Nov 2 2009

A Bird in the Hand…

John

Tom and I had an interesting discussion the other night.

In looking at past sales Tom noted that offering a Team price, resulted in about $10,000 more in profit at the end of the day (the last day of the event, for the sake of discussion), vs. our current model of offering 100 tickets at a reduced price, typically $100-$200 off the regular price.

It was interesting because while $10,000 is certainly nothing to scoff at, at this point in the business, early sales are more important. While I hate the concept of early bird ticketing to inflate early numbers, I do like offering those who want to save some money, the opportunity, AND I like having some early money to pay the bills

So is $10,000 down the road, worth no sales, and no income in the short term? Currently, my answer is no. In the longterm, I think the answer is different, obviously I want to do right by my customers, and make money, so I’m not sure it’s ‘either or’, but I do think things with change down the road.

You?


Oct 29 2009

migrating from 2 to 1 is not fun or easy

John

So Tom and I are moving on from 360|Conferences, well I’m moving forward with it, Tom is moving away from it.

The move has started, we’re transitioning things over to me, that he has been in charge of, up until now.

It’s not fun. My latest “It’s all yours moment” came when I opened quickbooks for the first time. If it’s possible to have a massive coronary, while awake and aware, that’s what I experienced.

It’s not Tom’s fault, when we got started, i made it known I didn’t want to run the books. I’ve never liked “the books”. My wife runs the household books, and I barely manage at running my own bank acct and Discover card. Not for a lack of skill but more for a lack of interest.

I won’t lie the books were in a sad state. Without getting into specifics, I’ll be spending more time than I imagined getting them to a cleaned up place where I can get our new acct involved in them.

My advice, run your books yourself, you’ll be better off and it’s something every business person should learn. This is now in the “Lesson Learned” column for me.

On the upside, I think I’m taking a liking to quickbooks, as i work thru it. Who knew!


Sep 17 2009

Ups and Downs and Downs and the need for paper

John

So it’s been announced that Tom is leaving 360|Conferences after our 360|Flex Conference March 2010.

It’s definitely a sad week.

unfortunately it highlights a glaring omission in our business, a lack of written agreements and/or even mutually agreed upon definitions of things.

Sure we have the actual incorporation papers, our ownership split, but that’s it. I won’t lie and say it never occurred to me, it did, several times, and each time I either back burnered it or prioritized another expense over it (lawyers ain’t cheap). And like all things put off, it’s biting us in the butt.

I don’t foresee any Calcanis/Arrington style online bitch matches, but I’m not gonna kid myself, the next few months will be messy as Tom and I figure out what it means to work 1 partner out of the company; assets (what few there are), debts, responsibilities, etc all have to be figured out.

On my end of things I have to figure out where I’m going from here. I mean the company is going to continue to bring Flex and iPhone developers the best community conferences around, but will I do it alone? It’s no secret money is tough for Tom and I because we have 2 people to pay, and doing an event 2x a year doubles expenses, but doesn’t double income. It might make sense for 360|Conferences to be a one man show, at least for a while.

It should make for some interesting blog posts :)


Sep 2 2009

Motivation is hard

John

This is another blog post that has been sitting as an open tab in Firefox a long time. It’s a fairly important topic, at least for me. Having had motivation troubles as a consultant looking for new projects and now as a business owner trying to keep a good noise level going for my events.

Motivation is hard. I mean, it’s really hard sometimes to sit at your desk and think up your next blog post, or tweet, or phone call or whatever. It’s especially hard when you’re in a funk or not where you wan to be (in our case) sponsorship wise or attendee wise.

I’ll paste all of the points here and talk about them, but definitely hit up the original post, give them some traffic love for sure!

Let Fear Take Hold
Fear is one of the strongest motivators we have. The “fight or flight” response is dependent on feeling fear as its source. So, let fear work for you. If you’re genuinely concerned about what’s going to happen now that you’ve lost your job, and you don’t know where the money is coming from to pay the rent, you’re going to do whatever needs to be done. Issues that seemed to be obstacles before are going to fade to the background.

