Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Back at work

It's been too long since my last post, but my baby girl was born healthy. Now I can work between the feeds and diapers.

I have saved some money and also purchased some equipment. I don't have an accurate count yet but I will get to it this week. So far I have purchased two Xbox consoles and a Wii, with some extra controllers and some used games. I got them from Craigslist.

 I am starting to have some doubts about it, the consoles work great but the games are a little expensive. How am I going to advertise my business? Will I provide the games or the customer? How many games do I need ? That's going to be a money pit.

One other thing: I suck at playing games. I hate the controllers, although I can hold my own on a PC - mouse in hand, but can't even strafe right if you beat me. Had a hard time using the Xbox. Can't imagine how the Wii works. Boy I'm getting old!!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Hard at work... literally...

I know I haven't posted in about 5 weeks now but I put my back to work and got some overtime at work and working sparsely wherever the chance came: yard-work, moving, bees (never done that before and yes I did get stung quite a lot), running errands and worked on some cars changing oil and brake pads. I did everything by the book and Mr. Dave Ramsey would be proud of me for doing all this with an 18 month old son and a pregnant wife - that was the hardest part of all.

Honestly, it doesn't pay too much. All in all in these 5 or 6 weeks I made about 400 dollars with the overtime ( I make 25k per year) and the side jobs. I am pretty disappointed right now. In this pace I will have to do this for about 3 or 4 years to save the money I need for my startup. This sucks! My son cries when I hug him, my wife is mad when I come home late at home... it sucks the family life out of me.

I think I need a change, something needs to happen because I don't see happy ending to my venture as of right now. I don't know what to do. Any ideas? Anyone?    lol.. crickets....

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Met with a banker today... after a Startup Business Class with SCORE

    First of all I want to say that "Business Plan Week" looks more and more like "Business Plan Month" just to start with. It is more overwhelming than I though and just dealing with all the startup questions is too much for a newbie like me let alone the technical details.
   That is why I registered for a class with my local SCORE office here in Sacramento and took a 3 hour class called "Simple Steps Startup Basics (Pre-Business Orientation)" which was very basic and easy to understand. All the info can be found on your own on the SCORE website reading the tutorials, which I did and I was familiar with most of the stuff spoken of in the class but the good part was that you could ask questions. That was the best part actually because the class was held by two volunteers who used to be one a former CEO for a financial firm and the other VP of sales for different corporations. Impressive, I know. Believe me when I tell you that they knew what they were talking about and I left a little wiser. Now I have to make an appointment with a mentor to talk to him about my idea and be rest assured that I will log everything that he will have to say.
    After this I had to deposit my paycheck from work and went to the bank and talked to my banker (currently I have an account with CHASE - it is relevant i believe because I learned that not all banks are the same) and asked him about a bank loan for my business - I didn't have a business plan with me or anything else for that matter, just asked if it is possible. After asking me some questions about my business, like what will I do, how much do I plan to invest out of my own money, what business structure will it be ( very important as you will see) and when do I think I will start actually selling something ( I said 3 or 4 months - that is without a loan, just me saving money for assets). After all this he said is pretty tough to get an SBA loan, for which by the way you don't need a collateral - I asked him that specifically, and the interest rate for the last loan he approved for a startup was at a 13% interest rate. which in my case won't make much sense because two credit cards I have are at 14% APR so we came to the conclusion that is better to use the credit cards in case of emergency. 
   Overall my meeting with the CHASE banker (business accounts specialist) left me pretty impressed with the service and he actually took the time to go through all that with me and answer my questions. He advised me to open a sole proprietorship business account for now, hearing my concerns that I will need an LLC to protect my personal assets but I do not want yet to spend the $800 minimum tax that is required here in California (payable within 90 days of filing incorporation request with the Secretary of State). So he will open another one when I file for LLC and transfer all balance to that account. Not bad for a big bank paper pusher. I am hooked, oh  and all this knowing that right now I have a little less than $100 dollars to invest in my business....  Now I can confidently say that I have a banker. 
    Just have to find the right people with the right attitude  I guess. 

