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'[OT:] Starting up as a small design shop'
2003\12\08@230800 by Tom Deutschman

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> Speaking of finding customers, has anyone had any luck with
> using on-line technical forums as a source of customers? I'm
> thinking of starting RF design consulting, and was wondering
> if participation in some of these forum's would help attract
> customers. Something simple, like a home page url in my
> signature is what I'm thinking of.
> I know lots of folks on the PicList consult, and I was hoping
> to get their opinion.
>
> Thanks

I've picked up a few customers this way because they were reading the
discussions in order to find someone to help them. More importantly I've
learned much by both participation in and reading the discussions.

Tom Deutschman

Wizbang Designs, Inc.
1629 W 8TH AVE
Spokane, WA  99204

Phone: (509) 251-4814
http://www.wizbangdesigns.com  :-)

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2003\12\09@014815 by Mike

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> > Speaking of finding customers, has anyone had any luck with
> > using on-line technical forums as a source of customers? I'm
> > thinking of starting RF design consulting, and was wondering
> > if participation in some of these forum's would help attract
> > customers. Something simple, like a home page url in my
> > signature is what I'm thinking of.
> > I know lots of folks on the PicList consult, and I was hoping
> > to get their opinion.
> >
> > Thanks

^^^^^^^^ well, somehow I lost that post ^^^^^^^^

I've gotten 5 in just a year or so. 1 RF, 1 analog, 1 PIC, 1 mixed that's on hold for
more funding, and 1 software. Then there's another one WITH funding but the guy's
dragging his feet.

One guy found me by lurking and e-mailing me directly. 4 others by me responding to
requests for free-lancers, and the (very small) software job came up out of the blue
when I mentioned ActiveX in an EE or CAD discussion. I'm doing that as a favor in
return for a license key to that guy's product, which he already gave me for maybe 30
seconds worth of work. I may never even use his app, but what the hell.

No ads, web addresses, nothing. As soon as I'm geared up a little better lab-wise I
might actually try to find work. Find someone I can trust to help run the biz I've been
in for 12 yrs.

Good Luck - if you're the guy who said something about hoping skill would figure in, I
can point you to someone who will give you a dissertation on the fact that skill won't
get you squat without luck. Spehro (hi!) knows who I mean if his memory's as good
as I suspect. Hey, look at how many incompetent managers and politicians there are.
Skill? Luck?

Tell me about your RF experience. Email me off-list if you want. mike dot ford at
earthlink dot net dot invalid <== talk about paranoid... dot invalid... never know how
smart a spam bot's punk-ass coder is.

>
> I've picked up a few customers this way because they were reading the
> discussions in order to find someone to help them. More importantly I've
> learned much by both participation in and reading the discussions.

^^^^^ last sentence - muy importante ^^^^

I went ahead and bid on a job while others in the group blabbed on about specs and
crap and considerations and possible solutions. I even picked up a hint on what to
charge! I guess they just wanted to talk :-) In fact, they were talking as if the OP
wasn't even there. I took it all in while I was querying the potential customer, shot him
a price, and got the job.

One customer got no group response at all and rejected all email responses but
mine because other respondents appeared to be mining ideas.

BRs,
Mike

{Quote hidden}

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2003\12\09@041543 by Steve Russell

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source= http://www.piclist.com/piclist/2003/12/09/014815a.txt?

Thanks to everyone who made comments.... the information is excellent.

Steve.

www.piclist.com/member/steve_russell-ntlworld-
PIC/PICList FAQ: http://www.piclist.com

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2003\12\09@103327 by llile

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Ok, on this same thread, how much "capital" of various kinds does one need
to start doing consulting?

1.  Intellectual capital:  this is obvious, you need some expertise that
someone is willing to pay for.  In our case it usually has something to do
with product design.

2. Good Will Capital:  A base of contacts or potential clients that think
highly of you.  How many?  What sort?

3.  Actual Clients:   How many moonlight jobs would you need to have lined
up to tempt you to quit your current job?

4. Cash:  How many months can you go without a client before starving? Are
you married to someone with steady income and health insurance?

5. Stuff:  besides an oscilliscope and hand tools.  Most people say to
minimize investing large amounts in, say, a well equipped shop or a big
stash of parts, and pay cash for everything.   A specialty like RF might
require more specialized tools.  In 1979 I calculated that a minimum of
$1000 worth of stuff was required to put an extra technician on a
workbench in a CB repair shop, assuming he could share a scope and a
couple of other expensive instruments with me.  Now that figure has
probably ballooned.

