Blog · Entrepreneur · The Imbedded Mogul

Be Original

“Entrepreneurs cannot be someone else or do what someone else is doing.”  Darla D Hancock, The Social Market LLC

Your business, skills, product or service may not be original, but YOU ARE!

When developing a business, an idea, an interest, an insight, a talent, a business plan, a product, a service, a hobby, progress is dependent on your willingness to invest in your originality.  You invest passion, talent and time that are all original to you; often sacrificing your career, your friends, your family and your intellectual property.  Investing in all those things seems like a lively and lovely venture… until you share it with the world.

Originality seems novel, until shared.

Entrepreneurship is often a lonely journey… on purpose and out of necessity.  You become your best cheerleader or worst critic, sometimes at the same time.

That is why participating in a course like Start Smart is so beneficial.  If you are lucky, you can find yourself in an environment where everyone has completely different passions, interests and abilities.  It’s great to be reminded that there is room for each entrepreneur to pursue individual interests and enough clients or customers to use our services or buy products.

However, despite the level of diversity, I think sharing your passion can be the most intimidating of opening your business to the outside world.  Even if you stand behind your concept and commitment to following through, your investment of time, energy, money and your originality is exposed.  I’m not sure which is more worrisome- someone “taking” your idea/business or it not working.

Entrepreneurship is personal.  The opportunities available to you are grounded in the diverseness of your interests, talents, backgrounds, industries and hope of the possibility of reaching the impossible.

Fellow mogul, use common sense, respect direction, be willing to learn and change, invest in your dreams, embrace your originality and… be the original you who started what will end up being great.


This post is the first of my ACROSTIC-MOGUL series?  To read more —> CLICK HERE


“Originality seems novel, until shared.”  Darla #beorginal #intellectualproperty @SocialMarketLLC

“Entrepreneurs cannot be someone else or do what someone else is doing.” Darla #beoriginal @SocialMarketLLC

Your business, skills, product or service may not be original, but YOU ARE!Darla #ImbeddedMogul @SocialMarketLLC

©2016 Darla D Hancock, The Social Market, LLC

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The Imbedded Mogul


“Don’t try to be someone else or do what someone else is doing.”  Darla D Hancock, The Social Market LLC

That’s what is so neat about Start Smart… everyone has completely different passions, interests and abilities that you are reminded that there is room for each of us to pursue our interests and enough people to use our services or buy our products.

Fellow mogul, be original.


This post is the first of my ACROSTIC-MOGUL series?  To read more —> CLICK HERE


“Powerful people cannot be stationary.” Darla #beamover #areuserious @SocialMarketLLC

“Entrepreneurs cannot anticipate failure.” Darla #beamover #areuserious @SocialMarketLLC

“Determination is a choice that produces outcome.” Darla D Hancock #ImbeddedMogul @SocialMarketLLC

Blog · Entrepreneur · The Imbedded Mogul

Are you serious?


/ˈməʊɡʌl; məʊˈɡʌl/


  1.  an important or powerful person
  2. a type of steam locomotive with a wheel arrangement of two leading wheels, six driving wheels, and no trailing wheels

Last Spring, I participated in the Start Smart program at BizWorks Center.  Then, I worked through the program as a brand new entrepreneur and I blogged as the “Imbedded Mogul”.  Yesterday I was asked to be a presenter at the graduation ceremony of the 2nd Start Smart class, to which I responded, “Me?  Are you serious?”   And, now – here I am.

Since I gave my pitch deck speech in June, I have already meet the goals I set for myself and now have clients based in four different states [which has be a great progression in my startup].  However, I continue to learn about customer service, creating better content, improving my business practices, time management and expanding my client base… still very much a start up.

So, what do I say to other moguls in a similar stage that I am in and encourage them to keep going, start learning and stay smart about their businesses?  Well… with a background in teaching, I couldn’t help but use something somewhat elementary, an acrostic.  It was pretty funny when I expressed that I would be speaking “using an acrostic for the word ‘entrepreneurship’.”  There were definitely a few that squirmed in theirs seats thinking it was going to be a LONG night.  HA!

After presenting my acrostic for the word “MOGUL”, I thought I would share what I wrote with you.  I don’t think I particularly wrote anything that has never been thought or written before, but maybe a thought will inspire you where you are.  Or, share it with an entrepreneur that could use some encouragement.

