Thursday, March 19, 2009

Computer issues

Ok my notebook I use for business, the LCD went out and I am waiting for the tech to come over and replace it. This has delayed some of the things I needed but will keep you infromated as I move along.

Monday, March 16, 2009

My to-do list this week

This week is a busy one but I am building out my to do list so that I can figure out what needs to be done this week.

Scan and email to my friend my crude drawing so she can build it out for me in Adobe/Quark when I go to manufacturers.

Set up PayPal for the business attached to a seperate credit card. Bank of America offered me a credit card in addition to the one I have with them already so might just need to set it up that way. I am tempted to set it up against a credit union account I have already. Just not sure yet.

Set up phone number in Skype. I need to check and price out so that I have a "Business" phone and voicemail at this time.

Fill out provisional Patent Application and file with Patent Office.

Figure out "company name" to start an LLC. While I didn't want to spend the money initially to have it filed in Illinois, I think that is being penny wise pound foolish. The liability protection is well worth it. I was originally going to do it in Nevada, but since the product will originate in Illinois, I need to make sure I have an Illinois LLC.

This in addition to some interviews and networking opportunities I am supposed to have this week should keep me pretty busy.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009


So as we go about our dreams and aspirations, there are people, places, or ideas that inspire us to greatness. The two big inspirations for me have been The Big Idea and Tim Ferriss. Donnie Deutsch hosts "The Big Idea" on CNBC. It is very hit or miss, but the most inspiring is when he has small business owners in to talk about how they got their business off the ground. Indeed, the same thing you hear all the time is, "There has to be a better way." It was the thought process that got me to my point.

The second person, Tim Ferriss is known for his book "The Four Hour Work Week". I bought this book after seeing it for a long time and reading both good and bad reviews. The number of resources he points you to in the book is what gave me the confidence and courage to pursue this idea. On top of that, it showed me that I didn't have to make an all or nothing decision. I didn't have to quit my job and run a business the whole time.

What has been your muse?


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

New Mail Box

So finally, after much procrastination, I rented a mail box at the UPS Store today. While I paid more then a PO box, there was a reason. I paid $200 dollars for 15 months of a mail box versus 99 bucks for a PO box at the post office. One nice thing, is its close to the free way when I travel into the city. They also do email notification when you have mail, so you do not have to go and check it all the time. And finally, I have a street and suite number which looks a little more legitimate then a PO box.


Monday, March 9, 2009

Musings on Business

I have to tell you, the one company/entity that I am continually fascinated with, is Bell Labs. In reality, Bell Labs doesn't really exist anymore. At least not in the form that made it great. For those that do not know, back when AT&T was the only phone company in town, Bell Labs was their research subsidiary that invented so many things we now take for granted today.

Think of all of you that do blogs, sell products online, or even use a computer. All of these things can point back to Bell Labs. It is amazing how many things point back to Bell Labs. Here are a list of a few things that you would or would not think of that can point back to Bell Labs.

Operating Systems: Bell created UNIX, which is still used in many mainframes, and is the precursor to Linux, BSD, and Apples OSX.
Programming Languages: Created C, and then C++. Do you know how much is actually written in C++? Everything of importance!
LASIK Eye Surgery: LASIK? Really? Who do you think invented the laser?
Digital Camera: Guess who created the CCD, the thing that captures the electronic image? Yep, Bell Labs.
Silicon Valley: Who do you think created the first Integrated Circuit? yep! Bell Labs. In fact Fairchild Semiconductor was started by several Bell Labs engineers.

Unfortunately, witht he break up of Ma Bell, and Lucent being purchased by Alcatel of France, America's greatest research house is no longer owned by a US company. It is a shame really. If you want to read more about Bell Labs, this site has a ton of great information.


Sunday, March 8, 2009

Contract Manufacturers

So I did some research and have found several companies that may very well be able to make my product. In particular I found a company that looks like it does small lots. I have to admit, I procrastinated and never set up a PO Box. I am stopping tomorrow at the UPS store to see how much a box is. I don't want to start out with a home address.

I also discovered I need to do a write up and drawings of my specs for some of these companies to get a quote from them. I will try working on that this weekend. One of my friends is in graphic design school so I am tempted to have her do the work so she can use it in her portfolio. I also want to put in the Provisional Patent Application so I don't lose control of my product.

Once I get that done I can reach out to these contract manufacturers.

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Saturday, March 7, 2009

Provisional Patent Application

So in order to protect my idea, I think I am going to file a provisional patent application. I am trying to find the forms to fill out and send in. I beleive its $100 to file the provisional which gives you 12 months of "patent pending" protection for your product. Trying to figure out which form to fill out is difficult at best. Also see that I need to have a friend provide drawings for me. If not I supposed I could get out the paper and pen and do it by hand. I have considered using a service like legal zoom to file it for me. Might just be easier but of course increases my out of pocket. Theoretically it will be done right. Has anyone used a service like this?

Here is the forms for provisional patent applications:
PTO/SB/16 is the form you want.


Friday, March 6, 2009

What's holding you back

Like all of us, fear can inhibit us not to persue that dream, that idea, that business. Don't let fear stop you from trying. Every single new business owner out there has made mistakes. But let those mistakes guide and teach you in the future. What is amazing, is how making those mistakes in your own little business, can help you when you are the mid level manager at the giant faceless corporation.

Taxes? Thats why I hire a tax person. It is his job to know the laws and to guide me.
Fullfillment? Guess how many companies there are that their only job is fullfillment. Guess what, Amazon will do it for you. Who knew?
Business Licence? No one is coming after you because you made 500 bucks a month and didn't set up a sales tax escrow. If they do, pay the fines and move on. Heck, there are companies you can pay 500 bucks to and they will get it all set up for you.
Insurance? Well if you do a sub-chapter S or LLC, your liability is limited, if not there are brokers in most banks now a days that can buy you a $1,000,000 general liability policy for less then $1000 bucks.
Bank accounts? Local credit union or your main bank. They would love to help you get started in your business.

If you let all of those things stop you, you will never get off the ground. Get your idea to the point where its ready to go, and you can worry about it at that point. Why worry about licenses and taxes when you don't even have a product to sell.

Always remember, it is better to ask for forgiveness then it is permission...


Thursday, March 5, 2009

Review of my first Prototype

So I finally got to spend time with a friend and show my initial prototype to him. The response was very heartening since he is my target consumer for this product. What made me happy was that we were essentially on the same page.

As he initially asked me to tell him about my business plan/product idea, I pulled out the prototype. "Oh wow you have one made? Awesome!" I had left one feature out that I wanted to put in, and it was one of two suggestions that he had to make it better. We also discussed a couple features I was thinking of but was hesitant, and he confirmed my hesitation by giving me the reasons to avoid those.

As we talked about production, pricing and distribution, I got him excited about it as well. He has already told me when it is made, he will buy one since it is exactly what he has been looking for for several years.

So now I need to move forward faster. I need to reach out to contract manufacturers and figure out pricing, quantity, set up fees, etc. What I am hoping is, with business down around the world, there might be excess capacity they would love to use. Maybe an advantage of a recession/depression.