I learned this one from Friends actually. I don’t remember who said what to whom, but the jist was “quit your job, you’re not gonna get a better one or do what you want to do if you’re nice and safe in your current job” I totally agree. Sure you should save up, be prepared for the poorness and hardship, but nothing motivates you to succeed like having a mortgage payment due. A friend of mine pointed out that “people will live up to their obligations” so those companies that don’t offer high salaries because the can’t afford to hire the best, are creating a self-fullfilling prophecy. If you’ve got bills to pay you’ll do your damndest to pay them.

Keep the Finish Line In Sight

A lot of folks have a tendency to look at the next step, rather than the big picture. While this technique has its merits, it’s important to look up at the finish line occasionally. If you don’t, and you’re constantly focused on the day-to-day minutiae, you’ll eventually wonder why it is that you’re doing what you’re doing. It’s important to remember the payoff, because that’s what got you excited in the first place.

This one is a bit of a misleader as far as I’m concerned. Often i feel we’re not focused enough on small things, returning emails, calls, following up when we should etc. It’s great to not get bogged down, but don’t focus so much on the “business at large” that you don’t do what you need to do to keep it running.

Make It a Game
This one works wonders with little kids! If your goal is to clean up toys before bedtime, you parents know that it’s often beneficial to race your kids to see who can pick up the most toys in the shortest amount of time. The same thing works with yourself. If you’re training for a marathon, you can continually try to improve on your overall time, or your split times, or whatever. Find ways to measure yourself, and constantly try to set personal bests.

This I’ve never tried but it might be worth looking at. One of the biggest problems (to me) that Tom and I have is our distance, we rarely know what the other is doing, which either leads to duplication of effort or “are you pulling your weight” both are bad. But with a measurable goal and a time frame it might alleviate some stress. Of course there’s not much repercussion for failure, but we could figure something out.

Remove All Other Options
Hernán Cortés landed in Mexico in 1519 in order to secure lands for the Spanish crown. One of his first orders to his men was to burn the ships that they had arrived on. This was to remove any thoughts of retreat from their minds. When things were going poorly, the men didn’t have the option of thinking, “well, we can always go home”. This is a scary step, but sometimes it’s the only one that will work. For a person who wants to work for themselves, even if they have developed a substantial business on the side of their full-time employment, quitting that secure day job is a “burn the ships” moment. There isn’t anything to fall back on, and they have to succeed.

This kinda fits in with the fear thing. It’s tough, but I truly believe you’ve gotta be fully invested. I haven’t written a line of code in over a year, well that’s a lie, I’ve written a few here and there, but I’m certainly not the active coder I was. I’m fully invested; heart, soul and money into making 360|Conferences something I can draw money from. It’s a struggle, to say the least, and failure looms large, but I’ve done the part time entrepreneur thing, and know the perils

Tell Someone Else
If you have a goal you want to reach, don’t keep it to yourself. Be sure to share it with people you respect. Once you’ve publicly acknowledged it, it becomes harder to give it up. You’ve made a verbal contract in a sense with people whose opinion you care about. If you were to give up on your dream, you would lose face with them. Most folks don’t want this to happen, but because they’re scared of failure, they keep their dream to themselves. However, if you want to succeed, you’ll tell as many people as you can.

I’ve never really thought about this one. I’m not really a “This by X person” I’m much to now now now, so my goals (in my head) are usually set to just outside the time frame it took to think the idea up. I guess the one place I’ve done this is the business. When I did consulting I never really thought about it and didn’t have a goal that consulting would be my “Thing” or that I’d have other folks to source, etc. But I’ve said to many that I want 360|Conferences, to be my “job”. I want to draw salary, get up every morning and spend the next waking 10-12+ hours making it a success.

