BUSINESS STARTUP

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As promised, here’s a brief summary of what I’ve been working on the last few days.  It’s all about advancing the new business.  Saw my career coach yesterday – she reviewed the three-fold brochure I made for the business; she made some suggestions, and changes to improve the instant visibility of what the service is and does. To create the brochure, I used a great free template provide by HP at this site:  http://www.hp.com/hho/hp_create/home_business-business_kits.html.    This site provides a whole kit and caboodle of stationary for themed business cards, brochures, invoices, etc.  Pretty nice but the stationary items open in a Word document and I’m used to working in Publisher so there were a few frustrating hiccups.  All in all, it worked out well.

I was able to print ten brochures, front and back before the ink in my HP printer faded.  Not good.  Coach suggested reduce brochure from three-fold type to one sheet front and back, and minimize the color.  You know printer ink is very expensive, so yes, I now agree with her.  Working now to reduce 2 pages of info down to one-third of a page front and back.  A copywriter friend offered to look at it; I accept all free help.

Decided not to pursue business permit yet as the city does not pro-rate the fee, and it will expire December 31st .  I’d have to turn around and renew Jan 2011.  Visited IRS.gov to get an EIN, which is the business tax identification(kinda like a social security number for a business).  This is the number that my company will be recognized under when filing taxes.  I’m hesitating about incorporating for some reason – my thoughts are jumping around between non-profit, and LLC.  Will probably go ahead and file papers for LLC  which will allow protection of my personal assets and allow income taxes to be charged at a individual rate versus corporate rate.

Called my cable carrier to get a VOIP phone number as an add on service for a mere $10 a month.  They gave me the number and told me it would be active Friday.  I created brochures and business cards with this number.  I just happened to call the number today to see if it’s working, and yep it is.  Someone who wasn’t me answered.  Called the number again, in disbelief,  to double check.  Yep Comcast gave away number.  They are so so sorry for the mix up, and the loss of $$ from already printing cards/brochures in advance.  I asked for a credit or extra services on the phone; will hear back from them tomorrow on the decision.  Sigh.

Tomorrow will revamp the brochures and make a list of target companies to contact.  Excitement is starting to rise for face to face “customer” contact.

9/26 Update:  After multiple calls to Comcast regarding the phone number snafu, Comcast corporate office contacted me.  They have compensated me for the printing loss by crediting my account $100.  Much appreciation to Comcast for recognizing customers inconvenienced by a lack of service!

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STEPS TO START A BUSINESS

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Ever had an idea for a business?  I’ve had several throughout the years.  A few I’ve seen come to fruition, though I only found out when I saw them advertised on TV commercials.  I recently had an idea for a service…since I’m on the Entrepreneurial path at the career transition agency, I met with my coach and tossed the idea around with her.  She mentioned that a good business needs to satisfy a pain, or generate pleasure, enough for which people would give up their hard earned dollars.  Pain used here isn’t literal – it’s an analogy that stems from a critical need which is not being met. 

She thought my idea was good, and actually started spoking (is that a word?  I’m making a verb off spoke)  off ideas which could become an extended service from my initial idea.  Through classes taken at the agency, and at Dpt of Labor, I generated a business plan.  But before doing that I took a class which presented a list of questions to determine if you have the right frame of mind to start a business.  Ideas are one thing, but actually getting the idea off the ground is another. 

The four basic types of businesses:                                                                                              Start up a business                                                                                                                          Buy an existing business                                                                                                                   Buy a franchise                                                                                                                            Become a consultant                                                                                                                      

Here are some great questions to ask before you initiate any of your energies:

1.  Why do I want to start my own business?   What are my motives?                                      2.  Do I have all the skills needed to run a business?  Accountant, Legal, Secretarial,  Customer Service, Sales, Operations, Purchasing, General Management, etc.                          3.  Am I in love with the idea?  Do I have a passion for it?  Am I prepared to sacrifice my personal life and activities to devote time to the business?                                                          4.  Will there be an impact to my family, negative or positive?                                                    5.  Is this the right time – financially, emotionally, physically?

After the in-depth evaluation of self, if you still want to move forward, then you need to clarify your idea…I’m talking like I’m an expert right, but it makes sense yes? 

What and who is the market?  What pain are you solving?  What pleasure are you pushing?  What value are you offering?  Is it unique?  Research your competition, what percent of the market would you like to capture?  How will the product or service be marketed?  How will the company be structured?  Non-profit, incorporated, LLC, sole-proprietorship, etc?  Also important – location, location, location. 

Next it’s time for the business plan.  It will further focus and develop your ideas, build an idea of what the company will look like as far as marketing, finances, organization, and operations of the company.   Check out www.sba.gov ; they offer great planning resources for starting and developing a business, including on-line classes, and business plan templates.  Also check out SCORE http://www.score.org/index.html  –   it’s a resource of retired executives who offer their advice and counsel for free.  They are available to meet face to face, or via email questions.  I’ve done all the above, and have finished my business plan.  I’ve requested a 2nd meeting with a SCORE counselor to review my business plan, and discuss next steps.  Will keep you posted!

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A.M. SPOUTS

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So here I am at 1:52 a.m. spilling out some words; please forgive if something doesn’t quite make sense. I’ve been feeling a little guilty as it’s been a while since I’ve spouted about anything so let me catch you up on TAS current events. I’ve been debating about going back to school to become more experienced in website design, marketing and eCommerce. But I’ve also had these intrusive thoughts that until one build up loads of traffic (which with hard work can take years), the advertisements and banners placed on the websites are simply billboards instead of commission making vehicles. I’ve made some coffee money from the Google ads (and I ain’t taking Starbucks dollars) but I need to start generating a serious income. Going to school to learn more about websites isn’t going to help me generate any income now so is my mind using that as a delay tactic? Possibly. Probably. Plus I have a repetitive motion hand injury that flares up often and I seriously wonder how many hours a day I can keyboard without doing serious damage. I’ve had rehab on the hand but like sex, I think abstinence is the only method to prevent further injury. Sad. School on the back burner for a minute.

On the other hand, I’ve started making a business plan for an idea that I had a few months ago. This by the way is what has seriously eaten into my post writing time, ergo this now 2:46 a.m. post. I had gotten stuck with researching the competition as it’s not a well published service, so I scheduled a meeting this past Monday with SCORE to get some help. SCORE is a source of free and confidential small business advice for entrepreneurs. The counselors are retired executives and entrepreneurs who share their wisdom and experiences. Check it out at www.score.org. The counselor gave me some very good ideas and tips, and indicated the idea was viable. (He also mentioned a non-disclosure agreement but I didn’t see anything in writing.) He has multiple small LLC’s so I feel pretty confident and excited to steam ahead on this.

Blogging can be a vast lonely desert. I personally know no one else that blogs so tonight, I attended a bloggers meeting. There were all levels in attendance from the very experienced and making bucks to the newbies (c’est moi). I especially liked meeting the blogger who demanded that I remove the “celebrating life path changes” off my tag line because it was the name of her book (shameless plug right? Tell someone who cares). The facilitator suggested that a business plan is a must for any serious blog. After I pound out the business plan for my idea above, I’ll get started on one for the websites. The facilitator didn’t see the point of having a blog if you weren’t looking to make money off of it. As I’m unemployed, I’d love and anticipate making a dime or two, but I think there are a whole lotta folks out there in the nether that just want to have a voice, and an outlet and probably won’t care if they never make a dime off their blogs. Love to hear from you – what say you blogger extraordinaire?

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