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Doing It On Their Own ...

Doing It On Their Own ...

Old Jan 29th 2004, 11:37 pm
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EXPATS IN BUSINESS

Any here running a business? Thinking of running a business? Or got the hell out of dodge when things went from bad to very bad?

I recently (for the first time in my life) started a business with a partner. It was not an easy thing to do. The need to make money to pay the office rent or pay a deadline bill certainly focuses one's mind. I lost a lot of sleep in the first few weeks. Giving up a regular income verses starting out with no guarantee of anything made for lots of butterflies in zee stomach. Scary is not the word to describe it. :scared:

Anyone been through this - on this side or the other side of the wee pond?
 
Old Jan 30th 2004, 12:40 pm
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I've never done this but I recently found out about the British American Camber of Commerce. Have a check around to see if theres one near you. Looks like a bloody good resource if you're starting a business
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Old Jan 30th 2004, 2:30 pm
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Originally posted by Duncan Roberts
I've never done this but I recently found out about the British American Camber of Commerce. Have a check around to see if theres one near you. Looks like a bloody good resource if you're starting a business

We pulled in about $8,000 worth of patent business (with about $4,000 paid up front) this week and look like we will be getting more work next week, which is cool.

Snag is, we can't use the $4,000, it goes into a trust account. We can only transfer the money to an operating a/c and pay bills once we have done the work, then we should also get the balance due. So the money does not go to the bottom line until the work is done. But I will work like a dog (I work until 11PM five days a week, and work part of Saturday and most of Sunday). I use this forum for "breaks". We mainly do fixed fee work (that's all we have got right now), so we don't charge by the hour, which we feel will attract those type of clients who worry about giving work to other firms who bill by the hour.

One thing that is different here from the UK is that lawyers here can't benefit from client's money held on deposit. You either put the money into a non-interest earning trust account, or if it earns interest you donate it to a Bar or to the State (or some other neutral party, perhaps to a charity, but not sure about that).
 
Old Jan 30th 2004, 3:18 pm
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[i]
or if it earns interest you donate it to a Bar or to the State (or some other neutral party, perhaps to a charity, but not sure about that).
Donating it to a Bar sounds good to me
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Old Jan 30th 2004, 4:37 pm
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Originally posted by Duncan
I've never done this but I recently found out about the British American Camber of Commerce. Have a check around to see if theres one near you. Looks like a bloody good resource if you're starting a business


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That's a pretty good idea - I want to attract trademark, patent and copyright business from UK firms who want to penetrate the US market. We can file UK inventions as patents directly at the US Patent/Trademark Office.

Last edited by Patent Attorney; Jan 30th 2004 at 9:21 pm.
 
Old Jan 31st 2004, 3:52 am
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Can't you get some financial help from the government for a while starting up a business- I'm sure I've heard commercials about in on the radio about grants or something for people starting new businesses.
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Old Jan 31st 2004, 4:40 am
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Originally posted by Taffyles
Can't you get some financial help from the government for a while starting up a business- I'm sure I've heard commercials about in on the radio about grants or something for people starting new businesses.
Well yes. But the red tape and hassles is something else. We are finding (my business partner and I) that there are so many things to do it is hard to find time between marketing for new clients, doing the client work, to sit down and fill in the forms. Also, we feel that by the time the loan is approved we will have gone through the worst part of "it" and will not want the loan.

Oh, did we say that "it" can be bad. So many different unexpected problems. Today was no different. Our bank (where we opened an operating and trust a/c two weeks ago) somehow sent our operating a/c check book and card to our address (but in DC, not Arlington, VA). The bank guy thought his bank branch was in DC, he did not realize his branch is in Arlington, VA. So somehow he decided to ignore what we wrote down and generated a DC address, including a DC zip code (ignoring what we wrote down). I weird mistake, but he made it. When we said he got it wrong, he remained unconvinced that his bank branch was in Arlington, VA! I wonder how many other new customers have been messed up by his mind-error. :scared:

Why do I bother to mention this? One mistake leads to lots of problems. Today, our FAX machine (a cheap one, just to get us by) was playing up. So we decided we had to replace it. So we popped into the Office Depot on the next block, picked a really nice laser fax (with copy and scan capability), plus some office furniture (I needed a proper chair, the one I was using was from home and not really designed to be used for long periods). We got the stuff to the check out: the fax, the office chair, some other things.

The assistant manager offered me a free cold drink (I picked ice tea), and when we pulled out the check book they took one look at it and said no, the checks needed our business name and address on them (they were temporary checks, ours had gone to DC). With problems like this to solve day in day out as we get the business off the ground, we don't have time for red tape.

Last edited by Patent Attorney; Jan 31st 2004 at 8:06 pm.
 