Tell Yourself Daily
Make an affirmation to yourself about your goal. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the concept of daily affirmations, it goes a little something like this. You write down a sentence or two that specifically details what it is you’re going to achieve. You need to make it specific, and you need to keep it short. Then, just before going to bed, first thing when you wake up, and at various set points during the day, you read your affirmation aloud to yourself.

This sounds a bit hokey to some, but it serves to keep your mind focused on what it is you’re working toward. It keeps your mind on the task at hand, even when there are many other things that are demanding your attention.

My wife once told me about the “Chicken Soup for your Soul” author taping a Million dollar bill to his ceiling, so that the first thing he saw in the morning and the last thing he saw at night was that goal. That’s awesome. I’ve know that story for a few years, and never tried anything like it. Thinking it’s time.

Recruit a Group
In the course of telling people around you about your goal, you may run into a few of them that are excited about what you’re doing. They may be so excited that they want to do something like it. If you talk to enough people, you’ll find some that have goals just like you. You can take the initiative to lead these folks into a group that supports each other in reaching each of your destinations.

By having an accountability group, you put yourself in a situation where you’re not only afraid of losing face with the other members, but you also have people available to provide ideas and brainstorm ways to keep going when you get stuck. It’s amazing the things that members of an accountability group can accomplish together.

That I’m more or less doing when and where I can. I’m being as active as possible in other groups around Denver, from Refresh, to the Adobe User Groups, and the new Cocoaheads group, and even less techy events. I think it’s important that since my focus is events, that I be involved as either an attendee or an organizer on as much as I can. I don’t however have an ‘accountability group’ as it were. I’m not sure how to get one…

Break It Up
While I said that you need to keep your eye on the prize back up in step #2, there’s nothing wrong with breaking up your big, huge, audacious goal into smaller goals along the way. If your goal is so big that it scares you, or you worry about not being able to achieve it no matter how hard you try or how many people you tell about it, this may be a good tip for you. Just break it up into chunks. The sub-goals you set for yourself should still be something you can be proud of on their own, but they should also advance you toward the main objective. By taking things in smaller doses, you won’t get easily frustrated.

This one is tricky, mainly because of the distance between Tom and I. Most days we only have about 4 hours of time when we can chat, and I never know what’s going on the other 20 hours, sometimes even those 4. So it’s hard to break things up since there’s a fundamental “If I don’t do this it won’t get done” thing. Which sucks ass. I’d rather it not be hanging over us, but it does, and there’s rarely a day goes by that something doesn’t get done that shoulda; some email never replied, some email never sent, etc. so it’s hard to break tasks up in general let alone between us.

So those are the 8 points to fight motivation troubles. I agree with most, and need to try the others, and make some work better, but i agree in general that keeping your motivation level high is hard. It’s not surprising that it’s even harder when things aren’t going well, but that’s when it’s the most important.

Do you have anything to add to this list? What tips or tricks do you have for maintaining motivation?


Apr 21 2009

Reid Hoffman is right. It’s about the startups

John

This is a TechCrunch post from March. If you don’t want to click over to TC (Don’t blame ya) I’ve pasted Reid’s big points and will expand with my thoughts.

1. Small business loans. Apply a micro-lending model that has proved successful in developing countries, extending credit lines up to $50,000.

Why? Because models of investment besides just venture capital can stimulate the economy. Let’s not neglect entrepreneurs who create coffee shops, florists, taxi services or other small businesses that help the economy thrive at the local level. Sometimes, a coffee shop becomes Starbucks. These don’t require venture funding; they just need a small business loan to get started and grow. Micro-lending has proved viable around the world — let’s do more of it at home. If a service like Kiva.org (disclosure: I’m a board member) can succeed in 12 countries, it can succeed here too.

I couldn’t agree more! 360|Conferences doesn’t need 9mil! We don’t want 9mil! We really (and currently) need just enough money to push us into Full Time employee status and pay ourselves salary so we can focus on more events, which drastically improves our money situation. Right noew we’re at a weird tipping point, needing more money for more events, but not being able to do more events because we have jobs and need the money to quit those. funny Interesting, not funny ha ha.

