Posted by: Bryan McArdle | January 15, 2010

GenY Entrepreneurs: The guide to getting open (Part 1)

For me one of the hardest things to opening my business was navigating the bureaucracy of the City, State, and Federal applications and processes to get open. This is something no business book or class teaches you, and that’s why I am coming to the rescue. My personal experience is with the City of Reno, Washoe County and the State of Nevada. It may be different in your neck of the woods but I’m assume some fundamentals are the same.

We’ll start with the name of your company and/or your business. You need that to start because the state and city need to know what to refer to you as, for instance coolness LLC, T-shirt Co., So and So partnership, etc. Once you have the name of your company and business you need to go to the county clerk and file a Fictitious Name Application. In Washoe County that is $20.00. The form is online but it must be notarized and personally turned in.

Once you have that you can file with the state for your State Business License. This is your List of Officers, this too can be found online at the Secretary of State’s Office website. Fill out the information of your co-owners and send it in. This is $125.00.

Now with those applications sent in you need to get workman’s comp insurance, or industrial insurance as they call it. This just take you calling up an insurance company and letting them know a little bit about your business and how many employees you (intend) to have. Do worry about an exact number because they will audit you at the end of the year, and whatever the difference is to how many employees you really had they will charge or credit you. I have always been credited, FYI.

Once you have a Ficticious Name, a State Business License and Workman’s Comp (Industrial ) Insurance now you can go to your city to get your actual business license. The City/Town Business License is a process all it own and I will walk you through that later.

Posted by: Bryan McArdle | January 13, 2010

Interview from the Reno Style show.

Hookava Hookah Lounge and Filthy McNastys interview.Thanks so much to Jessica at Junkee Clothing Exchange, check out her biz to get some great deals on some cool vintage clothing.

Posted by: Bryan McArdle | January 12, 2010

Bare Neccesities: Living in San Sebastian, Spain

My friend Andy, who studied abroad in San Sebastian before I did, gave me one piece of advice before I left.“Bryan,” he said. “Bring a raincoat, a good raincoat. Not one of those water resistant things, I mean a real raincoat. You’ll thank me later.” So I did, and I’ve been forever grateful.

It can be difficult, frustrating and annoying if you’re not prepared to study abroad. But how can you prepare for a new environment if you know nothing about it? So, just as Andy passed advice to me, I will pass advice on to others. Keep in mind that I don’t do this for a living. Telling people what to do and what to bring when they travel is not my job. Leave that to travel guides. I’m just someone who has lived in San Sebastian temporarily and has figured out a few things about this beautiful town.

The Basque Country

Basic things you need to know about San Sebastian (or Donostia to the Basques). First, San Sebastian is located in the Basque Country, or Pais Vasco. It is important that you refer to San Sebastian as being in the Basque Country and not Spain because at the moment some people want Pais Vascos to be a separate country, and they don’t consider themselves part of Spain.

Many people who live in San Sebastian are Basque and speak Basque, which is a very difficult and different language, and few speak English. I found that the people here seem cold at first, but once they warm up they are extremely nice.

San Sebastian is on the north coast of Spain, a fifteen-minute drive from the French border. The town is divided into four main sections. Parte Vieja is the old section of town with the most bars per square foot in the world. Gros, which is across the river, Amara, and Centro. Once you get settled in you should take a walk around town and get to know the area. Don’t worry about where you will live because everyone lives at the most a ten-minute walk from the beach. In the summer San Sebastian is beautiful and the beaches are crowded. In the winter and spring expect some (a lot) of rain, but it doesn’t get too cold.

Settling in

I assume that most students who are going to San Sebastian to study abroad have never been before and are not fluent in the language. This can be the first and worst problem. Asking questions and directions isn’t easy when you and the informer don’t understand each other. When all else fails try hand motions, and sign language.

If you’re lucky enough to get directions finding the place can be another hassle. So I suggest you find a friend who speaks Spanish or has lived here for a while ASAP. The study abroad office is also a good place to get help.

When you arrive you will either get an apartment or live with a family. Families have everything ready for you so you don’t need to buy sheets, food, furniture or decorations. But you get the language barrier thrown in your face from the moment you walk in. Families cook all the meals but have a strict schedule. Usually lunch is at 1:30 and dinner at 8:00. Families are a great way to learn the culture and the language in a more social environment.

If you get an apartment you’ll have a little work ahead of you. Apartments usually come furnished but lack sheets, towels and worse, food. So if you want to sleep and eat the first day you have to get started right away. You can bring sheets from home or buy some at a linen store. Don’t expect to see a Best Buy or Wal Mart. If you need appliances there are second hand stores around town. I recommend Cash Converters in Gros.