Old Jan 31st 2004, 5:11 am
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Did they want the iced tea back That must have been embarrassing- never mind, one day you'll look back on all this and laugh. Hope you raised merry hell with the bank and they'll get it sorted quickly.
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Old Jan 31st 2004, 7:58 pm
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I have started two since I have been here and the biggest thing is cash flow, I cannot spend it until I have it and people aren't very quick at sending you the checks. I am (as we speak) waiting for $720 from 3 customers and my business account is empty so I am having to spend my savings on stuff.

The other thing I am having trouble with is pricing, I am so anxious to get jobs and get into the market place I am undercutting everyone but by too much at the moment for me to be profitable, this I have to sort out and quickly.

I don't seem to have any time for marketing, I try to press the flesh whenever I can but I am either at customer sites working or doing quotes and before I know where I am the day is over. I never used to go to bed before 11, this week I have been in bed before 10 every night this week I am so tired.

I can tell you this, if you are thinking of going into business for yourself you have to be prepared to work harder than you have ever worked before, you have to do everything - be the salesman, the lacky, the marketeer and the accountant. Especially when you start out and you can't afford to pay anyone. My garage is full of stuff for work while my (brand new) truck sits outside in the cold because I can't afford storage.

Here are some tips for people starting their own business in the US.

1. Get your business cards printed free at http://www.vistaprint.com You still have to pay for shipping but they are good to start with.

2. Go to http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/...110417,00.html - there is all sorts of information about starting a small business and what you should do.

3. Write a business plan, this is very important and will help you be able to borrow money from the bank.

4. Bank - open up two accounts, a checking account and saving accounts in the business name. Try and use the checking account for all your business needs and whenever you get check for a job put a third of your earnings in the saving account for your taxes. You should only have to pay maybe 10% if you box clever which means you can start building colateral in your business and in a couple of years will have some money to fall back on.

5. A smiling face is better than a phone call - if you can do something in person do it.

6. Always pay off your creditors before paying yourself, make sure that you pay what you owe to people before you take out your cut.

7. Your best salesman is word of mouth so make sure keep people happy, do what it takes the first bunch of jobs to keep people happy even if that means working harder, putting more effort in and cutting prices.

8. If you have a university or college call them, a lot of them have free workshops for starting your own business.

9. Check with the city, county and state laws and see what licenses or bonds you need. Speak to the state department of labor about what you trying to achieve and see if have any advice or whether you need to do anything special.

As in everything, preperation is the key, make sure you do all the ground work before going into business. I put a month of pure work into research and setting up the business before I did a hands turn. Don't just buy a sponge and think you are automatically a window cleaner.

If you like a regular paycheck, only want to work 9-5, have no initiative to find work, can't be bothered to fight for every penny and don't want to worry about where your next meal is coming from then don't even think about starting your own business, it is not for the faint of heart or weak of bowels I can tell you.

Good Luck P

Patrick
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Old Jan 31st 2004, 8:13 pm
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Originally posted by Patrick
I have started two since I have been here and the biggest thing is cash flow, I cannot spend it until I have it and people aren't very quick at sending you the checks. I am (as we speak) waiting for $720 from 3 customers and my business account is empty so I am having to spend my savings on stuff.

The other thing I am having trouble with is pricing, I am so anxious to get jobs and get into the market place I am undercutting everyone but by too much at the moment for me to be profitable, this I have to sort out and quickly.

I don't seem to have any time for marketing, I try to press the flesh whenever I can but I am either at customer sites working or doing quotes and before I know where I am the day is over. I never used to go to bed before 11, this week I have been in bed before 10 every night this week I am so tired.

I can tell you this, if you are thinking of going into business for yourself you have to be prepared to work harder than you have ever worked before, you have to do everything - be the salesman, the lacky, the marketeer and the accountant. Especially when you start out and you can't afford to pay anyone. My garage is full of stuff for work while my (brand new) truck sits outside in the cold because I can't afford storage.

Here are some tips for people starting their own business in the US.

1. Get your business cards printed free at http://www.vistaprint.com You still have to pay for shipping but they are good to start with.

2. Go to http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/...110417,00.html - there is all sorts of information about starting a small business and what you should do.

3. Write a business plan, this is very important and will help you be able to borrow money from the bank.

4. Bank - open up two accounts, a checking account and saving accounts in the business name. Try and use the checking account for all your business needs and whenever you get check for a job put a third of your earnings in the saving account for your taxes. You should only have to pay maybe 10% if you box clever which means you can start building colateral in your business and in a couple of years will have some money to fall back on.

5. A smiling face is better than a phone call - if you can do something in person do it.

6. Always pay off your creditors before paying yourself, make sure that you pay what you owe to people before you take out your cut.