As always, thanks for following The Social Market!!


As I add a post to each letter of my acrostic, click the letters below to find what I wrote:

M  –  O  –  G  –  U  –  L


What’s the best acrostic for the word #entrepreneurship? #areuserious @SocialMarketLLC

5 tips for a successful startup. #entrepreneurship #areuserious @SocialMarketLLC

©2016 Darla D Hancock, The Social Market, LLC

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

The Imbedded Mogul

TIM – Week 9.5

When I walked into the conference room, everyone in their places… judges and moguls. I made my way over to an empty chair and pulled out my notes, to highlight important words, just one more time…


Trying to respectfully listen to Eyvette and Lara as they present their passion and hard work, I couldn’t help but kept one eye and one ear on the presentations and the other on my notes.  I’ve dreamed of being a public speaker… so, why was I SO nervous?  Well, [1] I’ve really spoken to no more than a couple of groups as of recent. [2] This was my company!  I wanted to say the most important things, not cluttering up my presentation with extra ideas and intentions that didn’t belong.  I worked so diligently on funneling my purpose and services… it was time to put it into play.  That was pressure… that was nerves.

Well… my turn came.  Eyvette and Lara did great and it was my turn.  They survived… so could I, right?

While Lara was finishing up her answers, we put my thumb drive in the laptop and I anticipated to see my first slide appear. But, NO!  Tonight was turning out just like a trip to a grocery store checkout line!!!  So… what did that mean?  PIZZA BREAK for everyone!!!

Tanner was a trooper!!  While everyone (I think) welcomed a small break, Tanner grabbed a thumb drive, ran to his office and downloaded the email attachment I sent him before I left home.

Comfortably, I took my place.  “Hello, my name is Darla Hancock and I am the solopreneur at The Social Market, LLC.”  I talked.  I stumbled over my words.  I looked at my notes.  I flipped from slide to slide with the fun little clicker.  And, did I mention I stumbled over my words?  I think I did that a lot.

Thankfully, I didn’t mix up notes until the end, when I was planning to just talk about the information from the slides.  So, after a moment of terrified pause, I saw Thaddeus’ “five minute sign”… five more minutes?!?  I didn’t think that I would talk for ten minutes total!  While finishing my presentation, I thought, “I hope that something I said was as interesting to someone else that it was to me.”

After I grabbed a piece of MaMa’s pizza, Tammi and Coretta made their presentations and I tweeted away.

Not a stress-free night, but well worth all the work!  I have learned SO much over the last 9 weeks… I can’t imagine where I would be as an entrepreneur without the Start Smart program, the foresight of Thaddeus and Tanner, the support of other focused moguls and the numerous professionals who gave of their time and expertise to contribute each week.

No homework.

Well, except for making alterations to all of the pieces [cleaning up my website content, refining my remarketing plan, refinement of my offered services, office procedures, etc.] that I observed while putting together my Pitch Deck.

The intimidation that came with this process has resulted in a great feeling of accomplishment and a more optimistic view of the future.

Next week, look for some tweets!  Who will win the Pitch Deck competition?  We’ll have to wait and see.  Until then,

…have a successful week doing what you love to do,

Darla @SocialMarketLLC

AKA The Imbedded Mogul

Life Learner · The Imbedded Mogul

TIM – Week 9


Tonight was a really neat experience!  I wasn’t able to take notes… I was a bit distracted.

This session was the turning point… from professional training to our Pitch Deck competition. The last several months of learning, what to do, what not to do, what we want to do and what we don’t want to do… several of us [moguls] presented our businesses to six judges and others in the class.

I did my homework the entire class.  But, unfortunately, I didn’t understand how the Pitch Deck slides and content corresponded to the weekly emphasis and homework.  I’m not sure how I didn’t get that connection.  But, it may not have been the inconvenience I thought it was…

…over the last week, I spent 20 hours making my Power Point slides and creating the specific information to go with each slide.  I realized how difficult it is for someone passionate about something [like an entrepreneur], bubbling over with ideas and dreams… to reign in creativity and hopefulness to create a refined, realistic and successful business concept… then, put it into action!!

