Founder at Cold Star Technologies, a process engineering professional services firm.
Business Strategy, Sales Training, Funnel Design, Copywriting, Process Engineering & Improvement
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1. A good pair of headphones. But not great...nothing over say $75. Diminishing returns otherwise. A $50 headset should do nicely and be useful for video meetings as well. However, I would not invest less than $30. Your ability to clearly hear what is being said is the most important factor in this job. Normal over-the-ear headphones will be fine as well. I would go with closed back. Ear bud type is not ideal.
2. A keyboard you like typing on. It should be fairly large with good spacing between keys. A membrane type on a small form factor forcing the keys to be small and close together would not be ideal. A larger mechanical keyboard with switches you like would be better.
3. A basic business computer and screen. You don't need fancy graphics. A laptop would be fine. You could even do this work on a tablet using a bluetooth-connected keyboard, but I wouldn't recommend that.
4. Some people use a pedal. The purpose of the pedal is for you to use your foot to stop or continue the recording as it plays. This is so your typing can keep pace with the speaker. Your fingers remain engaged in typing.
5. Assuming you are provided with recording files, I would run them through otter.ai and then clean them up. This would save a lot of time. Otter does cost some money but the annual subscription is only around $100. If you are serious about this as a home-based business that would be a wise investment as it should enable you to earn more money faster.
6. Macros. Not equipment precisely, but recordings of commands linked to a key or combination of keys (eg. F6, CTRL-Y). When you start doing this kind of work I'd expect you to be slow. You will be finding your way along. As you get more experience, you will realize there are certain tasks or commands you keep doing or using. These you can record macros for. May require a higher end mechanical keyboard with its own software, but I'm sure there are open source options out there as well.
The employer may give you access to their own software, where the audio and transcription files will be kept. If you use Otter in this case, you'll get the draft transcript from Otter after submitting the audio file there, download it to your computer, then upload it into their software.
If you are not provided with software, then Google Docs is probably the answer.
You want a physical workspace where you will be left alone and it will be quiet. Noise cancelling closed back headphones will help. You do not want children or animals running through your work area.
Regardless of your starting situation, if this is something you want to do I would begin the work with what you have. If you don't have a great keyboard, or the best headphones, that's all right--as long as they are functional and you can concentrate, you can get started. You can reinvest earnings into better equipment as you go. Don't let a lack of "perfection" stop you.
How much interaction do you plan to have between attendees? Consider the platform best suited to your requirements, rather than trying to make the square peg fit into the round hole.
If it is mostly one-way, essentially like television with a presenter and everyone else passively listening, occasionally with a raised hand and question, then a Zoom webinar is sufficient. I've used this myself.
But if there are to be multiple simultaneous subjects, you'll need breakout rooms or a different kind of tool.
Should people be meeting in pairs or small groups, rather than everyone in the same group...and you want them to have mobility? Apps like gatherly and gather.town let participants walk around as if they are on a city block or in a large room. As they approach other people chatting, the sound of that conversation picks up.
Do sponsors need booths? Airmeet might be the answer.
If you are going to be a presenter, perhaps the keynote speaker, then I strongly recommend hiring a master of ceremonies or manager to keep track of timing, segments, moving people to rooms etc. Your mind needs to be on being seen, not managing things. These are two different jobs.
The most critical item here is intellectual property. Who owns the idea? The company.
So you have a potential issue there. They are unlikely to want to give up any ownership share since they already own the idea.
Did you sign a non-compete agreement when you came aboard? How about the team members you're considering?
The fact of the matter is a spinoff will only happen if senior leadership at the company agrees it should.
Now, are you stuck? No. You can talk to whoever asked you to form the team, and sound them out about the idea. You can use the argument that you'll be creating massive value, and one of the ways to remunerate you for doing that is by giving you ownership shares.
You'll see pretty quickly what their attitude is regarding the idea.
Note that there may be consequences to "tipping your hand early".
