You’ve got to have it to start a business.
Annoying, I know.
Annoying, but impossible to ignore.
So how do you get money to start a business?
We found the best first stop to be our local bank where we were already banking. We made an appointment and went in with all four kiddos. Now our local bank has been robbed at least 7 times since we moved here–and that doesn’t include the “false alarms.” Which means getting into the bank is like entering a jail.
I grew up in a small town where when you entered the bank you were greeted by your first name! No one asked you for your ID or Account number. They knew your name and looked it up for you. I was used to pampered banking. I find this new Jail Banking extremely annoying.
First, you have to wait for a green light to enter the first door. Then the door locks behind you. Then you have to pass through a metal detector. After you have passed through the metal detector, you have to wait for a green light to open the second door. Now I RARELY ever enter my bank. I use the Drive-Up window or the ATM or the internet or the phone. I DON’T LIKE JAIL BANKING. But this day, we needed to all come in for our appointment, so we all smashed ourselves into the entrance. These two bullet proof doors are made of glass as are the walls, and everyone in the bank can see you entering. The door behind us locked and then a voice came over the microphone. The voice said, “MMMmmphering mmmemphererer. mummumphhe.” All six of us were locked between the two bullet proof doors. “I know!” I said, “I have done this before with the kiddos. They won’t unlock the second door until we all pass through the metal detector.”
Now the bullet proof glass area into which all six of us were crammed is only about 7 feet long. The metal detector is about two feet from the door through which we needed to enter. Remember all the walls are glass, and the doors are placed so that everyone in the bank can see who is attempting to enter. SO we all tried to smash ourselves in the last two feet of the entrance. There were faces and bodies all smashed up against the bullet proof glass as six bodies tried to fit into 2 feet of space.
The voice came over the loud speaker again. “MMPHER MEMEPHAGE FEFE SMORGASBOARD!”
“Maybe all of our bodies aren’t past the metal detector” I said, “Smash in harder.” I was trying to get my behind that projects behind all the way through the metal detector. We still couldn’t get a green light and all six of us are pressed up against the glass of the last two feet of the jail entrance.
The bankers inside start motioning to us. We motion back. They motion. We yell back. They yell back at us, then try to use the microphone again. We all motion, yell, and squish some more.
Finally, the door behind us unlocks. We can go back out of the bank. We exit back out. Not knowing what else to do, The Hunni tries again. This time he is let into the Jail Bank without any trouble. I try. When I heard the door lock behind me with all the kiddos and didn’t immediately see the green light and hear the entrance door unlock, I got quite steamed. And like steam leaving a tea-kettle, I made some noise. Then the entrance door unlocked and me and the four kiddos were all allowed into our Jail Bank. A teller explained to me that no two adults are allowed to enter together. They had tried to tell us that over the loud speaker in the bullet proof glass cell. I was not impressed. Obviously we are a very inept family. How could we possibly be dangerous?
I was annoyed. It defenitely showed.
Then we all proceeded into an office with two chairs. Kiddos were on the floor. My annoyance still showed.
Then we proceeded to ask the bank about money.
There is the usual story and a moral here. And the moral is, when you need to ask for money, it is not good to be a tea-kettle, all hot, letting off steam, and making noise.
Don’t be like me.
Once you have some money, you HAVE to have a budget or plan for how you are going to use the money. Because it goes “real fast!”
When we exited the bank we still were not allowed to exit together. Apparently an inept family of six is still dangerous as they exit. But once we got in the car, The Hunni said, “Great way to start a business Mommi!” But he still loves me. And you know what else? The loan officer is a mom and was very understanding. She was as kind as she was professional. And it is a good thing I calmed down because when I went to sign my boy up for baseball, we met again. If fact, her boy will play baseball in the same league as my boy. And she has seen me and my Mommi body pressed up against bullet proof glass. I am sure that she will never forget me.
And you know what else? The people in our bank were very kind. And since the Jail-like entrance is for everyone’s safety, I’m glad they have it. But isn’t it too bad that Pampered Banking doesn’t exist anymore?
Lawyers are expensive.
Not “kind of expensive”, but “a lot” expensive.
As expensive as “four new outfits complete with shoes per hour” expensive.
And I think in our case they were worth every dime.
One of our best friends is a business lawyer, so we annoyed him with 100 questions and emails and service requests. He was very helpful. Eventually, we needed a lawyer that specialized in registering trademarks and patents, so we had to find a new lawyer.
Earlier (first Business 101 post) I mentioned that we hadn’t bought or used any services without a referral or direct contact. I guess this is the exception. We just found a lawyer in our area on the web who specialized in registering trademarks.