Working right up to the minute I had to leave.  Quickly working to print my judge slides… only to realize my kids had used all my copy paper!!  So, I saved my presentation and notes on my thumb drive and emailed it to myself (just in case) again.

When I arrived at BizWorks, I printed my notes from my office computer and began making copies for the judges from the email I sent myself.  Thankful that Tanner came to the copy room, because in my nerved-state… I told the printer to print “71” copies – instead of “7”.  YIKES!  My presentation HAD to go better than the last hour, right??



Marketing · Social Media · The Imbedded Mogul

TIM – Week 8

I just left a meeting with a new client, I’ve got my water, my laptop and I’m… tired!  Ha!  I’ve got the Twitter hashtags and handles up on the wall. Now I’m ready to go!  Week 8, marketing for the solopenuer.

TWEET:  It is HOT at tonight!!! Andrea from Minnie Events is serving up some spicy antipasto!

Tonight, Tanner Collins began the session reviewing the slides needed for presenting the Pitch Deck in a couple of weeks.  I’ve started working on my slides, but I have LOT of work ahead of me.  To get the list of suggested slides, CLICK HERE.

First up…


Howard Deskin

Impression Marketing

The first rule of marketing: “The consumer is in charge!”

When you are marketing your own business, ask yourself these questions:

  • What is your product or service?
  • Will anyone buy your product or service?  (Is there a need or want for it?)
  • Always think ahead… what’s your next product?
  • Think about where do people shop and market there.  i.e. the internet, facebook, malls….
  • Once you get customers, learn how to keep them.

 TWEET:  “Find a niche market and start there!” #BWStartSmart 

Once you’ve established a marketing budget, plan, etc: examine it to make sure it is working:

  • Measure your results – keep your numbers (not just for P&L, but marketing)
  • Look for someone in your industry with more visibility, followers and experience than you and – connect!
  • Set yourself up to be found by someone who can help you.

TIP:  To more successfully reach customers or clients, use videos in SM! (social media)

You need a budget for marketing!

  • It’s an investment
  • Make an investment – fixed percent of your revenue

Mark Sheridan (I think THIS is the correct Mark Sharidan) lists these important characteristics to marketing:

  • Cost
  • Problems/symptoms
  • Versus/compare
  • Review
  • best

 TWEET:  “Whatever people ask you on the phone, is what they will be searching on Google.” #BWStartSmart

  • What are my customer’s questions?
  • What are the best answers to your question?

In closing, Mr. Deskin suggested looking into these three aspects of marketing:  effectiveness ratings for B2B tactics, best B2B tactics and creating a customer retention plan.

Then, the last slide he shared was his contact info and the LINK to his newsletter.  However, he was wanting to not go over time and said, “If you want my newsletter, here is the address” and changed the slide.  Someone said, “You took that off fast… do you want us to go there?”  HA  You probably had to be there, but it was pretty funny.

Needles to say, Mr. Deskin’s presentation of his own business overview, about marketing at Impression Marketing and his other business Fresh Assist was informative and entertaining.  Participants were thrown a box of his product if they answered questions and all of us got a fee sample before he left.  If you’d like to see more of his videos for Fresh Assist, HERE is the link to his YouTube channel.



Tanner challenged us to apply many of the suggestions and advice Mr. Deskin gave to our businesses.  And after watching promotion videos of the Fresh Assist product, we talked about what we remembered from the video and way.  How you present information, visually and verbally is ESSENTIAL to good marketing!

TIP:  Think, “What would I say if I pitched my business to my best client?”

Now, I’ve got pictures. Got food. Got coke. Got more pictures!  Time to eat – hot stuff!



Samuel Little Graphic Design

TWEET:  “With marketing, you don’t know how big it is until you’ve done it.”

Beginning his career in design, Mr. Little gravitated toward web design.  He said, “The internet used to change every six months, every three months, every month… now it is changing every minute.  Despite that, anything you want to do on the internet, you can do. You just need to do and figure it out.”


  • Google analytics (from the company Erchant)
  • Be specific
  • Length of time – domain name


  • Have a website – you don’t own Facebook
  • Domain/hosting/content – ranking
  • Marketing hub

TIP:  Don’t use a free Facebook page instead of a website.

  • If FB goes away and you don’t have it…
  • You own your website.


