Category Archives: Business

A Month into our new business..here is what I am thinking.

Well our new computer store is now a month old.  It has been a crazy month, lots of hours worked, and lots to do to set everything up.  Everyday we are still setting up a major part of the business.  The website is mostly done, the marketing is done, just finished training two techs on how to do things the “Emerald” way.  We got networking done last week along with setting up the reception area and my wife’s office, and this week we put art on the walls.  All this while making enough money to keep all the bills paid.

Building a quality infrastructure is important, having all the tools in the right place and working correctly will result in massive amounts of efficiency later on in the process.  One major tool that has been lacking is my old Aztek SUV…yes it still gets us from one place to another, but there are many problems so I am thinking of upgrading.  The next piece to the puzzle is to hire and build up our sales force, at this time it is just me doing sales and that is not enough because I have so much else to do.

I am still hopeful, I just need to get the thing put together right so that we can go to the next level.

Don’t make the geeks mad!

The world is moving to the internet, and more and more people research things before they plan to spend money. The smart company manages their online presence with a good website, SEO, and they ask clients who are happy to leave positive feedback for them on one of the many sites that have been created to rate companies.

Most of these sites really use this as a way to find companies to sell advertising to but that is a whole different blog. I have been helping a few companies get online recently. Last month I helped a company with a fairly negative review history to create a new blog, website and then create profiles on many of these pages. I then created a page that he can send happy clients to so that they can review him. It makes the world better, he will feel more responsible to make people happy, and these happy clients will send more clients to him to make him more successful. Everyone is happy. He now gets a client or so per week from the web.

The odd thing is that many of these businesses have little or no knowledge of these online boards, that vast majority of business owners are oblivious, and sometimes it is really to their determent. I have seen time and time again companies that have a large number of negative reviews, often right on Google maps (The number one way people find you). A business may see 100 clients in a day but many of them won’t even receive 10 reviews in a year, and when 8 of them come from ANGRY and RANTING clients, that business will see very little traffic from people who research online.

Being a geek and knowing the power of this, I know that you NEVER want to make a geek mad at your business. One good geek can really hurt your online presence, a few and you are dead online. Geeks know this, and sometimes they even use to to hurt your business if you are their competition.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oo9mCS9H9Lo
This computer repair guy really must have made someone mad, he has pages full of bad reviews about his company. Click HERE to see for yourself.

Also see MY PAGE.  I had one fake, negative review, so I asked my Facebook friends who were clients in the past to post an honest review for my company.  Look at the results.

 

The Greatest Movie Ever Sold – Wow that was cool.

I really like the way that Morgan Spurlock thinks. He has created a movie about advertising and product placement, and pays for the movie by going out and getting more product placements than any movie in history. He gets free drinks, free cars, free shoes, free flights, free hotel rooms and millions of dollars given to him to make this movie. It is really awesome as he debates if he really is a sell out, and decided that he is, then he embraces it. If you have not seen this movie, and you are at all interested in advertising or business I would suggest it.

Here is the trailer. httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T4Ng2P3zxfM

One very interesting concept that I liked from the movie is the idea that Fame and Credibility are linked. “In the world we live in you can not be credible unless you are visible.” This is a very interesting concept. This is why people tout how many followers they have, or max out their friends on facebook.

How to communicate in this modern age.

There is one major thing that I see so many businesses doing wrong, and that is their failure to communicate correctly. So many companies send out a message but they never ensure that it is received. Then they flip out when you are not aware of their message that they did not properly communicate. When I was in college I learned that communication is defined as this…

Communication is the activity of conveying meaningful information. Communication requires a sender, a message, and an intended recipient, although the receiver need not be present or aware of the sender’s intent to communicate at the time of communication; thus communication can occur across vast distances in time and space. Communication requires that the communicating parties share an area of communicative commonality. The communication process is complete once the receiver has understood the message of the sender.

The last part is the most important. First you need to make sure that the receiver has received the message and understood it. The problem is that people are flooded with messages. Over 100 billion emails are sent world wide each day. I get 100’s of texts per day, I get a pile of snail mail every day except sunday. Email is the worst though, I get over 1000 per day, but and those are sorted to over 50 different folders, and about 800 or so of them are detected as spam and sent to a spam folder. What makes me really unhappy is when someone emails me once or twice, and then a day or two later calls me and is totally mad me because of their lack of communication. When a message is urgent it is the responsibility of the SENDER and not the RECEIVER to make sure that message is delivered.

