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 5
Portrait by Charles Gupton
We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.
Sir Winston Churchill
(1874 – 1965)
In This Issue
My Favorite Song
At the beginning of the month I had the opportunity to attend the 40 under 40 Awards gala. It was a wonderful event. My wife attended with me and we sat with Tom O’Connor of BB&T who was also awarded the 40 under 40 for Wake Forest.
Eyecare Associates sponsored our table and I got to sit next to Brian Hoyle, who was the emcee for the event. Brian Hoyle is also the voice of the Carolina Hurricanes. Now you may not realize this but I’m not a very big hockey fan. I’ve only been to two Hurricanes games. It was still fun talking with Brian.
Brian won the 40 under 40 award in 2007. I asked Brian, “What has winning the 40 under 40 done for you professionally?” He replied, “40 under 40 has enabled me to network with people I would not ordinarily have access to. It’s been very good for me to be able to work with people in different industries.”
We all enjoyed a lovely lunch and then the ceremony began. Anecdotes about each of the award winners were read and as each winner walked to the stage their favorite song was played. As one person walked to the stage the fight song for in NC State was played. It was a real hoot. Then as Tom O’Connor walked to the stage the fight song for NC State was played again. At this point I raised my hand and made the famous Wolfpack sign. If I’d known that Tom was going to choose the NC State fight song, I would have chosen it as well for my favorite song.
With a name like Yudichak, I’m usually the last person in line. This used to bother me, but now it’s kind of nice to be last. I was the last person to be awarded 40 under 40 that day. As I walked to the stage out came the words from Brian, “He’s an accountant with a funny bone.” Over the speaker my favorite song “Rocket Man” by Elton John played.
Damon’s Big Lesson
This month, the History Channel started showing a mini-series, titled America: The Story of Us. It is a twelve part miniseries. The mini-series, speaks about the character of the people that made America what it is.
There were a number of notable statements in the show that really captured my attention.
“If you wark hard the opportunities are endless. That’s the American dream.”
“I’m leaving everything behind to reinvent myself.”
“The pioneer spirit has moved on. In this great migration to the west, America will finally define it’s character. It’s the American Dream then as it is now. The people want an already good life to get better.”
“We go out there and fail and fail and fail and fail again. Somehow the act of trying over and over again is worthwhile in and of itself.”
“We are pioneers and trainlblazers. We fight for freedom. We transform our dreams into the truth. Our struggles will become a nation.”
Throughout the show there were many stories of individuals who had an idea to improve something. There were stories of many failures as well as successes.
Andrew Carnegie saw a new way to mass produce steel and created an empire. Thomas Edison tried thousands and thousands of variations to create a filament for the electric lightbulb. An immigrant leaves his native country by boat, sails past the Statue of Liberty to Ellis Island in hopes of a better life.
America the great melting pot. We all stand on the shoulders of giants. There is a lot of power in consistency.
This month’s book is Speak like Churchill Stand like Lincoln by James Humes. This book came recommended to me by Randy Harvey, who won the Toastmasters International world championship of public speaking.
Randy Harvey used this book to illustrate the way that individuals can create powerful phrases and structure their speeches so as to become more meaningful and memorable.
I’ve often believed that being able to communicate well is a competitive advantage. Communication can be very difficult at times, because sometimes the speaker’s message gets lost in translation before the listener comprehends.
In his book, Humes details 21 tools, a speaker can use to dramatically improve his speech. Amusingly enough, each tool begins with the word Power.
The first tool is the Power Pause. Why is this tool so effective?
Silence grabs the listener’s attention. They stop what they’re doing and thinking about. They ponder what was just said and it makes an impression.
One of the other tools is the Power Phrase. Some of the things that one can do in order to create powerful phrase is use alliteration. You know what I mean. It’s using a series of words and phrases that all begin with the same letter of the alphabet.
I remember I gave a speech shortly after reading this book. I was very liberal in my use of phrases with alliteration. One of the comments I got after the speech was, “Well, it certainly was alliterative.” That was her nice way of saying, “You overdid it.” Had I used some of the other tools, I would’ve been better off. These tools are very useful in helping craft good speeches.
If you’re interested in improving your speaking ability, I highly recommend this book.
The Marketer’s Mind
How do you deal with an instance when your receive bad service? This is the important question to ask one’s self. The best source of new customers is current customers.
Seth Godin on his blog recently stated,
“What if a rift in the time space continuum changed the universe and it was suddenly impossible to get new customers, new readers, new donors or new viewers? How would that change what you do all day and how you spend your money and what you measure? What if you tried acting that way now?”
This past month I had two instances where I was not satisfied with the services that I bought. The first service I bought was a service that I will only purchase once. There are number of things that were not done properly. I called the company to tell them about the things I was not happy about. Their reply was, “What would you like us to do about it?” I answered “I think I should receive some discount, because the service was not done properly.” The company then stated “OK, we’ll get back with you.” I still have not received a response from them.
The second service was one that I would buy at least twice a year for the rest of my life. It was a very unpleasant experience for me. I was pleasantly surprised though when I received a note from the business owner, thanking me for being a customer. Before receiving the note, I already determined, I was going to switch service providers. After receiving the note, I decided to give the person a second chance. I sent an e-mail stating that I had some concerns about the service and then asked if I could talk with them about it. A week later, and I still have not received a response.
