Something on The Side

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Home How I Earn The All Mighty Buck Something on The Side But, I'd Rather...



How I Earn a Buck

Something on The Side

What I'd Rather Be Doing

At the time of my father's death in 1993, the funeral director suggested to me that I write a computer program for use in the funeral business.  After a great deal of thought about the possibility of doing so, I got a few people together and kicked around the idea of forming a software development company.  Months passed, I lost a lot of sleep and spent a lot of money but as a group, we finally came to the conclusion that writing software for funeral homes would be challenging yet not terribly risky.   After all, it wasn't like we were going to do anything that could kill a person... especially when you think about why our client's clients, are our client's clients!

Perhaps you have been considering the possibility of starting your own software development company.  Let me pass along this bit of information, starting a small business was a tremendous amount of work.  Once the company is up and running, maintaining it gets easier over time.   It's somewhat like having a new baby in the house, where the first few months are the toughest since you don't get much sleep and the little one is always crying about something.  But after a few years everyone gets into a rhythm and you no longer realize just how much effort is required to have a family.

In our case, we contacted the Small Business Development Center of Iowa early on and told them of our ideas.  In a very business like manner we were shuffled through a series of short courses that were either free or that had a nominal charge.  These courses helped us prepare our business plan, taught us how to track financial records, and offered insights into marketing.   Personally, I never felt like the SBDC staff thought we would make it a company until after we had been together for about a year or so when we became one of their success stories.  Perhaps that attitude comes from watching so many startups fail.   Our biggest misconception at the time was that in a few years we could all retire as millionaires - after all, isn't that how it's supposed to work?

After several years of hard work (and those of you who are working on an advanced degree think you have it so rough) for no pay, and with little sleep, IntelliStat, Inc., is slowly making headway in the financial waters.  Speaking to a friend working on a graduate degree, I came to the conclusion that we were both working on an education, his in academia, mine in business.   After grumbling about our respective positions and how we have spent so much time, effort, and money over the past few years, we decided the only real difference between the two is that after only three years, he'll have a degree and I won't.

Like an author who sees his book on the shelves of bookstores everywhere he goes, it gives me great pleasure to think that our programs have touched the lives of hundreds of people across the nation and around the world.  Our funeral home software is a clerical reduction database, the user enters information about the decedent (yes, that's the dead person) one time then prints multiple forms based on that one time entry.   Most clients tell us that our program saves them anywhere between 30 to 90 minutes over using a typewriter.  We have also developed a second product  used to determine the treatability of industrial wastes and wastewater.  It's a data acquisition program that counts air bubbles produced or depleted by bacteria in an enclosed environment.  This product is marketed by, and works in conjunction with hardware from Challenge Environmental Systems, Inc., in Fayetteville, Arkansas.