  • Key words
  • Forwarding domain names don’t help analytics
  • GoDaddy
  • HostGater


  • GoDaddy
  • BlueHost
  • Go with a major – not a reseller, you don’t know who it actually belongs to originally
  • Through Sam – crashed website, emails, renewals (prevent cancelations)
  • Shouldn’t cost a lot (maybe for server fee)


  • WordPress* (customizable, but more advanced)
  • Build your own: Wix, GoDaddy, SquareSpace,, Weebly (can be upgraded to WordPress)
  • WP is like a PC, it can get hacked or plugins can cause problems – protect your site
  • GoDaddy – web developer
  • Start with marketing
  • Plan what you need: features/function of each page, (wire frame – new website) page sketch (or proof from InDesign), number of pages, brand developed, calendar, PayPal, Facebook, blogging, Google map (if a store you want people to visit)


  • Make sure (especially if you are just building a website) that it is mobile.
  • Makes the website responding to the size of the device it’s being used on.

TWEET:  Great session about marketing with and !

Personally, tonight was more difficult to take notes to share with you: experts in the industry I adore, experts I look up to… but, in the end, it was nice to know that not very much was a surprise to me!  I’m on the right track!  You can CLICK HERE to see the services I offer.  Anyway,  I hope I covered the basics for you.

AKA, “The Imbedded Mogul”


Entrepreneur · The Imbedded Mogul

TIM – Week 7

Well, hello week seven!  Although it seems like many of the original moguls haven’t been at class for several weeks, BizWorks Members and guests have been attending.  Full room tonight!

After organizing the snack table [chips, granola bars and water bottles] with Thaddeus Huff (BizWorks Center, Executive Director), Tanner A. Collins, Jr. (BizWorks Center, Assistant Director and Incubator Manager) opened up with some great quotes and a great introduction for our first speaker…

I wish I could remember the quote from his mom… it was SO good!!  But, I shared the other on Twitter…

 TWEET:  “There are no bumps in the road if you take the extra mile.” @tacollins

Now, remember… these are just my notes to recap what I recorded as noteworthy and for those who couldn’t attend tonight.  If any of the information is incorrect, feel free to leave a comment below!  Let’s go…



After a very complimentary introduction from Tanner, Nathalia told us more about herself and began to tell us about what she does for the VSBFA (and her connection with the SBA).  She shared about the following forms of federal assistance:

Loans (SWaM Business Micro-loan)

  • up to $25,000
  • only a $100 fee
  • 6.5% rate
  • business has to be registered for at least 24 months
  • owners credit score has to be 650+

Economic Development Loan (for fixed assets like property)

  • 60 month repayment
  • $500 application fee
  • fixed rate of 4%
  • start up and/or existing business
  • focus on job creation

Direct Loan Program

  • child care loan
  • up to $150K per location center
  • $10K for home-based businesses
  • partnership with VA Dept. of …..

Bank Credit Support Program

  • indirect loans

Cash collateral

  • VBFA pledges cash collateral to back up a bank loan

Loan Guaranty

  • VSBFA provides add
  • guaranty to the bank
  • up to 75% of the amount up to 7 years
  • $200 app fee
  • 1.5% fee off the guaranteed portion
  • no credit score requirement

How to get a loan?

  1. Be prepared!
  2. Talk to 3 bankers, who understands your business & business owner.  If you find a good fit, understand your requests and you can pay
  3. VSBFA can help assist w/ additional funding
  4. Have your banker call the VSBFA or work with SBA

NOTE:  A great resource and a new kind of business loan to fund your business is Street Sharp.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact Nathalia at (804)371-8208 or

TWEET: When you go to a lender, know how much you need! Don’t go & ask them how much they can lend you! #BWStartSmart @VaDHCD @BizWorksCenter



Talking tweets with Nathalia Artus.  Got my coke. Got my grilled chicken (w/several helpings of sour cream) and ready for round two!

TWEET:  #BWBreakTime Again, Minnie Events made the night yummy! If you missed tonight, you missed some yummy chicken! #BWStartSmart @BizWorksCenter



Well, this was a bit unexpected!!  The second presenter of the night started his session with some music, handouts and give-a-ways… and a funny story abut “dancing with Justin Bieber”… well, you needed to be there.

