Stop the SOPA Bill from Killing Employment

The biggest threat to U.S. employment and to the internet as we know it will be discussed in a bill starting Nov. 16th. The bill is know as SOPA (or the Stop Internet Piracy Act). It is being rushed through and is expected to pass.

Mozilla Firefox, Google, and many other major online businesses are desperately working hard to make sure this bill doesn’t pass. The bill promotes online censorship, similar to China’s current policies. It will also lead to a decrease in job creation.

While the name (SOPA- Stop Internet Piracy Act) sounds like it could be a positive idea, on further research you can see the bill is primarily being backed by major corporations to create an unfair barrier to entry and make smaller online businesses have to bend over backwards to comply with their rules.

And even if these small businesses go by the book, this bill would allow any accusation of wrongdoing to result in the small business’s website being removed for investigation before even being found guilty. This could cost these businesses thousands of dollars a day in lost profits. These small businesses currently employ a large percentage of U.S. workers.

(For a larger version of the graphic:

While the recession has been hitting almost every major sector in the United States hard, the technology sector has been one of the lone bright spots:

More than 3 million jobs have been created thanks to the internet and online business
Over 15% of our economic growth in the last 5 years has been from the internet and online business
Venture Capitalists have invested over $43 billion in online business in 2010
These Venture Capitalists are responsible for over 11% of current employment in the United States

If this bill is passed, there will be a severe decrease in the above numbers. It completely discourages economic growth in the sector, which is something we desperately need during a time of recession.

I encourage you to check out the link below and see what Mozilla Firefox has to say about the issue and take some steps to let congressmen know that this bill will kill jobs, is not helpful to economic growth, and should not be passed.

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How To Make Money With A Blog

How To Make Money With A Blog

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LLC: What Forming an LLC Can Do To Save You and Your Family In A Lawsuit

Forming an LLC (Or Limited Liability Corporation) is simple and it is the best way to get your business started. When my vending company got off the ground, this is the first thing I did. The biggest advantage of forming an LLC is to protect yourself.

Let’s say you have a vending business, and a customer drops their quarter in front of the machine and bends down to pick it up. As they are bending down, they bump the machine and suddenly the sharp edge of the metal lid falls over and smacks against a customer’s head and crushes their skull, causing the customer to bleed extensively. They are rushed to the hospital in an ambulance for emergency surgery. Thankfully the customer fully recovers 3 days later. Unfortunately, they decide to sue you. The good news in all of this is that if you formed an LLC. This means they can’t sue you as an individual for all your money, they can only sue the company. Congrats! You get to keep your Wave Runner.

Vending is dangerous

An LLC is formed by filing papers with your state. The process is fairly quick and easy and costs between $125 and $300 depending on your state. Many states allow you to fill everything out online. You can find what your state requires here.

Once you fill out your papers and pay the fee, you are officially a legal Limited Liability Corporation!


DISCLAIMER: The graphic nature of the story was used to convey a point and is not based on true events. I do not intend to offend anyone or make and individuals feel uncomfortable. I only intend to educate. Thank you for your understanding and patience.

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Why LeBron Should Think Like An Entrepreneur

LeBron Should Think Like an Entrepreneur

There has never been a time in NBA history where one player’s free agency has gotten more publicity than the actual NBA Finals. LeBron had more people interested in his decision than the outcome of the actual Championship! The self-proclaimed ‘Chosen One’ is now a larger than life icon that has a huge decision to make that will affect his legacy forever. That decision is choosing the right team.

I really think LeBron should take this time to sit down and think about this decision the way a smart entrepreneur should.

A smart entrepreneur wants to leave a legacy.
He wants to do something that will impact the world and help society. The end goal of an entrepreneur should never be which decision will make the most money. It’s about staying true to the overall goal and vision. When you create a consistent vision within your startup, you create a customer base that is loyal and is excited about your new products, because they share the same goals. Apple is very effective at doing this. They promote a vision that encourages people to challenge the status quo, and this is reflected and consistent with everything they do.