2. Abolish the limit on H-1B Visas. Remove the cap on H-1B visas and impose a 10 percent payroll tax beyond the benchmark salary for each visa. Then channel the proceeds from the payroll tax into US re-education programs.

This is a country founded on immigration. We should welcome the best and the brightest as our own. Abolish the H-1B cap, and give me an economic reason for preferring local. I’ll only do foreign if I need to. A 10 percent payroll tax for each H-1B visa can be reinvested in whatever it takes to get American talent up to the same level. This has been proposed previously, but a payroll tax ensures that H-1Bs are used for skilled labor, not cheap labor.

I’m really torn on the whole H1-B. Reid’s solution at least makes sense to me. I just can’t stomach the typical reason for hiring H1-Bs, which is to essentially get cheap indentured slaves. People can cry fould, but I’ve worked at more than 1 place with H1-B folks, and have known many others.  The fomer companies find the cheap labor, screwing US workers. When I hear “There aren’t any programmers in the US” my Bullshit alarm goes super sonic and dogs start barking.

I’ve also known H1-B folks that have had to stick with a shitty company, that’s in a slow death spiral, working them 12+ hour days because the Americans have long since quit for better opportunities, because the company held their paperwork. Weak sauce.

So while I’m no fan of the H1-B ‘thing’ at least Reid’s idea incentivises companies to really try to find local talent, and invests in our future. The US is in a death spiral of our own. When kids see adults losing their tech jobs left and right (to outsourcing and H1-Bs), what on Earth makes us think they’ll want to go into a tech field when they’re older. We’re sowing the seeds of our own demise, for short term profit bumps (executive bonuses).

3. Match funds for venture capital and angel investors. Match up to $100 million in stimulus funds for qualifying venture and angel investments if they create jobs in the US. Let these investors keep their normal return plus 50 percent of the returns on the matching funds, while the other half goes back to the government to revitalize further investment.

This one doesn’t apply to Tom and I, since we’re in the Taxi, Coffee shop, Florist realm, but I think it’s a good idea. Screw GM and the big banks bonusing out and partying on our tax dollars. Put stimulus money where it can do good, in start ups who are creating jobs in the US!  This is a win/win idea as far as I’m concerned.


Apr 17 2009

It often sucks being a non software startup

John

I love creating things, writing software was for a long time very fulfilling. The thought however of doing a software startup, doesn’t do much for me now. Or rather, me being the code writer doesn’t. Which poses interesting problems.

360|Conferences, Corp is a purely service business. Our offering is our abilities, our community, and ourselves. That’s it. No app, no website, no SAAS, nothing that can be bought, sold, or processed. (bonus points if you got that)

We can’t attract investment capital in the traditional tech start up way, since we don’t have any ‘out’ or clear return. To quote David Cohen (whom I hope to meet in person one day!) “i think raising money right now, especially for a business that doesn’t have the best scale economics, is just tough. there’s not much debt money available.

Our business however, works like any other, we require capital to continue, we’re bootstrapping, and that get’s us sorta kinda by, but the reality is we need capital like any other start up business that needs to expand it’s offerings. It’s quite the conundrum to be sure.

It’s one of those weird start up problems, that I never really thought about in starting on this adventure. We figured bootstrapping would be just fine, but in actually executing on our business we’ve found that we’re at a place where we can’t easily do more events without the free time of paying ourselves, but we can’t pay ourselves full time (or even part time) without doing more events.

I re-stumbled across this blog post and it gave me some hope, I think our ’13 months’ is a bit longer than 13 real calendar months since our events are spaced apart and there’s low periods.

I think 360|Confferences is at this tipping point right now, we just have to hold on. Hope we can.


Apr 15 2009

Partnerships: Business goals are not equal to personal goals

Tom

One would think that a goal of a business is simple: Serve customers and, hopefully, make money to allow you to continue doing that.  It’s true, business goals can be that simple.  However, business goals are not the same as personal goals by the business founders.