Businesses send out urgent notices, bills and much more over email, and they assume they are delivered. My web-host is really bad at this…when they see a problem with my account they email me and then disconnect my account like 10 minutes later, usually because some database locked up or something stupid like that, they don’t bother calling or texting or anything like that. They wait for me to have a customer call me and tell me that it is down, usually after I have lost 100’s of hits and client confidence. It really urks me. Because of facebook and texting many people are using email less for important things and they check it less often. So if you are waiting for an important message to be received please simply pick up the phone and tell them that you sent an important message and if they received it and never assume that they received it until you hear a reply. BTW if you are still in the stone age and use faxes this applies even more to you.

My planned speech on HB2677

On Wednesday the 16th I plan to go to the capital and speak about HB2677, here is what I plan to say.  If you read this and can think of something major to change please leave a comment.   This is my first time trying to change a law.  At the end I suggest a change to the bill that would actually result in the intent being accomplished, with almost no negative side effects and a few positive ones.  Here is what I plan to say.

Hello. I am Jason Dragon, I am an elected PC and State Committeeman in the Republican party. I am here to talk to you today about HB2677.

The intent of this bill is to find a way to tax people who are here illegally and use the money to build the border fence, but it fails miserably in both of these goals. I think that we do need to protect our border, and I am for building a fence but I am against this bill.

The first, and main reason that it fails is that it will tax everyone who sends money using a wire transfer service to any nation for any reason. The bill says that this is refundable, but it is only to the extent of a tax obligation. On top of the sender will need to wait up to a year so that they can file their taxes, and then they will need to keep records of these sends, and if needed will likely be required to provide these to the DOR. The majority of citizens in Arizona do not have an Arizona tax obligation due to many deductions or other credits and not enough income; all of these people will not receive a refund. In addition many other people and businesses may send money from Arizona who do not reside here, and thus will not be able to receive a tax credit.

Illegals don’t use these services. Existing state laws, designed to stop money laundering and criminal activity, already have strict ID requirements to send money using these services. They can not pass these ID requirements if they are here illegally unless they have very professionally forged documents, so the vast majority of illegal immigrants don’t send using the services this bill intends to tax. They often will hand the money a friend who can send.

As someone who has lived overseas, operated a business overseas and sends money overseas often I know that there are much easier and cheaper ways to send money than using wire transfers that this bill simply does not cover. Illegal’s and legal’s often also use these methods to send money. The most common way would be to open a bank account in the US and receive a debit card, or buy a PrePaid credit card and simply mail that card to your receiver in the foreign nation. Once they have it you simply deposit money into that account here in the US and the person in the other nation goes to an ATM and withdraws it. They also could choose to use the card at any major merchant for purchases. Because these are withdraws and not wire transfers they are not taxed. This does not even touch on the ability of people to simply mail a check or cash to a loved one overseas. Before this law even goes into effect I would bet that some smart company located in another state will offer a service where someone can send money to them and they would resend it overseas, and they only need to charge a fee slightly less than the tax charged by Arizona to get a lot of business.

The government is going to severely hamper these money transferring businesses, while other methods will prosper. The government should not be in the business of picking winners and losers.

This bill would also make our state even more business unfriendly. We would pass the burden of collecting and tracking this tax onto local businesses. We also would harm businesses that import, have overseas offices or overseas workers, taxing the money that they pay. I for one have freelance web programmers in a handful of nations in Asia, this would cost me more to pay them. I also send money every month supporting kids in Christian schools in Asia, this would cost me more to do that. I have already been contacted by missionaries who receive support from Arizona who are shocked by this bill and hope that it will not pass. I have figured that this bill would cost me about $800 per year if it passes, and the rate of 5%, as has been published in the media, would be charged.

And that leads me to the next major problem in this bill, the fact that the actual rate of the tax is not set, we should not leave ANY tax rate up to the discretion of some unelected director to decide. Where is the oversight?

Because of the complexity of international money and other existing laws this simply is not a workable bill, and it will never generate the funds needed to build a complete fence.

