Surge Protection

This winter many of us have experienced electrical power fluctuations and outages due to ice, snow and wind bringing down electrical lines. Did you know that these outages and spikes caused by power coming back on can damage and decrease the life of your surge protectors? Even though the surge protector is designed to handle these fluctuations and protect our valuable electronic equipment from harm, they can wear out and need to be checked to ensure they are still working. Many have warning lights to indicate loss of function.

If there have been several outages or brownouts or even the flickering of lights in your area, you may want to consider replacing your surge protector, especially if it was an inexpensive model or more than five years old. The surge protectors with higher joules (how much energy the surge protector can absorb before it fails) ratings can handle more surges than the inexpensive ones with lower ratings.

Look for a device that has the UL certification plus equipment warranty and expect to pay between $30 and $100 for a good quality surge protector. The one picture above even has a remote to turn it on and off. After chatting with several supergeeks at a few computer stores, we purchased a 12 outlet 3940 Joules surge protector made by Belkin with a $300,000 equipment protection warranty for under $50.


Need Legal Help? Try LegalZoom

Do you need a Will, Power of Attorney, register a Trademark, create Partnership Agreements, form an LLC or anything that has to do with a legal service or document? LegalZoom can be an easy and inexpensive solution for most of your legal needs.

Example of LegalZoom's Deluxe Incorporation Kit

I have personally used LegalZoom a couple of times and my experience with their company totally exceeded my expectations. After doing some research on their website, I did expect the registering process to incorporate to be fast and easy. I also expected to receive the proper paperwork when the process was finalized, but didn't consider how it would feel to receive a 2" leather binder embossed with my new company name. When the package arrived, I was so surprised how great the presentation for my new corporation looked. I highly recommend LegalZoom for your personal or business legal needs.

Example of LegalZoom's Last Will Package

Next on my personal list is to update mine and Jerry's Wills. Sad to say it has been 20 years since we have had our Wills updated. Marj, my sister is listed as the legal guardian for my boys, Owen and Lee, who are now in their thirties. She is also executor over our estate. Wow, how time flies. I think it is time for me to revisit our Wills don't you?


Thursday January 20 - Tonight - Get Creative!

In response to many requests for a webinar demonstrating how to mix and match and customize the images in our Studio Design Library, and to have evening learning opportunities, we are presenting Get Creative - Mix and Match with Studio tonight at 8 PM Eastern.

We hope you can join us for an hour packed with inspiration, ideas, tips and techniques. Learn how to create your own unique treatments and furnishings and save them to the Custom Tab for future use. As always, we'll have time for questions.

Can't attend? Don't worry, the webinar will be recorded and you'll receive a link to watch the video as well as special files to make watching easier and locating images faster.

Click here to register: https://minutes.infusionsoft.com/cart/store.jsp?view=4&i=p315&navicat=11&navisubcat=57&naviprod=315

See you at


Let it snow

It's been beautiful here in Alabama with our record amount of snow. First it snowed ON Christmas Day, then a few weeks later the storehouses of snow opened again. This time it measured 8.9 inches at the airport. In the past several years, we've had a light dusting but never enough to make snowballs or really even build a snowman. This year it's a different story...

(playing in the snow)

As I watched the early morning snow falling I came across this scripture: "God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways; he does great things beyond our understanding. He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth,’ and to the rain shower, ‘Be a mighty downpour.’ So that everyone he has made may know his work, he stops all people from their labor." Job 37:5-7

Since this was such a wonderful sight, we took advantage of the time together as a family. We spent from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm just playing. Our day began with preparing for the epic snowball battle: complete with snow built barriers and a wheel barrel of snow balls. The competition was between us and our neighbors.

(preparing for battle)


(epic showdown)

Then we created the biggest snowman ever! It measured 10'6" tall & was built IN our street! When we were done, other neighbors walked dogs down or drove thier family over just to take a picture in front of the snowman. Of course, the kids helped for about 15 minutes and the remaining three hours Owen, Brad (our neighbor), and myself finished what we had started. A few neighbors even came over to help: carving the waist or hoisting the massive head to the top. The funny thing is this is the first snowman I've ever built!

(Starting the Snowman)

(The finished product)

(His cute face)

(Our friends built a snow truck)

I think it was one of my most favorite days ever! I hope you enjoy the pictures.

~ Casey

PS: Morgan wasn't a huge fan of the snow day. She spent most of her time looking like this... I think she's more at home when on a beach. :)

(Morgan crying)

(oh look, here's another picture of Mo)


2011 Interior Design Business Predictions

Written for Decorati by Gail Doby, ASID

My crystal ball predicts a mild recovery in 2011.

