart to serve the customer and do the business of the business, not just the “glory work” that makes you think you want to do it.
DY: What have been some of your career milestones?
CG: First, that I have prospered for 30 years in business. That Is a milestone that many don’t reach. However, I realize that I could not have reached this point in my career without the support and encouragement of my wife, Linda, to whom I’ve been married for over 30 years. That’s a milestone that’s far more significant than anything I could achieve in business.
What’s With the Moon?
I’ve had a couple people ask, What’s with you and the moon? About two years ago, I became fascinated with the Apollo Program. I began to study the program and interview people who helped make the monumental task of landing on the moon a reality.
The moon is a symbol of possibility for me. It is a source of inspiration. I like to be inspired.
My name is Damon Yudichak and I am a Certified Public Accountant. My father was an Army officer and we moved around a lot. We finally ended up in Fayetteville, NC. I’ve been a resident of Raleigh since 1999 when I moved here to go to North Carolina State University. I am fascinated with the moon and am still amazed that man has walked on the moon. I also am a big standup comedy fan.
The Orange Star Newsletter is prepared by Damon Yudichak. The Orange Star Newsletter carries no official authority, and its contents should not be acted upon without professional advice.
In accordance with IRS Circular 230, this newsletter is not to be considered a “covered opinion” or other written tax advice and should not be relied upon for IRS audit, tax dispute, or any other purpose.