It’s been 2 months since taking the plunge and things are good. Business has kept me so busy that my regular posts have taken a dip. While my daughter is sleeping right now during an afternoon off, I thought I’d share some experiences, feelings, and thoughts since starting the business.
Being The Boss
After working for many years in different industries in blue and white collar jobs, I’m now my own boss. I’ve dreamed of this for a long time but the funny thing is that now I have a different kind of boss, my customers. They need answers, software, and me to be available on their schedule.
At this time, the only employee is me but there’s still a lot to manage. Things like getting a good team, such as an accountant, lawyer, and other advisers in place to support you when questions arise or assistance is needed.
There’s also things I used to take for granted like doing payroll. When payday rolled around, you just get paid. Not so easy anymore. Choosing a payroll provider was no easy task because there are really cheap providers and market leaders like Paychex and ADP and price alone isn’t always the best reason to choose something. I chose Paychex because I worked at Paychex, know they provide excellent customer service, are very responsive, their online software is excellent, and they give you a dedicated payroll specialist.
As an S-Corp, I have to pay myself a “reasonable” salary. What’s reasonable is dependent on industry, services provided, variable income, and other considerations. The general guidance is to pay yourself what you’d pay an employee to do those tasks. So far, I’ve been paying myself a reasonable salary based on my pay period’s income. I’ve actually said to myself, “How much will I pay myself this time”. Perhaps a bit naive but I thought you had to pay yourself a salary no matter what. Nope. The pay is up to you.
Having a great team in place is a necessity. One can’t do it all. I’ve found a great accountant, payroll provider and other advisers. Great people work with other great people so when looking for a particular service provider, I’ve asked them and they usually refer me to other great people. Thank you!
With an accounting background, I decided early that I wanted to do my own bookkeeping. My biggest challenge was deciding which accounting software to use.
My accounting firm is certified in QuickBooks Online and decided to select that after researching it. I couldn’t be happier! It’s web based, easy to use, fast, and allows my accountant to login and review my journal entries and make any adjustments as needed. Since I want to keep all my documents electronic, being able to attach receipts to expenses, invoices to sales receipts, and other documents is awesome. Things can be a bit time consuming using a consumer grade scanner but luckily I don’t have to scan too many things.
Overall, this is pretty easy and I spend probably a few hours a month recording transactions and doing bank reconciliation.
Purchasing health insurance has been one of the hardest tasks thus far. Around 15-20 hours were spent on this before a decision was made.
Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum, that is the question. Bronze is the high-deductible, low premium tier while Platinum is the co-pay, high-premium tier. In my area, family Bronze plans across the providers cost approximately $800 per month and Platinum plans are $1,600 per month. Another factor is do you buy a plan from the health exchange or from the provider.
Not happy with the options seen, I started looking into non-traditional health care insurance providers such as freelancers insurance but that turned out to be even more expensive.
I then started looking at the business health insurance plans on the health exchange which were a little cheaper than the individual plans but essentially had the same coverage. After speaking to a health exchange rep, I learned I wasn’t eligible because a business needs at least 2 employees, one of whom can’t be a common-law employee aka can’t be related to the owner.
In the end, two plans were purchased. One for my wife and I and one for our daughter. Our daughter is covered under Child Health Plus which is an HMO plan that has the major things fully covered with no deductible or co-pays. The tradeoff is that she must see her primary care physician first for everything and then be referred to a specialist, unless it’s an emergency.
After all of this, it reaffirmed my belief that I would gladly pay extra taxes for universal health coverage.
No Written Business Plan
The traditional business advice is to have a business plan written down describing the goods and services that will be provided, how the company will be funded and the funding sources, what your target market segment(s) will be, what actions will be taken over X number of years, and other things. This was too much for me for now.
I had thought about starting my own business for years and had tossed around many different ideas with friends and mentors. For example, even though I’ve always been drawn to computers and creating software, do I want to stay in this industry or do something else. Besides software, I’m also drawn to finance and accounting and have thought about becoming a CPA or a Certified Financial Planner.
After switching to a technical consultant position at NimbleUser, I discovered that I really liked consulting and helping people more than the programming aspect. With that discovery, I decided to start this Salesforce consulting practice and see how it goes.
So far, things have been good and have not regretted writing a lengthy business plan. If I was to do something else, I’d probably do a business plan.
Having savings as a financial cushion really eased my worry about taking this plunge. Knowing we could go for a while without any income and that I could find another job quickly is a big relief. Will I always be able to find another job in this industry? Who knows but for now I can.
I keep asking myself and others have asked, “will you hire anyone or expand?” and for now, no. I have never been happier and the work-life balance is great. I have more family time and love working from home. I have turned down more work with no regrets.
Of course, things may change so we’ll see.
Some other items like staying focused, having a designated workspace, and potentially getting rid of my car were other topics I had to write about but my wife, daughter and I are going to go for a walk now while the weather is good.
What reflections and observations do you have from starting your own business?