GUEST POST: How You Can Find Success When Starting a New Business

This post was generously contributed by Chelsea Lamb

Diving into Business

Are you thinking of starting your own business, you’re not alone. More and more people are leaving the predictable 9-to-5 employee lifestyle to launch their own companies. In fact, according to official statistics, the number of U.S. business applications has been steadily rising for more than ten years. If you are part of this growing number, you may wonder where and how you should begin. This guide from Burkholder Agency provides critical first steps and practical online tools to get you started on the right path.

 

Choose a Name

Choosing a name for your new company is an early step that can impact your future success. Selecting an optimal name can simplify your marketing strategy and help you connect with potential clients. Luckily, online name generators can help you choose an easy-to-remember one that conveys the vision and purpose of your business.

 

Consider Working From Home

Launching a business from the comfort of your own home saves you money, and therefore, reduces your risk. By using your house rather than renting a separate space for your company, you need less money to get started and incur fewer overhead costs down the road. The at-home business arrangement also saves you time and increases your flexibility, making the work-life balance easier to achieve.

 

Pick the Right Business Structure

If you are running your own company, filing as a limited liability company can be a smart move. LLC status protects your personal assets from potential liability and reduces your tax burden by allowing you to categorize company profits as personal income. Although the filing process is straightforward and doesn’t require much paperwork, an online formation service is recommended to ensure you meet all the state-specific requirements.

 

Develop a Comprehensive Business Plan

Once you’ve selected your company’s name, location, and structure, it’s time to develop a business plan.  A comprehensive plan, which includes details about your product, target market, and business structure, can serve as a roadmap for your company’s direction, decisions, and strategies. It should also include financial information, including start-up costs, projected operational expenses, and metrics for measuring success. To create your company’s business plan, you can do it yourself or use special software or tools to help you.

 

Apply for Funding

If you need money to launch your business, there are several potential sources of funding. For example, loans that are guaranteed by the Small Business Administration, such as 504 loans, 7(a) loans, and microloans, are easy to qualify for while still offering competitive rates. There are also small business grants available from both government and private sources.

Another option is to seek out an angel investor or a venture capitalist who is willing to provide funding in exchange for equity in your business. Finally, crowdfunding platforms allow individuals to contribute money in exchange for a product or perks.

 

Select the Best Payroll Service
When you hire staff, you need a system to handle all aspects of the payroll. If you don’t want to handle this administrative task in-house, an online payroll service can help. Look for a company that allows you to customize the payroll system to your company’s particular needs with options, such as:

  • Tax form completion
  • Benefit deductions
  • Automated tax withholdings
  • Time tracking
  • Scheduled direct deposits
  • Year-end summary reports
  • Tax penalty protection

 

When starting a new company, many of your early decisions can impact the direction and future success of your business. Thankfully, by planning well, exercising the necessary steps, and taking advantage of online tools, you can ensure a smooth and successful launch.

 

Chelsea Lamb has spent the last eight years honing her tech skills and is the resident tech specialist at Business Pop. Her goal is to demystify some of the technical aspects of business ownership.

How to sell your artwork: Know Your Value

 

Cute English Bulldog in Hat

Charlie is more than a dog. She is constant love and creator of joy.

 

People ask regularly how I ended up in the arts with my background from rural Minnesota and two engineering degrees. I will spare the details of the journey for another post, but my vocation in the arts is due to my recognition that art is the most valuable creation of humankind. 

 

Art is hoarded by people in positions of influence across history and frankly, it is what endures from every civilization. As much as we revere science and technology today, they will always be a part of the process, never the destination. 1000 years from today our data and the findings gleaned will make us look like flatearthers and I have no doubt the iPhone 12 will overwhelmingly end up in the heap of refuse.

 

What is it about art that makes it so valuable?

 

To the creators, their artwork is an opportunity to be fully seen. Art is the tool we use to express ourselves. It brings the deepest parts of our being into the world. The word on paper, the paint on canvas, the harmony of stroked keys, the movement through space and the images captured on film are the manifestations of our thinking, our feeling and our intuitions. The work we create is the essence of who we are. It allows us to understand ourselves and just as important it allows others to understand us as well.