What I’m trying to say is that LeBron’s main goal should be to impact society in a positive way and to leave the best legacy possible. I personally believe that the best place for him to do that is Cleveland. Cleveland is a city that’s starving for a championship. It hasn’t won one since 1964 despite having 3 professional teams all striving for a title. The city is plagued with memories of many failed attempts (the Drive, the Fumble, the Shot, Jose Mesa blowing the World Series, etc.), but that hasn’t stopped fans from coming out and being one of the most dedicated fan bases in the United States. Don’t believe me? Just look at these guys.

Cleveland Needs An Entrepreneurial Mind

LeBron choosing to stay in Cleveland will be great for his legacy. He will have his own niche in Cleveland where he will likely be remembered as the greatest individual the city has ever had after he brings them a championship or two. His impact will never be forgotten. However, if LeBron moves to a bigger city like New York or Chicago, everything he does will be overshadowed or compared to someone else. His decision, like in business, should NOT be about what city will give him the most endorsement opportunities or has the brightest lights. It should be about staying true to your own vision.

New York is filled with celebrities and superstars. Anything LeBron does there will become old news once the season is over. New York is filled with teams that have won championships every single decade of its existence, including the Giants in 2007 and the Yankees last year. LeBron winning a title in the Big Apple is of minimal impact because the market is already saturated. And Chicago already has a basketball legend. MJ has the first mover advantage in the city and anything LeBron does will constantly be compared to His Airness. At best, he will be remembered as just as good.

From a true entrepreneurial perspective, LeBron should continue to make an impact on society in the most effective way possible. The best way is by filling a need and giving the city of Cleveland a championship and becoming an unforgettable hero in the process.

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Candy Vending: How To Talk To Companies (Part 2 of 3)

In part 2 of this series (continued from part 1), I will discuss what you need to do to talk to local businesses and how to get your foot in the door, as well as which businesses are the most profitable.

3) Talk to Local Businesses

This part is easy. Once you have the machines, you can talk to local businesses in your area and let them know that you have machines that you are placing. In my experience I’ve found that while you can call over the phone and ask to speak with the owner, the process goes much smoother when you talk to the owner face to face.

The standards of the Vending Machine Business

Most people in the Vending Machine business work with a local charity. They talk with the charity and agree that 10% of their profits will go to them. Just ask if you can make a copy of the charity’s logo, and then just print it out and stick it on your machines. Most businesses you talk with will be more than okay with you letting them know that you are placing the machines to help support a local charity.

However, some business owners are looking for a commission of your sales. If the location seems like it would be profitable enough, it can be advantageous on both sides for you to give the owner up to 25% of your profit. I would first start off at 10% and not go higher than 25%. There are way too many other locations that will be willing to let you place your machines.

The Five Most Profitable Locations for Machines

1. Pizza Shop
2. Gym
3. Mechanic Shop
4. Barber Shop
5. Gas Station

4) Alternative Option: Hire a Locating Company

If you don’t have time, or don’t want to deal with the hassle of going in to businesses and talking with their owners, you can hire a locating company to do the work for you. But beware, some locating companies can give you terrible businesses that later will kick you out. It’s important to deal with a respectable and trustworthy company. This is why I suggest KickStart Locations. They are very helpful and have a guarantee to backup their service.

Stay tuned for part 3 of this series. I will write about the best candy choices to make the most money on your machines for each location. I will also discuss how to set up an LLC once the money starts rolling in and you have a legitimate company set up!

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Top 10 Things a Successful Start Up Entrepreneur Must Focus On

Starting up a business is a fun and challenging experience. Most entrepreneurs find the new obstacles they must overcome as exciting. While there are plenty of challenges to keep a new start up engaging, there are 10 essential ideas that all entrepreneurs must always keep fresh in their mind.

1. Cash Flow

Everything you do in the company revolves around Cash Flow. Just because your company is profitable on paper, doesn’t always mean that everything is fine. There are countless examples of companies that have failed even though they were making a profit! The reason for this is their Cash Flow. They didn’t have enough cash to pay employees, pay bills, etc. and they had to close down. All their cash was tied up in credit sales that took 90 days to arrive. It is always important to make sure you have cash to handle your expenses because the utility companies don’t care if your turning a profit, they want their payment NOW. Especially with the availability of credit in this current economy, understanding your Cash Flow comes first.

