In the beginning, my hobby: Electronic Prozac
Back in the 90’s, boy, does that sound old for someone born in the middle of the 20th century because when I was coming up, something in the 90’s meant 19th Century so, yes, I just had an ‘Oh, wow” moment. Anyways back in the 90’s, the 1990s, that is, AOL, Prodigy, and my local BBS aka Bulletin Board System were my hobbies. Rushing home from work, I would fire up my lightspeed fast 2400 baud modem and I am cruising far away libraries, arguing with Windows fans over why IBM’s OS/2 Warp 3.0 was better than Windows and downloading electronic versions of research papers, and playing Tournament L.O.R.D.
It was a rush and it was intoxicating for many reasons not the least of which I was able for a while, to be someone else in a land or lands that was somewhere else. It was admittedly and consciously pain relieving escapism because I sorely hated my job and wanted opportunity walked in and slapped me down, hard. I was fired.
Bouncing back, I landed a job as an OS/2 trainer for IBM through one of their contracting companies. My job was to go out and train Value Added Resellers on the benefits of using and promoting OS/2 Warp. We did an excellent job, moving 5 times as many copies of Warp as IBM indicated would save, EXTEND our job contracts. IBM’s version of saving my job included moving my family to Dallas, Texas. No, but thanks anyway. They probably feel they kept their end of the bargain; I do not agree.
Starting My Own Business: What Was I Thinking: First Steps
In my estimation, if you are going to start your own business, there are some groundwork got to haves that need to be lain in stone. First, have no partners. I will leave that for you to think about as I know thousands of business partnerships succeed everyday. Let me just say, like the fellow in the movie The Italian Job who did not like dogs but would not elaborate, I had a bad experience.
Second, you have to read some basic primers on starting your own business. The Small Business Administration has tons of free resources and yes, much of it is not applicable, but much is. Besides, wading through all those resources with eyes wide open will trigger a lot of thinking you may not have done yet and that is never a bad thing. Take a week, a month, or even heckfire until Christmas and browse the business sections of your local bookstores. Barnes and Noble and Books-A-Million are the ones local to me. Some of your more niche oriented bookstores may not be the way to go. Many are too narrowly focused on the personal interests of the proprietor which is perfectly fine, but you need material to stimulate your brain and these stores often are too narrow in their in house collections. Barnes and Nobel and Books-A-Million all carry vast selections based on repeat sales (presumably because the books are helpful and recommended by word of mouth.)
Third, write a business plan. Go ahead, write one out freehand, outlining all the things you want to do and how you think you will do them. Define what and how you will make money and how you will get paid. Then run it past your accountant. After he gets through shooting holes in your plan, THEN go and find some business plan software, read books on the subject, and go back again for another evaluation to see what holes still need to be plugged. Don’t get aggravated at your accountant, either. He or she does not understand your dream and that is perfectly jake. Their business is not to understand your dream, it is to understand where your business is as a business so they can help you get on track. I say do it freehand first because that is the only way I know to make sure your dreams are the ones instilled in the plan and not just those you soaked up from reading business plan template language that will overwhelm you in your current naive state.
On the issue of accountants, that brings us to the whole issue of advisors. You need them. You will, in my opinion, need an accountant, a banker, an attorney, and once you get going, a financial planner, hopefully of the certified kind holding either a CLU or designation, my preference being the latter since they seem to be more service rather than product oriented, but again that is my opinion based on my time owning my own business running an Internet Service Provider as well as having worked in the financial planning side of the life insurance business for …