Dec
05
2008
0

How To Bootstrap A Business

Bootstrapping 101

Bootstrapping 101

Everyone has heard the phrase, “pull oneself up by the bootstraps.”[1] It basically refers to using your current resources to reach the next step.

In a prior post I talked about “How to Start a Business: Plan B,” which was mainly about fund raising.  Fund raising is the exact opposite of bootstrapping.  If you can’t raise funding for your business and you’re really committed to it, you’ve got to find another way.  That would be “Plan B.”  In hindsight I would have entitled that post, “B is for Bootstrapping” or “Starting A Business On A Budget.”

For a very nuts-and-bolts look at starting a business, look to Guy Kawasaki‘s “The Art of Bootstrapping.”  This is an excerpt from his new book, “Reality Check.”  My understanding is that this book is a distillation of his prior books and blog posts.  Its on my Christmas wish list, so I’ll look forward to reading it in about a month.

I used many of these bootstrapping techniques while building this website.  Using the bullet points from Guy’s post, here’s some of the things I used to start this business:

  • Ship then test.”  To be more exact, I tested the calculators rigorously but didn’t spend nearly as much time testing how the earliest versions of this website looked in different web browsers.  Once I got it to work in Internet Explorer, I started marketing it.
  • Start a service business.”  In the first few months of building this website I worked as a technology consultant and part-time programmer.  In addition to being a nice change from my day job as an attorney and earning a little extra, it also gave me the chance to learn some new programming languages and techniques.
  • Go direct.”  I schlepped my laptop to every appearance and showed off the website to every single attorney that was foolish enough to sit still and listen to me.  Besides not having the resources to hire people to sell for me, it also allowed me to learn more about what my customers wanted.  Keeping in touch with my clients/customers has lead to a LOT of new developments on this site.

As to “how” I started this business, here was my process:

  1. I wanted to build my own online rating calculators.[2]
  2. I bought a book about starting a business.  “The Art of the Start” by Guy Kawasaki.  $17.00 or so.
  3. I bought some books about web based programming languages.  $55.00 or so for two books.
  4. I bought a few website domain names.  $10.00 each.
  5. I wrote a “prototype” of the 1997 and 2005 permanent disability rating calculatorsIt wasn’t pretty, but it worked.
  6. Once I had a working prototype, I bought some web space.  $180.00 for two years.
  7. Market the website.
  8. Make a sale.
  9. Develop more features and/or improve the site.
  10. Lather, rinse, repeat steps 6 – 8.
  1. Photo courtesy of Jarl van Hoother []
  2. The exact reasons why are the topic of an entirely different blog post altogether. []
Sep
12
2008
0

Google Chrome compatible with Workers’ Compensation Calculators

Google Chrome

Google Chrome

Google jumped head fist into the browser war last week.

The big players at the moment are Internet Explorer, Firefox/Mozilla, Opera, and Safari (Mac).  From Google’s information about Chrome, it looks like it was designed based on Apple’s popular Webkit and Mozilla’s very popular Firefox.  An added benefit is that this new browser is open source.  Google’s online comic about Chrome and their new vision of how a web browser should look and behave is actually fairly interesting.

The other bit of good news is that I’ve downloaded and installed the beta version of Google’s Chrome in order to see whether it is compatible with this website and its web apps.

Good news!  Chrome works flawlessly with my workers’ compensation calculators!  So, feel free to use your choice of web broswer to calculate permanent disability percentages, temporary disability rates, life pension rates, and nearly every other kind of benefit available under California workers’ compensation law.

Jul
26
2008
0

One more phone

A friend sent me an e-mail letting me know their Verizon LG 9400 phone works with the calculator test. (Thanks Patty!) According to Verizon’s site this phone is out of stock.

FYI, when I need to research a phone, I use PhoneScoop.com. I find it a handy way to search/compare features. My own phone… has seen better days. I’m thinking the LG Dare, but we’ll see.

If your phone does not already work with PDRater.com, have you tried using a different web browser on your phone? Everyone knows Internet Explorer (sorry, no link :P ), most people know about FireFox (my own browser of choice), but there’s also Opera and OperaMini. OperaMini can be installed on some phones as an alternative to the factor web browser. From playing around with the OperaMini demo page, it looks like OperaMini will work with my calculators.

Almost completely off topic, have you seen the iPhone simulator? Sure, it doesn’t play music or make phone calls, but if you need a fix or want to test out some calculators (ahem), it’s a pretty cool website.[1]

  1. Do people even use iPhones for telephone calls anymore? That’s sooo analog. . . . []

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