Individual goals can vary wildly from person to person in the same business.  For instance, Bill Gates did not have the same personal goals as Steve Jobs.  Heck, Steve Wozniak didn’t have the same goals as Steve Jobs.  And there in lies the topic of this post, goals of partnerships (though I think it can apply to anyone working as employer/employee or even peers).

When John and I started this business, it sorta happened by accident.  We didn’t have long term goals other than “Let’s start a business.”  The furthest long term thinking we did before the first 360|Flex was naming the company.  We chose 360|Conferences because of the thinking, “If we want to do another show besides 360|Flex, we probably should have a company name that supports that.”  We figured the “360|x” moniker would be cute and allow us unlimited growth.  That was it.  Discussion over.

Fast forward in jumps of several months.  You’ll see that discussions start to take place.  Ideas start to be shared that don’t resonate with both sides of the party.  Case in point: According to John, we’re not a business since it doesn’t pay us full time.  Whereas I think a business is something that provides a service or a product in exchange for money.

So what?  That’s just semantics and doesn’t really matter, right?  But it does, if you fast forward a few more months.  Now, we’re discussing being part-time vs full-time.  I’m think we were about a year into the biz when this discussion happened.  My goal, which I assumed was “our” goal, was to work the biz part time until it paid us enough to sorta make the jump to full time.  John’s goal, which he assumed was “our” goal, was to go full time as soon as possible.  If you look back at our earlier goal, it’s seems obvious that we’d have this difference of opinion.  Thing was though, it wasn’t obvious at the time.

Fast forward again and again, over the few years the business has been in place, we’ve had many such discussions.  Some were quirky revelations while others were heated discussions about how the other was flat out wrong.  Thing is though, these discussions and differences get old, quick.

John bought us books on partnership.  The one I got was The Partnership Charter and I really enjoyed it.  The premise of the book is how to do partnerships right.  It talks about laying things out for your potential partners before you enter the partnership.  Now for John and I, two new biz n00bs, that wouldn’t have worked out well.  We both really had no idea what we wanted from ourselves, much less our biz partner.  However, I think there was core ideas that we both had in mind prior to starting the business.

My advice would be to talk about concepts and ideas in regards to goals in business and life.  I think too many potential partners spend their time talking about ideas on what the startup should produce vs how they intend to produce the startup.


Apr 3 2009

It’s nice when you find out you’re not alone

John

I got a message from Val yesterday on facebook. I had posted some info about 360|Flex Indy, and stuff. She saw our press release or the post we wrote about our changing how we do sponsorships, and wanted to let me know that Tom and I aren’t alone. When I sent Tom a copy of the message, his first thoughts were “It’s nice to know someone actually noticed and cared.” I have to agree, it feels good when people notice what you’re doing.

Val’s message really brightened our day. Val runs Flashpitt with her pal Joe, and they’ve been trying to figure out how to change things up as well. They came to the same conclusions as Tom and I, change sponsorships, make them easier to understand, and custom to each sponsor. Val you’re on the exact same page as us!

The Press release mentioned is here if you’re curious. It’s our first!

It’s nice to know the things we do get noticed. Sure there’s a bit of ego there, but hey, humans do most of what we do, so that it’s noticed (at least IMO, don’t lie to yourself). There’s so many other events around us, big and small, that we sometimes feel lost in the sea of them, even though few if any are direct competitors. We’re definitely in the David class right now and the Goliaths don’t notice us much.


Dec 19 2008

John Wilker – The Impatient Entrepreneur

John

I’m John, Tom’s business partner in 360|Conferences.

As a kid, I had visions of running my own company. It was a company that made robots; robots of all kinds. I was the CEO, and I had lots of robots. It was an awesome fantasy life I had, started in the 3rd grade, died as I went into college.

