Our biz plans took a few giant leaps forward today. I did the initial filing for an LLC, the first step to create our an corporate parent framework. We will be an official company once it’s all done, though that’s only step 1 of many to get ‘er done. I also registered the domain to go with the parent company, and ordered a logo designed through FIVRR.COM. I still have at least three more logos to design, to go with three planned DBA’s. I have umpteen friends who are artists, but my brain farted itself out of commission so I hit FIVRR instead. Eh, I’ll get it together sooner or later. Then again, I need a very specific image format and resolution to make everything work. However, for something hand-drawn I could always scan it in and convert it.
I’ll announce the name once the corporate formation is done, then we need to trademark the product line names. We’ll have to do a little at a time, because trademarks are a couple of hundred bucks apiece. The LLC costs another $199 when you add up all the dotted T’s and crossed eyes. The domain is about $15 a year or thereabouts. More if you want privacy, but for a business domain I don’t especially want privacy – it’ll eventually have a business address attached to it. The package we got even includes printed stock certificates, though I don’t know if that’s something we’ll pursue (at least not this early into the game.) I won’t swear never to go public, but I hope if I do that I don’t let it corrupt the way any future employees are treated.
I actually sold our first product this week. I’d been experimenting with some mixes and took a bottle with me to work, for my own use. One of my colleagues was so thrilled she bought the partly-used bottle.
FYI: CBD oil is amazing for pain. Don’t ingest it. That was my mistake. Rub the liquid stuff into your joints. My colleague has arthritis and while I knew I personally had spectacular results with it, different people might not. It took her maybe ten minutes to come back to my desk. She said it’s the first time in YEARS she’s been able to hold a coffee cup with one hand. She’d put some oil on her knees and just used what remained on her hands to massage into her hands.
My sister couldn’t raise her arm higher than a 45º angle up from her waist. Five minutes after I rubbed her shoulder with this stuff, she was crying because she could raise both arms over her head and move them with ZERO pain. My sister uses a combination of liquid and the balm, but she said it’s such a huge difference it’s mind boggling.
It ain’t cheap for the good stuff, but you use literally just a few drops. I was bummed because I’d gotten feedback saying the USAG called it illegal – but apparently as long as it’s not for ingestion, we’re all clear. Ergo the plan’s back on and we’re moving forward. Incidentally, one of the reasons I decided to pursue this in the first place is that the local place I bought my CBD oil raised their rates from $40 a bottle to $70 a bottle in a one-week period and said they literally couldn’t keep it on the shelves at that price. (This is a one-ounce bottle.) Even taking into account a decent profit, shipping, etc. I know I can sell retail for less than $40 a bottle. And that’s if I franchise out so other people are selling it and THEY’RE making a profit. If I just sold it myself I could sell for even less.
No, I didn’t make this stuff up, and yes it pisses me off all the disinformation that was distributed to do with marijuana and hemp. I wish I’d known sooner. On the other hand, these products are all fairly new. The good news is they’re not GMO. I hope they stay that way.
We’re planning to use the same parent company for my publishing company and for our stock photo site. One size fits most, ya know?
I decided to keep posting the brain-fizzling process because, as Hil pointed out, most people don’t post the part about how you start – how you choose a product or how you go about actually DOING stuff.
Incidentally, here are some of my resources, for anyone else interested in pursuing entrepreneurship:
Filing for an LLC: incfile.com
There are several other options for filing, but this company hit two important points for me. The price was right AND their price includes the first year of basic legal representation. We’re not talking about legal representation in a court case, but the statutory agent/lawyer required for any corporation. ProTip: don’t buy the cheapest package, ever, unless you’re a pro and have a full time attorney on call. For cheap you get the absolute bare bones that requires the most from you. You get a pretty good chunk o’ stuff for the money with this company. They had another tier I considered, but this ain’t my first rodeo, so I knew how to handle those details without help. Also, be aware this company only does your initial filing work. It’ll still cost, and take time, to publish the formative documents in the newspaper as required by law. That’s something you have to do all by your lonesome. It’s all part of the progress. You can choose other types of corporate structure, but since I’m the lone wolf in this thing and (on paper, anyway) 100% owner, LLC was the only way to fly.
Searching for, and filing for, a trademark: trademarkia.com
You might be able to file for a trademark cheaper than here, but the search function is awesome, and from what I’ve seen, dollar-for-dollar you get a better deal. Again, with this purchase you get legal service to defend against trademark infringement. I haven’t taken this route yet – but plan to.
Obtaining an EIN (Employer ID Number): IRS website
If you’re gonna do business, whether or not you’ve got employees, you need this. It’s issued by the IRS and it’s free. Don’t pay someone to request it for you. I personally will need to call to make the changeover, because I’ve had an EIN for years, from back when I first filed as a sole proprietorship. Lucky for me, when I did a business name change about a year ago, the IRS agent I talked to was a wellspring of information who let me know whenever the business structure changes (such as going from a sole proprietorship to an LLC) there is a new EIN needed. The IRS gets a lot of crap, and a lot of it’s justified, but a lot of these folks are honestly trying to help. If you need help, call them. Since most of these folks get calls yelling at them, I suspect they LIVE for the happy calls!
Get a domain name registered: GoDaddy.com (or any of thousands of registrars)
Seriously, this is both the easiest and the hardest part. I did this and the trademark search before filing the legal stuff, and here’s why. When you’re filing for your corporation, you ideally want a domain name that matches your business name. Even more ideally, your domain name should be a dot-com (vs. a dot-us, or any of the other dot-whatevers out there now.) It’s what people will expect of your business, and if your website name resolves to a porn site, it’s probably not going to be the image you were planning to promote. If your business domain name is 40 characters long, at the other end of the spectrum, people won’t remember it. Therefore – search your name in the trademark database and buy your domain first. Chances are if you’re clear on both of those, your name will also pass muster when you’re incorporating.
Yes you SHOULD have a website. If you don’t, in this day and age, you’re going to be instantly dismissed as a scammer. What’s more, your website should be presentable. Depending on the type of business you’re in, it can be kitschy or polished, but it should convey the general feel of what you’re trying to do.
The entrepreneur’s Bible, for someone who doesn’t know where to begin: The 4-Hour Work Week, by Timothy Ferris.
This book wasn’t my first foray into running my own business. If it had been, I’d have done a hell of a lot of things differently. This is a detailed blueprint on how to build a business, from the ground up, with limited funding and resources. Yes, the author DOES promote a four-hour work week for business owners, once everything’s in order and running well. Ferris has a website with testimonials from a whole lot of people who employed his methods. I haven’t followed every line item. I don’t have the disposable coin (yet) to outsource my bill paying, for example. But this author’s business model is outlined in clear terms, he names names, and he tells you exactly how to replicate his success.
Small business is the backbone of America. Always has been, always will be unless we let the 1% take it away. This is how mom and pop enterprises are built in the 21st century. I’m in.