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      10-16-2019, 01:54 PM   #1
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Starting your own business - entrepreneur thread

So like many people Iíve had some good ideas over the years that I just never took action on to make a reality. Some of that was a lack of funding or knowledge of how much / little it takes to get started. A lot was lack of knowledge on process - wtf is the first step and whatnot.

Iíve got another one that I want to actually make a reality this time and am actively starting to take steps towards that goal. So I thought Iíd start this thread to chronicle the journey, ask for advice, and discuss things with people who have ďbeen there, done thatĒ and can help me avoid some early pitfalls hopefully.

I donít expect to become a billionaire off of this one, but I hope to make enough to fund a bigger idea Iíve been kicking around for ~ 5 years. That one may well make into the 8-9 digits depending on how it goes but itíll be a 5+ year process easily. This smaller idea I think I can turn into a profitable reality before next summer.
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      10-16-2019, 03:32 PM   #2
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Before you start, do TONS of research. Not knowing what this idea is (nor do I expect you to release it) kinda makes it hard to give any tips or strategies aside from the basic tips you can find on many business YouTube videos
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      10-16-2019, 03:33 PM   #3
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Build a great board. Listen to them.

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      10-16-2019, 03:36 PM   #4
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Bon Chance!!

Get a Great Lawyer. Listen to them.
Get a great mentor. Listen to them.
Build a great board. Listen to them.

Cheers-mk
+1

Also find you a good tax guy as you can write off pretty much anything if creative enough.
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      10-16-2019, 04:01 PM   #5
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Have a creative tax guy
Have a lawyer friend Iíve discussed things with and who I plan on retaining once I figure out funding (he ainít cheap, his current firm bills him out at about $450/hr)
Have 2 friends for business mentors who have both built and sold multiple companies. One was in tech the other in real estate / construction.
Board - dunno yet

Industry research - have done some limited research. I know the market, price points to target, relative size, space I want to fill / create / build. I have a tentative plan for go to market strat, initial sale model, and expansions.

I need: mechanical eng / electrical eng / industrial designer to get the prototype built. May just contract a shop that already has all 3 to build it for me. Also need to figure out marketing / production video production, though Iím hoping to leverage othersí channels as part of my strategy. Will also leverage forums like this one, social media, etc.

Initial funding will likely come from the aforementioned mentors + friends to get the prototype built, then crowdfund initial run for launch, then angel investors to scale. Donít think Iíll need VCs. If it gets to the point where itís that big, Iíll happily sell for a few million and dump that straight into the next project and become a serial entrepreneur.
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      10-16-2019, 04:18 PM   #6
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Undercover billionaire?
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      10-16-2019, 05:26 PM   #7
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Undercover billionaire?
I loved that show! So much so I bought their sauces the moment I heard the name of the restaurant
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      10-16-2019, 05:30 PM   #8
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I loved that show! So much so I bought their sauces the moment I heard the name of the restaurant
Good? I half thought it was going to be fake and I wouldn't find them, so didn't look. But damn I was hungry near the end of the season!!!
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      10-16-2019, 05:49 PM   #9
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I loved that show! So much so I bought their sauces the moment I heard the name of the restaurant
Good? I half thought it was going to be fake and I wouldn't find them, so didn't look. But damn I was hungry near the end of the season!!!
Best BBQ sauce I've ever had out of a bottle (no I dont drink it )

Looks like they got nonstop orders now that the show has surfaced their quick success
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      10-18-2019, 07:11 AM   #10
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I have a side business that I've been running for about 10 years now. My advice is if you want to start your own business, don't quit your day job and go balls to the wall until you feel it is the right time to transition. Start your new business as a side gig, then build it up until you are confident enough your idea will work out and you can quit your day job. Running a business is very exciting, but it's also a 24/7 commitment.