Turns out, I’m not very engineeringly inclined, or rather I’m not the Uber genius I fancied myself. I fancied myself a theoretical engineer, turns out you have to do the other stuff before you get to start dreaming up new things. I changed my major during the summer before my freshman year to Computer Science.

The story goes a bit sideways for a few years. I flunked out of UCI’s computer science program, and since they didn’t offer business as an undergrad, I dropped out.

I got a job as a computer tech (Screw Turner), and that was ok. I coulda seen myself doing it for a while, until my boss informed me I’d be taking over as purchasing department. I had never bought anything other than things for myself before, so it was a new experience. I liked it. It was fun, wheeling and dealing with vendors for a better price, riding the edge of what we could charge and what we couldn’t.

That same boss, about a year later came back again, telling me that our hardware business wasn’t really doing as much as he’d like, and I’d be a web developer starting Monday. Turns out, even though I flunked out of school learning to be a programmer, I was pretty good at it in practice.

For the next 10 years, the closest to being an entrepreneur I came was incorporating myself for my consulting business, to help out on my taxes. I never imagined I’d do a startup. I’m not patient, and frankly I thought I didn’t have any ideas to start up with, and I had no funds.

Guess I was wrong.

I’m not a big business book reader. Most are crap written from the perspective of the successful. It’s easy to throw out “I was lucky, I worked hard, this that and the other” when you’re rich,  successful and don’t really have a clear clue how you got there, but someone offered you money to tell your story.

I spent some time reading the Rich Dad books. Same thing, what works for one, doesn’t make it a gold standard to be put into a book, but the business press is funny like that.

One of the few business books that really resonated with me was In the Company of Giants (so much so that Tom and I tried to pitch a sequel, and lame publishers never “got it” despite the success of the first, oh well), mainly because some of them were completely honest, admitting that they were in the right place at the right time. That means a lot to me.

Tom and I met while working for Ameriquest Mortgage. Yeah the one that destroyed the home financing industry. Our first run at a company was a product to make restaurant waits not suck, and work better. He fired me, and our friendship almost came to a complete end.

We salvaged our friendship and went on with life. I moved to Denver, Tom to San Jose.

I was telling him about a conference I had attended and how much it had sucked, we were talking about whether or not to attend another large conference that generally is not very meaty and not much ROI learning wise. Then it occurred to us to have a conference that we would want to attend, one that I could afford as an indie developer, and one that actually had awesome sessions, that weren’t at all aimed at marketing. 360|Flex was born.

Tom tends to be more ‘blue sky’ than me, thinking we should be free, barcamp style. I was able to convince him that free is not a model that works, ever, unless you’re Google. Ted, Tom and I settled on a price, location, etc and off we went.

The first 360|Flex was an outstanding success, and Tom and I realized we liked doing it. We liked the feeling of community, we liked being surrounded by so many cool people.

We formed a company, and kicked Ted out :) It wasn’t personal, Ted rocks, but we knew that we couldn’t ever do a Microsoft or Java Conference with an Adobe evangelist as a partner.

Here’s where the impatience comes in. We’ve been doing 360|Flex for 2 years now, as part time jobs, which were really full time jobs on top of our paying full time jobs. It was exhausting. Tom thinks that’s how company’s should be, I don’t. I’m sure there’ll be posts on this later. I’m firmly of the opinion that you work to your obligations. If you’ve got a mortgage, car payment, etc, you do what you have to do to meet those obligations. If you’ve got a job that meets those, then the other job is just a hobby, and since we haven’t yet drawn a salary: 360|Conferences was a hobby. A very time consuming, and expensive (for me as an indie consultant having to take time off projects and such) hobby.

That’s finally changing! Tom is going indie, and I’ve got a Full time job that endorses my conference company activities. Tom will be working on the conference in a more full time capacity and consulting to fill the gaps. I expect (hope) that sometime in 09 I’ll be joining him, and 360|Conferences will be a full fledged, salary paying company. Tom likes to say we’re in the black. That’s easy if you don’t pay your founders. However we’re now getting to a place where we’ve paid ourselves a little, which ROCKS!

