Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Finding a sharkweasel

I realize that a lot has happened before I started blogging in my quest to start this company. One of the major decisions was finding a lawyer. I knew nothing about this, at all. In fact, I have the same general nervousness about lawyers that I have about other people in positions that I have to rely on but know nothing about what they do (mechanics, accountants, to name a couple others...). So I asked around for recommendations, people who had just looked for lawyers for themselves, people who do kind of what I do and who already had lawyers. They sent me specific names, law firms, etc., but in the end I wanted my own lawyer. Here were my criteria:

  • I wanted a shark: someone who would advocate and fight for me, an offensive player as opposed to a defensive player
  • I wanted a weasel: not a snake, but someone who knows the law well enough to use it to my advantage should the situation arise that I need that

Another piece of advice that I got was to try to find someone my own age, someone I could possibly socialize with, and who might not charge me for every minute long conversation. I liked this suggestion, because I'm definitely in networking mode lately.

How did I find my sharkweasel? I went to several big law firms' websites and I searched for lawyers based on the criteria that I was looking for: business law, tax law, intellectual property law, and venture capital.

A funny thing about lawyers, and law firm websites. They have pictures of all of their lawyers. So I looked through the pictures of the lawyers that matched my criteria. One of the firms had an office close to where I live, which I thought was great. I pulled up the photo of the closest match at that office, and I must admit, I knew right away he was my sharkweasel. I didn't want to get too excited, I needed to interview him, talk to him about what I'm trying to do, etc., but after our first meeting, I was sold. He even gets my sense of humor, in a lawyerly way, of course.

I'm just hoping that he doesn't mind when he finds out someday that I call him a sharkweasel...

So, I got my laptop...and a bank account

My laptop is sweet. Not in an "awww, shucks!" kind of way, but in a "yeah, baby!" way. I'm feeling more official everyday.

This morning was the setting up the bank account adventure. I forgot my checkbook and EIN number (knew I forgot the former, thought I had the latter). It didn't matter, though, because when I got to the bank, meeting my new bookkeeper and wife of my "sister company" supporter, the Assistant Manager told us the printers were down and we couldn't do all of the paperwork without a printer. Luckily, their IT folk fixed the issue while I was calling my lawyer's paralegal to get the EIN number. It all worked out, but I felt totally bush league. I need to get my files in order. I need to get a folder, at least.

So now I can write checks, and receive checks (this one is more important!). And I can show up to a client with a laptop. Hallelujah!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Laptop? Where are you?

I've now been working for seven days without a laptop. I can't have a conversation with anyone without mentioning it. When I turned in the basketload of gadgets leaving my last gig, I thought giving up my Blackberry would be the toughest. As a pre-emptive strike, I bought an iPhone, and although there are some distinct differences from my Blackberry, I finally got my hotmail connected to my iPhone (thanks izymail!) and now my roaming email needs are not a problem. Plus I can watch this YouTube video whenever I want.

So it seems that the big problem is the laptop, the one piece of equipment I have taken for granted. I was a little worried about this happening, but I really only thought I'd be waiting a day or two. It's now seven days (did I mention that already? SEVEN days??). I've been working on my desktop at home, which means my one year old remembers every 14 minutes that I'm home, in the other room, and comes running in screaming MAMA! with no concern to whether I'm on the phone with a client or not.

I'm thinking of creating a countdown to laptop arrival, but I don't know what I'm counting down to...I may be counting down to my imminent breakdown. Which seems like it could happen after SEVEN DAYS without a laptop....

Monday, February 25, 2008

The first blog is the hardest...

I'm surprised that its taken me this long to start a blog. Normally, any excuse I have to analyze things is used repeatedly and with glee, but blogging has seemed almost too good to be true. A place to talk about things I care about? People can respond to me, if they care to? Sweet! And yet, it took me until now to fully embrace the opportunity. Better late than never, I suppose.

And with that, here is the inaugural blog for Learning in Tandem, my chance to share stories about my adventures in starting my own company, Tandem Learning, and the lessons I learn as an entrepreneur in the industry of learning. As the name of both my company and this blog suggest, I won't be doing it alone. But I'm going to make it a point to try to protect the innocent in the stories I share.

The difficulty I had in starting this blog was seen on a much grander scale with starting Tandem Learning. I had a great job, made decent money, and all in all was happy with where my life was heading. Except...I was making a lot of money for The Man. And even that wasn't the whole problem. Over the course of the last six months, due to changes in the corporate structure at my previous company, The Man kept putting more and more red tape around what I could (or couldn't) do. Quite frankly, I have a problem with authority. You wouldn't know it to look at me, but I rage against the machine (or at least machines that I'm not in control of...).

But just like my skepticism with the ease of blogging, I had been skeptical that I could just go off and start my own company. I know how to do my job really well, but it seemed like the list of things I didn't know about running a company was almost insurmountable. Legal issues? Taxes? Benefits? All a mystery. More info on all of these things will come out in subsequent posts, but suffice it to say, just like in starting this blog, I had to decide to just do it.

I've been discussing a theory lately about life, I'm sure some philosopher already has the corner on this theory but I'm not a student of philosophy so forgive me if I'm stealing ideas. But life, to me, is a series of decisions, big and small. Who you are is who you decide to be. What you do is what you decide to do (or not to do). Indecision is in itself making a decision not to decide.

Fear is often what prevents me from making decisions. In deciding to start Tandem Learning, I had to get past my fear that I would to a miserable failure and my family would lose our house (not that I don't still worry about that, I just haven't let it get in the way of my decision to follow my dream). And fear is what kept me from writing this first blog. Fear that I would come off as stupid, egotistical, self-serving, smug, or any number of other unattractive adjectives. I finally decided that I probably will come off as all of those things, but it shouldn't prevent me from trying anyway.

So here it is. My decision to blog about my decision to start a company. And all the good and bad decisions I make along the way. I hope you learn something from my experiences, but that's something for you to decide for yourself.