 

To other individuals, artwork is an opportunity to also be seen as well as expand the resources that are available to them. An artist allows their audience to say things that they could never put into words themselves. But more powerfully, the artist and their work allows the audience to think, to feel, and to sense the world in ways beyond their own faculties. Artworks allow the audience to gain knowledge, to build new relationships and to navigate the world in new ways. Through art, the audience is able to open up new opportunities.

 

When the audience becomes more than another individual the an art work is amplified. Society operating with a collective idea, feeling or sensation is a powerful tool for world changing activity. Art is often the catalyst that bends the universe towards love, justice and all the good things we aspire to. And yes, I should note it can also be used for detriment in the wrong hands.

 

Art has incredible power, for the creator, the audience and society and as such it is incredibly valuable! 

 

My vocation is to help artists harness the value of their artwork so they can impact the world, and simultaneously help the audience harness the power of art to enrich their own lives and the world around them.

 

THIS IS THE FIRST PART IN A MULTIPART SERIES ON SELLING ART

WHY CLASSICAL MUSIC … or any art for that matter … MATTERS

I am working with the Concert Truck on a 20 state tour in 2020. The concert truck is bringing world class art to all populations with a mobile concert hall.

Susan Zhang and Nick Luby in front of their mobile concert hall

I am pretty scientifically minded. I have two engineering degrees and am very comfortable with a spreadsheet. Yet, I have always known, despite the lack of logic, that culture, art and music are powerful. It wasn’t until a conversation with a mentor that I could put an argument around my heightened sense of value for creative productions.

I asked my respected friend, a retired museum director, how he went from entering college as a math major to leaving graduate school with a PhD in Art History. The pivot occurred when reading Henry Adam’s Mont Saint Michele and Chartes. Adam’s brilliantly describes that upon entering a space like Saint Michel, someone has a deep and seemingly conflicting sensation that man is quite small, inconsequential AND man is amazing for their ability to create such spaces.  A cathedral, embodies the spiritual. 

The arts are powerful because they can move us in ways that no object can. 

 

Classical music is one such force.

 

I have a pretty proto-typical relationship with music. My parents suggested I take piano lessons in my primary school years. I have some fond memories of tickling the ivories but most of what I recall was my shortcoming in practicing, which then lead to less than comfortable confrontations with the well-mannered-grandmother-like-figure that was my piano teacher. Mastering the instrument required more practice then my sub 10 year old mind and body could endure. (For that matter, it requires more than my present adult mind and body could endure!)

The path to classical piano virtuoso (or any instrument)  is not for the faint of heart. The technical aspects alone take incredible rigor and near superhuman feats. It is quite unlikely that you will find someone complaining as they exit the symphony hall saying, “I don’t get it, my kid could do that.” 

 

Classical music reminds us of how amazing humans can be!

 

My knowledge of the time tested music we call Classical is also typical. I want to believe I can tell the difference between Bach and Beethoven but I am hard pressed to name the precise piece. Furthermore, the names of world class composers that history has handed down to us, are not at the top of mind. I have an awareness but it is not refined nor deeply academic.

However, I can not help but encounter the musical form.  I recognize its near ubiquitous presence in other mediums of pop culture. Film borrows from the tradition regularly and leans heavily on the affective nature to get us to feel something that a moving picture alone can not. If a producer wants to: heighten the tension, increase the elation, allude to love or fill us with nearly any other human sentiment, there is a piece of music that has endured time to do so. 

 

Classical music makes us feel!

 

Classical music is one of the magical arts that moves us to the higher planes of our humanity. It reminds us how amazing human beings are and at the same time how simple we are to be scared by the guy in a hockey mask.

E1507: History of the space

Sam Lacombe Painting @ E1507

Sam Lacombe is a Baltimore based painter. His work is highly detailed and highlights everyday experiences through replication of street signs.

We purchased E1507 in July of 2016 from our neighbor, Alan Shapiro. To call it a shell would have been generous. The roof provided no shelter, and the floor gave no support. It was not a space to enjoy life.

