E-Commerce Journal Part 1 Page 6

By Joe Burns

The Business Plan

My wife and I had never put together a business plan before. I'll bet the majority of you had never put together a business plan either. I had no idea what went into it. We went to the local bookstore and started pulling book after book off the shelf looking for clues. Just for fun, I looked through a big fat book that proclaims the government has free money they are just dying to give away. There was the answer. The book suggested most state universities had free small business assistance.

I taught at one of the schools listed! Woohoo!

The head of the department met with us for hours. He answered every question we had, explained the tax structures of the state, and send us out the door with the phone numbers of ten different offices in New Orleans that would help my wife. Louisiana is very interested in getting women into business for themselves. We took advantage of it all.

If you are even thinking about getting into business, check with your closest state university. The information is invaluable and it's free. You won't believe it even after you leave the building.

Three days later, we had our business plan. Click here to read it. I have blocked out all of the amounts. Other than that, this is exactly what we took to the bank.

We showed up at the bank carrying five of our own street art paintings. I'm in a tie and Tammy is in a business suit. She looked great. We had just set them all around the room when in walked the people we were expecting PLUS the head of the bank itself. The person we had been dealing with pitched the idea of funding an Internet business to the bank's head, and he was interested to the point that he himself came to the meeting.

Our pitch went well. The bank said they wanted to get into funding Internet businesses and ours was as good as any to get started with.

After a week of paperwork, the managers extended us a line of credit rather than a loan because it allowed for a more flexible payment plan and could be drawn upon anytime we paid the loan down to free up money.

Then and there we drew out $25,000 and sent it off to the server people in California. Now it was time to pay for a trip to Europe. That's where the art is located. We think. We had no idea if there would be enough art to even get us off of the ground. We went without one appointment with any artist.

I was a little nervous to say the least.

The Trip

Our travel agent was use to our coming in and asking her to do the impossible quickly. In a couple of days she had put together a package that lasted almost three weeks.

We followed this plan:

  • Delta flight: New Orleans to Atlanta, Atlanta to Rome.
  • Rome for five nights
    • Train to Florence
  • Two nights in Florence
    • Train to Venice
  • Venice for two nights
    • Overnight sleeper train to Paris
  • Paris for five nights
    • Eurostar train to London
  • London for five nights
  • Delta flight: Gatwick to Atlanta, Atlanta to New Orleans.

Please don't be impressed with the time spent in each of the cities. We stayed in the cheapest hotels we could find that included indoor plumbing and ate from street vendors to save as much money for art as possible. I think we used decent flatware twice. Travel within the city was done by metro or on foot. We didn't have the cash to sightsee or have a night out. This was truly a working vacation.

Next: Purchasing the Art

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