After his intro music stopped, Fredarick sat down in the front of the room and opened a discussion [surprisingly, yet somewhat appropriately] with a picture of Justin Bieber… I wondered what it would feel like with him sitting down, but he really created a comfortable and open environment!

He introduced himself and asked each of us to share our names and what we do.  It is fun… each week, the moguls get more precise about our businesses.  He works at the Bank of McKenny and helps small businesses with credit analysis (i.e. crunches the numbers).

Here are the notes I recorded from his time at Start Smart:

How to get money from a bank…

  1. What are your options in loans?
  2. How much money do I need to borrow?
  3. What is the lender looking for to make a loan decision?

Financing options to consider:

  • Line of credit
  • Term note
  • Short term note

TWEET:  #BWStartSmart Good advice: Pay a business loan back as soon as you can! Fredaerick Wilkerson @BizWorksCenter @virginiasbdc

How much do I need?

  • How much you WANT to borrow
  • How much you NEED to borrow
  • How much you CAN/MAY borrow

…those are totally different amounts!

TWEET: 1-2-3 OF LENDING: Determine what you need. Determine what the cost is. Determine if you can afford it. #BWStartSmart @BizWorksCenter

Does what you want to do determined by needing a loan? 

  • Well, “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”

Lenders are looking to see if you are serious: (and they are looking for specific things)

  • Credit history
  • Sweat equity
  • Collateral
  • Business plan… be very realistic and up front
  • Down payment… doesn’t have to be money. It can be property, stock, life insurance, etc.
  • Debt ratio… monthly debt out of your income
  • Experience… the longer you have been in business, the more respected you will be in the bank’s eyes
  • Business track history
  • Financial trends
  • Loan to value

Other questions:

Is your business sustainable? Is your business in a good location? Is your business in demand?

TWEET:  Business owner: find the niche that will set you apart from the rest. #BWLending #BWStartStart @BizWorksCenter



TWEET:  “If you have bad credit… take everything you learned tonight and throw it out.” TC

TWEET:  “Before you make the money, you got to have somewhere to put it.” TC #ohno #BWStartStart @BizWorksCenter




Shanna from C&F Bank continued the unique introduction with a “move it” session!  Everyone!  Get up and stretch!!  Staying awake at 8:30!  Shanna introduced herself as a banker and entrepreneur, then made her presentation to us about business banking accounts:

 Cash management & relationship banking:

  1. Business vs personal bank accounts — “Don’t mix the two, keep money separate.”
  • Budgeting savings
  1. C&F has FREE business bank accounts

TWEET:  Welcome, Shanna Kabatznick from C&F. #BWStartSmart #BWshakeit #entrepreneurship @CandFBank @fabwomenrva

  1. What is a budget?
  2. Spending money (credit vs debt)
  3. Establish good savings habits
    • Pay yourself first, pay bills on time, etc.
  1. Needs vs Wants
  2. Budgeting (helps you reach your goals)
  3. Credit – use it as a budgeting tool and learn how it impacts you
  • How much money do you have?
  • How many bills do you have?
  • Make informed choices!

TWEET:  Have you wondered – how can you possibly be over-drawn if you have all those checks left? #budget @fabwomenrva @CandFBank @BizWorksCenter

A business plan vs a dream:

  • Business plan:  Ex. I want to go to the Greek Islands, but I can’t go now.  So, I make a plan… put a certain amount in savings each month.  At some date, I’ll be there.
  • Dream:  I wish this would happen

**Don’t spend money you don’t have!**

Make choices and be aware where your money is going…

Credit impacts your..

  • Buying power
  • Job opportunities
  • Getting loans

 NOTE:  A great resource for being serious about your business, your budget and your numbers, this is a GREAT resource:

TWEET:  Thought of the night… BE REALISTIC!!! #BeRealistic #Entrepreneurship #BWBudget #BWStartSmart @BizWorksCenter @fabwomenrva

  1. Borrowing money
  2. Identity theft (you can use credit carma w/o using a credit cards… it may not be exact, but it will be close)
  3. Internet scams – If it is too good to be true, it is!!

That’s a wrap!!  Work on your Pitch Deck slides and we’ll see you next week!


Don’t forget to follow me next week at 6:30 EST on for #BWTwitterChat as I tweet my way through class!!  You can find me at @ImbeddedMogul and @SocialMarketLLC


Entrepreneur · The Imbedded Mogul

TIM – Week 6

Hello, week 6!!