6. Space:  Work in your basement, in an office, in a spare bedroom?  How
much space does one need?  Lile Engineering qualified as a tax writeoff
for 50 square feet of my house one year, that is basically one desk and a
filing cabinet.  Kinda cramped.

7. Expenses:  If you have a lot of debts already, (car payments, visa
payments, etc.) these are a burden when you have uneven cash flows. Moving
into a cash and carry economy for your personal finances is wise.



-- Lawrence Lile


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2003\12\09@141336 by Gaston Gagnon

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llile@SALTONUSA.COM wrote:

{Quote hidden}

I would like to add one point.

8. Responsibility: Is it important to isolate your own belonging from
your company ?  Are you all incorporated ?

Gaston

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2003\12\09@150741 by Kenneth Lumia

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Having gone the incorporation route in a previous business, I
can tell you that its probably not worth it for the small guy.  Aside
from the tax issues, corparate filing fees and yearly fees, if
you're a "one man band" any lawyer can easily sue you.  It's
called piercing the corporate veil.  In effect, if you are the
president, the secretary and your corporate board of directors
meetings have as members "me, myself and I" its pretty
obvious your not a real corporation.   If you do have "real"
employees, then the incorporation makes more sense. I do,
however, suggest that you look into O&E insurance.  If you get
sued, at least someone is there to cover you. I believe IEEE can
provide it (as well as other companies).

Disclaimer: Consult an attorney, I am not one and this is
just my opinion and has nothing to do with real life.

Ken


{Original Message removed}

2003\12\09@152020 by D. Jay Newman

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> Having gone the incorporation route in a previous business, I
> can tell you that its probably not worth it for the small guy.  Aside
> from the tax issues, corparate filing fees and yearly fees, if
> you're a "one man band" any lawyer can easily sue you.  It's

I agree. I stayed incorporated for a couple of years, but the paperwork
just wasn't worth what little benefits I got out of it. And Pennsylvania
is a pain in the neck for small corporations. Some other states might
be a bit friendlier.
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2003\12\09@154438 by Mike Harrison

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On Tue, 9 Dec 2003 15:06:43 -0500, you wrote:

>Having gone the incorporation route in a previous business, I
>can tell you that its probably not worth it for the small guy.  Aside
>from the tax issues, corparate filing fees and yearly fees, if
>you're a "one man band" any lawyer can easily sue you.  It's
>called piercing the corporate veil.  In effect, if you are the
>president, the secretary and your corporate board of directors
>meetings have as members "me, myself and I" its pretty
>obvious your not a real corporation.   If you do have "real"
>employees, then the incorporation makes more sense. I do,
>however, suggest that you look into O&E insurance.  If you get
>sued, at least someone is there to cover you. I believe IEEE can
>provide it (as well as other companies).
>
>Disclaimer: Consult an attorney, I am not one and this is
>just my opinion and has nothing to do with real life.
>
>Ken

The original question was relating to the UK. Settiing up a limited company is not especially hard
or expensive (you can buy an off-the-shelf company for something like £100) , but there is
significantly more ongoing accounting cost and paperwork, which may outweigh any tax benefits . My
accountant told me a couple of years ago that in my case it would probably not be worthwhile.
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2003\12\09@180233 by llile

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> I do,
however, suggest that you look into O&E insurance.  If you get
sued, at least someone is there to cover you. I believe IEEE can
provide it (as well as other companies).

Assuming this refers to Errors and Omissions insurance.  Yes, a good idea
and prolly not cheap.  Similar to professional liability insurance
(identical?) Anybody carry it?

-- Lawrence Lile





Kenneth Lumia <.....klumiaKILLspamspam@spam@ADELPHIA.NET>
Sent by: pic microcontroller discussion list <PICLISTspamKILLspamMITVMA.MIT.EDU>
12/09/2003 02:06 PM
Please respond to pic microcontroller discussion list


       To:     .....PICLISTKILLspamspam.....MITVMA.MIT.EDU
       cc:
       Subject:        Re: [OT:] Starting up as a small design shop


Having gone the incorporation route in a previous business, I
can tell you that its probably not worth it for the small guy.  Aside
from the tax issues, corparate filing fees and yearly fees, if
you're a "one man band" any lawyer can easily sue you.  It's
called piercing the corporate veil.  In effect, if you are the
president, the secretary and your corporate board of directors
meetings have as members "me, myself and I" its pretty
obvious your not a real corporation.   If you do have "real"
employees, then the incorporation makes more sense. I do,
however, suggest that you look into O&E insurance.  If you get
sued, at least someone is there to cover you. I believe IEEE can
provide it (as well as other companies).