Where to Shop

Unlike the large American stores, most stores (tiendas) here specialize in specific items. Fruit is sold at a “Fruiteria,” bread at a “Panderia,” meat at a “Carneceria,” etc. It can take a while to complete a grocery list. These places are everywhere so it’s easy to shop, but it takes some planning. You might find a place that carries a little of everything. For toiletries you can go to a pharmacy or a place called Denok that carries toothpaste, soap, deodorant and shampoo, etc. Some things you might want to bring from home are Kool Aid mix, peanut butter, hot sauce and ranch dressing because these things are difficult to find.


When you know what you need you can’t just run out and get it. Spain has “descanso,” or “siesta,” which is a time from around 1:00 to 4:00 in the afternoon when everything closes and people go home to rest and eat lunch. This can get in the way of shopping, but remember that you get to siesta too, so enjoy it. Only restaurants and bars stay open during siesta. Generally stores open at 9:00 or 10:00 a.m. and close around 8:00 p.m., close early on Saturdays and are closed all day on Sundays.

Phoning Home

Once settled in and organized you’ll most likely want to call or write someone telling them about your new place. The cheapest way to call home is to buy a Eurocity phone card. Six euros, which is almost equal to six dollars, will get you an hour and a half of talk time to the US – a great deal. You can buy these cards as well as postage stamps at a local Tabaco, little stores marked with a yellow and black leaf. Some students buy cellular phones (mobiles) because having a house line in Spain is very expensive.


Getting around San Sebastian is easy because city buses go everywhere in town and are very frequent. A trip cost 0.80 centimos if you pay cash. The alternative is to get a Kutxa card, a smart card that you can add money to and use on buses for only 0.50 centimos. That will save you a lot of money in the long run. You can get the card at the main Kutxa bank near Plaza Gipuzkoa; they will show you how to add money to it.

Other students have bought bikes at second hand stores for very cheap, around 40 euros. This is a great way to get around town. Most people in San Sebastian walk everywhere. With a bike you can ride along the beach to school or get where you need to be without taking the bus.

Night Life

Now we get to the fun part. Where to party? The nightlife in San Sebastian is based around the old area, Parte Vieja. Parte Vieja includes about five square blocks of pedestrian-only narrow streets, with bars every five feet. Friday and Saturday nights the streets are crammed with people. You could go to four bars every weekend and still not see them all in one semester. The bars close around 2:30 a.m. and that’s when the discos open. The two main discos are Bataplan and Rotunda, and both are right on La Concha Beach. There is a cover but well worth it. Don’t be surprised if you get back to your place when the sun is rising. The Spanish and Basque know how to party.

Free Time

On the weekends you might want to travel to Bilbao and see the famous Guggenheim Museum, known for its unusual architecture. Bilbao is only an hour west by bus and costs 10 euros round trip from the bus station in Amara.

Biarritz, France is an hour east and is also a great day trip. In San Sebastian you can always go to the beach, or hike to the statue of Jesus on Mount Urgall and get a great panoramic view of town and La Concha. Near the port is a small but impressive aquarium. Walking around town is a daily ritual. Walk along the Playa de la Concha and see the Wind Combs at the east end. If you like to surf the best beach is Zurriola beach in Gros.

That is all the advice I have. I hope it will be useful. If I forgot something, don’t worry; half the fun of studying abroad is being confused and figuring things out yourself. If you need to know something don’t be afraid to ask around, people here are nice and will try to help. So that’s it. Don’t forget to bring a raincoat, and an umbrella. They will come in handy; trust me, you’ll thank me later.

Posted by: Bryan McArdle | January 11, 2010

GenY Entrepreneur: Family Issues

I went into business with my brother and my father. It wasn’t really a strategic  or a financial move but more of a guilty feeling of not embarking on something together. There have been times where we have gotten into some pretty heated arguments over what direction we wanted to take the business. What was worse was that this spilled over into our personal relationship and we found ourselves quiet during dinner while we festered over our grievances. My advice to everyone is to leave the family out of it. If you need them for financial support have them understand that their involement is only financial and they are not buying a seat as a manager. The success of the company will be determined by your decisions and yours alone.  

George Cloutier: The Turnaround Ace Comments in his blog post on about the pitfalls of doing business with family. “The best family business has one member. Face it, blood and business don’t mix. Profits will always be better when you’re not keeping an extra sibling, spouse, child or in-law on the payroll. More than 60 percent of the small businesses we work with are family owned, and that’s where most of their problems start. Fire ’em! Cancel your kid’s membership to the lucky sperm club. Keep your family squabbles at home, even if you have to pay relatives not to be there. Then change the locks on the office door. You’ll save money in the end.”

