Terry Corbell, The Biz Coach
By Terry Corbell
Business Consultant

Special Advice for Generation X & Y Tech Entrepreneurs

 

The Digital Age has been a catalyst for a whole new world of communication. Indeed, a lot has changed in technology even since I began writing the Biz Coach in Jan., 2001. And strange as it may seem, today is reminiscent of the Vietnam War era.

During the late 1960s and early 1970s baby boomers largely distrusted anyone over 30 years old. That, of course, was widely known as the Generation Gap. Now that baby boomers are considerably older than 30 and as parents with children and grandchildren, they now have another generation gap – with young Americans known as Generation X – anyone born from 1961 to 1981.

When baby boomers were teens or young adults, radio stations and their advertisers took them for granted, especially after 3 p.m. each weekday or on weekends. DJs were idolized by teenagers and stations were their main sources of information and entertainment.

But today’s generation gap gets worse. For the Y Generation, also known as Millennials who were born from 1978 to 2000, the media is even more irrelevant. These younger Americans have so many other choices. So the radio industry is worried with good reason. iPods and MP3 players are all the rage. So is iTrip, a tiny FM car transmitter. It enables young folks to become broadcasters by playing their iPods through their car radios.

There is also great fear among some human resource managers about how best to communicate with Generation X and Y workers, especially when they show up in the workplace wearing earplugs while listening to music with a mindset that it’s their constitutional right to dance on the job.

So, like the Vietnam War era, a communication gap exists between the young and seasoned.

But, as with any generation, many in the X and Y Generations have entrepreneurial ambitions. What if they want business advice? How would it be best for me to communicate with them? Well, to ensure this column this column is relevant, I turned to a successful Generation Y tech entrepreneur who has guest-lectured at the community college level. His name is Brian Corbell.  Yep, he’s my son — an IT consultant in the Bay Area. 

He says Generation X and Y would-be tech entrepreneurs like to ask questions.

Here are his answers to the typical dozen questions:

Q: What is the first thing I would need to do to start a business?

A:  First, you must have an idea what you want to call the company. The company name must have a catchy name and slogan that people will remember.  Sometimes being corny is a good idea, if it gets the point across.  For instance, General Electric chose its name because of the nature of their business and their slogan is “imagination at work.”

Q:  Do I need to incorporate?

A:   Forming an LLC or LLP is highly recommended to protect your assets.  Just because you have a corporation doesn’t mean the courts cannot pierce the corporate veil, it just makes it much more difficult if you play your cards right.

Q: How much money will it take to get my idea going?

A:  Generally speaking the more liquidity the better, but $20,000 is about the right number to get what you need to accomplished. 

Q:  Do I need something in writing?

A:  You should have your business plan around 15 pages in length, as well as a one-page vision plan with your goals up to five years and what you are going to do to accomplish those goals.

Q:  What do I need legally to protect my IP?

A:  In order to protect your intellectual property you should consider a trademark and copyright.  Those are pretty reasonable in cost, and there are many internet sites which will do those for less than $500 each. Patents are an excellent idea, however, a good patent attorney can cost you 10-20K without blinking an eye. You should consider your investments wisely when making these types of decisions

Q:  What do I need to do legally?

A:  You should go see a local attorney and pay him/her a consultation fee for their recommendations.

Q:  What about accounting?

A:  Go see a local CPA to determine your tax liabilities. It might be a good idea to see a tax attorney instead of paying for two professionals.

Q: What about an Internet presence?

A:  In today’s world, having email and at least a simple Web site is required in any successful organization.  Email is universally considered to be 100 percent legal in stature, so be careful what you write. NTT/VERIO is highly rated for hosting small business customers with high availability and good customer service.

Q:  Communication devices?

A:  A landline in today’s marketplace is almost a thing of the past. But I would highly recommend a landline for the important calls for quality as well as being in the yellow pages. If you have a landline you get a one line free directory listing of your company in 411 and the local yellow pages. VoIP is growing in quality and demand which is a good idea if you’re a tech company as well as capitalizing on cheaper phone calls. I would recommend keeping a landline for emergencies (911) and incase of your Internet line going down. Cell phones are also a must in today’s world; you might wish to consider getting a PDA such as Motorola Q by Verizon Wireless or Sprint-Nextel Blackberry.

Q:  Finances?

A:  A separate bank account with complete records is a must. You should also consider getting a corporate credit card to build your business credit including separating your finances.

Q: Technology?

A: You should have a PDA type device, laptop, computer, and data server somewhere with onsite and offsite backup. I would recommend hosting your email in house to protect security if you can afford the expense.

Q: What about an office?

A: Offices are not required, many large corporations have people working from home. If you choose this route, a separate workspace is a good idea.

Brian Corbell’s Web site:  www.itsolco.com

His LinkedIn connection: http://www.linkedin.com/in/itsolutionsinc

From the Coach’s Corner, if you want tips on boosting your Web presence, including how to create a favicon (your logo in the address bar), visit: www.chami.com.

Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.