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Every Friday, I post a small insight into running Curio City and/or Blue Hills Editorial Services. My most recent posts are directly below. You can also start with the first post, or use the subject labels to the right to home in on particular topics. Feel free to comment on anything that interests you.
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Friday, December 18, 2009

Achieving the Minimum

In December 2008 I set a record of 49 sales in one day. Last Friday that record fell when those precious Whisky Stones pushed me to 51 sales. I sold all 60 pieces in 18 hours…without advertising! The local store featured in the Boston Globe gift guide must have run out within hours, and then all the frustrated people went online and found me via natural search, which is really heartening. I could have sold hundreds more if I'd had the stock. Ordinarily the sales tax drives Massholes away from my site, but last weekend brought numerous in-state sales. The big day had 461 visitors and a phenomenal 10% conversion rate. 47 people came directly to my URL without any referral.

Week 6 of the Six Weeks of Christmas is within striking distance of LY’s sales. At the moment, the Six Weeks together are exactly $17.86 behind LY. There are still two weeks to go in December, and some pent-up demand for Power Caps, so there’s a chance I’ll still pull the month out of the fire. For some odd reason traffic peaked at 581 visitors on Tuesday, when I had only 14 sales.

My optimism about a general economic recovery has soured as our household finances continue their slow slide from dire to desperate. I reduced my 2010 growth plan from 30% to 15%...and that still feels over-optimistic, at least for the first half of the year.

I earned about $10,800 in salary this year. Hitting five figures is a big psychological milestone. Kraken Enterprises should finish with a profit of roughly $6,200 (down from $7,400 LY), which is distributed to me and taxed on our personal return. (I’ll actually withdraw about $4,500, cashflow permitting, and reinvest the rest in the company). My total compensation this year will be around $17,000, vs. $16,400 in 2008. A fulltime worker earning the $8 Massachusetts minimum wage grosses $16,640. So I have finally achieved my longstanding goal of earning minimum wage – I actually earn more working for myself than I could earn working for somebody else. Wow.

We fell into the 15% federal tax bracket this year and Massachusetts takes 5% more, so taxes will take $1,200 of my $4,500 payout. If I really make my planned 15% sales increase in 2010, I could hit $20,000 in salary plus bonus next year. Since my salary and the company’s profit are almost the same thing, I’m raising payroll from 19% to 19.5% of gross effective in January. (The money paid from profits isn’t subject to Social Security or Medicare taxes, but I need more cash up front).

Just for perspective…I made $70,000 in the software industry one year during the Clinton boom, before George Bush and 9/11. Anne earned even more. It’s hard to remember that we were rich as recently as eight years ago. That was a completely different world.

Something new to hate: Facebook! The Facebook widget to your right pissed me off. While I was fixing the broken Tweeter widget directly below it I noticed that my FB feed had stopped updating. I figured out that they had changed the URL. I fixed that and the widget worked again…until Dec. 8. Grrrr. I need followers, and that’s my best way of getting some. They finally fixed it on Dec. 16.

Hey, here’s a new reason to hate QuickBooks!

We are writing to let you know about a Sales Tax Report issue related to the December 1, 2009 Release 9 (R9) of QuickBooks 2009. If you downloaded R9 earlier this month, the Sales Tax Liability and Sales Tax Revenue reports are not displaying the correct data in some cases. Specifically, this issue applies to you only if you meet the following conditions: within QuickBooks the sum total of items in your Items List multiplied by the nubmer of vendors in your Vendor List equals more than 10,000.

Naturally, the Item List doesn’t tell you how many entries it contains or explain what a "nubmer" is. If it includes inactive items, mine must be in the vicinity of 1,000...and I certainly have more than 10 vendors. I reckon I should be glad they found and patched it before I filed my tax return. But...there's a bug in the patch, too, and now they're scrambling to produce R11 before the end of the year.

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