We are not positive on the history of the building at this point, that story will come in the future.  An original structure on the property was likely built in the late 19th century. While renovating we found a foundation approximately at the front wall of the courtyard or 25 feet from the front door. The back portion was likely added in the early 20th century. The building had evidence of a fire which may have caused weakening of the beautiful timber roof and floor joists we removed during demolition 🙁 A few of the lovely planks live on in the Union Collective about 4 miles from E1507. The Baltimore Spirits Company repurposed several for their tables, and Well Crafted Kitchen used a few in their sign. 

The home was one story structure of fairly standard design, albeit not in all of its glory. It had three steps leading up to the door and typical eightish feet ceilings. There were two larger spaces with a bathroom where the stairs are presently. We preserved some of the beautiful brick work on the interior wall in the studio. If you look near the wet bar you will see “newer” brick and mortar where Alan had made a doorway to his larger studio space next door. One of our favorite accents in the place is the layers of plaster and paint on the original brick wall of the new stairwell.  Also, if you look at the wall in the courtyard you will note a “doghouse” at the roof line. There were stairs along that wall that suggested an intention to build a second story in earlier days, again this is only speculation at this point. 

Alan’s family had owned the property for the past four decades. In most recent years, the building had served as an extension of his cabinet making studio. Like many creative spaces, it was filled with material. Some of the contents could still spark joy, much of it was detritus of ideas yet to be executed. We spent six months working with Alan clearing the space for its future and working with PI KL (PIKLSTUDIO.com) to come up with a vision.

Pavlina Ilieva and Kuo Pao Lian, the architects, were the perfect talent for our project. They saw constraints as friends. They knew aesthetic had to support function. They believed details made for big impact. They appreciated how the melding of history with modernity was a place for magic in the moment to happen. They were ideal to collaborate with on a space to marry cultural production, and appreciation, with everyday life.

We live just around the corner from E1507 and had been doing AirBnb in the guest bedroom of our home for several years prior to our purchase. We made a financial investment based on the notion of short term rental use. However, Scott  runs a talent agency (burkholderagency.com) He envisioned the space as a place to show audiences and artists how humanity might live with art. He wanted to experiment with his theories on building relationships between creators and wonderers and the value ALL humanity might experience by surrounding themselves with objects of meaning on a daily basis.

The location on Eastern Avenue is rift with opportunity. The corridor is a prominent east west artery in the city. The architecture along the avenue shows that throughout history it has been a place for businesses and residents alike. It has the grand qualities and bones to be an important asset for a world class urban center. 

We wanted our space to support the potential of the future. Although it is presently serving as a home, we can imagine the space being used for commercial purposes. We wanted the layout to be simple and non-confrontation to future spatial visions.  We can see a day when a fashion designer loves the natural light or a small office enjoys the open airy feeling or even a bistro serves delectable coffee in the courtyard!

In the present, to provide optimal return on the financial investment, we contrived a space that could host a spectrum of interests. We designed with the intent of two private spaces; one like a traditional hotel room with bed, bath and wetbar. The other like a one bedroom flat with; living, dining, full kitchen, bedroom, bathroom and laundry. A guest could also rent the entire building offering reasonable accommodations for up to 6 people, if a couple is inclined to sleep on a comfortable fold out sofa bed. 

The “studio” would be perfect for an inexpensive one night get away for a couple wanting to experience Baltimore. The apartment would be a wonderful place for guests to call home away from home during a longer stay near circumstances of life. The entire building would work well for a group to celebrate a life milestone with friends. 

Kuo Pao had always wanted to place a courtyard in the middle of one of Baltimore’s tiny row houses. The typical design for 14 foot wide properties that are 80 feet deep is to place the outdoor space at the back. By positioning the exterior space in the center we exposed a new source of light, lots of light! The mid-building location also provided us the opportunity to utilize the small alley way as a private entrance to the studio space. 

The historic “charming” homes of Baltimore are often quite narrow. To overcome the squeezing sensation we made the bold decision, as we had no roof to hold us down, to make the ceilings ten and a half feet high! The height, coupled with natural light from the courtyard and 4 skylights, make the space free and airy.

