Saturday, June 27, 2009

Craft Opportunity for Artists

It's the first-ever Chinatown ID Art Walk!
You can participate by setting up a table for FREE!

Sat July 18 (and 3rd Saturdays Aug 15 and Sept 19)
5 - 8 p.m. Free!

If iterested contact:
Fen Hsiao
SCIDpda Director of Fund Development
(206) 838-8240

Visit indoor and outdoor venues featuring work by local artists, performances, music, cheap eats, movies in the park, and more. Maps will be available at starting point Theatre Off Jackson and all participating venues.

Participating Venues:

Theatre Off Jackson

Canoe Social Club

Wing Luke Asian Museum

Danny Woo Garden

KOBO Gallery at Higo


Deng's Studio and Art Gallery

New Gallery Century Tea

Former Uwajimaya building

Panama Tea House

Sun May

West Kong Yick building in Canton Alley

Hing Hay Park

666, 668, 672, and 676 Jackson St.

New Central Bldg, 608 Maynard Ave S.

Chinatown International District Business Improvement Area Office

Restaurants featuring Art Walk Specials for $5 and under!

Fortuna Café

Henry's Bento

J Sushi

Kau Kau BBQ

Pacific Café - Hong Kong Kitchen

Phnom Penh

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Seeking a blog instructor

We are looking for an instructor to teach a series of blogging classes.

We have had a lot of interest in a basic 101 blog class in a computer classroom environment. This would be limited to about 15 students who would sit at a computer and get set up on a blog. This is for folks who know NOTHING about blogs. So very basic set up and get going sort of event.

We had also thought that this could be focused on either a wordpress or blogger format. We'd prefer if one was chosen to keep it simple for folks.

Then we had interest in a second course that would focus more on how to increase your visibility, make your posts more of a draw. This would be for folks who have a blog are listing regularly but want tips and insight into how to make their blog more successful. This would also be in a computer classrooms and it would help if you had knowledge of various platforms.

Both of these could be paid courses - we can discuss your fee along with computer lab fees in order to figure out a student registration fee.

If interested please email: with a note about your qualifications and availability.

Thanks! Andrea Porter

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Deborah Asavarahapun, an organizing member of GBA, has just announced her summer schedule. Looks like a good way to get yourself organized!!

Accounting for Small Business, Inc.


To review schedule, fees, and to register go to:

Starting a Small Business
Instructor – Deborah Asavarahapun, Certified QuickBooks Pro Advisor

Thinking about starting your own business? Come get your questions answered. What entity type should you be? Do you really need help setting it up? Do I need a license? How do I get setup? How much capital should I have? What do I need to keep track of? How should I keep track? How do I do my taxes? These are just a few of the questions facing the potential entrepreneur.

Setting Up Your Business Entity
Instructor – Deborah Asavarahapun, Certified QuickBooks Pro Advisor with Noura Yunker, Attorney at Law

Pre-requisite 98 Starting a Small Business or similar knowledge. Now you know you want to be your own boss, come file all the necessary license applications and forms. At the end of the workshop you will be a business owner.

Intro to QuickBooks
Instructor – Deborah Asavarahapun, Certified QuickBooks Pro Advisor

Course designed for participants with no QuickBooks experience. This hands on course will cover downloading the free version of QuickBooks Simple Start and creating a data file, working with lists, transactions, reports, file protection, comparison of the different QuickBooks versions and an overview of basic business bookkeeping. Bring a memory stick if you would like to take the data file with you to work with.

QuickBooks Beginning User – 3 sessions
Instructor – Deborah Asavarahapun, Certified QuickBooks Pro Advisor

Course designed for participants with some experience using QuickBooks but are not yet comfortable with the basic functions. This hands on course will cover, but is not limited to: data protection/backup/restore, working with lists and reports, creating transactions, customizing preferences, memorized transactions.

Excel Tips & Tools
Instructor – Jennifer Clark, QuickBooks Pro Advisor

Participants should be comfortable working with the standard functions at a high beginner/intermediate level. Class will cover shortcuts, formulas used in bookkeeping, merging text, linked sheets, introduction to pivot tables, working with exported QuickBooks report data.

QuickBooks Inventory
Instructor – Deborah Asavarahapun, Certified QuickBooks Pro Advisor

Pre-requisite 110 QuickBooks Beginning User or similar experience. Participants will create items, work with purchase orders, item receipts, vendor bills and payments, inventory adjustments and reports, overview of working with consignment inventory.

QuickBooks Users Workshop

Deborah Asavarahapun, Certified QuickBooks Pro Advisor, will be on hand to help you resolve your bookkeeping problems. Bring your QuickBooks data file on a memory stick or bring your laptop and your documents and get your questions answered while you get your work done. Drop-ins are welcome but space is limited.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Credit Card Processing

We are all looking at our budget these days and trying to figure out if we can cut costs anywhere. It seems there is not a lot of ways to trim the fat but one item that a lot of us don’t think too much about is credit card processing. Accepting credit cards is one of those necessary evils in business but it can cost a small business several hundred dollars every month. After spending quite a few days talking to sales folks and reviewing numerous bids I thought not only could I save some monkey but I could also help out other small business owners with what I learned.

Obviously, I do not claim to be an expert but here are some things I learned over the last few days.

The big thing is rates - how much will each transaction cost you.

There are a few systems out there but I would strongly suggest going with the INTERCHANGE SYSTEM. This system is the most transparent and is the most easily deciphered.

As we all know there are lots of different types of cards out there: debit, reward cards, corporate cards, etc. Each of these cards has a different interchange rate and transaction fee associated with it set by the credit card company. The processors can not change these rates. Processors can only add to these base rates in order to create their profit.