After the initial introduction and service requests, The Hunni set up an appointment time. And this is what The Hunni said over the phone, “Oh, and we homeschool our kids, so we will be bringing them with us.” The lawyer calmly and coolly responded, “Then I will make sure I reserve the conference room.” That was all. No sighing. No “I suppose, if you feel that is necessary. . . “, no “Usually, we have found that meetings with children don’t go as smoothly as business meetings where we can focus on the subject at hand. . .”, etc. . .
I might actually like him, I thought. And when we met him, we did.
We introduced all the kiddos, and got them started on school work or coloring pages. Then we started talking. He asked us many questions to clarify our ideas, and we asked him questions. The Hunni and I think differently, so often The Lawyer would have to repeat himself in a new way. Sometimes he would have to say the same thing four times. He didn’t act annoyed.
We were interrupted by my kiddos asking how to spell words, and my Little Man coloring on the conference table (which thankfully came off), and Little Man and Eloise running around the oval-shaped conference table (but only about five times and right at the very end), other than that, the kiddos were pretty well-behaved. I thought, “This man must have children of his own,” so I asked him. “No,” he smiled, he had no children.
“WOW!”, I thought, he is really patient for a man who doesn’t have kids. Either that or working behind a desk sometimes gets a little boring, and our conference session was anything but boring. Either way, he definitely earned his “four outfits complete with shoes $$’s per hour” pay.
One thing we did learn about lawyers and money is this.
(Here is the story with the attached moral–you knew it was coming.) The Hunni and I have found that it is necessary to always keep each other up to date in the business communication loop. We work at different times (I am free in the evenings after the kiddos are in bed, and he is often free during the day.) We also think VERY differently. So, whenever The Hunni sends off a business email, he carbon copies it to my email. That keeps us all up to date and informed. We also realized that often we needed to have a conference call when deciding something expensive and important. Conference calls keep both of us clear as to what was said and what we need to decide. Conference calls are also very difficult to manage in a homeschooling family. The entire family has to be quiet. On one conference call with the lawyer, I wasn’t able to join the call at the beginning. I had some kiddos to feed. So, I joined the conversation about 10 minutes later, and had to have everything repeated to me. THEN, the lawyer asked me a question about production. I started telling him how things were going. The Hunni started waving his hands at me and mouthing things. I had NO IDEA what I was doing wrong, so I lost my train of thought and rambled on while trying to motion and mouth back, “WHAT????” The conversation rambled on. The Hunni finally sat back in his chair with a bemused grin on his face. I rolled my eyes at him, and finally finished telling the lawyer where we were in production, how we got there, and where we hoped to be in the next day, week, month, year. . . When we finally finished the conference call, I said, “WHAT????!!” The Hunni answered back, all the lawyer needed was a “yes” or “no.” You gave him a 15 minute explanation, which is fine, but with his prices, that was four pair of shoes.” OUCH! (Here comes the lesson.) When time is money, be concise. Have everything pre-thought out.
Starting Your Own Business 101
Step 1: The Idea. That is all it is at first. Just something in your head–usually inspired by a couple of different things. You may have something sketched out on a notebook, or on the back of a napkin, or stored in some file on your computer, but it is an idea. Now an idea left alone will never turn into a business, but you can never have a business without an idea. So Step One is “The Idea.”
Step 2: Collect information. The internet is a great place to start, but you will also have to pick up the phone and do some “cold calling”. But perhaps your greatest assets are your friends and family and their contacts. Use them. Most people are kind and helpful. Some aren’t. So what. Collecting information is a very important step, but you could stay there all your life. You have to move on. You will never be able to research everything. At the same time, I don’t believe you will ever be able to stop collecting information.
Step 2.5: There will be Nay-Sayers and Encouragers. It is a fact of life. Try to learn from both.
Step 3: Money. You’ve gotta have it. I am sure there are volumes of resources online and at your local library and local bank to help you. Find a way to get some, and then have a budget for how you plan on spending it. Because it will be gone quickly.
Step 4: Lawyers. Expensive and necessary. I can think of four very costly mistakes the lawyer helped us avoid. One of which would have probably shut us down. There are a brazillion laws out there, and we are very thankful to have an expert keep us between the lines.
So, from a business novice who has yet to sell a thing, here is my advice, when dealing with bankers be friendly, when dealing with lawyers be concise.
Until next time,
P.S. If you are wondering what in the world we are producing, you are coming to the right place. Stay tuned.