Monday, April 22, 2013

Reality Distortion Field and iron fences

Steve Jobs was known (infamous) for his "reality distortion field".  It's said that he believed things so passionately that he could convince you of it even if you knew it was wrong.  If you suggested an idea to him he would reject it, and a few weeks later might remember it, but think he came up with it, and when he told about it, he would be convinced he came up with the idea. If you tried to argue with him, he would be so resolute and fervently convinced that it was his idea that you would eventually begin to doubt your recollection of reality.

So as I get my ninja fortress ready for sale, there are a few big items that I need to finish, but can't do myself.  One of these is to replace the iron front porch which is seriously rusting and looks, well, like sh1t.  As I get quotes for this, it makes me think of Steve's reality distortion field.

Now, I know for a fact that iron is not expensive.  If you wanted to buy some, the price they would quote you would be for a ton.  It's not worth it to try to sell it by the pound because it's so heavy and so cheap that the only way to have a conversation without decimal points is to give a price in tons. (or maybe it's spelled tonnes, if you're british). 

And yet, when I get quotes, the person will look me dead in the eye, and say with a straight face and number like "$4000", without registering any emotion.  It's delivered with the same dispassionate matter-of-factness that they would say a word like "lemons", "mustache" or "oregano". As if their preternatural calm is supposed to make me believe that's not a lot of money for a day or two worth of work.  A welder's reality distortion field? The jedi-mind trick doesn't work on me.  I know these are the droids i'm looking for. And I don't care if you need an answer right away.  My answer is:  I'm getting more quotes. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Starting a Plastic Moving Boxes Business

So, it wasn't easy starting a new business.  I thought about going the franchise route and buying a territory from a company like Bungobox or Frogbox, but in the end I figured that I'd rather be a pirate than join the navy, so I set out on my own.

It took a lot of work to get my business from the planning stage to where it is now.  I had to hire a web designer, find suppliers for the boxes, decide on territories that I wanted to cover and each step took more time and effort than I realized.

I think what I found just as useful as analyzing what others did right, is to figure out where it could go wrong.  I found two companies that failed at this (one mom & pop outfit in florida, and another who bought a franchise from one of the big companies) and I decided to call them up and talk to them for a loooong time.  I performed, in essence, an autopsy on their business so that I wouldn't make the same mistakes that they did.  It was *very* informative.

In the end, I decided to launch my moving boxes business in palm beach county florida.  I am also simultaneously launching a moving boxes business in washington, DC, 

I was surprised at how little information there was out there on setting up this type of business.  I did find some really helpful information on other businesses to model (interviews with Brian Scudamore from 800-Got-Junk and Tony Hsieh from Zappos) which had a strong customer service component to them.

Moving is such a stressful event that I think the only way to be involved in that business is to do things differently.  I'm committed to bringing humanity back to the moving business.  I meditate regularly and there is a Zen concept about loving as much as you can from wherever you are, and I think those mental and emotional attitudes will fit well with what I am trying to do.

At any rate, I also received invaluable help from a few other Mom & Pop independent moving box companies in other parts of the country.  We communicate regularly either by email or through facebook.  There is strength in numbers and bouncing ideas of them has been a tremendous help.

In case you found this website because you are thinking of starting a business like this, and want to ask questions, feel free to email me and I will help in any way that I can.  Paying it forward.  See you at the top :)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Link love

I've never cared much for search engine optimization (SEO).  I just let this site grow in popularity organically.  But as I set up a new business, I realize how important it is.  If people can't find you on Google, then you are invisible.  You may as well not even exist.  When I posted yesterday about the new business I am starting that rents plastic reusable moving boxes in DC and Florida , I did not realize that I would have to do work to get it noticed.  If you google "Plastic moving boxes DC", this blog comes up on page 2 of Google, and my Elf Boxes site is on page 9!  *9*

So, that will not do.  If any of you are reading this and want to hook a brother up, please link to my site.  It would help me out a lot.

And obviously, if you are in the market for moving boxes, let me know.  The site should be live and taking orders in a few days.  thanks.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Elf Boxes Plastic Moving Boxes Coming to DC

I am in the final stages of launching a new business.  It will be starting in West Palm Beach, Florida this week.  And I hope to launch it in Washington DC too.  This company will rent plastic reusable moving boxes.  These are easier to use than cardboard (no tape required, no assembly required), are stronger than cardboard moving boxes, don't fall apart in the rain, and are eco-friendly.

Because the boxes are strong and rigid, unlike cardboard, you can put your wineglasses on the bottom box, and your kettlebells in the box on top.  One of the things everyone worries about during a move is breakage.  These boxes are strong and secure enough to protect your most valuable belongings:

(in case you are wondering, this is my adorable nephew playing in one of the boxes)

I'm really happy to be able to launch this business with other members of my family.  Moving is one of the most stressful life experiences that you will ever have. There are so many bad parts involved in the moving experience that I am glad we have found a way to improve one of them.  As a small, family owned businesses I'm really stoked to be able to provide the kind of  personalized service that I would want in a move.  I'm dedicated to bringing humanity back to the moving experience, one box at a time. I hope you'll give us a try and that you'll be happy with the results.  I'm not really sure what happiness looks like to you, but to me it looks like a cute kid in a funny hat, laughing inside a green box :)

So the company is called Elf Boxes, and website is  If you're looking to buy some moving boxes from a place like Uhaul or Home Depot, please check it out.  I'm sure you'll be pleasantly surprised to find that it costs less to rent these boxes than it does to buy new cardboard boxes.  Moreover, these boxes don't end up in a landfill after you use them.  They can be used hundreds of times, and when they reach the end of their life cycle, then can be ground up and used to make more moving boxes.