Entrepreneur Howto for the Techy…

Over the last few weeks, I’ve begun setting up my own company. Since I began hosting email and websites for clients in August, I decided to do things properly. I figured I should give a brief overview of the process I’ve followed, as a rough guide to any other Techy in Ireland who may be considering doing something similar.

The first step was to set myself up with Revenue Commissioners as a sole trader for tax purposes (Yes yes, I could have registered to be a limited company, but I’m not dealing with a significant ammount of monet just yet. I’ll probably see if I can convert from a sole trader to a limited liability entidy if things really grow). I decided to declare my main business as consultancy, since I have a no of clients who get me to maintain their computer(s) (and in some cases networks) and treat hosting as a seperate division, trading under a different name.

I was also advised by my “business adviser” to register myself for access to ROS to simplify tax returns. Registration for ROS can take some time though, so I was told to submit my sole trader details to ROS as soon as I received them.

After taking some time to decide upon a name for the hosting division (I’m not too happy using conall.net in the FQDN of my servers which clients are hosted on, it’s supposed to be my personal domain), I moved onto the next step, setting up RBNs for my consulting and hosting divisions (or is that businesses? Hmmm) with the CRO. This wasn’t very dfficult (except I had to hand deliver the forms this afternoon, given the whole An Post mess at the moment – why can’t UPS orFexEx take over the postal system? It would be so much better 😉 )

The next step is setting up domain name(s) for my divisions. For my consulting, I’m trying to register the RBN “Conall” (it hasn’t processed just yet), which will allow me to satisfy the IEDR regulations for me to register conall.ie. For my hosting division, I’ve sucessfully registered “Asclepian Computing Solutions” as an RBN, so I intend to register asclepian.ie. I also purchased asclepian.com/net/org/co.uk at the weekend, to keep control of my business name in different TLDs which I’d expect to trade in (and I’ll probably use the .org to publish scripts and things I’m happy to distribute)

So, I’m almost completely setup. Domain name registrations are semi-complete, I can hold off on the IEDR domains until my cash flow issues resolve themselves, so long as I have the RBNs in place. I’ve contracted my brother to design a logo for the hosting, and I’ve even setup Request Tracker for a ticket queue. So, all that’s left on the To Do list are some websites (one for general consulting and hosting info, one as a hosting FAQ and something using mod_auth_pam to write a control panel system) and I’m officially an entrepreneur.

12 thoughts on “Entrepreneur Howto for the Techy…

  1. Hope it works out for you.
    Couple of observations – the domain name is hard to spell and would prove difficult to market as a result. KISS philosophy is not without merits.
    Why would you want to write a control panel when there are plenty of solid commercial ones available?

  2. Michele, I was careful to chose a name that is unique and identifiable. I’m quite happy with the domain name. Plus people don’t need to be able to spell it, there’s a new fangldy thing called a hyperlink in html nowadays.

    As for why not get a commercial control panel, they suck! Ensim is one of the worst things ever conceived. CPanel is on bugtraq all the time and I just wouldn’t trust any of them for security and reliability. A few shell scripts wrapped in a PHP interface and mod_auth_pam will in theory be fine. I don’t intend to let users edit their DNS zones or anything dangerous. Plus if clients request new controls, I can add them as I need to. Your control panels don’t support that…

  3. Conall
    Unique is good. Impossible to spell is bad.
    People do need to be able to spell it. How are they going to find your hyperlink? Is it magically going to appear in front of them?
    Of course if you don’t want advice from somebody who is actually running a business that’s fine. I won’t bother wasting my time giving you advice based on my own experience and from my own mistakes.

  4. Michele, as I said at the very top, my main business is consulting, with hosting as a auxiliary service. Many of my clients have told me that they want a website or email setup, so now I’m in a position to manage it myself, insteasd of outsourcing it (which was a disaster before)

    Advice from someone in business is very welcome, but complaining that my business name is hard for you to spell isn’t very constructive advice. Business names are harder to come up with nowadays, particularly if it needs an online presence. A lot of the good names are taken.

  5. Conall – I think you missed my point completely.
    The business name and the domain do not have to be the same thing. If someone is writing you a cheque for services rendered they probably have your invoice in front of them, so all they have to do is copy the name on it. When it comes to a domain name you need to choose the simplest and easiest one to spell possible. Do you honestly think that I enjoy paying for 15 derivatives of our company name simply to avoid this issue?
    Alan in SpoiltChild, for example, choose a name that anyone could spell and probably remember. I chose a name that I liked and have been dealing with the spelling problems ever since.
    Hewlett Packard is a good example – they use the short abbreviation HP. Not because they don’t like their full name, but because it is easy to remember and you won’t find anyone having issues spelling it.
    So my basic point is – use whatever business name you want, but I’d honestly recommend that you use a domain name that is easier to spell because people will have issues otherwise.
    When we started out (we was me at the time) I never thought that the domain name choice would have such a huge impact – but it did. Shortening it made life easier, but we still had to register derivatives to avoid losing traffic and the web logs still show a silly number of people hitting the “wrong” domain. It’s our own fault, but at this stage it’s far too late to do anything about it.

  6. I certainly agree on the control panel thing; most of the current ones seem to have been written by mad people. If you do a decent one, it would probably be marketable.

  7. Michele, I’m ending this conversation right now, I’ve got better things to be doing than talking in circles with you. As do you in fact, your online billing system is crap, it doesn’t seem to like my Maestro or MasterCards…

    Rob, I’d probably just throw it onto SourceForge or something instead. I’m not a natural coder, so making it open source would be a much better plan, to ensure quality.

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