As another possibility, if you did not sign a non-compete clause, you have the option of forming a competing company. You can get paid to learn, developing the original idea with your current employer. Then, with the experience of having lead the creation of the idea and knowledge of what to do, you can take that track record to investors. You may even be able to bring some members of the team along.
I leave it to you to decide how ethical that approach is.
In my opinion, without knowing your boss or the people above them, it is difficult to see an easy path to a spinoff. There is too much for them to lose by giving up ownership. They can simply hire a manager, especially after you've done the hard startup work.
If you had an owner like Felix Dennis, I can imagine him setting you up with an ownership stake, fuel for the fire, and shouting an encouraging, "Go!" But people like him are rare.
So don't put the cart before the horse and come up with intricate plans for dividing up the spoils. You have a big sales job to do first. If you want to discuss that, I'm available.
Go back to your sense of Identity. Who are you? What do you stand for? Not your name... your values. Vivid Vision by Cameron Herald could be useful, as would be the now-old Start With Why Ted Talk by Simon Sinek which you can find on YouTube.
Which of these ideas you're looking at resonates the most with your identity? Use a weighted decision matrix if that helps.
Go to YouTube and search for "Steve Blank customer development". Watch two of his lectures so you get the point. Buy the book Business Model Generation and learn about the business model canvas.
Founders are all delusional. We need to confirm or deny our vision by actually talking with potential customers. Yet few want to do this.
"Since I think the product may not be patenatable or complex"... I recommend you talk to an expert who helps people patent their inventions. They'll give you feedback on the reality of your situation...and they will likely be able to show you how to patent your product in a way you haven't considered. eg. utility patent.
People do invent products and then license the production and sale of them to an established company that has a distribution channel. In return they get a royalty.
Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer nor an accountant, and this is not "professional advice."
I have, however, set up a few businesses and had partners.
What you need to do is incorporate and then write up an Operating Agreement that lays out the terms of your partnership.
Who owns what.
How the new partner will "buy into" the organization with their sweat equity.
What happens when revenue targets are reached.
And how exactly you separate when it's time to move on.
Lay these details out and more in your operating agreement. You'll be so happy you did, later.
When you incorporate, you may do this on your own...or you may want an attorney or accountant to help. They will know how to set up an operating agreement, but now that you know the term it's likely you can google a template. There'll be a lot of technical mumbo jumbo in there you probably won't need, but the section headers will guide you in the right direction.
Many people have asked questions like yours, and I've answered a bunch of them. Get an NDA if you want.
But the truth is, most people are too busy with their own pet ideas to bother with yours.
You're in love with it.
We have other things on our minds.
I wrote a blog post with a nifty 2X2 chart in it to explain how, most of the time, you're safe:
If you look at competitors or books from branding experts or even books written by professionals wanting to help others in their industry, you'll see the same kind of language:
"wide range of services"
"meet your business needs"
Everyone looks and sounds identical.
And the value proposition boils down to: "Hire us because
To differentiate yourself, you need to change your language. Stop talking about "the thing." There's a saying about doctors: they fall in love with the disease, but forget about the patient. You need to remember about the patient.
I made a video blog discussing exactly this: https://www.jasonkanigan.org/what-to-do-if-you-are-a-commodity/
Chiropractors often sell supplements to drive revenue in their business. They're capped out like dentists and tradespeople on the hours they can crack backs (or 'drill and fill' as the dentists do), so supplements are a great complimentary product that doesn't eat time to fulfill. You'll see a bunch of them and doctors getting into CBD oil now. Their client base already has trust in them so these recommendations are easy to swallow heh heh.
Be looking for your version of supplements in the architectural field. Something complimentary, that your clientele already trusts you about, that you can earn a recurring income on while not using up more of your time.
One advantage I see them having over you is I presume they see more people in a day. What can you do to increase the number of people you see in a day, to leverage your
"architect authority" and drive the income stream of the complimentary product or service?
Could be as easy as loans: helping people rent money from your position as a professional.
Food for thought.