I don’t like to speak unless I have a solution to the problem. I have an idea of a way to amend this law to make it actually achieve the advertised goal without creating a new tax and by only targeting illegal aliens. Basically you would strike this text and replace it with text that would create a law enforcement activity, stating that during the course of law enforcement activity if someone other than a victim was discovered to be an illegal alien they would have their real and personal property confiscated. This property would then be auctioned off to generate funds to build the fence. Some protection would need to be put in there to make sure that property of a business or citizen is not swept up. You could even expand it to include people who apply for social services but are found to be here illegally. Then once the fence is built and a maintenance fund established, extra funds would go to help pay for education. Such a bill would likely be about as popular as SB1070 was. It would also function as a great deterrent to an illegal committing a crime or asking for social services in Arizona.

Thank you for your time.

My take on Arizona’s HB2677

If you have not heard there is a house bill that was introduced that will dramatically raise the cost of sending money internationally.  It is called HB2677.  It will tax everyone who sends money internationally with the intent to build a fence between Arizona and Mexico.   The problem with this bill is that it is a large new TAX.  They are going to use it for one of the favorite causes of the tea party, to build a border fence, but let’s not get suckered into that.  The tea party is first and foremost an anti-tax group, even if they will use the money for one of our favorite causes.   It is just a bribe, and I am shocked and dismayed that the leaders of the tea party have gotten behind this new tax.

The major problem with the bill is that it taxes “Any entity” that sends money overseas.  That means that the next time there is a natural disaster in some faraway place Arizona will have their hand out, take money from the poor and hurting who are in crisis.  I have heard from some sources that they want a 5% fee on all transfers.  The typical fee right now is about $3.50 for the first $500.  This would add $25 to that fee, an outrageous amount.

Another problem is that it is easily circumvented.  People who are smart will avoid this law by setting up intermediaries.  An example would be that someone would set up an office in Nevada, and have their offices in Arizona collect the money, send it to Nevada and then it would be wired from Nevada to the receiver.  They would do this for a fee but it will be well less than 5%.  People are smart and this would really reduce the amount that is collected.

This bill is designed to build a wall between us and Mexico, so I would be FOR this bill if they restricted it to only personal remittances to Mexico.  They may even include Central American nations if they like, but adding this tax to everyone who sends to any location is way too broad.

The key to success for Arizona is to be free to do business and this bill puts a transaction tax on any money sent out of the country from Arizona. The bill does not state the rate of the tax but I know the fence will be costly so it will likely be at least a few %. Most importers have very slim margins and such an added cost will make them flee our state to go to ones that don’t have this cost.

This punishes people like me who want to do nice things and send money overseas. This bill will dramatically increase the current cost of sending money. Right now I use Wells Fargo for most sends and it only costs $3.50 no matter how much I send. Sometimes I use MoneyGram and they charge $10 for the first $500. Even a 3% tax on these transfers would take money and food out of the hands of the people I try to help.   I also send all of this money to either Asia or Europe, and that has very little to do with a fence between us and Mexico.

I would be for this if they changed it to state that it would only effect personal wire transfers going to Mexico, or even Mexico plus central and South America. But this idea of doing it for all business, charity and personal wire transfers for the entire world is a crazy dumb tax that should not be passed.  I am shocked that someone as conservative as Judy Burges would put her name on this totally unfair and punitive tax.

Jason Dragon

Peoria South Tea Party Leader

Area Coordinator, PC and SC in the Republican Party in LD9.

Business Owner, Importer and Entrepreneur.

ALERT: I just posted a follow up to this CLICK HERE!

The secrets of how to dispute things on your credit report.

The quickest way to improve your credit is to work to remove things on your credit report that are negative.  This is not as hard as people think.  Before going forward, remember that is against the law to lie in any of the forms that you will sending to the credit reporting agencies.  But also remember that the law also says that an item in your report needs to be 100% correct for it to remain in your report; so even one small mistake in data is ground for deletion.  The problem is that the credit reporting industry make more money from someone who has poor credit, because they buy more reports, they try to fix their credit by many very expensive means and they try more often to get credit letting the credit companies to make money when they sell your reports to the companies you apply with.  They have many reasons to try to keep your report as negative as they can.

