Monthly Archives: June 2011

Site-Member Profile: Treacy Information Services!

Year Established: 2002

Business/Organization Name: Treacy Information Services

Owner/Executive Director Name: Ann Treacy

Product/Service: Web site development, search engine optimization and social media strategy

Unique Features/Competitive Advantage:

We work primarily with small businesses on realistic online market plans that fit your budget and busy calendar

Contact Information:

Ann Treacy Treacy Information Services 1841 Fairmount Ave St Paul MN 55105 651-212-9107

http://www.treacyinfo.com/

atreacy@treacyinfo.com

Notes/Misc other:

Treacy Info has worked with a wide range of businesses including resorts, manufacturers, business service providers and nonprofits.

We provide training and mentoring to businesses that are interested in managing their online marketing.

We also provide full service online marketing services to businesses that prefer to outsource all aspects.

Treacy Info strives to bring balance to online marketing taking into consideration a business’s budget and goals as well as opportunities in new media.

Please sign up for our weekly email newsletter, which offers tips on free and low cost ways to make the most of the Internet.

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Accounting Journal: The Absence of Normal

This is the first of a series of notes I would like to write about issues facing the business world – through the lense of accounting.

There are some particular accounting specifics I’ll mention, but mainly these notes will cover ideas widely applicable to anyone in business.

Normalcy provides solid ground, a foundation for strategizing and taking action. For most of our careers, it was probably assumed to be present, like gravity. It permits shortcuts and abbreviations – both in writing and thinking.

These days though, as well all know, hardly anything is normal. There are obvious consequences of that which we all are aware of. They vary among us.

But I suggest it’s important to look beyond those immediate consequences, dig deeper, and uncover other ways in which your thoughts or practices are based on a situation – normalcy – which no longer exists.

We always limit our attention, according to what matters to us, what we want, what we don’t want. Those limits are based on prior experience and long-standing patterns. Now, all those past indications are much less relevant.

One big area is relationships – whether it’s co-worker’s, managers, customers, suppliers, competitors: in every case, taking anything for granted isn’t as valid. It needn’t take long, but checking in with the folks in the periphery of your day could inform you of situations you weren’t aware of. The highly-effective among us check in with a wide swath of people regularly all the time already, but many of us are normally more relaxed, and fall in to a rut. Time to reach beyond that are reconnect more widely.

It also is a good time to widen your circle of people as possible. Whatever important vendors you use – check out their competition. In case something changes with someone you rely on, you want to have beginnings of relationships already in place. Know who is the best among the rest of the folks. Know who would not be a good fit for you, no matter the circumstance.

If your business or organization has seasonal variations in your activities, and you normally prepare a certain way for that next season – try to check in more extensively and earlier before making those plans.

Your contingency planning – that one area that is already based on the absence of normal – even that can become outdated or lax. Review those assumptions. What if your alternate location itself was unavailable? Are the resources needed in that scenario readily available? Are your current staff and any important contractors all as familiar with your plans as they need to be?

Staff redundancy/cross training is always useful. In these days, even more important. The time-worn preference that employees have for making themselves invaluable to increase their power is really non-optimal for the company/organization. You want the ability to continue in any circumstance. You want all the necessary information from every employee/contractor necessary to have that ability.

In accounting land, I’ll just mention two areas of consideration very briefly. If you would like the longer version, please contact me.

In terms of accounting, there are relationships between the balance sheet and the income statement that are relatively stable. The balance sheet – a snapshot in time – contains the results of the income statement – which shows results of a period of time.

Balance sheet accounts – snapshot data – is supposed to be accurate at every interim point. Oftentimes the various accounts also vary in the extent to which that is true. Some accounts are really only accurate at year end, but the variations during the year are small enough that everyone is comfortable with that. Accrued vacation/pto payable and accrued salaries are two of those accounts.

If, however, your staff size and/or your programs/sales are changing, then you may want to reconsider.

Going about things the normal way when operations are shrinking can overstate your expenses during the year, and misstate the detail revenue/expense data to a degree that you might notice if you pay close attention to those things.