The tax bill passed in December 2010, and economic indicators are stronger for remodeling. The affluent are spending again. However, they are more cautious and value-driven than before.

What can you do to grow your business?

  1. Specialize. Create a specialty niche that capitalizes on a growing trend. It doesn’t mean you’re limited to doing that work, but it makes it easier to market your business because you will be known for that specialty. Neurosurgeons make 265% more than family practice doctors. Kitchen and Bath designers make much more than the average interior designers based on NKBA statistics and our findings.
  2. Create your own economy. (Some interior designers are swamped, congratulations to you!) Why? They spent their year marketing consistently. They revamped their websites, reconnected with past clients, used social media, increased their visibility with public relations and generally worked hard. Action: Create a 12-Month Referral Program for your business. One for past clients, one for current clients, and one for referral partners. Automate it with software like Constant Contact, Send Pepper or AWeber.
  3. Increase your visibility. Self-promote or hire a publicist. Create a 12-Month plan for Advertising, PR and Marketing. Make sure you have a Facebook Fan Page, Twitter Account, Optimized LinkedIn profile and an updated website. List your business on the Search Engine Maps for your area. Optimize your website to include the words, “interior design your city” on more than one page, create a blog and post at least once a week (make sure it is attached to your website) to increase your website traffic. Set a target for your media exposures. Don’t stop until you have commitments for the number of articles, public speaking opportunities, TV or radio interviews. Write blog posts for your local on-line newspapers. Get involved in your community.
  4. Joint venture. Find people who are in allied businesses and co-promote. If you’re not a specialist in window treatments, kitchen or bath design, partner with someone who is. Develop a relationship with a remodeler and create joint articles or press pitches about the latest trends. The media loves to hear about trends.
  5. Systematize your marketing. Some wise person said, “you never know which day you missed marketing that caused the phones not to ring months later.” Inconsistent marketing creates inconsistent results. Market, Market, Market. Marketing makes selling irrelevant. Analyze what you’ve done in the past. If you didn’t get a result after spending thousands of dollars on advertising, STOP!
Create a successful 2011!

Gail Doby, ASID and Co-Founder and Chief Vision Officer of Design Success University, is your shortcut to a more profitable and passion-filled interior design business. Download your complimentary copy of the 2010 – 2011 Interior Design Fee & Salary Survey eBook for more great strategies.


Executive Book Summaries

Everyone knows I love books, whether they're a hard copy or audio. I guess it's my constant thirst for knowledge which drives me to read. We never get too old to learn something new.

Vickie Ayres, The Countess of QuickBooks, recently gave me a subscription to Soundview Executive Book Summaries. Each month, I'll receive three new summaries. Each summary is available in multiple digital formats. As a bonus, I'll also receive 30 of the top business books from 2010 and six bonus summaries of my choice. What I love about this gift is I can get the gist of the entire book by reading or listening to a summary. WOW, who could ask for anything more than that? I guess Vickie knows minutes do matter to me! If you really like the summary you can purchase the book. Hmmm, no probably not for me, the summary will be just right.

With this subscription I also received a hard copy of their book The Management Gurus. This book contains 15 summaries of the best management books of all time. I really love the book. It is short, sweet and best of all to the point; since each chapter is a condensed version of the author's book. Did I mention MinutesMatter to me?

The summaries contained in this one book include: (I've hyperlinked a few titles for you.)
Check out their site and see if this is a way for you to learn more faster.


Everybody Needs a Coach

Think of all the people who've coached you during your lifetime. Even as little kids, our parents held out their arms saying, "Come on...you can do it! Take a little step, that's a good girl, YEAH! You did it!" Confidence is such a great feeling!

From the first steps we take to the first ball we hit in Little League, coaches make us believe we can do better. As life progresses, we seem to resist the need for coaching. Almost everything we would like to improve in our business and personal lives would benefit from some coaching. A skilled coach can help us get there faster and easier. Stretching us, making us reach for skills we thought out of reach. A good coach will recognize our weaknesses and give us work to do to improve. The pat we get on the back in acknowledgment of our strengths and improvement can make us stand tall all day long. This is why we feel so strongly about the personal support we offer here at Minutes Matter. Our clients who take advantage of the one-on-one support we offer come away with a feeling of accomplishment and proficiency that is not seen in any other training tools we offer.