But the law is on your side.  Now here is the secret that I have seen presented at least twice at really high priced seminars presented by very successful multi-millionaires.  The law states that the info on your credit report MUST be 100% correct.  But there is a conflicting privacy law that forces them to redact most of your account information.  This turns account number 123456789 into xxxxxx789.  Because of the conflict of these two laws it has created a loophole that millionaires walk through.  It allows them to dispute that the information is not 100% correct and MUST be deleted.

They simply send a letter to the credit agency that says something like this.  “Hello my name is John Doe, and I am writing to clarify an item on my credit report.  My SSN is 111-11-1111.  You have listed an account with account number xxxxxx789.  This account number does not match the number that is on my statements from MegaBux Bank.  Because the information about this account is not accurate I ask that you remove it ASAP as the law requires.”    The credit agencies hate it when they receive a letter like this because they know that there is no way they can keep the item on your report.  The MAJOR problem with this tactic is that it totally removes the trade line, and many people have poor credit more because of a lack of trade lines than from negative information.  If you have a 6xx score and you have less than 12 trade lines, it would actually hurt you more to remove an item with a few 30 day late payment than it would to keep it on your report.   But if you are in the 7xx range and have 20 trade lines it will likely be much better to remove the trade line.  (On a side note, the reason most millionaires use this trick is not to remove negative items, they use it to remove mortgages on investment real estate, because many banks have a limit on how many mortgages you can have at one time…doing this makes them not show up on the credit report.  They still must declare them all in the application but for some reason banks look at the credit report more than the loan application and give the credit anyway.)

If you want to keep the trade line you often can change it to make it less negative by disputing minor issues with it.  What follows is a set of instructions on how to dispute your credit the way most people do it.  Start with this first, you may get 50% or more of your negative items changed to positive, which is much better than deleting them.

With this economy you need all the help you can get to fix the last few years, and I truly hope that this blog entry helped someone.  If this helps you please comment below.

Start the dispute process

You have every right to dispute inaccuracies in your credit report under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), and the credit bureaus and your creditors are obligated to correct inaccurate information in a timely manner.

How to file a dispute

  1. Contact the creditor with the incorrect information
    • We’ve created a sample letter that you can use to start the process
    • Some creditors will correct minor errors over the phone, so we recommend that you contact the creditor first
    • Your list of creditors can be found in the Creditor Contact section of your credit report
  2. Contact the credit bureaus
    • Disputes may be sent to the credit reporting agencies online or in a letter:
    • Experian – Disputes are not accepted by telephone, but you may file a dispute online(link to Experian online form)
    • Equifax – Disputes are accepted online (link to EFX dispute page), or you use one of our sample letters and mail your dispute
    • Trans Union – Disputes are accepted online (link to TU dispute page), or use one of our sample letters and mail your dispute
    • Once the credit reporting agency receives your request, it has 30 days to investigate and provide a response to you in writing. During its investigation, the credit reporting agency will contact the institution that provided the disputed information to seek verification of its accuracy. If the disputed information cannot be verified, it must be removed from your credit report or updated per your request. Information that is verified as accurate may remain in your credit files for as long as allowed by law.
    • You may file more than one dispute at a time. You may also file disputes with more than one credit reporting agency. Each dispute will be investigated separately, but may be processed simultaneously.
  3. Follow up
    • If you have not received a response to your request after 30 days, write a letter to the credit reporting agency indicating that you have not been notified of the results.
    • We’ve created a sample letter that you can customize as necessary to explain your case. Print, sign and mail the letter to the appropriate credit reporting agency, keeping a copy for your records.
  4. Don’t give up
    • If upon receiving the results of the investigation you are still not satisfied, you may request information regarding the person or institution that supplied the information.
    • We’ve created a sample letter that you can customize to your needs and include any additional information necessary to explain your case. Print, sign and mail the letter to the appropriate address, keeping a copy for your records.
    • You may also wish to add a 100-word consumer statement to your credit file explaining the reason for the disputed information so potential creditors have the total picture.
  5. If you do not recognize information on your credit report and suspect that you may be a victim of identity theft, in addition to filing a dispute, we recommend you file an Identity Theft claim.

I’m Back Again.

It has been a while, about 11 months, from the last blog entry.  I did this because I really needed a break.   I had posted a lot of stuff, but I started to feel that I was simply rehashing things that others had said, and that they said much better than me.  But this is no longer the case.  I have done a ton of reading, a ton of meeting with people in the interim.