I can relate with the pay them to stay at home idea. At times I wish I could just tell my family to go home and we’ll send you your percentage of the profits, you don’t have to lift a finger, just get out of our way and our hair. But sometimes you can’t do this, you are tied together and any thought of pushing someone out is grounds for excommunication from the family. Remember this, if the business is to succeed you must take care of your customers and run an efficient and effective business. If family is getting in the way of this the business will suffer and in the end you will all suffer. So choose wisely, if you don’t need them, ask them nicely to only give you support.

Posted by: Bryan McArdle | January 9, 2010

GenY Entrepreneurs: Gerbils

When you open your own business you will most likely be the accountant, manager, janitor, and the main employee. You will act as all the integral parts that make up a business. You will work every hour your business is open and in the hours when you are closed you will be out getting inventory, paying bills or just mentally preoccupied with all the worries and ideas that come with ownership. This is what my mom calls “the gerbil in the wheel.” Running as fast as you can and not getting anywhere. You know you are doing too much but fear that no one else can do it or are afraid to relinquish responsibility.

Entrepreneurs always have plenty of ideas. Once one starts you want to move on to the other. Let’s face it, we like keeping our plates full. But before you can move on to whatever new idea you have you have to get this monkey off your back. I’m not saying you should get lazy and move on. I’m saying that you should learn how to effectively manage your time and your business. You start with hiring a person to fulfill a task, to take over for any one of the many hats your are currently wearing. When that starts to work out you move on to another task. Eventually you will have put good people into those positions and they should be doing a better job than you were. Once you have the freedom now you can start focusing on how to grow you business or how you are going to make your current business better. I believe that the most successful businesses are the one that can run on their own because the team and model are set up for success.

Posted by: Bryan McArdle | January 7, 2010

GenY Enterpreneur: Creativity

Don’t try to make the most outlandish, new age, revolutionary, earth shattering product or service you can think of when coming up with your business ideas. Remember that oldies can be goodies. All too often I come across young entrepreneurs trying to make an ergonomic bicycle that will fold into a briefcase and charge your cell phone while you ride. My question is, would a regular bike company be just as, if not more, successful? Why do us entrepreneurs feel the need to push the bounds of the basic market?

If the town you are living in does not have an Italian food restaurant, and you notice that. Open up an italian food restaurant and supply the demand for italian food, cha-ching! entrepreneur’s minds act quite differently, we would try to open a irish/italian fusion bar that caters to a new age modern hipster crowd. What?? Since we are always visualizing our ideas in motion we tend to get carried away and try to Wow everyone, including ourselves. This defeats the Porpoise (Dolphin) as my friend Jose would say.

We need to deflect that creativity away from the theme of the business and into running a successful and profitable business. For instance if you spend so much time and money designing this Irish/Italian fusion restaurant you may overlook the main point. It needs to appeal to the market and it needs to make money. If you make it too fancy or imaginative people may not get it, or might not find it appealing. But a simple italian restaurant, run correctly, is something future family generations could inheret.

Remember, just because it sounds boring and it has been done before does not mean that it is not a profitable business idea. After all if these types of businesses are still around they must serve a need in society. The world still needs barber shops, pizza parlors, bakers, insurance co.’s, consultants, etc. These will continue to be around forever making you money for many years to come. So move the creativity away for the product and into the organization of the business.

Posted by: Bryan McArdle | January 5, 2010

GenY Entrepreneur: Ideas

Don’t get bogged down by the unknowns in a business plan, just start, and it will come together on its own.

I say scrap the business plan. They are a huge waste of time and resources in the beginning. Every business book you read will say to start with a business plan, I say end with a business plan. There are so many issues and variables that need to be addressed and researched that to write a business plan in the beginning is near impossible. So why do they say to start there, because you need you ideas put into some sort of organized presentable “plan.” I say you can still achieve the goal just through different means.

Remember that a business isn’t a business until you open the doors. Everything leading up to that point has only been ideas in action. So where we need to start are your ideas. Business plans force you to answer all the questions to your business universe before you even start. The truth is the only way to find these answer is to start and find them out on your way.

Rather than a business plan I would recommend you create a bubble graph. Like the ones you used to create in elementary school to organize your ideas. Start with your business idea in the middle (Restaurant, Design Firm, Landscaping, etc) Draw a line to a bubble with NAME, around that bubble list all your name ideas. Add another bubble from the center and write LOCATION in another bubble. List more questions like, size, frontage, area, lease price, what does your location need, list it here. Add another bubble, INVENTORY, what do you need, list your vendors, products, raw materials… See where this is going. Every idea you have will have a bubble and that will lead to more questions and idea. Like EMPLOYEES, how many, what skills do they need, how much will I pay them, what employee insurance do I need. And Insurance can be its own category.

