Saturday, May 26, 2007

And how would you like to pay for that?

Yesterday Vicky and I attended a meeting with a representative from one of the major Canadian banks. The meeting was sponsored by the Entrepreneurship Centre here in Ottawa, which offer workshops, consultation, and information we're trying to take advantage of as much as possible.

So we're meeting with this guy and finding out all kinds of interesting things in terms of bank accounts, etc, and then he asks, in passing, not as part of his advisory role, if we plan to offer PayPal as a payment option on the site. Hm. I don't know.

We are planning to sign up with credit card companies (Visa and Mastercard), but do many people still feel uncomfortable disclosing their credit card numbers online? Would people prefer to use their paypal accounts? I would really love some feedback on this from any of you.

Do you have a paypal account? Do you prefer to use it to your credit card? Would you prefer to use it because we are going to be a small unknown company? Are you perfectly fine with using your credit card? Share with me :)
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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

I do it in the name of research!!

An important stage in starting a business is figuring out who your competition is and how they do things. If we were opening a restaurant or a spa, we'd be in their establishments trying out their services and then figuring out what we want and don't want to reproduce.
Know what that means we get to do? Go shopping online! Woohoo! I've been making online purchases (easy to do even while I've been away on vacation in British Columbia and Alberta) and will soon be getting my packages in the mail. Getting packages in the mail is always so exciting !! Even though you made the purchase and know exactly what you're getting, there's something that makes it feel like a present when you open up that box!
Research is fun!
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Logo- Round 1

We just received the first round of logos from Mike, and I have to say I'm quite pleased. He came up with 5 pages of options for us, so now we are working on tweaking and narrowing down our favourite look. I think once we have the logo complete, the business is really going to start to take shape! Our next step will be to get the website put together, and start ordering some inventory. I've been busy communicating with dozens of companies; it's going to be tough to decide which brands we want to carry.

In other news, I recently found out that I have been accepted to teacher's college for September. I'm very excited, but it's going to be a busy year! I'm going to have to juggle being a mom, a student, and an entrepreneur at the same time- not to mention saving some time for my hubby. I can do it though, I'm a mom ;)
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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

So much to learn

On Friday, Lara and I attended a free entrepreneurial workshop offered by the City. It was really helpful and I would recommend anyone thinking about starting a business attend one. We talked about the pros/cons of incorporating our business vs a general partnership, and decided that incorporating is the way we want to go. The only draw back, we learned on Friday, is that if you own more than 40% of a business you can't collect Employment Insurance, which means no maternity benefits for us. Too bad!

Did you know that if you own a homebased business and hire employees, only one person can be on site at a time? Did you know that you don't have to charge GST to your customers if you make less than $30,000, but the minute you make more than that you need to charge GST until the end of time? There are so many rules and regulations we are going to have to figure out, oy vey!

Both Lara and I are really excited to see our new logo... we're still waiting for Mike to send us his first draft. I have also been busy searching for Canadian companies that we can carry in our store. It's going to be tough narrowing down our selection because there are so many really great companies on the market, and lots of creative talent to choose from!

I'm finding that I'm really drawn to boys clothing, because of Joel, and I really need to start opening my eyes to more stuff for girls.
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Thursday, May 10, 2007

A new logo and the iTheory

Tonight Lara and I met with Mike from Point25 , a pretty cool graphic designer who is going to create a logo for us. He had some great ideas and I'm excited to see what he will come up with! When we described our business and the funky, hip baby products we want to carry, Mike suggested we go with the iPod 'look'; you know the trendy, stylized images with funky colours and fonts. I think Mike is right on with that concept!

Mike also suggested that we come up with some avatars that we can use on our blog- I think this is a great idea! I wonder how Lara and I would look as cartoon characters?

Here's an interesting tangent... I just did a Wikipedia search for iPod, and came on to a page on the iTheory and how the whole 'i' concept started. In fact it was not Apple that started it, but the IHOP- International House of Pancake!

Look for our new logo in June!
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Wednesday, May 9, 2007

We are sewing machines!

I remember having a LOT of bibs given to me before my son was born and thinking I would never go through them all. I realized that I needed to wait until he was eating to really understand how many bibs I would need, but I never had a clue! I think we have gone through six bibs today: Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and learning to drink from a sippy cup and eat eating rice cakes got three more. So in this house you can never have too many good, decent sized bibs.
Enter our idea for a special Apples'N'Oranges promotional item! We're making bibs!! And anyone who hosts a party or who spends more than a certain amount of money, probably $50, will get one!
We are currently in full out bib making mode! And if you want one before we launch, I'm running a photo treasure hunt on my mommy blog where you can win two by participating, so check it out!

I'll post pictures of the bibs soon!
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Friday, May 4, 2007

I am Canadian!! (but the US has cool stuff too!)

We are in the process of trying to figure out everything that we have to do, and we don’t have any experience! We need to figure out how to get financing, bank accounts, how to pay taxes, what are the implications of importing from other countries, how to get insurance, how to incorporate, how to write a really good business plan, how to find suppliers that people will like, etc, etc.

There are some I think we have a good handle on (we actually do have experience, I lied up there;) We both have a background in PR, we can market this thing. We both have a fair amount of experience with working online. We have very fashionably dressed babies. :)

We don’t have experience importing product from the States though. There are so many questions, like, how much will items actually cost us once we get them across the border and pay all the taxes and duty? Will a onesie cost $45 - something I wouldn’t be willing to pay and therefore wouldn’t expect anyone else to either? Do we decide not to import from the States but stick to Canadian products? There is the whole “supporting Canadian entrepreneurs” angle that I kind of like. But there are so many fabulous things from the states!!

Tell us what you think. Would a store with purely Canadian product appeal to you or would you rather see some American products that are now in Canadian dollars and you don’t have to worry about duty and such? Do you really not care either way? And finally, do you know of any fabulous Canadian businesses that sell children’s items that you think need more exposure? (Remembering that we want stuff that you can’t easily find in other stores)
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In search of an identity

The next step in our business development process is to come up with a concept, an identity, a face for apples'n'oranges. I like to consider myself a creative person, but I'm by no means an artist! The only thing I can come up with as a logo or visual concept is an apple and orange wedge, which is much too obvious. Lara and I have been emailing some graphic designers and getting some quotes, it's just a matter of trying to choose someone who we think will be able to capture the essence of our new business and turn it into a logo.
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Tuesday, May 1, 2007

To spill the beans or not to spill the beans

I am grappling with the idea of spilling all of our secrets on this blog. Lara has made some pretty valid points - if you're not going to be honest in a blog, then what's the point of having a blog? The problem I have is the dreaded competition! Now, I'd be living on Mars if I thought we would start a business and have ZERO competition (wait, do they need baby clothes on Mars...?), but the idea of one of our readers lurking about ready to sneak away all our nuggets of awesome genius inspiring ideas kinda freaks me out! So really this could go two ways, the first is that this blog works to our advantage and we create lots of buzz around Apples'n'Oranges, create a strong fan base and get the word spread as much as possible. The second is some unoriginal, uninspired member of the competition copies us. Hmm. I guess that's not so bad is it? Copying IS the highest form of flattery after all.
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