In my mind most of the time, it’s easier for me to switch companies than it is for me to complain about the service. It’s a lot more work for me to complain than it is for me to switch. I simply do not like confrontation. There are plenty of companies out there to provide everything that I need.
In these instances, I complained to both companies, because I cared about the business owners and wanted to give them another chance.
Had either one of these companies responded to me, I might have thought they were different. It really is unusual when, a company listens to its customers. If a company is able to respond to customer complaints and find a resolution, customer loyalty improves. Why? Because the company took the time to listen to the customer’s concerns and show that the company really cared about its customers.
I made a third purchase from a different company, a razor stand. After a week, the razor stand started to develop rust spots. I e-mailed the business owner. He replied the same day, It read, “Damon, I will send a new razor stand out to you immediately. Don’t worry about sending the old one back. That’s too much of a hassle for you. Simply take a picture of it, so I can let the manufacturer know there’s a problem.”
Guess which company I’ll buy from again.
Paul Miller of Flow Circus, Inc.
What do you do if you spend four years of college studying accounting and then right after you get your accounting degree, you realize that accounting is not the right profession for you? This month’s featured business owner, Paul Miller, explains what he did and in the processs, he founded and has grown a business that is lots of fun.
DY: Tell me how you started your company: how did you go from accounting degree to performing?
PM: The quick and gritty story is this. I graduated in with an accounting degree in 1994. After several interviews with the Big 8 Accounting Firms(remember when there were 8?) I realized that I didn’t fit comfortably in that environment. I withdrew my applications (just skipped out on the remaining interviews actually) and decided to get a job waiting tables. Oddly enough, I always wanted to be a waiter.
For the following 5 years I waited tables, made fistfuls of cash, and spent my free time doing things I liked. Among those things were juggling and studying magic. These were good activities as they contributed greatly to my fistfuls of cash. Incidentally, it’s easy to have fistfuls of cash when you’re fresh out of college and have no car payments, mortgage payments, or family to support. During this time, I did 1 or 2 birthday parties or festivals a year. In 1999 I decided that I would attempt performing full time seriously and founded Flow Circus as a name under which I would perform my juggling and magic shows.
DY: How did you transition from having a job to having a business?
PM: I was fortunate in having found a number of transitional jobs that allowed me to develop the skills I needed.
In October of 1999 I got a job working with a science based programming company performing school shows and leading after school programs. The job consisted of two main parts: working in the office which gave me insight into how a performance/programming business is structured and performing educational shows. I was there for a year.
During 2000-2002, I worked with a nationally touring juggling troupe promoting healthy nutrition in elementary schools. That provided me with hundreds of hours of stage time and I regard working with the other performers as my education in the performance arts.
In August of 2002, I moved to NC with my wife Dawn and knew that I could never go back to getting a ‘job’. Dawn got a job with Wake County Schools and I began growing Flow Circus anew.
DY: How did you initially market your business?
PM: Before arriving in NC, I sent out about 500 direct mailings and followed up with phone calls. I targeted summer camps, malls, day cares, and libraries. I also found a local mall where street performing was allowed and hit that opportunity pretty hard. For the next few years I did more of the same…direct mail and phone calls. One of my guiding principles was that I wanted to continually diversify my skill set. Within I few years I felt comfortable performing stage shows, festival shows, educational shows, strolling magic, balloon twisting, teaching circus camps, and creating giant balloon installation sculptures such as a 20’ pirate ship, 25’ red dress, and a 35’ wind turbine.
DY: How did you determine that libraries were a good niche for your company?
PM: I love libraries!
Librarians are highly networked and smart people that have an eye for quality, engaging programming. They regularly gather at regional and state conferences where performers have an opportunity to showcase. And they are looking for new shows every summer that correlate to the Collaborative Summer Library Program themes.
Furthermore, libraries are undergoing a transformation from a place with a lot of books to a community resource for learning and growth. There is also a growing need for tween and teen programming as more and more kids are finding themselves with no other place to go between the hours of 3 and 6. Flow Circus is a perfect fit.
DY: Tell me about the Pepsi grant you’re competing for.
PM: Pepsi is giving out $1.3 million in grants for projects each month. Flow Circus has partnered with the State Library of North Carolina to establish juggling/skill toy programs for teens and tweens at libraries across the state. Our $50,000 grant will pay for 3 regional professional development seminars for librarians, juggling/skill toys, learning resources, and hands-on programming. We expect this program to serve as a low cost, high value model for other library systems across the country.
You can learn more about the project at www.FlowCircus.com/refresh. Voters can vote for their top 10 favorite ideas everyday so we’ve set up a daily reminder list. Because individuals can vote every day, you dear reader, are more valuable than 25 other people if you vote every day. Please visit our link and spread the word. If we win, I promise to reveal all the steps that led to our success. I will also run a program for Damon and you are all invited. Seriously, get out the vote.
Flow Circus, Inc
518 W. Juniper Ave.
Wake Forest, NC 27587
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.