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?

Expenses spreadsheet

   I put my big two expenses on a spreadsheet for everyone to see and I will update every time some new expenses occur or I put money towards the startup budget.  Follow the link https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0AtONLfkt46dTdHVRNXJUR0dQT01TaVpMWXVZMmdsX0E&hl=en

Friday, April 8, 2011

Finally a logo

   Thursday I spent $5 on Fiverr.com and ordered a logo. Here it is:

   Honestly, the wheels are crooked and overall it looks like a snow plower or some kind. I am not happy with it but gave the guy thumbs up anyway because he did what i described i want. He did  a good job given the requirements i sent him. Here's a page with sketches that I did while "studying" in the library at school:

   Where should I look for a logo or better yet how should I describe what I want? I think that I expect something without knowing what I want. Now, what do i want?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Step three

   All day today I tried to come up with a logo for my business. I looked online and tried some free software for logo design but nothing that jumps at me. With my limited funding is hard to find somebody to do it for me until I stumbled upon fiverr.com and I think I'll give it a go with that. It's a little after 4PM and maybe I will have a logo by day's end.
   Don't change the channel, I'll be right back. ( crickets...)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Second step

   After talking to my wife and looking high and low for long forgotten cash and bank accounts (under sofa cushions included) I have an idea where i stand financially. Do not laugh at me!
   In my bachelor days checking account I have $32.45, in savings $34.80 and $90 in cash. Out of which I paid $10 to register a domain name ( I'll get to that later) and $40 cash are my one year old son's - he got them for Christmas and I wanted to open an account for him- imagine! so I won't touch those. Which brings us to a grand total of $107.25 to start my own business. :) Couldn't be better. 
   Now remember that we want to use our salaries to pay the debt and Mr. Dave Ramsey might have a word or two to say about this, but I will use any extra money that "I" (not we) will make to use towards the business, not debt.
   I have to add that at this point in time I am not looking for outside funding, I think it would be better if I have a business plan put together and then I will take a chance at pitching my idea to investors and of course  I will blog about it in detail. Correct me if I'm wrong. 
   STEP 2: Startup funds, CHECK!
   Next step: who knows? I'm my own boss! ( outside 9 to 5. And when I'm not at home. Or with customers... oops, I spoke too soon).

Friday, April 1, 2011

First step

   There are plenty of articles on the web about the first steps to start your own business. I think I've read them all (no, really, I did). Nothing applies to me so I'll just take my own steps and write my own "road to success".
  Today I looked for a suitable vehicle for my purpose. Some van (Ford 350 or Dodge ) seems the most suitable and long enough to house two 42" TVs. I looked for some gaming chairs, in particular for the dimensions to have an idea how many fit in the van. I would like to fit at least 8 chairs inside. That would require some major retrofitting but oh well , let 's do it.
   Another important thing is that I went over my finances and ... it doesn't look pretty. I will spend some time over the weekend and make an accurate assessment of all my available startup funds ( missus will have an important word to say to this regard). I will post that on Monday, most likely.
   What I need done asap is a list with major purchases needed, like TVs , Van , Chairs, Retrofitting the van, a generator for all the electronics, game consoles( xbox, ps3, wii - do I need all three? ) , accessories for the electronics ( nunchacks , cotrollers- wired or wireless, etc) , and that s pretty much it.  HEEEYYY, there's my list! Woohooo.
   Make major purchases list: CHECK.
   Next step: asses available startup funds.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Updates... where to find 'em

If interested, please follow me on Twitter @gamingcruiser and Facebook, same user name. Notably to say that i never used a blog, Twitter or Facebook. I am learning as I go so I might make mistakes along the way. Please be patient with me.