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Business Plan Week

   This is the end of the beginning as I decided to write a business plan and implement it in order to finally make some money. Tomorrow is Palm Sunday, big thing at church so I'll be mostly occupied with that and by next Saturday I would like to have completed the business plan just in time for Easter. I give myself a week because I feel I need it and being such an important project. Right now I will try and find all I can about business plans and start implementing my own requirements and rules, make it more suitable for my needs.
   My issue with the internet startup help is not the quantity or the quality of help you can find online but the homogenization of information pertaining to the whole business community in general. Of course it is separated in different trades but that doesn't help much with individualization. What I am trying to say is that for all the time I spent researching my business idea I didn't come up something that can apply to me not 100% but at least 60%. There is always something to tweak or adapt or change completely. I am saying this for the engineer in me who wants a template that would fit exactly with my idea and this blog is mostly about me trying to do just that: tweak the massive volume of information available on the internet on startups and business in general and personalize it for my exact needs.
   So here we go ... to bed for now, it's midnight and I still have to wash the sippy-cups and put all the toys away. Looking forward to tomorrow!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Fictitious business name

  I completely forgot about this one. Last Thursday I went down to the Sacramento County business office and got me a Fictitious Business Name statement. Paid $27 for it . Also it has to be published into a newspaper once a week for four weeks and I have to do that within 30 days from the filing date. That would be easy given that I already received advertisement letters in the mail and they go from $15 to $30 which makes it easier to choose from - the cheaper the better for now.
 This is the link for the Sacramento County online FBN search ( which I did before filing my own) http://www.finance.saccounty.net/Tax/PDF/FBNStatement.pdf
  Here's the form as I submitted to the clerk and this is what i got back. ( sorry for the whiteout , I am afraid of spammers - if you have any questions or you need to contact me by phone, email me ).

Trademark scare!

   I sweat quite a bit over these past two days at the thought of trade mark infringement. I was in the doctor's office with my son and while waiting I was reading the only magazine that didn't deal with hair style or cooking recipes and came upon this article about the aftermath of a lawsuit against a little company in Florida from a big tuna in New York ( I do not recall the names or the issue in question). My point here is that I suddenly realized that my business name contains "cruiser" and that is close to PT Cruiser which is savagely trademarked by Chrysler, LLC .
   First thing I did when i got home was to search for the said keyword on the US Patent and trademark office website and found plenty trademarked such words and many of them contain the word "cruiser" with a note on the there that they do not intend to use the words except in the meaning that was trademarked. So that is reassuring.
   Not taking that information too lightly I did contact Chrysler at the email address provided on their website and  asked for more info on this subject saying that I did start a business Gaming Cruiser which I want to make sure does not infringe on any of their patents. No answer of course.
  Oh well, after a day of thinking I kind of realized my mistake and stupidity. I can't contact every company that has a "cruiser" word trademarked and ask for permission. There are lawyers and entire law firms dedicated to this delicate subject so I'll just let them deal with it and I will see to get some money for my startup for now. If worse comes to worst, I will deal with it then and there.

  If anybody from Chrysler LLC comes over a detailed email about some trademark bla-bla and skewed legal terms, please ignore it and do not post it on your office wall and write "what an idiot " on it. Thank you in advance!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Social Media Accounts

   My goodness! Following Brody Dorland's advice on blogging I put myself on this beautiful Sunday noon to get some accounts online to link my blog to, and boy is it time consuming. Only a few of them and I already lost count, luckily I wrote down on paper the website and the password and the security questions and the user name and the alternate e-mail address and the retrieval code and ....
   The accounts i already had are on Twitter (@gamingcruiser), Facebook (Gaming Cruiser), gmail (gamingcruiser@gmail.com), Fiverr.com and Blogger.com. Now I added quite a few: Word Press (alternate blogg site - to see how that works), LinkedIn, Digg, amazon, youtube, craigslist ( I want to sell some stuff to raise money for my startup) and also ebay, skype, flickr, yahoo, msn and .... I think that's it.
   I don't know if I should make an account on MySpace... are any would be customers on it? Anybody still using Myspace? I don't know, maybe it won't hurt ... ok, add myspace.
   Any other sugestions Mr. Brody Dorland? Or anybody else?