For the last 8 months I even ran for office.  I ran for city council here in Peoria Arizona.  It was a hard fight but at the end of it all it turns out that people in this area much rather have big government than someone who will sit there and stop the goodie train like I would try to.  I ran for office because I wanted to make a change and simply being a leader in the Republican party was NOT enough.  I also am active in the Tea Party movement.  But after doing all of this I decided I wanted to do more, so I ran for office.  I basically put my life on hold.  It cost me about $2700 to run but the real cost was my distraction from my normal life, from the business I enjoy, the family I love and even from blogging.  I did learn a lot, and I got a new perspective on life.  All told I am glad that I did it, and looking back I made a few mistakes that if I had not made them I would have won.  I think the biggest mistake was being so openly Republican in an area that is mostly democrat.  The next biggest mistake was trusting people so quickly, and having these people become traitors and use the information I gave them in confidence against me.

But now that this is all over I am going to make life simple again.  Focus on making money, getting my thoughts together by blogging, focus on my family, and I will even try to get into shape.

10 simple ways to save money in tough times, #9 Be more energy effecient

#9 SAVE ENERGY

There are many ways to save energy and therefore money.  Some do a lot while others are more of a myth.

Time of Use plans

One of the best ways to save a lot of money is to select an energy plan for your house that fits your usage model.  When a utility makes electricity they do it in a few different ways.  Most power comes from what we call BASE power plants.  These are plants that are always on, day, night, 24/7.  Most of these are Coal and Nuclear.  This electricity is cheap and efficient.  Wind and solar energy are not really created under the control of the utility.  A utility tries to have enough base power to provide all the power that their customers need at least 80% of the time.  For the rest they turn to DEMAND power.  This is power that they can either buy or turn on as needed.  Hydroelectric is a great example.  These plants are mostly turned off during the night, but during the top of the demand time they could be at full force.  In addition power generated in cold climates can be sold to warmer clients during the summer and visa versa.

Because of the much higher cost of this DEMAND power electric companys want you to not use it, so they offer programs to encourage you to shift your usage to non peak times, and they also have programs to encourage you to use a more steady amount of power during these peak time.  So it is simple, here is in Arizona I have APS, and I use a program called Combined Advantage.  With this program I pay only 4 cents per kWh from 7pm until noon each day.  But from noon until 7pm on weekdays I pay 6 cents during the winter and 9 cents during the summer.  On top of that I have a demand fee of $13.40 per kW used during the highest 1 hour of usage during peak time.  What this means for me is that I can use almost as much power as I want from 7pm until Noon and pay almost nothing.  I just have to keep my usage down during the peak time.  I have been able to never go above 6kW during my peak hour.  By using this model I used 20% more power than last year but enjoyed bills over 30% LESS.  Last year I was on the 9pm until 9am program, but it had no Demand Charge.  I already had them look into how much it would cost if I was on the normal rate program and it would be over DOUBLE what I am paying now.   So change your plan and cut your power bill in half.

Space Heaters

Here in Arizona it does not get that cold.  We have found that it is not a good idea to heat the entire house.  When you heat with your large central heating system as much as half the heat you create escapes out of the unit itself or through the duct system.  Even if you have a very efficient Gas heater like I do it is still much cheaper to just heat the rooms you need, especially if you are on a time of use electrical plan and only use it during the off peak time.  When we stopped using the central heating system our gas bill went down by over $70 per month while our electric bill for the space heaters was only $10 more than the previous year.

Fans

Fans are another way to save money, a good ceiling fan will make you feel 5 degrees cooler than it actually is.  With a fan an 80 degree room will feel like 75 degrees and that fan costs just pennies a month to run.  Invest in ceiling fans and save money.  Another way to save is to have door and window fans to draw in the outside air during the times of day that it is cooler.

LCD Monitors

I am a computer guy so of course I need to talk about technology a bit.  An LCD monitor is much more efficient than the older CRT monitors, in fact the average 19″ CRT uses over 300W of power, while a LCD uses less than 25W, a HUGE difference.  If used 40 hours a week, at the normal power rates this adds up to about $9 per month per monitor.   With the cost of an LCD being about $120 that means that you would save about enough money in the first year to pay for the new monitor!  So why are you still reading this on an OLD CRT.

