Friday, December 4, 2015

Buying vs Selling

Time is money, baby.  Feel, felt, found.
What do we need to do to get this deal done today.

Around the holidays, we see and hear about many people giving thanks, showing gratitude, and reflecting on the things that are important to them.  I am fortunate enough to have a healthy and happy family, great friends, and get to pursue my passion as a business that has attracted really awesome customers (I should probably be all formal here, put on a tie, and use the word client...but I'm writing this in my pajamas so I guess all formalities are shot).

As I sit and reflect on all things Divvy, I think about progress towards goals, financials, strategy, tactics, 2015, 2016, 2020, and about 13,458 other things.  I keep coming back to what makes me smile, my awesome customers.

Until you're actually knee deep in a situation it is impossible to know what it is like.  I'm following my passion and purpose, which is awesome, but I had no idea how energized I would get from my customers.  I learn so much from them on a daily basis.  They are mentors and cheerleaders for Divvy Investments, which is a pretty cool feeling.

Why are they such big fans?  Why do they want Divvy to succeed so much?  And no, wise guy, it's not because all of my customers are that I think about it none of them are...(note to self tighten the screws on the family).  My super ego, not to be confused with my superego for all those psych folks out there, thinks that I was able to create something they needed and it has improved their life.  WHOA!  Slow down there bucko... it's not like you invented indoor plumbing!

Hmmm... a bit harsh, but true.  So why then?

Maybe it is because I have a tool that is something they want because it saves them time and/or money.  It simplifies investing for them.

True.  Nice pitch.  But there's still more.

I think it has to do with my sales process.  I talk about Divvy Investments with passion and purpose, mention pretty simple facts, answer questions, and allow them to buy it vs selling it to them.  If it is a good fit for them, awesome.  If not, that's cool too.  There's no feel felt found to overcome objections.  There's no move to close.  No wedge sale.  No Phelan close.  No Buy Divvy Wednesday which occurs right after Giving Tuesday (not a bad idea though- maybe next year).

Don't get me wrong, I'd love to have more awesome customers.  And I will, when the time is right for them.

To my awesome customers, THANKS!


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Yo-Yo Budgeting

My wife is a RD (registered dietitian).  She gets on a soap box every time a new diet fad comes out.  She finds flaws in most of them fairly quickly.  Admittedly I find it sort of cute but that is a different topic all together.  
She talks to people every day about making lifestyle changes.  Many people that she speaks with want a quick fix just like their friend that lost a bunch of weight on the new fad diet.  They don't really listen when she talks about eating right and exercising.  All they hear is that they can only eat salads and berries for the rest of their lives.  Unfortunately many of the people she speaks with end up yo-yo dieting for many years, losing weight on one fad diet then getting off it and gaining the weight back before repeating with the next fad.
My wife is actually a very reasonable person (don't tell her I said that).  When she talks about lifestyle changes she is talking about moderation.  Don't get me wrong, she is all about getting fruits and veggies in each day.  She also loves dessert and is an amazing baker (her cakes are not typically healthy).  She speaks of making small changes that have big impacts like portion control, layering in fruits and veggies, and getting some exercise.  
Like dieting, budgeting is another bad word.  People tend to yo-yo budget just like dieting.  When times are tough people tend to buckle down and stick to a budget.  Unfortunately, debt is too easy to come by and the Jones' have so much nice stuff.  When times get a little better, many of those same budgeters forget all about saving until they are forced to do so again.
Everyone knows that it makes sense to live below your means and spend less than you make.  Many people don't practice it though.  I think it has something to do with the word budget.  It implies a negative connotation, but it shouldn't. Budgeting, like dieting, is about making smart, positive choices.
A budget should be something that helps guide your spending towards what is important to you in the big picture.
Creating a budget shouldn't be a chore and should include some fun stuff in there too.  Change behaviors, change results.  Budgets, and healthy diets, are our friends.  Take good care of them.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

To DIY or Outsource? That Is the Question.