Accrued vacation – if you have a significant % of your staff leave, and they are taking PTO payouts, and they had a large amount of that pto already accrued at the beginning of the year – consider booking that payout to the liability account rather than the expense. That makes your expense this year smaller, and the balance sheet more accurate.

Accrued payroll is a more complicated consideration, for those of you with payroll period that don’t match the calendar months. It’s complicated because for you, accrued payroll – to be accurate – would be different every month, but nobody does that. Payroll is so important though that making any change from actual is a big deal. So again, please contact me if you’d like to know the rest of my spiel about that.

The accounting reality though – of the balance sheet / income statement relationship being complicated – is similar to many business realities.

It is similar to the ongoing differences we all have between how we want to be, and how we are. Our intentions and our actions. ‘Mind the Gap’.

During periods of rapid transition such as this one, that gap can change dimension and depth and have an impact on us unexpectedly. For that reason, it is useful to look more closely at these areas we normally ignore, to become aware of small shifts in time to respond effectively.

In this way there is more likelihood all of us coming through this transition period as optimally as possible.

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Fun Friday: Gay Pride!

Clarity Solutions celebrates Gay Pride for the wellbeing of our entire community.

We urge all citizens of Minnesota to vote NO on the marriage amendment in 2012, and to help organize the defeat of that amendment until then. The constitution is not about discriminating against groups of people. Our community is most well when all members of our community are well.

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Filed under Business, buy local, Community, Fun, Minneapolis, St. Paul, Uncategorized

MN Grant Info: FSRs on egrants

Given the extreme pressure right now to bill/request an advance prior to the shutdown, I’m sharing a copy of my notes on the new egrants system that replaced WEGO.
*************
IntelliGrants site aka egrants
Introduction
–Terminology:
Task = Grant
Related Items = FSR’s
–Notes:
Grant ID numbers in this system may be different from what you have in your other documentation. If you have multiple grants, you’ll need to determine which is which by looking at the grant budgets etc..
—**Important: Within the FSR process, the lines that you bill on are identified differently. In particular, if you have a line per position, those lines don’t include the position name. Instead what is provided is the total budgeted amount per position. So you’ll want to indicate that on the sheet you’re billing from, for easiest processing.
You probably want to have your grant budget handy the first time you go through this process on this site. The line descriptions may relate best to the budget, instead of what you’re used to seeing.
Good News –> This site doesn’t time out after the slightest delay! I haven’t had it ever time out on my so far. So you can take the time needed without concern for that (but still save often!).
Process for creating FSR
1. Under View My Tasks, click on TASKS box
2. Choose the grant you want to work with.

New ‘Main’ page opens, with additional choices. You want the last choice on the bottom:

3. Examine Related Items

This will show you the FSR’s filed in the past, and last item in the list is

4. ‘Initiate new FSR’

New ‘Agreement’ page opens, click on ‘I agree’ to create new FSR

Back to ‘OJP FSR Menu.’ You want to

5. View Forms

OJP FSR Menu – Forms menu, and a box, with one choice in it:

6. Financial Status Report Type

Then it opens a screen in which you choose whether to file an Expense or Advance type:

7. Expense or Advance – click radio button (round one), then click ‘save’ at top of window
Then it tells you that the info has been saved, but you’re still on that same page. (tricky!)

8. You have to click on ‘Forms Menu’ yourself to move forward in the process.

(That selection is in grey, and the other things around it are distracting. Above it, in orange, is the grant ID number. Below it, also in bigger, darker letters is ‘Financial Status Report Type’. But you want the small, light gray lettered option – Forms Menu. Have to select those words on that line, not the ‘OJP-FSR Menu’ option in the middle of the line.)

If you are creating an Expense-Type FSR:

You will see the OJP FSR Menu – Forms screen, with a box in the center. The top of the box includes the words ‘Financial Status Report Type’ (does not indicate which type you chose), and the name of the logged in user and the time.

Below the border in the middle of the box are two options, similar to the WEGO system:

10. FINANCIAL STATUS REPORT/PAYMENT REQUEST LINE ITEMS
9. FINANCIAL STATUS REPORT/PAYMENT REQUEST SUMMARY

They are in reverse order in these instructions because that’s how they are on the screen.
I didn’t do detail instructions for this process, because it is very similar to the WEGO process. Just have to look at the line info when you first open the detail lines, and make sure you know what each line corresponds to in your budget and your biling.