For me, I could probably do my own thing as a primary source of income, but then again I'd never be able to put it down and relax, I'd be working 24/7. Having the option of doing that if something happened with my day job, and using the business as a supplemental income when I want to has worked out really well.
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      10-18-2019, 09:42 AM   #11
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I have a side business that I've been running for about 10 years now. My advice is if you want to start your own business, don't quit your day job and go balls to the wall until you feel it is the right time to transition. Start your new business as a side gig, then build it up until you are confident enough your idea will work out and you can quit your day job. Running a business is very exciting, but it's also a 24/7 commitment.

For me, I could probably do my own thing as a primary source of income, but then again I'd never be able to put it down and relax, I'd be working 24/7. Having the option of doing that if something happened with my day job, and using the business as a supplemental income when I want to has worked out really well.

This is exactly what I do/did...although I don't take on the amount of extra business on the side that I used to anymore. For about 5 years, I was making the equivalent of my full time job. Biggest thing that kept me from transitioning into it full time was I knew I would have to put a lot of hours into it to break away from my benefit package at my full time job.

But it served its purpose. I put a kid through school with no student loans, and I paid off all of my debt. After that...I took less and less work as I valued my personal time more.

But for around 8 years...I was working all the time. I didn't ask for any extra work, but "word of mouth" brought enough to me that I didn't have to look for it.
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      10-29-2019, 08:52 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by CTinline-six View Post
I have a side business that I've been running for about 10 years now. My advice is if you want to start your own business, don't quit your day job and go balls to the wall until you feel it is the right time to transition. Start your new business as a side gig, then build it up until you are confident enough your idea will work out and you can quit your day job. Running a business is very exciting, but it's also a 24/7 commitment.

For me, I could probably do my own thing as a primary source of income, but then again I'd never be able to put it down and relax, I'd be working 24/7. Having the option of doing that if something happened with my day job, and using the business as a supplemental income when I want to has worked out really well.
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This is exactly what I do/did...although I don't take on the amount of extra business on the side that I used to anymore. For about 5 years, I was making the equivalent of my full time job. Biggest thing that kept me from transitioning into it full time was I knew I would have to put a lot of hours into it to break away from my benefit package at my full time job.

But it served its purpose. I put a kid through school with no student loans, and I paid off all of my debt. After that...I took less and less work as I valued my personal time more.

But for around 8 years...I was working all the time. I didn't ask for any extra work, but "word of mouth" brought enough to me that I didn't have to look for it.
This is about where I hope to take this one.

Went to a VC mixer the other day. Got some good advice and some good contacts. Next steps - file provisional patent, get boilerplate NDA, complete Y-combinator startup school.
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      12-03-2019, 04:34 PM   #13
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Going to let you in on a secret. Nobody knows what they're doing, but the most successful entrepreneurs are the ones who act, are capable enough to control their own destiny (ie, not overly reliant on outside talent or investors), can establish an "unfair advantange" (relationships in manufacturing, sales team, or personal talent/credibility) and are able to build long-term solid reputations by having strong character and vision. You are doing well when you have a high degree of confidence when something will work (R&D, distribution), and the money you might fundraise just serves as access to that vision.

Entrepreneurship is a dogfight with everyone and most importantly, yourself. You are constantly wondering if you are good enough every day, and stepping in one direction to see where your compass is going to lead you on the next.

You should be waking up in cold sweats if your revenue plan isn't working and pumping every last ounce of intellectual curiosity into finding out what does. If you're really really serious, you should move yourself to a growing city close to a manufacturing hub so you can get things done and have a product to sell, if you deal in physical goods.

Getting into YCombinator will be a milestone, but it's not an end goal. It's a startup school, but I also know a lot of people in YC that come out of that program, give up equity, but don't make anything of what they've learned. Yes, there are outliers, but those are folks also went into the program already with high marks.. YC does wonders for generating investor demand if you already have a solid foundation or prior background with progress to show (because this is what their investor network wants to see when sourcing deals). If you don't have prior expertise or traction, or know someone who can vouch for you that's very reputable in the industry, then your chances of admission are extremely slim.