To DIY or outsource?  That is the question.  Time vs money vs existing knowledge vs learning curve vs final output.... Ouch (brain pain).

"To be or not to be?  That is the question."  The famous line, taken from Shakespeare's play "Hamlet", got me thinking about my own business.  Granted Hamlet is talking about the battles of fairness vs unfairness as he ways out some heavy alternatives.  I am merely debating the battles of trying to do something myself or hire someone else to do it for me.

As a solopreneur, this is a daily battle.  There is only so much time in the day to get things done.  The obvious answer is to outsource tasks that someone else can do better than me.

As a solopreneur bootstrapping a business, this is a daily battle.  My CFO doesn't really like spending money on something that can be done in house.  The obvious answer is to DIY.

When all of the execs of my 1 man company get around the board room conference table here are some of the questions used to evaluate decisions about DIY vs outsourcing:

If we DIY, how much time is it actually going to take?  Double that estimate.
If we outsource, how much money will it actually cost?  Double that estimate.
Do we even know how to do what we're trying to do?  Cut the estimate of your knowledge in half.
How long will it take to learn what we need to know to do this?  Double that estimate.
Will the final output be good if we DIY?  Will it be good enough?  Is there a significant difference between the final output of DIY and outsourced?  If so, how much is that worth?

Ouch (brain pain).

And then every once in awhile the stars align and the universe sends a little gift.

For me, that happened a couple weeks ago as I was writing an article for the support section on my website.  I created a knowledge base on the site to help people make a bit more sense of the financial world (creating a financial plan, emergency fund, saving for college...).  I had signed up for a service called Venngage (, a site which allow people to create and publish infographics.  I was going to layer in some infographics to help reach a broader audience and tell better stories.

The site is pretty easy to use.  There are a lot of templates to choose from and hundreds of icons to use.  Unfortunately I'm a numbers person and not the most creative at times.  I was overthinking where to place each icon, which ones to use....Ouch (brain pain).

That's when someone from Venngage reached out to me (I was already a customer) to see about creating some things together.  I would create the content and they would help me with the infographics!  Genius!  It has a whole team of creative people who know infographics like the back of their hands.

Save time.  check.  Reasonable cost.  check.  Learn a lot along the way.  check. Better final output than DIY.  CHECK.

To DIY or outsource?  That is the question.  As a solopreneur, if the price is reasonable, the task is important, and the output is significantly better than I can do myself it is a no brainer for me.  And in the case of Venngage, I was able to move another vendor to the partner list.


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Carving Out Time to Give Back

There are only 24 hours in a day.  There are 168 hours in a week.  There are roughly 720 hours in a month.

If you're the CEO of a startup, at a minimum you're at least THINKING about your business most of those hours.  Many CEOs I know end up working most of them as well.

We all know the value of effective time management.  As a startup CEO on any given day you get pulled in no less than 4,136,728 directions.  And now I'm going to add one more, carving out time each month to give back to the community.

The Triangle community is a big reason why a lot of us have been successful.  It is important to ensure the community continues to prosper.  There are many nonprofits in the area that could use some help (volunteering, serving as a board member...).

I get it.  You're busy.  What's in it for you/your business?  As with most things it's what you make of it.  I can't answer what's in it for you.  I can tell you what I've gotten out of serving as a board member of a local nonprofit, which only takes up a handful of those hours each month.

A couple years ago, I was fortunate enough to be selected to serve on the board of ESC of the Triangle (, a nonprofit that provides affordable consulting to help other local nonprofits achieve their missions.  Originally I wanted to do it to set a good example for my son and give back to the community.  I didn't realize that I would also get a tremendous amount of leadership training.  I didn't realize I'd learn so much about business (nonprofits know how to be pretty scrappy with their limited budgets).  I didn't realize people would take me under their wing and mentor me.  I didn't realize the network I'd be exposed to.  I didn't realize how good it felt to make an impact in the community.  And I didn't realize how much stepping away from the trenches for a few hours each month would energize me.  It has been a pretty amazing experience on several levels.

