Archive for April, 2010

Cyber-isolation

April 20th, 2010

So I’ve been without the internet for the past week due to a faulty modem and a slow service provider replacement. Talk about withdrawals-I’m grateful for the public library sysstem that at least allows me 30 minute increments of free access even if the pages take 2 minutes to load. While I was without my lifeline to the rest of the world I tried making a marketing video/teaser (which usually cost between $500-$50k to have professionally done) that explains a little bit of what Tshirts4Hire.com does. The link below is my first shot at it. Please let me know what questions still linger after watching this and if anything needs to change. Thanks!

Calculated Risks

April 10th, 2010

Impatience has a cost but if you’re willing to pay it then it can get you results. After launching a test system I discovered the challenges of the launch, iterate quickly methodology. If you launch too quickly you have a product that doesn’t function fully. This is especially true when you’ve got a part-time programmer. Regardless of how dedicated they are they can only pull so many all-nighters before the code start to look like a transcription of baby talk. So we’ve decided to hire some help to get us to a slightly more than functional stage. This the point where I am extremely grateful for my supportive wife who is willing to take on a little debt to get things going and capitalize on windows of opportunity.

 The other thing I find challenging is extracting the vision and user experience I see in my head into helpful specs for those doing the work. Man! I wish that whole mind transference thing could be used in the business world.

Army of Interns

April 5th, 2010

In the April issue of Entrepreneur Magazine, there is an article entitled, “The Full-Time Non-Employee”. The article talks of the success that a start-up had using unpaid interns. It also touches on the risks associated with doing that very thing because of the widely varied interpretation of the regulations.

The NY Times also ran an article a few days ago that highlights the potential illegality of such a practice. They reference 6 criteria in a guidance letter issued by the Department of Labor that determines whether or not someone is an employee or an intern (trainee in the language they used). An excerpt including the criteria is listed below

“The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) has developed the six factors below to evaluate whether a worker is a trainee or an employee for purposes of the FLSA:

1. The training, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to what would be given in a vocational school or academic educational instruction;

2. The training is for the benefit of the trainees;

3. The trainees do not displace regular employees, but work under their close observation;

4. The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the trainees, and on occasion the employer’s operations may actually be impeded;

5. The trainees are not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the training period; and

6. The employer and the trainees understand that the trainees are not entitled to wages for the time spent in training.

If all of the factors listed above are met, then the worker is a “trainee”, an employment relationship does not exist under the FLSA, and the FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime provisions do not apply to the worker.”

As a former intern I can understand the need for these caveats because as a paid intern it is very easy to get all the menial jobs dumped on you. You can become frustrated that you don’t get to actually learn anything or do anything meaningful but at least you’re getting paid. Wasting your time without compensation is insane. The only possible redeeming factor is a name build on your resume if it is a well known company-but that can backfire in an interview when they ask you about it and you attempt to elaborate on your alphabetizing skills.

So despite the risk I have posted some unpaid Social Media Marketing internships on some of the sites(internships.com and UrbanInterns.com) that were highlighted in the articles as well as a few other sites I found (Learn4Good.com, InternJobs.com, and internweb.com). They are virtual internships so can be done from anywhere.  I plan to have them work 10-15 hours per week and talk with them twice a week on their projects which will include market research and analysis, focus groups, forum and social media monitoring. I have already gotten one qualified response not counting the two others that were generic international requests. I let you know how my army of one goes and grows.

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