What I Learned About Getting Set-up To Do Business In Spain

When started doing consulting work for Grupo Planeta in March, they asked that I provide a tax certificate to prove that I paid taxes in the United States. Spain and the U.S. have a treaty which allows citizens to pay all of their taxes in their own country as long as they can provide proof that they pay taxes. If not, an automatic tax deduction of 25% taken by the Spanish government and you are still taxed fully on the earnings by the IRS.

I started doing Google searches on "tax certificates" and "doing business in Spain," without any real hits that explained what I needed. I asked my accountant to do some checking and he also was initially unaware of anything special.

The folks at Planeta were very patient and provided a sample of what they were looking for.


With this in hand, I made a trip to the local IRS office in Milwaukee. I met a great person there, handed him the sample letter and the 15 year veteran said, "I have never seen anything like this before."

More searching and two lawyers eventually lead me to the answer.

Should you ever find yourself in this situation in Spain or one of the 65 other countries with which the U.S. has similar agreements, you need to fill out IRS Form 8802 – Application for United States Residency Certification (Instructions/Form). This application is the formal request for a Form 6166 from the IRS. The letter above is the 6166 that you will receive. The 8802 is a simple three page form to fill out. You can request letters for multiple countries all at once and it cost $35. And FYI – the 6166 needs to be requested and provided to your clients every year that you conduct business with them.

Hope this helps others in the same situation.

Cool Tools Reviews The 100 Best

Cool Tools is an awesome site for finding things to help get jobs done, whether silicone spatulas, a map of world history, or the lightest items for backpacking.

Today site founder Kevin Kelly reviewed The 100 Best Business Books of All Time. Here is a small excerpt from the review:

[T]heir book is much better than a simple list, and their list is better than most. The two have reviewed, abstracted, and compared all the best 100 in the context of thousands of similar books, unlike say your average Amazon reviewer who may have only read one other business book in his or her life. You get context instead of content. Reading Covert and Sattersten’s summaries of these classics is often better than reading the book itself, and the review is always useful in pointing you to the few books or authors you might actually want to read in full.

The sales of The 100 Best have been up the last couple of weeks, and that doesn’t include all the remaindered/discount copies that were cleared off Amazon when Fixed To Flexible was released.

It is just great to see continued interest in the book over a year later.

P.S. As Kelly points out in his review, we included his 1995 book Out of Control just to make clear any conflicts of interest.

P.P.S. I just posted these additional links on the Hacker News thread:

  1. Here is a bonus chapter about industry books that wasn’t included in the book.
  2. There is also a website where you can submit your favorite business book whether it was included in The 100 Best or not.

Idea Arena Podcast – Rework Interview with Jason Fried

In this interview, I talk with Jason Fried, co-author with David Heinemeier Hansson of Rework.

We spend most of the podcast talking about two big themes that I took away from the book. The first is that you have to get as close to the work as possible. Your estimates over the long term suck. Make tiny decisions. Long lists don’t get done. Good enough is fine.

The second idea is company as teacher. I wasn’t sure what the right word when we recorded. Channeling Kathy Sierra, they tell readers to out-teach the competition. They encourage companies to emulate chefs who write cookbooks and everyone exactly how to do what they do. This builds an audience.

Lots of things get better as they get shorter. Directors cut good scenes to make great movies. Musicians drop good tracks to make a great album. Writers eliminate good pages to make a book great. We cut this book in half between the next-to-last and final drafts. From 57,00 words to about 27,000 words. Trust us, it’s better for it.

Rework Interview with Jason Fried


19 Page Free Excerpt of Rework

The 37Signal Podcast about the Making of Rework

Getting Real – 37 Signals’ 2006 book about building better web applications

SXSW – Sink or Swim – Five Most Important Startup Decisions

Good morning.

I am starting my day at panel on startups. It was the star power that got me. Evan (Odeo), Joshua (del.icio.us), Cabel (Panic), and Joel (Fog Creek) are all speaking.

This is another one of those panels that gets interesting in the Q&A.

None of them had a business background nor do they really have business plans.

Joel – Paul Graham won’t give me to a company that doesn’t have at least two co-founders.

Cabel – MacWorld Test – If you can’t explain it in a single sentence, you are screwed.

Joel – Forget about coupons and affiliate programs, write the next version of software. They generally double sales when they release a new version of software.

Joshua – The best decisions were the choices not to add features to del.icio.us.

Cabel – They always made software that they wanted to use, either because what was out there was bad or because it didn’t exist.

Tags: sxsw2006

First Real Evening in Austin

I had all sorts of trouble getting into Austin on Friday, so the only thing I could do was make the Blogher meetup.

Last night, I hung out with John Moore of Brand Autopsy. We talking blogging and business books. You might have seen allusions to his upcoming book Tribal Knowledge and I am sure see his many reviews.

After dinner, he took me to some great spots. Whichwich is a really interesting sandwich place. John wanted to make sure I saw this place. You can read his post on why he thinks they are so cool. I agree wholeheartedly with his conclusions. My only addition would be that this is designed to scale.

Our next stop was BookPeople. It is an outstanding independent bookstore here in Austin. I really enjoyed the experience. The story of store owner Steve Bercu and his campaign to Keep Austin Weird is a great story. It has been told a number of places, most recently in Starting From Scratch. Bercu managed to expose and rally the community here against a $2 million economic package that was being given to a developer. The development included a Borders bookstore. You can read Bercu’s letter to the editor at Publisher’s Weekly. It might scare you to know that we stood in the business book section for about an hour talking about titles.