Disclaimer: Consult an attorney, I am not one and this is
just my opinion and has nothing to do with real life.

Ken


{Original Message removed}

2003\12\09@184736 by Andrew Warren

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llile@saltonusa.com <EraseMEPICLISTspam_OUTspamTakeThisOuTmitvma.mit.edu> wrote:

> Errors and Omissions insurance.  Yes, a good idea and prolly not
> cheap.  Similar to professional liability insurance (identical?)
> Anybody carry it?

   E&O is one type of liability insurance; there are others. You're
   right; like malpractice insurance in other fields, it can be
   extraordinarily expensive... And it may be impossible to get --
   at any price -- if you're not a licensed engineer, or if you're
   not working on the specific sorts of things for which you're
   licensed.

   It seems to me that if you're a one-man shop and you need E&O
   insurance (or any large professional liability insurance policy),
   you're not turning down the right jobs.  There are plenty of
   opportunities to design low-liability-exposure products; you
   really don't have to take on the fire alarms, giant crane
   controllers, medical devices, antilock brake systems... Or even
   anything powered by more than 6VDC.

   It's bad enough working some large fraction of the year for the
   tax man; I wouldn't want to spend any additional time every
   year working for some insurance company.

   -Andy

=== Andrew Warren -- aiwspamspam_OUTcypress.com
=== Principal Design Engineer
=== Cypress Semiconductor Corporation
===
=== Opinions expressed above do not
=== necessarily represent those of
=== Cypress Semiconductor Corporation

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2003\12\09@220439 by David Bengtson

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On Tue, 9 Dec 2003 09:32:38 -0600, you wrote:

{Quote hidden}

I've spent some time looking at the RF stuff. For RF Stuff, it really
depends on what you are planning on doing. For example, I just bought
~$190k of stuff from Agilent (for my day job), and that got me 3 boxes
at over 50k/Box plus lot's of software licenses. (CDMA/GSM/802.11
protocol demodulation/signal generation capabilities)
For home, a decent Spectrum analyzer (hp 8594) is running $3k to $6k,
depending on options. That is really the heart of an RF bench. Decent,
but not great signal generator's will run $1k or better, and 2 would
be good. I haven't prices Network analyzers recently, but I would
guess that $6k to $8k would get you something decent.
So, probably for $10k to $15k you could get a decent RF Lab equipped.
Stuff like temp chambers, frequency counters, power meters, couplers
and combiners, etc would add up to another $3k to $5k, depending on
how ebay and hamfests are running.
One of the disturbing trends that I have seen from Agilent is an
increased reliance on instruments that are primarily software defined,
with software maintance required. This add's a yearly maintance to the
cost of an instrument. The RF Boxes I bought will require something
like 3k to 4k per year in software maintance to keep them useful. In
20 years, they will probably be useless. Something to thing about.

Dave

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2003\12\09@233758 by Mike

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On 9 Dec 2003 at 15:13, D. Jay Newman wrote:

<snip>
[...] And Pennsylvania
> is a pain in the neck for small corporations. Some other states might
> be a bit friendlier.

Hi  Jay

Could you expand on that please? I moved back to PA and am ready to leave
already. I've heard hints, but no specifics.

BRs,
Mike
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2003\12\10@004143 by D. Jay Newman

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> On 9 Dec 2003 at 15:13, D. Jay Newman wrote:
>
> <snip>
> [...] And Pennsylvania
> > is a pain in the neck for small corporations. Some other states might
> > be a bit friendlier.
>
> Hi  Jay
>
> Could you expand on that please? I moved back to PA and am ready to leave
> already. I've heard hints, but no specifics.
>
> BRs,
> Mike

Well, Mike, I love the area (State College), but the PA Tax laws are
highly arcane. Not to mention the US one's.

I *think* that I finally convinced the US that my corporation closed in
2001 just a few months ago. I kept sending them paperwork and it kept
being lost.

PA only had to be told twice. However, sales tax crops up on some things
and not other things. It's all very confusing.

However, I do the occasional job of normal consulting, and that works
out just as a personal business. Though right now I've been trying to
write (I just had an article accepted at Circuit Cellar and I have some
robotics book proposals out).
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