If you feel like you have good ideas and lack execution, be really honest with yourself if entrepreneurship is right for you right now. You might have ideas, but you also might not be well-prepared to tackle the vertical you want to be a part of. It's one of those things that's truly a meritocratic battle, and if you aren't as hungry as the next person to make things work, it will be an uphill struggle where you will burn time, a lot of money, and your self confidence may be at stake in the process.

If it sounds like that's a bit too much, then get started working under someone way more successful than you in an industry you want to be in. Cold e-mail them and learn the business, and become the best at it. When you feel like you've hit a peak, you'll know you're ready.

But if diving right in is your thing, then the best time to get started was yesterday. Cheers.

Spot on evaluation and advice. As in enough said - now get to work and stay there 70 hours a week - you will be successful.
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      12-03-2019, 05:47 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uusunn View Post
Going to let you in on a secret. Nobody knows what they're doing, but the most successful entrepreneurs are the ones who act, are capable enough to control their own destiny (ie, not overly reliant on outside talent or investors), can establish an "unfair advantange" (relationships in manufacturing, sales team, or personal talent/credibility) and are able to build long-term solid reputations by having strong character and vision. You are doing well when you have a high degree of confidence when something will work (R&D, distribution), and the money you might fundraise just serves as access to that vision.

Entrepreneurship is a dogfight with everyone and most importantly, yourself. You are constantly wondering if you are good enough every day, and stepping in one direction to see where your compass is going to lead you on the next.

You should be waking up in cold sweats if your revenue plan isn't working and pumping every last ounce of intellectual curiosity into finding out what does. If you're really really serious, you should move yourself to a growing city close to a manufacturing hub so you can get things done and have a product to sell, if you deal in physical goods.

Getting into YCombinator will be a milestone, but it's not an end goal. It's a startup school, but I also know a lot of people in YC that come out of that program, give up equity, but don't make anything of what they've learned. Yes, there are outliers, but those are folks also went into the program already with high marks.. YC does wonders for generating investor demand if you already have a solid foundation or prior background with progress to show (because this is what their investor network wants to see when sourcing deals). If you don't have prior expertise or traction, or know someone who can vouch for you that's very reputable in the industry, then your chances of admission are extremely slim.

If you feel like you have good ideas and lack execution, be really honest with yourself if entrepreneurship is right for you right now. You might have ideas, but you also might not be well-prepared to tackle the vertical you want to be a part of. It's one of those things that's truly a meritocratic battle, and if you aren't as hungry as the next person to make things work, it will be an uphill struggle where you will burn time, a lot of money, and your self confidence may be at stake in the process.

If it sounds like that's a bit too much, then get started working under someone way more successful than you in an industry you want to be in. Cold e-mail them and learn the business, and become the best at it. When you feel like you've hit a peak, you'll know you're ready.

But if diving right in is your thing, then the best time to get started was yesterday. Cheers.
I like this man!
Followed you on Insta too haha

but OP here's my 2 cents: this idea you're talking about, is it something like "uber for X" or "we're implementing blockchain in (common item/platform) to promote synergy through collaborative efforts" sorta thing aka just buzzwordy and not really a stable idea,
or is it something that you think you have an advantage in already/can easily create that advantage?

The reason I'm asking is this: if it's the former, I would tell you to go back to work. The market is saturated with college kids working on useless solutions to problems they've created (ask me how I know this), and most of the time the VCs/Investors can see right through the BS.

But if it's something you can truly create an advantage in, by all means, go get em champ. We're probably at two very different stages of our lives but I'd love to help you out as much as I can!