Things are HOT at BizWorks!  Literally… this week, the air conditioning wasn’t working well, so we meet in the co-working space.  I had my WaWa smoothly and was enjoying the change.  So, I found the photo-ready best seat and got settled in.  Bonnie passed out sweets to each table, which she shared was for not meeting some self-set sales goals – that was fun and unexpected!

While everyone was getting settled in, we realized there wasn’t a trash can.  So, knowing that we would really need one once the snack table opened, I voluntarily went to get a trashcan for the “new” space.  Besides getting locked into the back hallway… everything went OK.  HA!  So, here we go:




The first presenter of the evening was Luz Rios from State Farm Insurance.  Before she started speaking, she when around and introduced herself and asked each person to tell them about their businesses.  She referred to this information numerous times during her talk, associating certain examples that may apply to specific businesses.  I could never do that – impressive!

She explained that insurance is for sudden & accidental (not old) occurrences, that insurance is personalized and can actually be written off as a business expense.  Good to know!  Also, she highlighted that insurance is about the details (even including attorney fess in your premium).  Here are a few suggestions she made:

Property (accidental loss, property damage, etc.)

  • Protect building
  • Content (pens, paper, printer, desk, etc.)
  • Liability
  • Coverage (things you don’t do knowingly)
  • Negligence (someone sues you)

Becoming an employer

  • (Talked more about this later)


  • When you hire a sub-contractor, get coverage from their insurance company (their certificate), not from the contractor (it could be counterfeit)
  • Also, a sub-contractor should have [their own] insurance!

TWEET:  “Take the time now, before it’s too late.  It’s better to have it and not need it, than to not have it and need it.” #peaceofmind



To begin his time with us, Bill introduced himself, his background and his time with BizWorks.  I liked how much he incorporated personal stories into his informational session.

TWEET:  “If you want to learn about small business, you are in the right place [BizWorks].”

These are the highlights I took from his session:

  1. The difference between an insurance broker and a CPA, is that  a CPA helps cash flow (percentage for taxes (fed/state) & estimated income)
  2. ADVICE:  Put tax money away for taxes and don’t touch it.
  3. Life Insurance:  If you don’t think you need it, ask yourself this question, “If my last paycheck was my last paycheck, where would my loved ones be financially?”
  4. Life insurance is to replace income (money to beneficiaries can be tax free)
  5. Disability Insurance: “If I’m disabled, my mortgage will be paid.” (Keep 6 months of living in reserve.)
  6. Back-up plan for your business. Always ask yourself, “What can go wrong?”  As a small business owner, think of everything and plan for everything before it happens… always be 6-steps ahead of yourself.
  7. Retirement planning:  invest your knowledge, interest and time (if you use an advisor, you’ll make 3x as much)
  8. Understand the tax qualification products!  Make sure that “Uncle Sam only gets one bite.”  NOTE:  If you are setting money aside, call Bill and ask him to explain this sentence… it’s a GREAT way to understand retirement funds!!

TWEET:  “Be interested enough to take the time to gain the knowledge.”


Although I spent most of my time taking pictures during the break, as always, Minnie Events brought a silence over the room with her yummy snack – tonight she bought macaroni salad, meatballs and fresh fruit.



Last, but not least, Terrance Banks talked with us about how credit scores help, hurt and impact a small business.  First, talking about the infamous “FICO score”.

  1. Payment history 35%
  2. Amounts owed 30%
  3. Length of Credit history 15%
  4. New credit 10%
  5. Credits used 10%

TIP:  Adjust your spam blocker or email setting to allow for receipts o response of emails from the credit reporting agencies.

When it comes to credit companies, it is a good idea to get a copy of your credit from one of the three companies once every quarter:  Equifax, Experian and Transunion.  Also, it is important to know that any errors found by one company need to be notified to all other agencies

  • Disputes must be followed up w/a updated report, free

TWEET:  “Any positive action improves your credit report.” #goodcredit

Lastly, he made these suggestions as far as having and keeping good credit:

  • Strive to keep a credit card balance under 31% of the credit limit.
  • You have to spend money to save money – a good report is a “game”.
  • Obtaining debt, it can be good – depending on what you use it for, how to pay it back and how will be obtaining credit help the expansion of your business.