We’re also growing finally, adding another event to our roster, and even contemplating looking at Angel money to get us through the critical mass we need to go full time and really conquer the event space.

Wish us luck.


Dec 19 2008

Tom Ortega – The Eventual Entrepreneur

Tom

It’s taken me far too long to become an entrepreneur.  How long?  It was 1986 and I was roughly 11.  I walked onto the playground, went straight to my best friends and said, “I’m gonna be a successful businessman when I grow up.”  To which, they said, “Doing what?” I was stumped.  “I don’t know.  I just know it’s going to be successful.”  From that day forward, that was fact to me in my mind.  It wasn’t a “I hope to someday” or a “I wonder if…” it was a matter of inevitability.  So, I did what any rational person would do, I started prepping.

My dad taught me something very important a few years earlier.  He said, “Whatever you want to know, there’s a book on it.  Go find it and read it.  You’ll get all the answers you want.” It made sense to me then, and still makes sense to me now.  I can’t remember what my first business book was or when I read it.  I wish I could though, that’d be sweet.  I can’t really remember because I’ve read a few hundred over my life time.  No, I ain’t bragging.  I’m just laying out the facts, so you can determine my street cred.  The way I saw it was like this:  “If I’m going to be a successful business person someday, I better learn how to do it.” And like pops said, the only way to do that was through books or so I thought.

In 6th grade, another thing happened.  My mom took me shopping at Sears.  She bought me a pimp outfit.  (She still has the picture of me in it, I’ll see if I can dig it up and post it.)  On the drive home, she said, “I can’t really afford to buy you the kind of clothes you want.  If you’re going to want certain clothes, you’ll need to make money and buy them yourself.”  Therefore, I got to work.  I never had an allowance.  I always worked to make my money.  I mowed lawns, babysat, worked at the school snack bar, and even had a stint at Chuck E. Cheese.

I went to college for a year.  It was a private university (UPS in Tacoma, WA).  I was paying over $20K a year for that school.  It didn’t make sense to me.  “Let’s see.  I can pay $20K a year or I can go to work and surely make at least $20K a year.”  So I dropped out and started working for the man in January 1995.

For 13 years, I worked for over 10 different companies.  From the first job to my latest job, I did the same thing.  I analyzed the heck out of each company.  I looked at what they did good and what they did bad.  I watched their mistakes and learned from them.  I pondered on what I’d do differently if I were in charge.  Again, I did all this for the sake of applying to my own business someday.

I’ve dabbled in business (my own businesses) over those same 13 years.  Most of those were not very serious though and never made it past the idea stage.  It wasn’t until October of 2006 that I finally ran with an idea.  John and I, with some help from Ted Patrick, agreed to do an all Flex Conference.  This meant that I was going to be funnelling a lot of money and not wanting to put it all in my personal account, I tell John: “We need to incorporate.” We did and in February of 2007.  360|Conferences was born.

For the first 2 years of it’s life, the conference business took a backseat as my part-time job.  In those two years though, it went from being in the red to being in the black.  (Look for a post from me on how I think this is the way most people should start a biz.)  Times are getting tough economically though and if I’m going to make this business succeed, it’s going to need to not be my PT gig anymore.  Therefore, in early 2009, I’ll be making the move to Queen Creek, Arizona.  360|Conferences will become my primary focus, while side projects will become my PT gig to help pay the bills.

I’m going to do some posts on what I’ve learned in the past two years: the good, the bad and the ugly.  John may or may not do that, you’ll have to read his posts to find out.  After I clear out the closet a bit, I’ll start detailing our little conference business as it enters the toddler years.  I’m sure there’ll be some stumbles along the way, but that’s business (and part of being a toddler).  It’s the downs that make the highs so rewarding..

I hope you’ll join me along the journey.  Thanks for reading.