Talent is all around us! The simple layout needed several aesthetically pleasing finishing touches. There is no trim work in the space. Our builder (Santiago Baten) was a craftsman and took pride in delivering our clean lined vision. Peter Machen (machenart.com) is a sculptor whose medium is metal. He kindly took on the overly simplistic task of creating our unique door frames. They are ¼ metal sheets cut to width: industrial strength and industrial weight but only visible when actually looking at them. The bathroom doors were produced by Chris Zickefoose (chriszickefoose.com) He made a few mundane floorboards harvested from the building during demo into lovely sliding works of art.

The table in the one bedroom apartment took a lifetime to make. It was Alan’s workbench. He crafted his works of wooden wonder for over three decades on the surface. It has all the beauty marks of serving a maker faithfully and continues to share her character with our guests. The base was constructed by Garrett Bladow a 21st century renaissance man.

To learn more about E1507, visit here. To book a stay at E1507, visit here.

E1507: Philosophy of the space

E1507 life with art, dining room and Mark Eisendrath

Mark Eisendraths work overlooking the workbench table at E1507

What happens when the objects that surround you speak to you because:
They are beautiful
They are created by someone you know
They tell a story
They stand for something important to you

We adorn the walls of E1507 with work that were thoughtfully made by the artists that Scott has the privilege of working with in his career. Although the space is beautiful, the wonderful artwork on the walls are the harmony that stands out.

BEAUTY:
The work on the walls of E1507 appeal to us. There is something in the color, the composition, or the forms that cause a neurochemical cascade that results in joy.
It is cliche to say, but visual beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder. Different things will strike each of our fancy differently. THIS IS A VERY GOOD THING, we each have our own taste.
We can not guarantee that all the work shared in the space will be to everyone’s aesthetic delight. That type of work does not exist. It also does not mean that the work is not high quality. Like all things in life, art work has value that goes beyond just the visual or surface sensation that it evokes.
If you choose to surround yourself with art work, there is a good chance that you are assured to experience regular glimpses of inspiration and daily doses of euphoria.

SOMEONE YOU KNOW:
The more you know about the creator of an object the more likely that object has meaning to you. When we purchase something, knowledge of the creator is referred to as brand. Apple, Cadillac, Coke, Dewalt, Disney, Rawlings, Under Armor have values that we know and may appreciate. The same is true of the makers of art.
The details about the artist are an important piece of context about the art. They are just like you. They are human. They have families. They were born somewhere. They have experienced significant life events. Some like dogs, some like cats and some don’t like either. They have philosophies. They watch the movies you do. They read the books you do. They follow the instagram stars you do.
The wonderful thing about the artist that is just like you … they have the ability to do things with paint or photography or a medium that you likely can not. They can say things you were thinking but may not have had the words or ability to express!
If you know the artist, there is a good chance you know what they stand for and they may be standing for the same things you are. Your walls can say the things you have always wanted to say, but lacked the voice to do so.

A STORY:
All things, with the exception of the start of the universe, are created in the midst of some context. Art does not happen in isolation. There is always a story.
Art work is produced by someone, the creator has a story (see previous section) Art work is produced in a place. Much of the work on display at E1507 has been made in Baltimore. Art work is produced during a period in time. Likely, much of the work in our space has been produced during a time that we are familiar with. All of these details come together to provide context to the visual statement. These details in tandem with the art can tell a story that words can not.
If you surround yourself with objects that hold stories, there is a good chance you will become a storyteller. Telling stories is a powerful asset to possess as a human. With art work, you have an object that can guide you to shared laughter, contemplation, and wonder. Along with displaying great taste, you can further enhance qualities you possess or desire to possess.

IMPORTANT THINGS TO YOU
We all want to be known. We especially want people to see our goodness. It is pleasurable to hear that we come from good stock, that we have made wise choices, and that we have done the hard work. OUR awareness that others are aware of who we are, can fulfill us beyond what we find within ourselves.
The works on these walls are important to us for a variety of reasons. They cause us to pause because they are beautiful. They are made by people we know, we respect, and we like. They tell a story that we want to share.
If you surround yourself with objects that are important to you, the world will know the authentic you. It is not an assurance of their love, but it is certainly a significant step towards the divine feeling.

