May 2019: we finally incorporated. That only took two months longer than it should’ve.
After agreeing to be our registered agent, I paid the attorney for those services and submitted the company formation paperwork at the courthouse. While that paperwork was being processed by the state, I started shopping around for banks. I’m a member of three military credit unions. They tend to have much better rates than regular, commercial banks, so I called one. They said since Ryan isn’t a member of the credit union they wouldn’t be able to open the account for our company. I called the second one and they said the same thing. I tried BBVA since they have a branch about 15 miles from me. They wouldn’t work with us unless Ryan was willing to fly back to the US and walk into the branch with me. Since we were not interested in paying for a round-trip ticket, I thought maybe there were some internet banks that would allow us to email our application and associated documents. I could only find two that had reasonable fee structures but neither of them offered credit cards. All else being equal, I’d rather the same bank issue my credit card as holds my checking account. Turns out that third military credit union agreed to open a checking account for us so long as Ryan didn’t have signatory on the account.
You’ll remember from last month that the bank wants to know who owns the company which requires an operating agreement or something similar. I finally got the operating agreement from the attorney and opened the bank account. Once that was done I took all this paperwork by my accountant’s office. I really wish I’d have visited him first. Every other person I spoke with seemed to be working against me, the accountant was the first person I spoke with in this whole incorporation fiasco that seemed like he was on Team Brad. After explaining all I’d done, he said it was very unlikely I’d need an operating agreement drafted by an attorney and that a boilerplate agreement would work just fine … and it would have been free.
While I was with the accountant I asked what records I needed to keep and how to best keep them. It’s a little tricky with international transfers and I’m still not sure how it’ll all work. I can only hope it’ll become clear after we invoice our first customer.
He didn’t have any recommendations for bookkeeping software, but it’s hard to beat free so we decided on Wave. I looked at Quickbooks, Freshbooks, and a few others, but ultimately decided Wave would be best since it has all the same features and a price tag of $0. Of course hilarity ensued when I tried to setup the program. First our bank, being a small military credit union, wasn’t an option in Wave’s connect your account settings. Then Ryan’s address and phone numbers, being Thai, weren’t allowed in the system. I talked with three customer support agents trying to get everything setup. One of them, the one helping with Ryan’s address and phone number, said to just use my address … you know, this being official paperwork lying is perfectly OK. I don’t know why they ask these questions or require as much information as they do. I’m not sure what they do with that, hopefully it doesn’t bite us in the ass, but we can invoice customers, so … there’s that.
We received our first customer inquiry last month. We replied but then didn’t hear anything and assumed she wasn’t serious. Late this month, about six weeks after that first contact, we finally got a reply. She found our email in “Clutter,” which if you’re a Gmail user, this is Outlook’s version of “Promotions.” Since we’re using Freshdesk as our team inbox and Freshdesk uses their MTAs for outbound mail, it’ll show a “via freshdesk.com” notice in the email’s from information. We assumed this was the reason our emails landed in the promotions folder. During a phone call with this prospect it came out that she works at a university and their servers had recently been compromised. In the wake of this, they decided to tighten security and crank their spam settings to 11.
A lot of this setting up a tour company is proving more difficult than I’d have assumed. It seems weird to me that sending email, sending an invoice and receiving funds, and keeping track of these transactions would not be easier in 2019 …but here we are.