Like in WEGO, you can do the summary first, Main Contact (from a pull-down list), whether it is final or not, the period covered (I’ve done 6/1/2011 to 6/22/2011 for instance, for this emergency expense request).

Then you can do the detail lines. You want to hit ‘save’ often (especially when there might be high volume on the server). Hitting save updates the total, and it also opens up new lines. (Note: the ‘save’ button and that menu bar floats at the top of your screen, is always visible even when you scroll down).
Like in WEGO, the data from the detail line entry fills in to the Summary page.
After you have all your detail entry done, you can print both pages (in the line with ‘save), at the top of the page.

Process: I like to take that detail print out and manually add up all the detail numbers for each line, to confirm that that matches the amount I entered in the total box, since Excel has that goofy pennies-off problem. After printing you can still go back in and change the detail info or the line total as needed, then re-print.

After you’ve printed both pages, there is one more task before you are done filing your FSR.

You need to click on the Left/most part of that main grey line:

11. Advance/FSR Menu

Then you are again on that main page, with 3 options, and you choose the middle one:

12. Under: ‘Change the Status’ — > View Status Options

It then opens the Advance/FSR Menu – Status Options window, where you can submit or cancel your document.

To do that, look below the box, and it says:

Payment Request Submitted

With a box below that which says ‘Apply Status’.

13. Clicking that ‘Apply Status’ box is the final step in the process.

Once you have done that, in the box it will show this message: ‘Payment Request in Process’. This is the final sheet you may want to print to document the billing process. (The Floating menu bar isn’t available at this point, have to print from the browser command.)
Unlike in WEGO, this last sheet does not indicate the period billed, the amount billed, or even the grant info very well.

Hopefully more of the old functionality will be added in yet!

If I can help further at all, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Hope this helps you and your organization spend more time on the important work you do!

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Site-Member Profile: TigerOx Painting, LLC

Date Established: 2001.

Business/Organization Name: TigerOx Painting, LLC

Owner/Executive Director Name:

TigerOx is a partnership between four equal partners, Anders Christensen, Ceridwen Christensen, Rachel Taylor and Jeremy Wikre.

When we first formed our company, we were very much four individual contractors. Each one of us was involved in every area of the business, because that is how we were used to doing business for ourselves. It took us a long while to differentiate our responsibilities.

Anders, with his much broader experience in the industry, naturally is much more involved in the public interactions: meeting clients, doing estimates, etc. Jeremy does production management. Ceridwen moved away from production when she was having her children, and took over the marketing and estimating aspects at that point. Rachel is currently on maternity leave.

Product/Service:

TigerOx Painting, LLC, is a residential painting contractor, but saying we are painters doesn’t capture the full scope of our work. We do both interior and exterior painting. The function of exterior paint is not purely aesthetic. Paint also should behave as an unbroken skin protecting your house from the elements, especially from the intrusion of water. We never paint damaged or unprepared surfaces, and a large portion of any project we undertake is spent in preparation for painting, not in painting itself. For our interior projects, the same standards apply. We paint only after the plaster has been patched, the stains sealed, the peeling paint scraped away.

The members of TigerOx have long histories with historic Minneapolis houses, especially Anders. Anders has been interested in historic restoration and the history of building styles in Minneapolis since he bought a Victorian house in the 70s. Because of that long association, TigerOx can rehab old fashioned double-hung windows, refinish old woodwork, hang wallpaper, remove wallpaper. Not only can we do this, this is the work we enjoy.

Unique Features/Competitive Advantage:

Our unique features are part of our skills. We have broad skills and long experience with older homes. We are happy to take on odd, small or complex projects, projects that might otherwise require several different people. We have a number of regular customers who have us come in every couple of years and perform a punch list: repair a doorknob, repaint a closet, refinish three window sills. We are not just tinkerers though, and have successfully completed large painting projects, from painting the entire interior for a couple in St Paul, room by room, or painting an exterior in Minneapolis which included more than sixty traditional storm and sash windows.