Once you have a graph with all your ideas and questions in one place they you can start to answer them and start to make your ideas a reality. As you get going and answering these question you can add them to a business plan you might have on the side. I never had a business plan, I know plenty of others who never started with one as well. If you need funding or have to convince other you will have to show them something. But by the time you present it you should be able to start once you get approval.

Posted by: Bryan McArdle | January 4, 2010

GenY Enterpreneur: Perseverance

Opening up your own small business is not easy, and it isn’t hard, I would say it’s, Complicated. In order to weather the storms you must have perseverance or you will not last very long. There will be times when it seems like you will never succeed, like the universe is conspiring against you, and in all reality, it IS conspiring against you. But it is only testing you, seeing if you have the minerals to see it through to completion.

My personal experience in perseverance was a big one. When we first opened Hookava Hookah Lounge we had found a place in Downtown Reno that was an empty shell with great street frontage in a developing part of town. The building was a historical landmark and the space needed A LOT of work. The price was very cheap and we were getting 4 months free to fix it up. It needed electrical, plumbing, a storage area built, walls (not a big thing right), etc. We got to work doing most of the work we could and paying contractors to do the work we couldn’t.

4 Months into construction and we couldn’t believe we were actually doing it, really opening a business, being entrepreneurs. One night after the electrical was installed we brought in our refrigeration and went home. That night I got a phone call that our place was on the news. A fire had broke out. I immediately thought we caused it due to the fact that we just had electrical installed. As I turned the corner from my house I could see all of downtown covered in smoke, lit up green from the Silver Legacy. My jaw dropped. When I pulled up to the scene I couldn’t believe it, the whole building, The Mizpah Hotel, was ablaze. I watched for 3 hours as fourty hoses tried to stop the blaze with no luck. I started laughing, it was the only reaction I could muster. Fortunately the fire did not reach our unit. But the thousands of gallons of water had collapsed the ceiling in and the building was structurally unstable. We could not even go in. It was the worst fire in Reno history killing 12 and displacing dozens of others. We thought we had it bad, until I met someone who had all their worldly possessions in one suitcase, which was now gone. They didn’t even have their glasses to see with.

At that point we had given up. We did not have insurance, we put that aside for when were closer to opening, and we no longer had any money. We had spent the unsecured personal loan I took out, spent the loan my brother also took out, and all that was left was a credit card with a $10,000 limit. Even if we wanted to start again our spirit had been turned to ashes with the fire. Chalk it up to bad luck and one hell of a life lesson.

The Reno Redevelopment Agency called a month later asking if wanted to find another place. They had one in mind. We took a look, it couldn’t hurt after all. The location was still downtown and was an old swingers lounge, heh, heh! It already had all the plumbing, all the electrical, and the refrigeration. The owner said if we wanted it he would give us a couple months free and a break given our situation. After a pow-wow, we decided we would find a way whether we had to beg, borrow or steal; well maybe not steal. The city refunded some permit and other fees and with the remaining $10,000 credit card we managed to scrape by and open Hookava Hookah Lounge (#2 technically) in 2 months. One day I looked at my brother and said “we have to open tomorrow, we have no money left.” So ready or not, there we went. 4 years later we are running still running strong.

We could have given up, it could have been a sign that it wasn’t meant to be. But we decided to persevere, take our chances, roll the dice. What’s the worst that could happen after that. You will have experiences like this in your small business endeavors, you will be tested. You will be beaten down and wonder, “why me?” If you can get through those and still have the drive to succeed you will become a very successful entrepreneur.

It’s only after we’ve lost everything, are we free to do anything
-Tyler Durden

Posted by: Bryan McArdle | December 31, 2009

I am an entrepreneur…

Being a small business owner has taught me a lot. And I’ve had my fair share of mistakes and successes. My goal is to help young entrepreneurs become successful entrepreneurs. Opening a small business is no easy task. My goal is to help you navigate the waters and avoid those mistakes. With perseverance and confidence everyone can succeed.

I was born in Boston, Massachusetts and moved to Reno when I was 7. I attended college at the University of Nevada Reno where I recieved a B.S. in Environmental Science and also a B.A. in Spanish. I am currently back at the university (UNR) to recieve my MBA which I will complete in May of 2010.
I love to travel. I studied abroad in San Sebastian, Spain and loved being emersed in other cultures. After traveling through Europe for 3 months by myself I was quickly addicted to traveling and exploring. Since then I have gone back to Europe twice, lived in Costa Rica and have backpacked throughout Southeast Asia.

My passions lie in Entrepreneurship and Renewable Energy. I view my businesses as hobbies and renewable energy as a career. Having no business experience before opening my own business is what lead be back to getting my MBA and since then it feels like a whole new world has opened up where anything is possible.

I hope to continue to build creative and sucessful businesses and also make a name for myself as a knowledgeable leader in the field of renewable energy and clean technology.