We then walked over to Amy’s Ice Cream. This is another Austin original. Each store has it’s own culture and the employees are themselves. Each person behind the counter was wearing a different hat and all of them were spending time with customers. There was a line out the down and employees didn’t start hurrying people through. Notice that the last thing I am telling you about is the product—the ice cream was good. Again, I will give you another book reference if you are interested in finding out more. You can check out Donna Fenn’s Alpha Dogs.

The last stop was Gingerman. It has a great atmosphere and an amazing selection of beers.

Thanks John for hosting!

Hypomanic American

I want to really encourage you to check out The Hypomanic American Manifesto over at ChangeThis.

Psychologist John Gartner theorizes that America is a little crazy and that this is driven by our immigrant history (you have to be a little crazy to leave everything behind for the hope something better). He goes on to say that this has a positive effect on the country. The strong streak of entrepreneurism we have in America is one result of all of this.


I finally shut down the BizLinkBlog and got everything moved over to my del.icio.us account. Here is the RSS feed.

There is alot of good stuff over there and I thought I would highlight a few.

What Changes In A Year

A little over a year ago, I left my dad’s business after trying for two years to grow the business. I stayed probably six months longer than I should have. I knew there was nothing that was going to change the outlook. Part of it was I didn’t want to fail. The other part was that it was about family and all the emotion that comes along with that.

That idea of failure is something that I was not able to shake until recently. I think I finally realized that there was nothing I could have done to change the outcome. I did all the things I was capable of doing and it wasn’t enough. Barry Moltz in You Need To Be A Little Crazy says sometimes you will never know why a business doesn’t work. I really identify with that.

When you get past the pain and disappointment, other things start to appear. It is amazing the things I learned in those two years. I needed the transition from GE to small biz world. And what is great in a small business like that, there was nothing I didn’t get involved in.

I purchased everything.
I did quoting.
I collected from late customers.
I was customer service and answered phone calls from the calm and irate customers.
I tracked out quality problems.
I packed parts and arranged shipping.
I ran production when it needed to be done.
I did whatever needed to be done.

I am going to put together a series of posts on what I learned at Sater. I have a list of about five things and I am sure that others will come as I get going. I am hoping there is something I can share with all of you as a result of everything I went through.

I should also say everything has worked out for everyone. My dad found a buyer for the business and they are doing great. These folks that did all of the painting for Sater. Adding a fab shop fit well with what they did and they can now offer a huge package of services to their customers.

I really can’t complain either. I could not have told you a year ago that I would be getting paid to help companies with blogging or that I would be publishing a book. It is really interesting how things have turned out and probably more on the path I should be on…

What you could learn

I like what Forbes is doing. I think they have great reporting with alot of original stories.

Here is what you could learn by reading the current issue of Forbes:

  • Did you know all of the big planes used to fight fires have been grounded since May? There have been three fatal crashes in two years. The wings snapped off two planes in mid-air. One contractor has taken the next step and modified a 747. [Splooosh!, p66]
  • 800,000 people will take Alaskan cruises this year (that’s 25% more than the state’s population). The summer popularity of the region lets the cruise lines will redeploy ships from winter destinations such as the Caribbean, Mexico, Hawaii, the Panama Canal, and Europe. Carnival sends 16 ships and over 1/3 of their passengers now department from Seattle. [Cruise Control, p98]
  • The cover story is about XM radio. What is amazing is about the article is what the National Association of Broadcasters has done over the years to squash innovation. Their latest maneuver is equally amazing. In 1995, Congress enacted a law that requires all digital radio to pay royalities to performers. The exemption for traditional radio was maintained and as well as the NAB’s version of digital, HD radio. The law also made it illegal to broadcast local content, such as traffic reports and sports. The NAB argued that local stations would be hurt by competition from satellite ignorant of local tastes. “Never mind that the radio titans were knitting together nationwide networks to let hundreds of their own stations carry identical programming.” [Broadcast Bullies, p140]
  • Rexam is helping beverage upstarts with more than just packaging. To help build the market for both, they are helping companies with retailers, inventory, and distribution of the finished product. [Thirsting for Growth, p174]
  • Finally, read about ADV Films. They are the leading distributor of anime in the U.S. There are starting their own cable channel and have started producing their own anime. [Why Grow Up?, p178]

Free Agency

I have officially been on doing my own thing for a little over two months. I have the KaosPilots book at the Penny Store. I have the 800-CEO-READ Blog. There are one or two other potential projects. So far, I am happy with the progress. I only work 15-20 hours a week while I spend three days a week watching our little guy.

I want to develop my business further over the next six months, so I have been doing a lot of reading on freelancing and free agency. I’ll post some stuff I have run across that I think is interesting. I know there are a lot of bloggers and blog readers who are free agents, so I hope we can create some good discussion around the rewards and risks of being a free agent.

Failure from KaosPilot A-Z

This passage from KaosPilot A-Z reinforces what I and others have said about entrepreneurship outside the US.

In the US it’s no catastrophe if your company goes bust. On the contrary. If you have the right enterprising approach to life it’s almost expected that you’ve been through a bankruptcy or two – if you really want to make something of yourself. In Scandinavia the exact opposite is true. If an entrepreneur’s company goes bust the entrepreneur in question is branded as risky business by their bank, friends, partners and maybe even their family. And you need more than good persuasive talents if you want a second chance.

The entry goes on to talk about how the school is trying to create an environment where students can succeed and fail.