The title of this posting is inspired by author Anthony Bourdain who titled a chapter in his book Kitchen Confidential, "So you want to be a chef". Which is a whole other story in itself. This posting is for all of those people asking "So what are you doing now with all of your free time?" Well, Ill tell you.
When my boyfriend/business partner came up with the idea a few years ago I said "we should definitely do that one day". Well, when I left my job I decided that now is as good a time as any. I was excited. We were really going to do it! I had the time, we had the money and we had a killer product. Home made BBQ sauces and spice rubs. Southern necessities made by 2 city kids. Sounded like we had a niche market.
After talking to two good friends of ours we decided to set the date and make the plunge! The first thing I did was set up a meeting to discuss what needed to get done. We had to set up the corporation, secure the domaine name and trademark our company name first. We decided to go S-Corp and set up in Delaware (cheaper fees). We found a URL that suited our needs and we searched our company name and applied for a trademark. Thats over $500 right there. My brother is a very talented graphic designer and agreed to create our logo and labels. Which came out sick!
Then came tax season. We gave our tax preparer the company info and all receipts from 2010 and left it in his hands. Wrong. But what no one realized is that we were already a month late paying our s-corp fees to Delaware. Right away we were dinged with a late fee. We clear all that up just in time to get a letter from the IRS saying that we were also late paying them, boom second late fee. Needless to say my calendar is now marked for all of these new dates that we missed this year.
Meanwhile after weeks of researching packaging materials we found out that the website we were going to order our jars from discontinued the product. We had to go though the process of researching companies and ordering samples all over again before we found the one we wanted. Finding the tin we wanted for our spice rubs was no easy feat either. After being completely defeated we settled on something that was somewhat similar to our first choice.
Next, I set up a fancy business email account with google and until they updated their system it was so difficult to log into the account. You had to enter a domain name about 25-30 letters long to find the sign in page. There were other issues too. I had to get a friend involved and after a couple weeks I finally had a fully functioning email account.
Then there was facebook. Usually I love FB. Not this time. I set up a beautiful business account with our logo, descriptions of the products and info about our company. When FB asked for a name I thought it was standard info for setting up the account. So I entered my partners name. Little did I know this turns it from a business page to a personal page. And because FB owns you once you sign up I was unable to reverse it and unable to delete the account. I had to open yet another email account so that in the future when we are ready to, I can open another FB business account.
Nutritional labeling. First I thought we needed it, which was worrisome since it costs anywhere from $60-$200 a label to create and we had 9 different products. You do the math. Then I see on the FDA website that we may be exempt. But to make sure I contacted them first. After an email, 2 voicemails and 2 weeks later I finally got a response. I swear nothing is easy OR fast in this business. Turns out that since we are such a small company we don't need nutritional labeling just ingredient lists, a manufacturing address and if there are any allergens. Thankfully I have all of that.
BOE wants you to have a sellers permit but you can't apply for one until you have a company name and a website. Which leads me to our next problem. Remember that trademark application we sent out? Well it turns out there is a company in Spain who named their company the same as what we were trying to name our company and are very angry that we are trying "steal" it. After talking to trademarking professionals they told us we don't have a chance and that we need to find a new name. Back to the drawing board. I want to pull my hair out at this point because so far our labels and logo and everything else I have set up for this company has that name on it. Not to mention the fact that I really loved the name.
Then there is the decision to make and package the product yourselves or pay someone else to do it for you. After weeks of un-returned emails and phone calls, after contacting 5 or 6 companies we realized we don't belong in this playing field. We cant afford it nor do we need 600# of spice rubs laying around. We realized doing it ourselves is what we need to do. It makes sense the most. Ok finally some happy news. My partner talks to one of his purveyors and finds out that she is so excited about us starting our own business that she is going to give us 15% off our order. Score. Ok, so now we are working on ordering in the ingredients, making our products and some how bribing our friends and family to come over and fill 400 tins and 500+ sample baggies with us. Yes, there will be booze involved.
Did I mention that someone has already hacked into our Wells Fargo business account. Yep, racked up thousands of dollars in skype bills and at Walmart. F-ing Walmart trailer trash! Sorry, no offense to all of you Walmart shoppers just venting. Luckily Wells Fargo rocks, especially our banker and they got our money back.
On a positive note (you were wondering if there was going to be one right?) I set up shipping out of our house with USPS. Believe me, you want to go with them. They are the cheapest and to my surprise have excellent customer service. I have a rep who I can call or email anytime with questions or needs. I can receive packing boxes free in the mail, print postage from home and then they come pick it up and deliver it for you for free. The package will get to the recipient in 2 days! I know because I already did a trial run. The post office has probably been the most helpful, next to Wells Fargo throughout this whole process.
And this is just the beginning. We still have to find someone to print our labels for us. We have to have someone photograph our products for the website. We have to build the website, and for someone who is as technically as challenged as I am I foresee a lot of frustration in my future. Then there is facebook, hopefully this time it will work in my favor. I've got a twitter account set up but unfortunately with my old company name, so that will have to be changed. Along with my email address and the name on our bank account. We need to create business cards. So I can start going out and whoreing myself. And of course we need t-shirts made. Then comes the marketing aspect of the business. You guessed it, more money! But, honestly I cant't wait until that part of it because by then we will be up and running. Still thinking about starting an online business? Harder than you thought huh? In the end it will be worth it..............I hope.