If this is the year to master your accounting or take your design renderings to the next level, why don't you try a little coaching? We offer group coaching sessions (which even include a little homework) and private sessions too.

Don't be one who barely skims the surface of what Studio and QuickBooks & Quoting can do for your business. Today's the day to start fully utilizing all aspects of these multi-faceted programs.

QuickBooks "Right Start" | Novice |
(begins January 18th)

"What would it be worth if you had your own CFO working side by side with you for six weeks?"

Well, with the Right Start Coaching Program you can! Our online coaching program is specifically tailored to suit your business needs and offered exclusively through Minutes Matter and WFCP (Window Fashions Certification Program). Vickie Ayres, a Certified QuickBooks Pro Advisor, will guide you through this amazing six-week program.

Learning accounting through trial and error produces unnecessary and costly mistakes. Instead of a haphazardly learning QuickBooks, immerse yourself in this program to learn the most efficient and precise financial practices. Since its a government mandate to keep accurate records, now is the time to create a systematic approach to accomplish your bookkeeping responsibilities.

It's simple and easy. During our Novice program you'll actually create a company, perform tasks, generate reports, and determine your profitability - all from the comfort of your own office. Every week you will receive a lesson handout for that week's Group lesson by email. The handout will include instructions to complete that week's assignment for the project that will be due at the end of the program.

In the advanced level, we'll talk about financial analysis and how to trouble shoot when bad things happen.
Cost: $397
[click to register]

QuickBooks "Right Start" |Advanced|
(begins February 15th)

"Are you ready when the unexpected happens?"

Well, with the Right Start Coaching Program you can be one step ahead of the game! We've expanded our online coaching program to include an advanced learning opportunity. Just like the Novice program, this program is offered exclusively through Minutes Matter and WFCP (Window Fashions Certification Program). Vickie Ayres, a Certified QuickBooks Pro Advisor, will guide you through this insightful two-week program.

We know you've seen the amazing benefits of applying all that you've learned in the Novice Course. Well, now it's time to step it up a notch. In the advanced program, we'll talk about financial analysis and how to trouble shoot when bad things happen. We'll explain the top ten most necessary topics to keep your company running smoothly. We'll cover how to backup QuickBooks so you're not effected by computer crises. Learn how to handle bad debt, bounced checks, and accounting discrepancies. We'll take a look at projecting your cash flow, reviewing your financial analysis, and so much more!!

Once again, we'll work with an actually company, perform tasks, generate reports, and determine your profitability - all from the comfort of your own office. We'll provided you with the lesson handout for that week's Group lesson by email. The handout will include instructions to complete that week's assignment for the project that will be due at the end of the program.

Studio Coaching |Novice|
(begins January 18th)

"Would you like to move your presentations from standard to stunning?"

In only six-weeks time, we will show you how to move your company's services out of the ordinary and into the extraordinary! In fact, your clients will love their renderings so much they'll be compelled to share their excitement with their friends. This is the secret to getting great referrals!

We offer two levels of coaching based on your expertise, Novice and Advanced sessions which are offered exclusively through the WFCP (Window Fashions Certification Program) and Minutes Matter. You'll receive live, via the Internet, hands-on time with our renowned expert instructor and design specialist, Merlyn Corcoran. Each session is specifically tailored to suit your needs in a natural progression so illustrating becomes second nature.

We all know clients interview several design firms before deciding who's the best match. Don't risk losing potentially great clients simply because you've not perfected the techniques of leaving a lasting impression. If you've found that you're barely skimming the surface of Studio, this Novice Coaching Program is for you! Learn how you can harness the power of this multi-faceted software program and move your business forward this competitive marketplace.

Studio Coaching |Advanced|
(begins January 20th)

"Would you like to create a jaw-dropping portfolio?"

In only six-weeks time, we will show you how to move your design skills out of the ordinary and into the extraordinary! The techniques we cover in this class will help you enhance your presentations and showcase your virtual design abilities.

In the Advanced Program, we'll expose experienced users to techniques and tools, which add polish, depth, and dimension to a rendering. We'll discuss working with difficult photographs, adding shadows and dimension to an illustration, applying advanced fills, drawing your own custom furniture and window treatments, working in perspective, and so much more. You'll receive live, via the Internet, hands-on time with our renowned expert instructor and design specialist, Merlyn Corcoran.

In the Advanced Level program, we'll move at a bit faster pace than the Novice Program since everyone has a basic working knowledge of the computer and Studio. The six-week program will expand your skills and show you innovative ways to use Studio to market your company.