Do I need an agent… or any expert

Last week my accountant emailed me with the out come of our tax return. He suggested that if I move some cash into retirement savings I could reduce my burden by 2x what I am paying him for this year’s service. He has paid for himself with a simple suggestion. It is the second time in as many meetings he has added depth to my knowledge and numbers to my bank account.

He is a valuable resource to have. It is interesting though, that the value of the accountant seems to go up as our net-worth goes up. When there is little to account for there is little opportunity to recoup the cost of counting. Yet, I have utmost confidence that had a professional financial guide been at my side in the beginning we would be in an even better position today.

When resources are scarce one of the hardest things for us to pay for is knowledge. Yet it is precisely knowledge that we need when we have little else to work with. We need to work smarter in tandem with working hard, because often times we are working harder due to lack of efficiency, or rather, lack of knowledge..

The benefit of efficiency is a curious thing, it has drastic impact at the start and overtime it compounds.

One of the most evident signs of our need for knowledge is with our most precious resource: time. When we first start a business, we are constantly busy. We are terrible at time management because we can not assess what is important. Assessment is about awareness. We lack knowledge of the right questions to ask to gather the right information to guide our actions. Is the product more important or finding my audience? Should I work on a partnership or focus on a sale? Is that gig worth it? Furthermore, when we lack time because we are busy, the last thing we prioritize is sitting to think. Thinking seems like doing nothing and how can we afford to DO nothing.

Unfortunately doing nothing is likely one of the most valuable things you could do to not only win back time, but also win the life you want to lead.

If you are unable to think, who will for you?

More than Price: Pricing Art

Finance is complex but it is by far the easiest field for assessing one aspect of value. There are “logical” rules within the world of dollars and cents. BUT, because the world of finance is inhabited and controlled by humans, rationality is not always followed nor the driving force. The complexity can, and often does, become chaos. And that uncertainty yields a rightful sense of fear.

Probably one of the biggest fears is to confront the financial worth of our work. Does price really define my worth?

The simple answer is no. But let’s dig into price to understand why that can never be the true measure of our worth and success.

In the realm of economics price is the point at which transaction happens. Transaction is an exchange of value, often times currency/money FOR an object or service. Transaction requires two parties, it can not be done in isolation. Price is therefore never determined by a single party. This means that “price” is not necessarily the number printed with a dollar sign next to an object on the wall, nor is it the the number in the head of a potential customer. The number on the wall is the financial value assessed by the producer of the object and vice versa, the number in the head of a customer is their financial value for the product. Neither party is right or wrong, they are both true.

The challenge might be to get to place where exchange can happen.

The easiest experience is when the number in the head of a customer exceeds the number on the wall. Of course an exchange can happen, and possibly include more then what is stated (a bonus on your work; Wouldn’t that be nice!) As you progress in your work and build the value of your brand this is likely to happen. Think of how often you purchase an object or a service because you value what you are getting sometimes even before the object is produced for your inspection or the service is provided. You know it is worth it either from your own experiences in the past or the trusted guidance of a friend. You know that the brand carries a level of integrity that you trust and will deliver the dollar value, or even more, than what you are taking out of your wallet.

Things get more challenging for the exchange to occur when the reverse is true, the number on the wall exceeds the number in the head of the customer. There is a misalignment of assessed financial value. How do you get the numbers to match up? This is the art of sales and negotiation.

Often times our first inclination is to question our assessed value. This is an icky feeling situation! However, this makes sense as it is what is in our control and likely the easier move on our part. But… there is the possibility of increasing the assessed value in the head of your customer. How do we demonstrate that our number is more accurate for the value of the experience?

When it comes to art, we likely can not lean on objective financial value. The cost of materials and our labor is not likely where the number we put on the wall comes from, nor will those two things add up to what you have put on the wall for the customer. We therefore can not debate the physical value of the object or creation of the object with our customer. The caveat to this might be if we have the market (an “objective” valuation platform that is agreed upon by many) to support our number, but many of us do not have that for our work.

So we have to ask ourselves where did the number on the wall come from?