Best advice I can give you is this: if it's even a semi-solid idea (aka not repackaging two things into one) try to work on a business plan. If you can show how people can make money from this you'll have better luck with finding investors!
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      12-03-2019, 05:51 PM   #15
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Great thread and posts.
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      10-19-2021, 03:50 AM   #16
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Is your idea already patented? It cost me about $1000 the last time I had a patent attorney do a search for me. It saved me a lot of time and money.
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      10-19-2021, 05:12 AM   #17
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I think you've received some excellent advice, particularly about keeping a day job until your business is established and profitable. The 24/7 observation is also a good one. That's something I didn't fully appreciate with my business, there is no quitting time. It happens in ways I didn't expect. The website is constantly probed/attacked by script kiddies and bots for example, and every morning for me includes a review of the security logs. Also, buying my own health insurance was an eye opener. If you have employer-provided insurance, you may not realize how expensive health insurance is. Also realize that as a small-business owner, you do not qualify for unemployment insurance. If your business goes bust, you're still on your own.

A couple of random observations.

$450 for a good general business attorney is not expensive, not for Northern California. Attorney fees, for me, were shocking large. Their use of Westlaw, a database of case law they used to research my issues, was billed at $3000/hour. That's not a typo. Three thousand. And for a physical product you will want to investigate patents. Patent litigation can be phenomenally expensive. Also I would consider liability. I wouldn't start a business, even a service gig side hustle, without some measure of protection. Either insurance or corp structure. If you have a 6-figure concept, you will want to consider business taxes and corp organization. The time to have your tax planning in place is before revenue starts rolling in.

I think it's unrealistic to expect to be competent at everything you will need. Putting a public face on a small business has many facets and can be a bit of a weakest link thing. One of the mistakes I think you can make is thinking this looks easy and I know enough. Designing a slick marketing plan and designing a slick website are related but very different skills for example. Be prepared to outsource and hire independent contractors and accept your limitations. I used the basic IC contract from NOLO's small business guide to get started.

I started with a consultation through SCORE/SBA. Then I paid for two separate consultations with attorneys to review my business plan and to talk risk and liability with me. One of the things I most wanted to say to you was to get an objective outside opinion early on. Get an objective outside business plan review even if you have to pay for the review.
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      10-19-2021, 01:21 PM   #18
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Is your idea already patented? It cost me about $1000 the last time I had a patent attorney do a search for me. It saved me a lot of time and money.
That $1K was just for the search? Or filing too? Seems really low if itís filing too.
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      10-19-2021, 03:22 PM   #19
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Damn, forgot about this thread.

Pandemic hit // logistics and supply chain issues hit // manufacturing / travel hit and I basically set this all on the backburner while I focused on keeping my head above water.

Bought my M440, bought a house in the bay area, lots of other competing high priority items to focus on at the moment .

I guess part of that is the eternal lament of the entrepreneur though - it's far too easy to make excuses to yourself as to why you haven't made progress.
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      10-19-2021, 09:47 PM   #20
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Damn, forgot about this thread.

Pandemic hit // logistics and supply chain issues hit // manufacturing / travel hit and I basically set this all on the backburner while I focused on keeping my head above water.

Bought my M440, bought a house in the bay area, lots of other competing high priority items to focus on at the moment .

I guess part of that is the eternal lament of the entrepreneur though - it's far too easy to make excuses to yourself as to why you haven't made progress.
Yep. I feel you. Always up for exchanging ideas/thoughts though if you ever wanna chat. Iím in NorCal as well.
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      10-20-2021, 12:33 PM   #21
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Yep. I feel you. Always up for exchanging ideas/thoughts though if you ever wanna chat. Iím in NorCal as well.
I've been wondering how the heck there are no NorCal / bay area meetups on the calendar here. I'm generally down for beers / cocktails / wine anywhere from like Burlingame to Morgan Hill to Walnut Creek (though I generally stay out of SF / Oaklamd). And if you play golf you should definitely come out!
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      10-20-2021, 01:00 PM   #22
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I've been wondering how the heck there are no NorCal / bay area meetups on the calendar here. I'm generally down for beers / cocktails / wine anywhere from like Burlingame to Morgan Hill to Walnut Creek (though I generally stay out of SF / Oaklamd). And if you play golf you should definitely come out!
Brah I just organized a drive last weekend. There was a meetup event next to SJC the same day. Will ping you next time.
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