7. Your best salesman is word of mouth so make sure keep people happy, do what it takes the first bunch of jobs to keep people happy even if that means working harder, putting more effort in and cutting prices.

8. If you have a university or college call them, a lot of them have free workshops for starting your own business.

9. Check with the city, county and state laws and see what licenses or bonds you need. Speak to the state department of labor about what you trying to achieve and see if have any advice or whether you need to do anything special.

As in everything, preperation is the key, make sure you do all the ground work before going into business. I put a month of pure work into research and setting up the business before I did a hands turn. Don't just buy a sponge and think you are automatically a window cleaner.

If you like a regular paycheck, only want to work 9-5, have no initiative to find work, can't be bothered to fight for every penny and don't want to worry about where your next meal is coming from then don't even think about starting your own business, it is not for the faint of heart or weak of bowels I can tell you.

Good Luck P

Patrick
Agreed, the biggest thing is cash-flow. We didn't realize how important cash flow is. It took longer to actually get the money to pay bills so we have been forking out a LOT of money to get the business off the ground and inordinate amounts of time markeing our service. Like you we have offered our services at a cut rate to get orders. The pressures are on a totally different level from what I am used to. As you say, not for the faint hearted or who are prone to turning white pants into brown pants!
 
Old Feb 1st 2004, 12:42 am
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Originally posted by Taffyles
Did they want the iced tea back That must have been embarrassing- never mind, one day you'll look back on all this and laugh. Hope you raised merry hell with the bank and they'll get it sorted quickly.
Well, it has gone from simply annoying and an inconvenience to Def Con 3 (whatever that is). We went back to the Home Depot today with a cashiers check - certified check, as good as cash since it is underwritten by the issuing bank. Guess what, Home Depot refused it.

Now we have an additional problem, the cashier's check is made out Home Depot. I hope the bank will take the check back and put the money back into our operating account. We had a major row with Home Depot because they told us a cashier’s check would be fine. Then their insurance company refuses to process the check. I don't get their logic, but there it is.

Right now I hate our business bank. Their almighty screw up has cost us time and a huge amount of inconvenience. We need our business credit/debit card like NOW.
 
Old Feb 1st 2004, 1:31 am
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Originally posted by Patrick
I can tell you this, if you are thinking of going into business for yourself you have to be prepared to work harder than you have ever worked before, you have to do everything - be the salesman, the lacky, the marketeer and the accountant. Patrick

So true! I have had my own business since 1990 and often found myself working 16 hours a day/7 days a week. I didn't really need to work the hours for the money, it was simply a case of my not learning when to turn new work away! I was very fortunate in that I was able to work from home so I did not have any travelling time or office rent to pay!

I have lost count of how many times people would tell me that I was so lucky because I could do what I wanted when I wanted. For some reason there seems to be a lot of employed people who think having your own business = not having to work!
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Old Feb 27th 2004, 7:06 pm
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Well, just got a NEW CLIENT. Three patent applications! ... took three months of sweat and worry. This is so cool.

Originally posted by 207lonsdale
So true! I have had my own business since 1990 and often found myself working 16 hours a day/7 days a week. I didn't really need to work the hours for the money, it was simply a case of my not learning when to turn new work away! I was very fortunate in that I was able to work from home so I did not have any travelling time or office rent to pay!

I have lost count of how many times people would tell me that I was so lucky because I could do what I wanted when I wanted. For some reason there seems to be a lot of employed people who think having your own business = not having to work!
 
Old Feb 27th 2004, 7:57 pm
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Originally posted by Patrick


I can tell you this, if you are thinking of going into business for yourself you have to be prepared to work harder than you have ever worked before, you have to do everything - be the salesman, the lacky, the marketeer and the accountant. Especially when you start out and you can't afford to pay anyone. My garage is full of stuff for work while my (brand new) truck sits outside in the cold because I can't afford storage.


Patrick
Been there - done that.

Ex and I had three optometric practices in the UK. One joint venture with Specsavers and two private practices. The joint venture gave us a useful buffer for starting up.

Also, we had a domiciliary contract.

I'm looking forward to hanging up my shingle again as soon as I qualify in my current profession. You can't beat working for yourself, I'd be bored without constant change and advancement.

Fear profits no man (or woman)
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Old Feb 28th 2004, 3:17 am
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Originally posted by lairdside
Been there - done that.

Ex and I had three optometric practices in the UK. One joint venture with Specsavers and two private practices. The joint venture gave us a useful buffer for starting up.

Also, we had a domiciliary contract.

I'm looking forward to hanging up my shingle again as soon as I qualify in my current profession. You can't beat working for yourself, I'd be bored without constant change and advancement.

Fear profits no man (or woman)
You are going to do very well again Lairdside

I've got to respect a super-intelligent woman.
 

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