There are pros and cons of using credit repair agencies to reduce debt.

  • It can be time consuming, monthly fees, you could do it yourself
  • Consolidation (reduction of debt interest)
  • (Settlements are for banks, not for people/businesses.)
  • Secured credit card – use your own money to build credit.


TWEET:  As you grow your business, grow your group of advisors.

Tanner closed the night by saying this notable thought:  “No one is going to remember everything we said, but we will remember the professionals that were here… keep their cards and when you need them, call them.”

See you next week!!

Darla, The Imbedded Mogul






The Imbedded Mogul

TIM – Week 5

Hello, week 5!  Tonight is all about legal…



Sarah McCurry introduced herself as a “modern trend lawyer” (her business is based on referrals, not cut-throat, and through advertising.  She is billed hourly vs certain amount of trust.)  Then she asked the participants to introduce ourselves and give her a short business description.  –  There is such a great variety of start–ups here, it is very neat!

I tried to shorten my notes for you here, but I thought most of them were worthy of sharing:

FORMED BUSINESS:  (can be sued based on your personal assets)

  1. Organization (forming a business and “I’m supposed to incorporate”)
  2. Sole-prop (1 person)
  3. Partnership (2+ people in ownership)


ENITY: (can only sue based on the resources based only on property of business)

  1. First you have a company name, purpose, etc.
  2. Next you need liability
  3. Limited liability comp (LLC)
  4. Corporation (‘can be burdensome’) “C-corp” (board of director, meetings, minutes, movements to move)
  5. Stock – buy a minimal share of stocks, you will be taxed on the amount you own (see articles of incorporation)
  6. Non-stock
  7. Non-profit

FYI:  file w/SCC-VA (to form corporation) business entity search

FYI:  B-corp is a “label” like food marked “organic” (you’d have to be LLC or Corp)

CORP (SCC on-line filing) – member of VA state bar, corporation, self

TWEET:  “Sound advice – when it comes to a start-up, have paperwork in place, respect the entity and stay organized!”


  • Articles of organization
  • Certificate of organization
  • IRS-EIN get number (not mail) – social security number for company
  • Bank account – business!
  • Write a check to county

TWEET:  “If you are running your business out of your personal bank account – go to the bank tomorrow morning.” SM

Filing process for LLC – the RIGHT foundation

  1. Less paperwork
  2. Shares = membership
  3. Sign documents “managing member”
  4. Who gets what % of loss
  5. Who gets what % of gain
  6. What happens?
  7. Insurance in place to pay rent, liability ins, payroll, spouses, etc.

DBA – Company vs Name

  • Reg. for taxes – who is paying?
  • State/county needs to know
  • File “VA factious name” application
  • Take to local court
  • “If I do something wrong?  Will a customer be able to find me?”

LLC:  (BMW, Chrysler – but, if you sell on stock market, probably go to DE and register for tax purposes)

  • No stock — membership only
  • 1 – tax as sole proprietor (or partnership)
  • 2 mo & 15 days – S Corp (w/employees)
  • Keep records (expenses…)  “Where are you and where are you going?” SM
  • Mold it how you want, tax-wise
  • No bylaws or official docs

ALWAYS put things in writing

  • Contracts
  • Commercial Lease

o   VA-buyer beware

o   read the terms

o   personal guarantee (personally being responsible for paying if your company cannot)

o   oral promises don’t matter

  • Hiring
  • Purchases

Substantial compliance – look into (rules and regulations, terms on agreements)

****SIGN:  Darla D. Hancock, Managing Member of The Social Market

7 habits of highly effective people by coveys

  • Focus on goals
  • Be positive
  1. Be proactive, life doesn’t happen (take action on wht you can do, not worry about what you can’t control)
  2. Begin with the end in mind (prioritize and bring a proper foundation
  3. Think “win-win”
  4. Think cooperatively (think community, not individually) – believe in abundance
  5. Don’t assume you know more than anyone
  6. Teamwork, value difference
  7. Take care of yourself




Karen works for Chesterfield Economic Development.  She defines what she does as a “Corporate Concierge for Small Business” – helping to build communities of partners and resources.  Her advice was practical and informative about what Chesterfield County has to offer small businesses:

IF YOU USE “DBA” – fill at clerk’s office (county) – $12

Where do you look for grants?  Chesterfield Business Starts Here

  • Foundation reporter
  • List of corporations that give grants
  • With a library card, you can log into the report (w/o paying for subscription) – in library

Was is the best hidden resource for small business help?  The Public Library!!