You will often get a different quote for credit cards verse debit cards. For credit cards you will see both an interchange rate and a flat transaction fee. For debit cards you may see either an interchange rate with a transaction fee or just one higher flat transaction fee.

Credit Cards
Interchange Rate:

The quote you are given is the amount ABOVE the fees charged by the credit card processors. This rate is set as a percentage of the sales price. It can obviously range widely. An interchange fee between .20% - .30% of sale price is a good quote.

Transaction Fee:
The quote you are given is the amount ABOVE the fees charged by the credit card processors. This rate is set as a flat transaction fee per sale. It can obviously range widely. A transaction fee between $.11 - .$18. per sale is a good quote.

Visa Credit Card Transaction:
(interchange) 1.43% + (transaction)$.05
(This fee can not be changed it is set by the credit card company)

Credit Card Processor:
(interchange).20% + (transaction)$.11
(This is where rates can vary depending on your quote)

Total Charge per sale
1.63% of sale + $.16 transaction fee

Pin Based Debit Cards
(The customer types in their number themselves)

Interchange Rate:
The quote you are given is the amount ABOVE the fees charged by the credit card processors. This rate is set as a percentage of the sales price. This is typically set at the base rate of the credit card company.

Transaction Fee:
If you have a interchange associated with a debit quote it will also have a flat transaction fee associated with it. A good quote is around $.10 per transaction.

Flat Transaction Fee:
For debit cards you may be given a quote of just a flat fee per transaction with no interchange rate included. It will obviously be higher. A flat fee of around $.32 is a good quote.

Example: Debit with Interchange and Transaction Fee:
Visa Debit Transaction
(interchange) .62% + (transaction) $.13
(This fee can not be changed it is set by the credit card company)

Credit Card Processor
(transaction fee) $.10

Total Charge per sale
.62% of sale price + $.23 transaction fee

Example: Debit with Flat Fee
$.32 of any sale

Other than rates things you should keep in mind

Asking the below questions will often get you better rates as the sales person will know you are serious. I reviewed a general quote on a companies web site and then called for a specific quote. It was amazing but most of the items I asked questions about the sales person either cut the cost in half or eliminate the cost all together.

What are your set up fees?
Many companies offer free set up. I did get quotes from several companies asking around $150.00. If they want your business you should not have to pay a set up fee.

I own our credit card processing machine so I can not give too much advice on buying machines but beware of free machine offers. If you do have a machine ask if they can reprogram it and what the charge is? This was typically offered as a free service with over the phone free reprogramming instructions.

How long is your contract?
This can range from 24 - 48 months but many companies offer month to month contracts. The month to month contract is the way to go as if you don’t like the company you can easily leave. The company has more incentive to earn and keep your business. Also who knows what life will bring your way and why add a contract to the mix. Often a contract is in place so they can charge a termination fee if you leave early.

What are your termination fees?
This fee can be big! Several companies quoted me between $500 - $600 to end a contract early. This industry is very competitive and not being able to leave will limit your ability to get better rates or as I mentioned above is just another bill to pay if you want to close up shop. I talked to several companies that offer no termination fees.

If looking to leave your current company and you have a contract see when you need to cancel and how to do so without a termination fee. I needed to write a letter and mail to the closing department. This is a clear way companies try to make it difficult and inconvenient to cancel your service. My most recent provider only gave me a month window to cancel and would renew my contract annually with the same termination fees associated.

Several companies told me that if I was in a contract they could absorb the termination fees of my current provider. You may want to inquire about this possibility but definitely get it in writing if they agree to this term.

Do you have a fee for paper supplies?
Some companies offer free paper others will say yes they have a free paper program if you sign up for their “merchant club”. A merchant club is basically you paying for paper! It can range from $5.00 - $15.00 a month. Some do offer actual free paper programs just be sure to ask if it is associated with any sort of program or fee.

Do you have a fee for statements?
This ranges from $4.00 - $12.00 a month. Also be sure to ask if they have separate statements for credit vs. debit. My recent provider charged me two statement fee. That adds up fast!

Do you have a fee to batch out sales at the end of the day?

At the end of the day your credit card machine totals your sales and processes them to your provider which in turn gets it to your bank. This charge can be anywhere from free to $.20 a day. Personally, I think it should be free - it is what they do!

Do you detail each and every fee I'm responsible for in writing?
This is a good question to ask or to be even more clear ask for a sample statement and you can ask about each line item as a lot of processors will add line items like: Account Adjustment, Assessment Fee or Standard Fee. These all basically mean nothing they are a way to get to more money out of you. You may be able to find them in a contract maybe not.

How long does it take to process transaction to my bank account?
This should take from 24 - 48 hours no more, except American Express which is 3 days.

What kind of customer service do you provide?
I want 24 hour phone service and it is also nice to know if there are any local technicians if you need someone on site to repair your machine.

Other tips:
Be sure your quote matches the actual contract.

Check and see what rating the company has. I am going with one with a AAA rating. No rating is bad as these companies are what the better business bureau is all about as the industry is very competitive and confusing for the buyer.

Be sure you are not running two card processors at the same time. Try to time it so one starts as the other finishes. Once you sign up with a new company the will start you immediately.

www.buyerzone offers one form which is sent out to get you several quotes. Beware the phone calls will start within the hour!

The two companies below use the interchange model. As I have not started with either yet I can’t technically recommend them but I got a good “vibe” from them.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Small and Special

Here is an grewat event for anyone thinking or already has their own small business and is looking for some ispiration!

Here a bit from thhe site....Small & Special is an afternoon event where you can hear a series of talks from the passionate founders of successful small businesses. Come ready to ask them good questions, learn something that may help you start your own business, meet people who share your dream, and be inspired.

June 30th, 2009 in Seattle - Georgetown
Small and Special