Before you start, I apologize for it being so long. I had intended it to be only 500 or so words but as of typing this when I am done I am over 2300 words. Quite a bit more than my first thought, everything seemed to just flow so well on the keyboard. Hope you enjoy the read and can either learn something or can teach me something. Read ON! Introduction
A bit about me, my name is Josh Kirby and I am the founder of Phantom Asset Management or Phantom AM for short since that would make one long domain name. I am 20 years old and this is my 3rd business, the first two were web design/ dev agencies. First one I did solo then the second I did with a remote team of 8. I made some money off these but most of it was spent on living since I never really scaled it in a way to give me profit. I wanted to be the ‘good guy’ and pay everyone well, well I paid them enough to wipe out 80% of the profits. My total take from both web businesses is in the $XX,000 range. I started my first one at 14 then the second at 17. So not much total experience between them but I did learn a lot about marketing and cold emails. Cold emails were the main source of contracts over the years. I never found ads to be of much use. It felt like I was just paying for no return and likely that was the case since I only got 8.3% of total contracts from customers who said they heard of me through our ads. I did quit doing ads 1 year into the second business because of the poor return, I figured know when to quit and save the money to spend on other methods.
When I was young I was not very social and as a result once I moved to the concrete jungle we call cities, I became a hermit of sorts. I stayed inside and played games a lot, but I always had a thirst for knowledge. This resulted in me learning a lot of different things, what ever happened to be my special interest at the time (I have ASD, so I get really into these special interests more so than most). I learned about everything from military (childhood dream job that got crushed), to space and space exploration, to computer hardware, to programming.
So that is where I have ended up, I built an asset tracking and management SaaS that I am targeting at small business owners and individuals who have a lot of tech to keep track of. Though I am thinking the small businesses will be my main target, the individuals is more of a secondary thought. Project Story
A bit of backstory for this project, I have a ton and I mean a ton of computer hardware and cables. It is to the point a good section of my basement is full. I never could know what I had and if I was giving away the last of that cable or not. Never knew who I leant out cables and hardware to either. I knew I needed a software solution to this issue since Excel was not going to be an appropriate solution, so, I built what I needed then I focused on making it into a SaaS application when others said I should and showed demand for it.
Now if you have a look at it you will see the dashboard template is the same as another competitor in the space. This was by complete accident and frankly I hate that it is the same but at the same time I have decided that it will stay until it becomes an issue, or I just can’t stand it anymore. That is the likely one. I do have it in my roadmap to create a more custom dashboard template but that is for the future not today. Say 18 months down the line or so.
I know that some people will hate on me for using the same one and frankly that is fine since I know that I built most of this system for personal use and adapted it to a business. Some of the features are ideas that I had from talking to IT consultants and other small business owners. Each of them provided me with information that has gone into this project and I know each and every one of them is going to be happy with what is there or is coming in the next few months.
Speaking of coming features, if you can think of any that you believe should be in an asset tracking/ management software please say so. I would love to get feedback on what I have and what I can add.
I contacted him back about this and we talked and agreed that is what I would need. He gave me a price of $3000 to do it all up and a timeline of 6 weeks since he would be gone for a family holiday between now and when he could finish. Okay so more research (research is critical for a successful business), I found out that I could use the federal site and do it myself to save $1500, that was the price to incorporate through Rob. I did it myself after debating on it for 2 days and going over it with my father and friends who know business better than me. Then came the other stuff, I did that all online too for only $200 ish, glad I went that route instead of the other $1500 through the lawyer. I talked to a family friend who is a lawyer and he said that doing it myself would save me a lot and that it would not be perfectly suited to me, but it would be good enough till I get the business up and running and more importantly profitable. I agreed that I would be better off using the funds to advertise and grow the business instead of having perfect legal stuff when what I got protected me properly and government wise I was fine because the specifics don’t matter at first.
When incorporating you had to select the number of directors and while selecting only 1 seems like a good idea when I am the only one it doesn’t leave much room for growth and at the end of the day I want to grow this to at least a medium sized business and that involves bringing on more directors, so I chose the max range of 1-10 directors. The next choice was named vs numbered corporation, I chose numbered because the named cost more to start up and I can change it to named later once I got money coming in. You will notice a trend here of that I went cheap as possible where I could change things later to make it more prope to what I wanted. I only did this when the cost to make these changes would not be much money compared to what it cost in the first place.
So now I got the legal done I can do the banking, this is always an exciting time for me because I love money and knowing that I am opening an account to put profits in makes me giddy. I did have to make some choices here about how I wanted it set up, I am in Canada, so I will be paying taxes here and paying for expenses here too. So easy, put it in CAD and convert it right? Well no, simply because many services I need to use are in USD. I decided to open both a CAD and a USD account. I figured this would give me the most flexibility and cost savings on the forex fees, so I could hook up the bank accounts directly to services that correspond to their currencies. This should be the cheapest route I can do without much trouble. I would only transfer money into CAD for making my payments.
While we are on the financial stuff, charging taxes was something I could not get a clear answer on, no matter what I looked up I could not figure it out and accountants were either not willing to provide advice on an hourly rate (well other than one who said $295 an hour) or just didn’t contact me back. Taxes are an evil of life that we all suffer through, so I ended up calling the CRA to figure out whether I needed to or how I needed to. I knew I could not just apply it to all customers because why add 13% to the price when I don’t need to. I also thought I needed to add it only to those in my province. Well the CRA cleared that one up and I decided that for those who I had to charge it to I would eat the cost on it and sell to those at a “lower” price when I just put it as sold at lower price and I pay the taxes to make it so the invoices to all customers are the same. I shouldn’t penalize certain customers since they are in my province. Where I Am Now
Once this all got set up I get onto where I am now, marketing and sales. Marketing and sales has never been my strong suit, I am more technical, financial and operations. Because of this I am hoping that I can create enough momentum to make it, so I prove my business can generate customers from a conversion stand point. If I can do enough to make it so I make even a slight bit of profit I think I can find a way to hire someone who knows marketing and sales. I did at first think about a co-founder, but I just could not find one who I liked and felt like I could trust. I am hoping I can make some right hires when this grows enough to warrant that. And hopefully those hires can be almost as good as a co-founder. This choice also gives me a bigger share of the company to start with and allows me to raise more funding should I need it. I am not writing this post to advertise my company but to share my experiences and what I have learned. I welcome questions about the process and how it all came along for anything I didn’t touch on. Going Forward
My biggest challenges going forward are going to be marketing and sales as you would have guessed. I do also think that figuring out how to get cash flow positive soon as possible will be hard. I know I can only fund this for 8 months from launch. Any more and I have to get a “real” job and get back to working on saving up. Should I have saved more before starting this, well it would have been nice to have more yes but I think this will do well enough to support me within 6 months. My expenses are next to nothing, not that I expect to live high on the hog with 6-8 months either. Well not even for the first few years if ever. I just want to create stuff that people will like and be able to use to better their business or lives. Have any questions or comments?
My site is phantomam.com and my business email is [email protected]
contact me either direct through email or our contact us page found here
I do want to offer a discount to those who sign up through reddit, I am offering 50% off for life. That means you can try it for only $5 a month. To redeem this, I need to do it manually since I do not have coupons set up currently (features came before admin stuff). So, either email me from your email you used to sign up or message me on reddit with the email you used. I should have all discounts added within a day or two.
I look forward to all your comments and feedback! Thank you for reading and hopefully some of you enjoy my offering enough to share it out with others you think might find it useful. This has been a great learning experience and I hope to continue to learn more each day.
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