TigerOx Painting is very aware that when we work on your house, it may be our work place, but it continues to be your private space. We earnestly endeavor to minimize the disruption of the painting process, from putting away tools nightly, to cleaning up paint chips and debris as we work. With the passage of new EPA standards for dealing with the preparation of areas with lead paint in them, this isn’t just good sense, this is now the law. Lead paint is present in any home built before 1978, and that means that almost all of the houses we work on have lead paint in them. We are are a lead-safe certified firm.

Contact Information:

Web site: www.tigeroxpainting.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/TigerOx-Painting/107581559263214?ref=ts

Phone: (612) 827-2361

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Twitter management: Friend or Follow site!

I have to say, the friend or follow site is just the bees knees!

It displays clearly which twitter accounts fall in to each of three categories:

Follow (you follow them, they don’t follow back)
Fan (they follow you, you don’t follow back)
Friend (mutual follow)

When you click on each twitter image for any of those accounts, it opens up the twitter page for that person.

Up to this point, anyone can do this for any account. I can look at who is friends vs. follows etc.. on anyone else’s account. Just like in the twitter page of course.

But once it gets to the twitter page for that particular account, if you log in to your account, then you can add them to lists (or delete them) and change your follow decision if you want. You can leave that page open, and click on the next image, and make any changes to your relationship to that next twitter account.

In this way I’ve unfollowed a large number of folks, from the days when I was new and was following enthusiastically.

Now, instead, I use Hootsuite and lists to get content. I could have all my content that I have now without following anyone, using Hootsuite.

So following people become more about the relationship, as ‘friend or follow’ suggests. It’s also about future relationships, since those mutual follows are shown to people looking at your twitter profile. You want to have mutual follows of the folks who you seek as an audience.

This is really about optimal client profiles, and from that determining your optimal Twitter follow – who do you want to be hearing your tweets? Who do those people follow? What are shared commonalities in those communities?

Really a fascinating process. Kind of like looking at the world, not with 3D glasses, but with .. twitter glasses… looking at how people present themselves and what their content is and who they are talking to; and how that relates with your goals.

Back to the friendorfollow site – I found that it worked really well to work from the bottom up. Because it leaves the list in the same order from top down, so if you work from bottom up, you can make consistent progress and always know where you are.

And, personally, I think it’s really smart how they handle the initial delay of gathering the data to present to you: they say ‘if you’re popular this might take a while.’ Isn’t that perfect? They length of the delay is.. a good thing – shows how popular you are! I really think that ability to present content positively is a great strength, generally, but also especially these days when – guaranteed – everyone pretty much is stressed out etc.. and then petting the bunny’s head, just for those few last endorphins. Perfect.

Then there are actually further site features that I haven’t even explored yet very much: you can sort the list in 8 different ways: username (default), actual name, location, followers, following, last tweet, account age. So great – with account age, the oldest are at the bottom of the page, newest at the top. With last tweet, the account whose most recent tweet was the farthest in the past are at the bottom of the page, most recent tweet is first. By location shows first the accounts who’ve left location blank, then it’s in alphabetical order.

You can export the list is csv format, which can then be turned in to a spreadsheet very easily. For those who are very data-driven. Also there are three types of users, default is for them to show you all three, but you can uncheck any boxes you like: protected, verified, normal.

So there is a bit of information on another great twitter tool that I’ve used and much appreciated. Comments on your experiences also very welcome!

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Reddit Hits 1.2B Monthly Pageviews, More Than Doubles Its Engineering Staff (via TechCrunch)

Exciting!

Reddit Hits 1.2B Monthly Pageviews, More Than Doubles Its Engineering Staff Community news site Reddit, which at some point was running on one engineer, has almost tripled  its engineering staff today, with the addition of three new hires, Google's Logan Hanks, Oracle's Keith Mitchell and recent engineering graduate Brian Simpson. This brings the total number of developers on the team up to five. Reddit can use all the developer help that it can get, seeing as though unique monthly visits are up 37% since January, going … Read More

via TechCrunch

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