Guest Post: It Is A Different World…And a Great Time To Be An Entrepreneur
June 7, 2011 § Leave a comment
Jumping off of Steven’s post on Friday, I wanted to second his opinion that it is most certainly “a different world”, and beyond that, an unbelievable time to start a business. I know, there’s still a huge cloud over the US economy, but I also firmly believe there’s always opportunity for those with good ideas and the ability to execute at a higher level than most.
With that core belief, myself and 2 former colleagues joined together to start our own engagement marketing agency (Blue Engine Marketing). We’re 10 weeks in, and so far it’s been an incredibly rewarding experience. Yes, it’s been challenging on a daily basis, and I don’t think that will ever change, but if you’re entrepreneurial in nature you most likely embrace challenges. But, I’ve also been struck by how many elements associated with starting a business have become so simple and accessible in this post-bubble era.
Steven already touched on the office space piece. Our company has space at WeWork, and we love it. Once we found the space, it took less than 15 minutes for us to contract with WeWork, and we were off and running. All we needed to do was complete their boilerplate license agreement and slap down our credit card, and we were a tenant. No financial background checks, no crazy security deposits and no complicated lease agreements.
Other items that I’ve encountered, and that I feel have recently been stripped of complexity are:
We engaged ADP and after a 30-minute meeting where our sales rep completed all the necessary paperwork, and I simply signed, we were set-up on their online system. Now, twice a month I log onto the system and in less than 2 minutes run our payroll. And, it gets even better, ADP handles all tax matters from both an employee and employer perspective – a huge worry for a business to be relieved of. To top it all off, it costs approximately $150/month to have the payroll burden lifted from our shoulders.
One of my partners was on COBRA prior to starting with the company, and we thought it probably would be simplest and most cost-effective if we kept her on COBRA to start. I just figured there would be no way to get her coverage at a lower cost if it was a group plan of one. Turns out, that we were wrong. Through ADP and their insurance services group we were able to get my colleague set-up with a health plan in less than a week and at a 30% lower cost.
We used a NYC attorney to incorporate the company, but he didn’t have experience with intellectual property matters, and we wanted to file for the trademark on our name/logo. So, based on a friend’s referral, we checked out legalzoom.com. One of the basic services that this legal site performs is trademark filing. I filled out the online application, uploaded our logo with name and entered our credit card information – took maybe 20 minutes. After that initial step, all I had to do was review the results of legalzoom’s initial trademark search and the formal filing that they drafted. And, presently our completed filing is working its way smoothly through the US Patent & Trademark Office.
Speaking of our logo, after an unsuccessful exercise with a freelance graphic designer, someone we knew suggested we check out 99designs.com. This is one of the more popular design contest sites that have popped up on the web in the last few years. People looking for everything from logos to website designs can create a “contest” encouraging designers from around the globe to submit their work (based on the customer’s direction) in hopes of being declared the contest winner. The winner, and only the winner, gets paid. It’s an excellent and easy way to get a huge variety of creative treatments. We paid $350 for our logo, which we love, and it was created by a designer in Bulgaria.
So, from my perspective, it’s access to these kind of resources that make now, more than ever before, a great time to be an entrepreneur. I can’t even imagine how much more difficult it must have been for my father who started his own business over 30 years ago. Indeed it is a different world and a new day, and if you’ve got an idea for a new business, I would simply say … Carpe Diem!
The Author is Jason Robins, Founder of Blue Engine Marketing (http://www.linkedin.com/pub/jason-robins/4/5/385)