  • Makerspace (Central Library in Chester)
  • Free meeting spaces (Meadowdale Library)
  • Co-working space (North Courthouse Library)

Where do you go for business property?  Chesterfield County can help with site selection, zoning, permitting process, signage, etc.

Where is the best place to access to capital for your small business?

  • Lending – banker resources
  • SBA funding programs
  • VA Community Capital


Well… that’s a wrap!!

A plateful of tacos, a cherry coke, lots to think about and no homework!  A good night.

Darla, The Imbedded Mogul




Entrepreneur · The Imbedded Mogul

TIM – Week 4

The sun is out!  I have Capri jeans and flip flops on… and, where is everyone?  Literally!  A few are out enjoying the sun… or working on their businesses.

And, where is everyone?

Tonight, we opened the session each sharing where we are in the process of building our businesses, what we are making progress in, what we are we second-guessing, what we are we moving forward with, what we are overwhelmed with, ect.  The community developing here is getting really neat!

Lara shared, “I need to think outside the box with everything I need to do and grow 5-10 years from now” and Melinda said she was really concentrating on market research.



Tanner introduced the evenings first guest, Karen Russell of CFO Certified Public Accountants.  Here are a couple of the things she said that resonated with me:

  • “I’ve learned a lot. But, I don’t know everything.”
  • “With taxes & the government, ignorance is no excuse.”

We talked about federal taxes, state taxes, bank accounts, record keeping systems, tax plans and sales tax.  She also discussed these pieces of information that I thought were great for a soloperneur starting up a business:

  • Federal taxes – You can pay monthly or save throughout the year.  However, it is suggested to pay quarterly (3-mo).
  • Pay roll – (take your own money = distribution)
  • More than $6,000 – file taxes
  • 7.65% (taken out of an employee check) = 15.3% of income (self-employment taxes) for Medicaid/Medicare
  • Own business – Income Tax — S Corp (tax election =
“So, that’s what you didn’t know!”
Karen Russell


WOW!  Break was spicy tonight!!  We missed you Andrea, but the chicken tostadas were AWESOME! Minnie Events & Catering, LLC




Next, we Tim Counts presented “Understand Your Financials”… a bit overwhelming, if you ask me.  Although, he did a wonderful job engaging us in group participation.  My flair for design was VERY evident during this section of the program.

Numbers, numbers, numbers… not my thing.  However, I need to learn and tonight was a great night to do so.  Here are a few of the topics we discussed:

  • Assets
  • Owners Equity
  • The difference between a CPA & an Accountant
  • Process of compilation, review (ask for backup) and audit
  • A ‘trial balance’
  • Cash vs cash flow
  • Income statement
  • Trial balance = foundation of a financial statement
  • Proof & prove
  • Balance sheet vs income (owners equity)
  • Cash basis result = important (projections – “if I don’t have the cash, it won’t get done.”)
  • Assessment & evaluation

I think one of the more helpful (maybe I should say, understandable) discussions we had was about “co-mingling” personal and business bank accounts.  If you work from home, he made these suggestions:

  • One common shared expense for business and personal is a car.  Record mileage to include the car in business expenses.
  • The home.  Take the square footage of use and multiply it with the safe harbor weight = $$ (includes rent/electricity).  Or, another option is to deduct 10% of your home’s mortgage, electricity, internet, etc.  (I’m not sure I have “safe harbor weight” correctly… do you have a link to learn more?  If so, please share.  THIS is all I could find.)


In closing, Tanner Collins suggested using a graph bar to show anticipated profits during our pitch deck presentations… to start, homework is creating our 3-year income projections.


(lt) Timothy A. Counts, CPA, CGMA, EA  |  Karen Russell, Senior Accountant
(rt) Tanner Collins, Assistant Director

That was week four!  Don’t forget to join me for #BWtwitterchat next Tuesday at 6:30PM EST at The Imbedded Mogul and use hashtag BWStartSmart.