2. Solve a Problem, Profitably

This is essentially the backbone of every business. If this isn’t what your company is committed to and focused on doing, it won’t last very long. A business should always be about making something easier for someone. You must also be aware and be able to gather alls cost that the business will entail (i.e. insurance, rent, product cost, employees, professional services, etc.). Revenue minus expenses equals profit.

3. Creating Value for the Customer

The customer comes first. This seems obvious, but some people can get so focused on how much money the product can make that they get lost in the shuffle of forgetting that it has to be something the customer actually wants. There are many different ways to create value. You can make their life easier in some way (i.e. creating a hands off vacuum) or you can give them an experience that makes them feel good (Dippin’ Dots Ice Cream).

4. Sustainable Competitive Advantage

What makes you better than your competitors? If someone was about to launch a company today and copy you, what would make you stand out? You should try and set yourself up in a market where there are some barriers for entry. Maybe you thrive because of your secret recipe in your food, or you have incredible customer service like Zappos that can’t be easily replicated. Whatever it is, make sure you have something that can not be easily copied. Groupon is a company having trouble with this exact problem. Their business model is easily copied and they have a slew of new copycat competitors.

5. Find A Partner That Compliments Your Skills

In life, most people like to hang out with people similar to them because they are the easiest to get along with. While having a partner that thinks the same as you is helpful in reinforcing that your decisions are smart, it not necessarily the most effective strategy. You should find someone that thinks slightly different than you. If you are spontaneous and always finding new opportunities, it is useful to pair yourself with someone who may be more organized. If you are the type that is very good at bringing everything together and setting up an effective system, it would be wise to find someone that is possibly a little less organized but more open minded and may have the ability to take your company in new directions that you might have not considered before.

6. Surrounding Yourself with Supportive People

You have enough stress going on at this time, you can’t have people around you bringing you down and doubting your ability to succeed. It is really helpful to have a few close people you can talk to in these times, whether it’s a close friend or an encouraging spouse. It is also good to connect with a support group of people going through the same thing. Try and find a local entrepreneurs club in your area. It’s helpful to talk with people dealing with the same amount of stress as you are and you can develop some good relationships there.

7. Anticipating Problems (Creative Problem Solving)

Problems come up. It’s all part of business. I have found the best solution to solving them is to try and anticipate what they will be. When I was starting my vending business, I already had a 2 week vacation to Florida planned. I knew that not being in town could create some problems. Instead of deciding to put off my business until after I came back, I worked out a deal with my best friend to check the machines. He agreed, and all I had to do was compensate him with a couple bags of Ruby Red Grapefruit and the problem was solved 3 weeks ahead of time. There will always be problems that come up and most can be solved. I encourage you to be open minded and creative and you will find a good solution.

8. Handling the Tiny Details

This is the one part of the business that can cause you to get restless. Most entrepreneurs thrive on the challenge of tackling a new task, and minor paperwork and small errands seem to be way too boring and monotonous. The best advice for this when starting up is just: buckle down and get it done! You probably don’t have the luxury right now of hiring employees to take care of small details. Always keep in mind that these tasks are helping you complete the big picture. If you don’t do the little things right, big things won’t happen.

9. Have Resources For Knowledge and Expertise

It is always useful to have knowledgeable people around you. Three minds are better than one. While some of your peers may have some not so useful advice about your business, teaming and working with people that have experience is a great strategy. This can be your lawyer, your accountant, or someone in the same field that isn’t a competitor. Whether the people are working with you, or just coming in as consultants, it’s always useful to get some outside input to keep your company on the right track.

10. Networking!

The single most important part of you business is getting out there and networking with people. Meeting people is the number one way to get your business to grow. Networking allows people to get to know what you do, plus it can also help provide you with resources to help you improve your business. When I first started getting into business, I wanted to do everything on my own, but I quickly found out that was a terrible strategy. I switched my game plan around and started networking at every chance I got. I met and developed relationships with so many interesting people along the way, and it also led me to finding both my current lawyer and great accountant.

Okay, there’s what you need to know. Now get out there! Make things happen!