While we are talking about saving money with computers, modern computer use MUCH less power than older ones.  The NEW cpus use laptop technology to scale back power usage and use less power and less cooling.  A new computer could be faster while saving as much as $3-5 per month in electricity.  If you are like me and leave it on 24/7 that comes to more like $15-$20 per month.

Vehicle

Your car also uses power, in the form of Gas.  You can do all the normal things like Tune up your car, and keep your tires inflated and you will receive a good 20%+ boost in the amount of mile you can drive.  Of course you can also reduce unnecessary weight in your car, select routes that have fewer left turns but it turns out that one of the best things you can do is to NOT drive a steady speed.  Don’t accelerate too fast, I try to keep my RPMs under 4000 at all times.  It will use much less fuel if you accelerate for a time, then coast for a time, going back and forth, you could increase your MPG by 20% or more by doing this.

There are many more simple ways to save energy, many power companies will help you pay for an Energy Audit.  This is where an expert will come in, usually with a infrared camera, and look for cold or hot spots on your house where you leak energy.  Most energy is spent to heat of cool things so this is a real eyeopener.

10 simple ways to save money in tough times, #2 Use Coupons More

#2 Use Coupons More

For many things in life a coupon can be a great way to save a lot of money.  Grocery store coupons are usually small and not really worth it but there are plenty of big ticket coupons that save huge amounts of money, and these coupons can often be used with price matching to make for stellar results.  In this economy many businesses offer coupons and many of these coupons are just begging for you to come in the door.

20off100My favorite coupons are the ones where you spend a set amount at a store and then receive a dollar amount off.  Even better is when you can simply print these as you like.  For example the other day Cabela’s sent me a coupon for $20 off of a $100 purchase.  It was a coupon that could basically be printed as many times as you like.  The key to these coupons is to first price match, to get the best deal, or buy the things that are really on sale to start out with.  I bought Ammo, they had a great deal on it and they had it in stock which is rare, add that with $20 off makes the best ammo deal.  Staples, and OfficeMax also send them out via email, sometimes even $20 off a $50 purchase.  I also get them in the mail from time to time.  And when you don’t have one you can often use Google to find a valid one online.  I often thought about how easy it would be to print out 100 of these and sell them to people who are ready to check out for half of the face value, what an easy way to make money.  The key to the best deals is to always sign up for their free email newsletters.  GoDaddy has so many good coupons that I never buy from them unless I use one.

The next coupons that I love are the restaurant ones.  Many restaurants want you to visit them, at least once, so they give away coupons.  Many are buy-one-get-one-free.  You simply go there, order two entries and only pay for one.  My favorite of these is a small burrito restaurant near my house called Moe’s.  It is nice and upscale, and they send me at least 4 coupons each month in various publications, on top of that the food and environment is awesome.  It gets even better, I can go online to the Az Clipper website, find their coupon and print as many out as I like, and they NEVER expire.  So awesome!

I receive a ton of great coupons in the mail, this is where I get most of the good restaurant deals.   But there is much more than just restaurants that do this, there are dentists, auto repair shops, car washes and much much more that will let you bring a coupon and get a huge discount.

Almost every publication that sends out print coupons also has a website where you can download and print unlimited coupons for free.  Az Clipper is one of the best, but it is only in Arizona.  SavvyShopper is another good publication with national reach, their coupons are located at couponclipper.com.   Money Mailer and ValPak are national companies that send out lots of coupons in one envelope, and you can search and print all the coupons.  You can even do this for areas you don’t live in, great for traveling!

Another interesting site that I like is called 8coupons.  Basically they gather up all the deals they can find, including online circulars and post them in one place.  You video a map of your location and click on the deals to see what is there.  It does not have all of the best local deals but has many of the national chain and online deals.  It also has ton’s of really dumb things like listing dollar menu items from McDonalds or Burger King as a deal alert, those are the prices everyday with no coupon needed.

For the person who eats out a lot these links and ideas can really save you a ton of money.  I know more than one person who does not even buy much food for their home, they eat out almost every meal because it just is cheaper.  It also saves me money on oil changes, car washes, bowling and much more.

Thanks for reading please click a link below to see the other 9 ways to save money in tough times…

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