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Following is a guest blog by my wife, Jennifer Blumer.  We’ve gone through some stuff as she has learned to live with an entrepreneur, and I’ve learned to accommodate her needs while in the process of growing my businesses.  Her wisdom is unmatched in the business world, and I value her comments greatly.  Some of my clients would do well to heed her advice…  here it is.

Are you an entrepreneur who happens to be married to a non-entrepreneur?  That would be Jason.  As the saying goes, opposites attract.  This is true for us.  If your spouse is less than enthusiastic about your wonderful business ideas, perhaps I can shed a little light into his or her way of thinking.  Let me share a few tips for helping your nervous partner be excited about your business pursuits.

-Avoid debt and build a cash reserve.  I put this first because this has been the biggie for us.  I don’t mind Jason’s new ideas and pursuits as long as I know we won’t be paying for them later…as in, long after the newness has worn off and he has moved on to the next adventure.  If there is cash in the bank that can be used to pursue a new endeavor, then why not?  Debt is not your friend.

-Be careful about your timing if you want your spouse to be excited.  Jason came home for lunch one day and let it out that he wanted to open a new office in another town.  The kids were running around as I was making lunches after a morning of teaching one to read, one to multiply, and keeping one from climbing the walls.  All I heard from Jason was that this would cost a lot of money and he would be even busier.  Of course he said nothing like that, but his timing could have been a bit better.  If you want your spouse on your side with new ideas, you have to sell that idea to him or her just like you would to a customer!  Timing is everything!

-Listen.  Even if it is your business, your spouse does live with you and lives with the consequences of your business decisions…for better or worse.  When I feel my opinion is valued by Jason, as evidenced by his listening to me, I am more likely to support him in any way I can.

-Be willing to alter your plans if necessary.  In one business venture, Jason and his partner were going to purchase several pieces of equipment.  Expensive equipment to be used in uncharted territory.  I was very thankful when they decided to buy about four units rather than eight.  The plan was to buy more later if the first units made money.  Nothing wrong with going slow at first.  This might mean doing your new project on the side rather than full time in the beginning.  And now, it seems to be working.

-Don’t be afraid to dream out loud with your spouse.  This is so important.  I have always known Jason desired to grow his firm, but until recently I did not know the specifics of his dreams.  Now that I do, he has my full support, especially since I know he is aware of my concerns.  Knowing his dreams provides me with the context for his everyday decisions to make sense.  Without this background, I could not always understand his decisions.

-Know your stuff.  I can trust Jason to build his businesses because he studies constantly.  He seeks the counsel of all kinds of people.  He is not going to just come up with an idea and open a business.  I can trust him to know his customer, the market, trends in the business, etc.  Research is so important.  This is one of those things that takes time, but pays in a big way later.

-Lastly, never stop communicating.  I do not need to know every detail of Jason’s day to day business operations.  I don’t necessarily care which software he chooses or which phone system is best.  But I do want to know the overall big picture and how it will affect our family. 

I hope these comments are helpful.  Thanks for letting me share.

Jennifer

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q6so0gcak9efo7ca8lqm46caljjmiscafd373ucavp3y6mcap2ncxnca5endydcas1ofczcadovp3ycaxt5vm0ca6avol1camla1hwcadq0st7caifnqnrcajj1icfca7vq6lrcak8ns2cca0rbkaw.jpg  Today is Valentine’s Day, so I’m wishing my wife a happy Valentine’s Day.  But today is her birthday as well, and I wanted to wish here a happy birthday too!

She is a very special woman, and I would be lost in this world without her.  She is so devoted to our family, and makes daily sacrifices for me and our three daughters.  She can’t wait to get up on each and every holiday just to set our table with our children’s gifts and toys.  This morning, she set the table with red plates and napkins and placed a red Valentine’s gift bag for each kid at their seat.  She loves our three daughters… a lot!

And she loves me well, too.  It’s weird, but I am the only man she could ever love.  She lives that out and I totally believe it to be true.  Even though I question her taste in men sometimes, I can delight in my wife’s love for me.

It makes me love her all the more.  It is a delight to love someone the way I love my wife.  Though I am not always the best husband in the world, my wife is the apple of my eye, and I couldn’t imagine life without her.  She is truly my great love.

Thanks, Babe, for all that you are to me.  I love you, tons!

Jason 

I just heard (on a podcast) the head of marketing at jumpup.com, a great site from Intuit, talk about the 65/25/10 rule.  This rule was to offer some type of guidance on how to bill for your time once you make the jump to becoming self-employed.  It was originally suggested by one of the members at jumpup.com.

Basically, the member was struggling with how to bill for her services after starting her own venture.  After some time, she figured it out, and offered this model: of your total hours to be worked in your new venture, 65% of your time should be spent on billable client work, 25% should be spent on business development, and 10% should be spent on the administration in your company.

She used this model to create her new hourly billable rate.  Here is an example: Before making the move to self-employment, you made $65,000 in your last job (including salary and all benefits).  And now, you assume you will be working 50 weeks during the year for 40 hours per week, or 2,000 hours per year.  This will equate to 1,300 hours being spent on billable client work (2,000 hours x 65%).  Divide your last compensation package ($65k) by the hours to be billed (1,300), and you arrive at how much you can bill for your time – which comes to a whopping $50.00 per hour. 

At least it’s a model, but a few cautions:

-this calculation only gives you what you were paid last year.  But bill-for-time service industries typically have some type of mark up on the rate they are paying themselves in salary.  This is because their hourly billable rate now has to cover their wage AND their overhead costs to run the business.  Should the $50.00/hour be marked up 2.5 times to arrive at $125.00 per hour as a billable rate?  Maybe so, but it may depend on the industry…  

-the industry you are working in has a lot to do with how you calculate your hourly rate.  Some industries allow for a certain amount to be billed depending on the market.  For example, an attorney may bill out at $200/hour in a certain city, while a graphic designer may only be able to get $100/hour at the most in the same city.  It depends on the market rate in that industry.

-niche work can sometimes bring higher rates, if marketed properly.  An attorney billing out at $200/hour for general practice work may be able to charge $300/hour for high end health care work.  Likewise, the graphic designer in our example may be able to bump her rate up to $150/hour if specializing in 3D renderings for engineers and architectural firms.

-what if you work more hours than 2,000 hours per year (which you most certainly will if you are self-employed), and don’t get 65% of your time billed out (which is hard to do – administration is so freakin’ huge)?  Let’s say you work 60 hours per week for 51 weeks, or 3,060 hours per year.  And let’s say you only get 55% of your time billed out.  Now use the $65k you got paid from your last job and divide it by 1,683 billable hours during the year (3,060 x .55).  Now you get a whopping $38/hour.  You don’t want this calculation to lead you into charging $38/hour, when you should charge $75/hour. 

Just some things to think about when using “scientific” methods to calculate your rates – sometimes it’s more of an art!

Thanks, Jason M. Blumer  

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