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Candy Vending: Small Investment, Quick Payoff (Part 1 of 3)

If you are someone that wants to get the ball rolling as an entrepreneur like I was and you don’t have a lot of cash stored up to do start-up, I suggest starting up your own Vending Business. The amount of money you can make in the vending business is unlimited. You only need to check the machines once a month, and each machine can easily make you $15-20 a month or even more. At one point, I was making $700 a month doing 7 hours of hard work 2 days a month. That’s equivalent to $8,400 a year just for working hard 24 days a year!

The Vending Business is perfect to do on the side if you have a full time job, or if you are running a separate business because checking the machines is flexible and you can do it on your own time. I have broken everything down into a step-by-step process of exactly what you need to get yourself started. Once you understand these basics, it is possible to turn this business into your main source of income if you so choose.

There are many different areas of vending that you can be successful (Candy, Beverages, Toys, etc.). The one that I am going to focus on is the cheapest and fastest way to break into the Vending Business, which involves Candy and Gumball Quarter Machines.

There’s just six simple things that you need to know to get yourself started:

1.    Buy USED Machines
2.    Make or Buy Labels
3.    Talk to Local Businesses
4.    Alternative Option: Hire A Locating Business
5.    Best Candy Choices
6.    Form an LLC

I am going to cover the first two steps in this blog post. Please subscribe to my blog and the next steps will be added later this week.

1) Buy Used Machines

This is the most important factor in having a successful Vending Machine Company. Used vending machines are much cheaper than buying new, and the goal when you are starting up is to overcome the cost of the machines and start turning a profit. This took me less than 4 months. If you buy new, it might take a year or more before the machines were paid off.

The best place to find used machines is Craigslist. All you have to do is type in ‘Vending Machines’ or ‘Candy Machines’ and you’ll get 10 to 20 results. The key here is to look through the results and find a good deal. After about a week of looking when I first started, I was able to get 10 nice machines for $40 each.

What to look for

Candy Vending Machine Business

Triple Head Candy Machine

The machines that I look for are called double head or triple head machines. They can dispense 2 or 3 different types of candy, which can double or triple your selling power with one machine.

How to get a great deal

There are a number people selling their machines because they came into the business the wrong way. They spent way too much money on their equipment  (some as much as $300 per machine! Ouch). They became discouraged because they weren’t seeing a return quick enough. Instead of admitting their mistake and pushing through the toughest part, they chose to give up. While this is unfortunate for them, this is an advantage for us. Most of these individuals are so frustrated that they just want to get the machines off their hands at any price. They are almost giving them away. This means that you have some leverage and can talk people listing their machines for $60-80 down to somewhere in the $35-50 price range. I would not recommend paying any more than $60 for a machine. Just keep looking around on Craigslist and making calls and soon you will find a deal.

2) Buy Or Make Labels

Making labels is easy. You can just find pictures of the candy online, print them out, and tape them to the front of the machine. For a more professional look, you can buy the stickers online at any website. Just repeat this process with all your machines and then they will be ready to go.

This is enough information for you to get your feet wet in the Candy Vending Business. Keep checking back and subscribe to my blog as I will continue providing helpful information and answering any questions.

In Part 2, you will learn How to Talk to Local Businesses and What Places Make the Most Cash

Thanks and have fun!

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Don’t Be Cynical

“All I ask of you is one thing: please don’t be cynical. I hate cynicism. It’s my least favorite quality and it doesn’t lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.”
-Conan O’Brien

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Generation-Y Sucks – Jason Calacanis (This Week In Startups)

If you haven’t heard of This Week in Startups yet, you’re missing out. Jason Calacanis) has one of the best and most inspirational podcasts for anyone looking to start up a company. He is a well-known blogger that started up and eventually sold Weblogs, Inc. for $30 million. He has most recently founded, a human-based search engine.

His message in one of his recent podcasts (shown above at 3:50) calls out Generation-Y, anyone born in the mid 80’s and beyond (which includes myself), saying that we as a whole are lazy and expect everything to be handed to us. He says that 20% have it right, but 80% are just going through the motions and don’t have that drive. We are the 20%. We’re able to take the blinders that were put on us off and turn this country around. It’s about being a true entrepreneur. It’s about creating value for society. Let’s work hard and not sit back and wait for things to get handed to us. Let’s be invaluable.

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