Me blogging about it~

   Now I want to explain my reasoning about blogging and putting it all on line for all to see.
   I have never used a blog not even a regular paper journal. I am no writer nor do I have a business background. I've always had a regular job plus other part time jobs on the side to help with school tuition. Since I started working I dreamed of owning my business but I was always too comfortable with my job to do something.
   I read so many books, magazines, articles and posts on starting a business but i never found an actual step-by-step start-up, with all the implications and decisions needed along the way. Of course, the web is full of helpful advice and ideas but one has to find the one that works for him and even then some tweaking is need to make it fit the required needs.
   This is why i decided to start my business from scratch and log every detail about it, make public everything and even if there's no interest in such an undertaking it will be useful to me to have a direction and a sense of accomplishment. I will use this blog to record notable events about the life of a start-up from scratch. Everything will be public, from getting the required licenses to getting funding, from marketing strategies to cash flow charts. I will use any medium I find fit ( Twitter, Blogger, Facebook, etc... ) but nothing is set in stone, things will change and the beauty of it is that everything will be logged. How long it will take me, I don't know but I am sure ready to find out. Most importantly I have my wife's support and understanding ( no money though, we have no savings yet - credit card debt , remember?).
   Ok, I will get started. There's so much to do.

My business idea.

  Good to know that nobody will read my post. I hate to keep journals but I am fine with a blog (?!).
  This is my idea of a business that I believe I have the knowledge and the passion to start and to run.
  I searched high  and low for a business that will fit me. I read all the magazines I could find at Borders and B&N, read online articles on well established websites and followed posts by prominent business owners. Trust me, I didn't waste time and this is what I came up with:
  What I want to do is a mobile video game entertainment unit. A van or a smaller RV or a trailer of some sort that I fit to accommodate a number of people sitting inside playing games on consoles with some large flat screen TV's in front. The selling point is that I will drive this mobile arcade to a customer's house for a party of some sort or any form of gathering - kids and adults alike - I've seen plenty of grownups with controllers and I am sure you have too. Children and most likely teens will be the target customers and there's plenty room to grow with such a large pool of prospective clients.
   This is not the best idea, I'm sure but I need to do something fast.
   I will elaborate on this later in the blog.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

This is a link I found that is very relevant to my business situation:


My solution!

   Now that you know something about my background let me fill you in on how i plan to pay my debt, get a house, etc. I thought about it for a long time and it only comes to this: money. Nothing else. I am going to need money the realize my dream.
   I started thinking about ways to get more money and these are some of my ideas:
   -I work in a very slow paced environment when it comes to raises and advancement opportunities and it would take me a long time to make enough for what i need. I don't want to get rich quick but i do want to be debt free and financially secure faster.
   -I thought about getting another part-time job (I used to have two part-time jobs to help pay for my school) but from my experience it really doesn't pay much, at least not enough for what I want and what i envision. What i mean is that after i get all debt payed I want to keep making money and grow in how I do it. A part time job is not the answer to my problem.
   -Work from home, get rich quick, "Make an extra 2k", "single stay home mom makes 5,000 with Google", "free government grants", etc - who even listens to these gimmicks anyway? Who comes up with all this junk?
    -How about if I start my own business? (this is where my eyes got big and an imaginary light bulb lighted up above my head).
   Please understand that this process took me a year and a half or so, long time when you're financially grasping for air. Too long for that matter and I am the only one that can be blamed.
  The conclusion is that I decided to start a business and make an escape on my own.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

My first post/blog - ever. About me!

   Hello everybody, my name is Chris M. i am 29 years old and I live in Sacramento  California,  I am married and I have a son plus another baby on the way.

    I have a regular day job at a manufacturing plant and I am also a part-time student at CSU Sacramento majoring in Mechanical Engineering so my days are pretty full and I am stretched to maximum between all my obligations.

   My greatest frustration is my credit card debt. Although I have a good job that i like it only pays the bills and is not enough to help me put a big dent in my debt. We do live within our means and maybe under our means but still it is not enough to pay off the credit card debt, let alone put some money aside for savings.

   I rent an apartment as I've always have but I dream of buying my own house someday and live the American dream and give my kids a place to call home - and a backyard with a swing!

   I am tired of dreaming!

   This blog is about me trying to do something about it, to finally wake-up debt free, owning my house and being my own boss.