Tax time, trying to beat Spring Migration

December and January, as I'm finding out, can be quite the crunch time for a design engineer and small business owner. Let's start with a major holiday - Chinese New Year. Most factory workers in China are migrant workers who journey to the cities and industrial towns in search of higher paying jobs. They live in the dorms provided by the company, and they work to save money to send home to build their businesses, or to just help out with family finances. Chinese New Year is therefore a major holiday in China - annually, the period leading up to Chinese New Year is called "Chun Yuan", or Spring Migration. It is said to be the largest human migration ever recorded, as most workers head home to spend their holidays with family. Think travelling in the US leading up to thanksgiving, but on a much larger scale, and just about *everyone* has to travel.


(Beijing West Railway Station. From Wikipedia's entry on Spring Migration).

From a logistics standpoint, factories often close up to 2 weeks before Chinese New Year to allow for flexibility for their workers to travel. This means orders are no longer received, or processed. Most smaller logistics company would cut off pickup in the week leading up to Chinese New Year. (Hint: If you are doing business in China - don't go during this time). As such, if you were a foreign company doing development work in China (which is just about everybody), you want to get your orders, POs, engineering drawings, etc, into the factory *well* ahead of Chinese New Year. It is not uncommon to see a big rush in the month or two leading up to CNY to get tooling ordered - and that's what happened at my day job on the project that I am leading.

On top of that, Washington state Business & Occupations Tax were due at the end of January. For a first year business owner, this is an eye opening experience. Even though I promptly hired a CPA and paid him lots of money (2x of what I owe the state) it was still a lot of number crunching, sales reporting, etc, to figure out what I owed the state. This is actually a funny thing - no one on Kickstarter ever mentions the tax liability of the money that you bring in on a successful kickstarter campaign. The short story from my accountant is: "The money is a loan, until you ship. Then it's a sale, subjected to taxes". I just hope that the rest of the kickstarter campaigners out there had factored / budgeted in money for taxes…

Anyway, with all this behind me, I hope to return to a more regular blogging interval here. Meanwhile, things have been going on in the background. Specifically:

1) We are now shipping the newer version of the OpenBeam profile. Specifically, if you are buying 1 meter long extrusions from us from our webstore, or from our Amazon.com listing, you will be receiving the new, close looped profile:

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This profile is significantly stiffer, especially against lateral twisting, then the original OpenBeam Classic.

2) We are in the process of upgrading our packaging to retail packaging. This was done specifically with the goal of starting Amazon FBA distribution. You can see a sample of our packaging here:

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If you are a prime household, you should consider buying the extrusions from our Amazon listing. Over the next month or so we will be making adjustments to the Amazon inventory, as well as repackaging some of our brackets to offer more value to Prime shoppers. Even if you do not have Amazon Prime, orders above $50 that are filled by Amazon qualifies for super saver shipping. Overall, I believe this is going to be a win-win for everyone. You can see our listings on Amazon here:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=OpenBeam

So, if you've emailed me in the last 2 months and didn't get a reply, I apologize. There's only so much I can do burning the candle from both ends and blowtorching the middle :-).

-=- Terence