CONFIDENCE

Confidence is hard to find because it is not something that exists on its own. It is something that has to be developed.

In our early life, confidence comes easy. We do not have any limits because we do not understand the physical boundaries of the universe nor the social constructs of society. And, if we are fortunate we have cheerleaders. We touch hot stoves. We leap off sofas. We work on an ollie repeatedly until we get it. Our parents congratulate our first simple words. Our grandparents push us to try new foods. Our friends egg us on to hit the jump one more time. We push ourselves out of naivete, out curiosity, out of ambition and out of the encouragement of others to mature and get better.

The opportunities are endless in early life. We will become the next Shaun White. We will master the Sommelier’s level four. We will write the next To Kill a Mockingbird. We literally can do anything.

Then something happens.

We learn to fear. We get hard introductions to gravity. We get laughed at for our crude drawings. We get told our writing is not good because of technical conventions. We start to experience the ease of being comfortable and rarely venture beyond the simple tastes we were able to develop in early childhood. We get stuck and our confidence falters.

How much better would our ability become if we got back up after the fall and did it again? How much more refined might our skills become if we pressed on through the practice? How much more nuanced might our taste be if we continued to explore the unknown? How much stronger would we be as a person if we ignored the external and internal critic?

How much further could we have gone if only we had continued to expand our confidence?

FEAR

There is a near daily question of, “Are you an artist?”. 

In my gut and my heart, I know that I am, but the distance to my head has not yet been fully traversed and the distance to my hand feels like an eon away. I rarely give a confident “YES, I am a writer and a film producer.” 

I need to start saying so. 

That will create some level of accountability for me.

I also need to start acting like it. 

My regular musings have refined my ability to write but as a dear friend correctly pointed out, they are only for myself. I fail my own criteria of an artist by hiding behind my screen and never allowing the words to see the light of day and more particularly the assessing eye of an audience. New perspective for myself and for the masses will never be possible if I continue on the trajectory of personal work for personal sake.

It is time to start being an artist instead of just making art.

What Sex Education Taught Me

I recently binged on Sex Education. No I am not referring to the awkward lessons of adolescence.

The Netflix series indeed has it’s unpleasant moments as it focuses on a high school age troupe of characters navigating the lifelong adventure of discovering-oneself. The protagonist, Otis (Asa Butterfield), is the son of a divorced sex therapist (Gillian Anderson), who is persuaded by the cool girl (Emma Mackey) in school to start a relationship clinic at their private academy. The series is worthy of focus. It is good long form storytelling with well written dialog and appropriate ups and downs and twists and turns. I enjoyed the experience.

A scene that lingers for me is late in the premier season. Otis, the teenage therapist, is discovered as not having had intimate relations through an unexpected encounter with Lily (Tanya Reynolds), a sex-crazed nerd. She is kind enough to keep the dilemma to herself but realizes it is a bargaining chip for free therapy services when she discovers her theory of sex does not match her experience. Otis reluctantly takes on the case. Otis needed to do so for the obvious reason of protecting a budding industry and more importantly his all important high school dignity. HE also needed to take on the case because it is his own narrative.

Otis is wise (and actually beyond his years which is somewhat of a shortcoming of the writing) and practices a well known therapy tactic of using another field of physical practice to alter the mental experience of a patient. He takes Lily by bike to a large meadow with an epic hill. His treatment is for her to ride down the hill. He suggests that she needs to face a fear and embrace it, or rather she needs to let herself go. Lily is rightfully hesitant and in the moment suggests that Otis too needs to let himself go. Lily then takes off with Otis watching. Within short order he realizes she is correct. He too proceeds down the rough hillside to experience freedom.

The advice is astute. We are often the greatest obstacle to achieving our desires. The way we can find freedom from our mental blocks is likely to let go. To embrace the choice and let the hill take us to our destination. YES it will be incredibly scary. YES we will certainly lose control and YES we will fall. BUT that pain of that moment of hitting the ground and even the weeks of recovery will never be as great as the agony of living life having not tried.

Hop on your bike and find a place to experience flow in a realm that is somewhat uncomfortable so you can sit in your studio and produce what needs to be produced.