Saturday, January 4, 2014


When it comes to running a business, small or otherwise, money is involved in almost every day to day. Whether you are paying bills, pricing out a job, or tracking down customers for payments. Money quickly becomes an everyday occurrence.

In 5 years we have been fairly lucky on the receiving end of money. Most people, with the exception of a few paid on time and sometimes even when they picked up their material.

However this past year we have had some rocky money problems. We've had two bad checks, a deal go south once approved and cut to spec, and a couple of straight up non payments.

We've established some steps for when non payment occurs. Sometimes it works and sometimes you have to repossess material. And yes, we have definitely repossessed some material. It's not always a pretty solution, but sometimes, much to my chagrin, you have to be a total asshole/bitch to get paid.

1. Send them an invoice

This may seem obvious and dumb, but some people need a friendly reminder about the fact that they owe money. It's just like getting a bill in the mail. Send it via email, snail mail, parcel post, carrier pigeon, or by a kite. Just get it to them.

If you must, send it certified. That way there is a receipt that it got to them. Better yet, send it signature required. This is really only necessary when things get hairy and people get squirrely.

2. Kill them with kindness

This tactic requires a phone call. Which Darwin can attest, I hate phone calls. HATE them. But when it comes to getting money out of people sometimes you have to suck it up and do things you don't like.

The way this works is you call and be buddy, buddy. I usually go for the line of "I checked the mail today and I didn't see a check from you and I wanted to touch base with you and make sure it didn't get lost in the mail."

That gives them a scapegoat if they forgot and you come up smelling like roses.

Some people will flat out not answer and ignore your phone calls. Which then calls for plan B.

3. Go ex-girlfriend on them.

*Disclaimer: As a girl, I am proud to say I have never done this and will never do this*

You know the girl. Everyone does. She gets dumped and she keeps calling. And calling. And calling. You debate changing your phone number. And just when you think it's safe because she hasn't called in a while, she'll start again.

This is a useful tactic in business. Because the more annoying you are about getting your bill paid the more likely they will pay it. If they are a return customer they will remember and pay their bill in a timely fashion. Or they won't come back. Which in hindsight is fine, because nobody wants to be ex-girlfriend status for ever.

Start by calling once a week. Then twice a week. Then everyday. Then twice a day. Then three times a day. Be as annoying as you think you can without annoying yourself and them enough that you won't ever receive payment.

4. Tell on them

I only use this one in rare occasions when I know ex-girlfriend status won't work, because they won't actually answer the phone. Or because, and I quote, "your just a pretty little face, what are you going to do?"  <--- don't say that to girls. just don't

Tell your boss. This works well in small business situations because your boss is more likely to have been the one in contact with the customer in the first place. He plays buddy, buddy (throws you under the bus) and then whammo payment.

Now that I've written that one I realize how much I actually hate that one. BUT it does get the job done the majority of the time.

5. Repo

This is the extreme one. You've legitimately exhausted all your options. (And no, small claims court isn't an me)

It's time to step up your game and take your things back. It's not pretty and you are guaranteed to be called an asshole. We've done this one exactly once. And I hated every second of it.

The best way to make this one work is to threaten repossession. Call your lawyer (because you should have one for just in case moments) ask them the legality of what you are doing. Cover all your bases. I MEAN ALL OF THEM. Send a lovely letter stating what is going to happen if their bill isn't paid in X days. Then stick to it.

You may get yelled at over the phone at a Starbuck's while the nice church ladies are reading their verses and drinking coffee and you will be in tears and not saying a word as all of Starbuck's is staring at you because they can hear what is happening. You will call your boss in a panic and he won't answer, so you call your dad. You will calm down (eventually) and then you will become a hardened bitch to the person. And you will in fact hold their material hostage until they send you proof of certified funds. You will then sit at their jobsite and stare at them as they yell at you some more. They will pay you and you will unstrap their material from your trailer. You will drive off wanting to yell "Yipee kay aye mother clucker (except not that because that would be cruel to roosters)," but you won't because you have class. <--- That's never happened to me. Fine it's happened to me and it's awful.

These are your five useful tips for getting paid.

And one to grow on. 

6. Don't do business with family or friends

Some family and friends are great. Some screw you over. You have to decide how to proceed. Most family isn't screwing you over on purpose. The friends that screw you over are most likely in a small business as well and they should know better.

Karma is a cruel, cruel bitch people. And it's a for real thing. Mind your p's and q's. You won't always have the best experiences, but you get funny stories out of it...and a hardened soul. I'm kidding. Sort of.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Do you want a small business?

What happens when you open a business in a recession? What happens to a business during a recession? What happens to a business that survives a recession?  All questions anyone faces when opening a business but no one really wants to answer.

You are in luck, however, because Darwin and I are here to give you the perspective of what it means to have a small business open before the hit of a major recession and the lingering after affects of that said recession.

After 5+ years, we have learned a thing or two.  Mostly a lot about ourselves, but also a lot about the gross underlings of running a business that they conveniently forget to teach you in business school.

Not everyone has had our experiences, for sure, but a lot of them ring true across the small business frontier.

Some of our stories are insane and unbelievable, some of them are funny, and some of them are just downright absurd.

Stick around and we will tell you the story of how one man decided to open a lumber company and how one girl stuck around for the roller coaster ride.