There are only so many hours in a day, week, and month.  Carving out time to give back to the community around us will have a bigger impact than you think.

Find an organization you're interested in and see what you can do to help out.


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Why Market Timing Doesn’t Work

Few words characterize today’s financial markets like uncertainty. When overseas economic issues can rob investors of months of gains and speeches by Federal Reserve officials cause markets to flip-flop unpredictably, investors are left wondering what they should do. In an attempt to make major market movements work for their portfolios rather than against, some investors attempt to time the market.
Market timing is the strategy of trying to predict future market movements to time buying and selling decisions. When markets are rallying or pulling back, it can be very tempting to try to seek out the top to sell or the bottom to buy. The problem is that investors usually guess wrong, missing out on the best market days. Can the cost of trying to time the market make a big difference in your returns? You bet it can.
Missing out on the market’s top-performing days can be costly. This chart illustrates how a hypothetical $10,000 investment in the S&P 500 could have been affected by missing the best days during the 20-year period between January 1, 1995 and December 31, 2014.

Source: Standard & Poor's and Wealth Management Systems. Example based on the hypothetical performance of a $10,000 investment between 1/1/1995 and 12/31/2014. Return represented by total return of the S&P 500, an unmanaged index generally considered to be representative of the U.S. stock market. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. This is a hypothetical example used for illustrative purposes only and excludes important factors like transaction costs and management fees. You cannot invest directly in an index.
This is a simple example that leaves out some important elements like transaction costs but it serves as a useful illustration of our point. Investors who remained invested for the entire period could have seen their investment grow to $64,752; those who missed just the five top days would have accumulated just $42,972; investors who missed out on the best 30 days would have seen just a 1.46% return during the whole period, much less than they could have gotten on a 20-year Treasury Bond.[1]
Why? Trying to time the market. The average investor misses out on performance in part because their money tends to come in near the top and come out at the bottom. Investors are notoriously bad at picking the right time to enter or exit investments; by the time most investors feel the time is right to invest, many times the investment is at or near its peak. Corrections are a normal part of market cycles and periods of high growth often occur very close to major pullbacks. Investors who sell during the bad times frequently miss out on the best days of performance. If you’re not in the stock when it moves, you may miss out on the whole play.
Bottom line: It’s virtually impossible to accurately find the top or bottom of the market consistently. Our experience shows that time in the market is more important than timing the market. Developing a personalized investment strategy and making prudent adjustments when conditions warrant is a much better long-term strategy than making emotional investing decisions. Does that mean that investors have to passively wait out every market, hoping that the next big decline doesn’t take out their life savings? Definitely not.
There’s a big difference between trying to time markets and making strategic shifts to try to avoid major market declines. Whatever investment strategy you choose, it’s impossible to perfectly predict future market movements.
Research and experience have taught us that successful investing requires discipline and the patient execution of a long-term strategy, most especially when it is emotionally difficult; in fact, that is usually the time when opportunities are greatest. I understand that market timing has a tempting simplicity to it – buy low and sell high. However, it’s pretty hard to correctly predict the tops and bottoms of markets and most investors get it wrong. Remember, you don’t have to be the first to the party or the last to leave to have fun – often; just being there when it matters is enough to help you achieve your financial goals.
If you have any questions about the information presented or want to know how recent economic events may affect your investments, please let me know.

Footnotes, disclosures, and sources:
Investment advice provided by Divvy Investments LLC, a registered investment advisor.
These are the views of Platinum Advisor Marketing Strategies, LLC, and not necessarily those of the named representative, Broker dealer or Investment Advisor, and should not be construed as investment advice. Neither the named representative nor the named Broker dealer or Investment Advisor gives tax or legal advice. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. Please consult your financial advisor for further information.
We have not independently verified the information available through the following links. The links are provided to you as a matter of interest. We make no claim as to their accuracy or reliability.
Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance.
Investing involves risk including the potential loss of principal. No investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining values.

Past performance does not guarantee future results.
The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general.

You cannot invest directly in an index.