Surprises in Small Business Ownership

? – I have no idea what I was going to write here but it was on my list so I’m going to stick to it.  I can’t believe it’s been almost a month since i’ve posted.  I did get a big meth lab clean up job in Mississippi so that took up a week.

I’m trying to think of the “surprises” in small business ownership that I may have been referring to a few months ago.  Maybe one is that I’m not racked by a constant fear not being able to survive.  I think my mother is – but I’m not.  Part of that is that I know that I have a lot of other things on the side that can supplement my income if my main business isn’t pulling it’s weight at any given time.  I actually have an affiliate marketing campaign that is bringing money in on auto-pilot right now and that’s pretty nice.

Another surprise is how much I really enjoy the crime scene and meth lab work.  Not in a morbid sense I hope, but it does make me feel alive to be out there doing something and helping people to correct a very bad situation.  I absolutely positively HATE working in this heat and that is no surprise whatsoever.  My foolishly optimistic business plan had my enterprise suceeding so bullishly that I would  have a crew of people working for me by the time summer rolled around so that I wouldn’t have to work in the heat.  I would just be sitting in my air conditioned office directing traffic and raking in the dough.  HA!  Again – HA!   Well, it’s sure a good way to lose a lot of weight quickly… like in a matter of a few hours.

Here’s an “I NEVER” for the list – I’ll never work in 95 degree heat in a full hazmat suit and respirator cleaning up 5 years worth of dog shit. 

Anyway,  it has been a little slow since returning from Mississippi so I have completely re-done my main website (it’s not up yet though) and am working on some other marketing things.   Staying motivated has never been much of a problem for me but I find that, after over a year of working 14+ hours a day, I’m a little drained and now I look at a 9 or 10 hour day as “slacking”.  I do still work on the weekends also.

I’m boring myself with this post – if you’ve made it this far, congrats.   A few more “I never’s” that I thought of:

“I’ll never post on YouTube.  Those people are losers with too much time on their hands.”   Here are my YouTube videos:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cpmh9XacOUE

“Ill never be without a car payment – I want a nice car.”  Ha! Just got rid of my Jeep Wrangler w/ a huge car payment and bought a 10-year old Ford Expedition for CASH!!!!  I got a sweet deal and just hope that it’s not some mafia drug car or is being held together w/ gorilla tape.

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Weird Alliances With Strangers…

I don’t know about you but I tend to play things pretty close to the vest.  I’m not the most outgoing person in the world and I don’t generally strike up conversations with strangers, online or otherwise.  I don’t know if it’s the recession or just the progression of the internet and social media but, over the last 6 months, an inordinate number of people that I DON”T KNOW want to be my “friend” or “ally” and I just think it’s bizarre!

Whether it’s Linkedin (never can spell that right), Plaxo, Facebook or something else, I get requests from people that I either don’t know from Adam or only know by name.  Firstly, why would the former CFO of my now-bankrupt company want to be my “friend”?  We weren’t friends when I worked there… what’s changed now?  And some guy that happened to attend the CSU, Sacramento around the same time that I did?  Well, by all means, there must be some value there!  As a side note, I think that the FBI’s 10 most wanted search team should get some training from the CSUS Alumni Association.  I’ve never been a member and they’ve managed to track me down across country, through dozens of moves, PO Boxes, boat slips, you name it.  Amazing.

I’m really just leading up to the one weird, baffling, possibly impressive alliance-attempt that I wanted to describe.  There is a lady that lives in my area who I have NEVER met and never heard of before in my life (ever).  She has somehow gotten into one of my profiles and has one of my email addresses.  I get regular, very personal, email updates from her about her job search.  She lets me know that her husband has lost their family medical insurance, what type of work she is looking for, and various other personal things that are really none of my business.  I am baffled when I get these emails.  I feel uncomfortable even reading them and am torn: delete? forward? respond?  So I do nothing.   Now, she is in marketing so maybe this is some brilliant job search tactic and she’s even using aweber to send out these personalized emails.  I hope so.   I’d hate to think anyone would be tossing all of their eggs into my basket.

Maybe I’m way off base here, and now that I think about it, possibly a little hypocritcal.  I mean, I do use social media for marketing.  I think the main difference is that, when I market on Twitter, it’s with a username that makes it clear to people that they are being marketed to…and they can choose to follow or not.  So no, not off base.  I don’t make it personal, such as putting a roof over my head or feeding my kids. 

But hey, these are desperate times.  If I were in that situation, I can’t say that I wouldn’t do the same thing.  Maybe it is a brilliant move….and maybe I’ll just file this one away for later.

The Return of Market Domination – The Monopolies

It’s pretty bizarre that we are back at this point.  Do you know that the only actual store that has any real selection of laptops and computers for sale is now Best Buy?  Circuit City is gone and the office stores seem to be stocking less hardware.  Linens N’ Things vs. Bed Bath & Beyond – there’s a short-term winner there but they’ll probably both be losers in the end.   My personal source of angst – Westmarine vs. Boater’s World.  I have always preferred Boater’s World but now they’re gone so the choice has been made for me.

I guess that’s really my point here.  Our choices are being taken away one by one.  Now if you’re an online shopper such as myself, that’s not such a big deal but for many things it is.  What’s the incentive to offer the best prices, most selection and more importantly the BEST SERVICE if customers have absolutely NO CHOICE in where they shop?  This is far from over. 

Want my predictions – from someone who doesn’t read the newspaper or watch tv?  Stop reading now if you don’t.   Lowe’s will be gone.  Home Depot has gone customer service crazy lately and they’re going to come out on top.  You won’t have to worry about chosing between CVS or Walgreens anymore.  Go ahead and switch all your prescriptions over to Walgreens now so you can beat the rush when CVS goes under.  Blockbuster is iffy in my opinion.  They can’t get their act together but have no competition from a physical store standpoint.  And finally, spend all of your Barnes & Noble gift cards as fast as you can because Borders will be ruling that market in the future.

So my crystal ball is correct (unlikely) and all of this comes to fruition.  What happens when the economy recovers? Well, there’s where it gets really interesting in my opinion.  I think that’s where the new, innovative chains emerge.  There’s some real opportunity here!  I personally have no plans to start my own multi-national mega-electronics chain but I am looking forward to following those of you that do.  In the mean time, I already expect crappy service at Best Buy and they have been happy to oblige when I bought my new laptop a month ago and a new A/C this weekend.  

For non-instant gratification items, I learn to shop online and know that at some point in the future, these new market “dominators” are going to  get their wake up calls and I’ll be the first in line to give the new guy a chance to earn my business.

This Recession is a Great Thing for A LOT of People

…before I start, I just want to say that I know that a lot of people have “lost it all” in the past few years and that’s very tragic.  There are families that are no longer together, businesses that have gone under, and even, tragically people who are no longer with us as a result of the global economic crisis that we remain in the midst of.  This post is based on my perception of my “little world” and what I’ve seen occuring with the people I know and maybe just a few people around me that I don’t know very well.

Ok, that being said, this Recession has forced a lot of people to get off of their LAZY ASSES and really start working toward their full potential.  These are people who probably thought that they were working towards their full potential all along, yet became dependant on that automatic paycheck and complacent in many areas of their lives.  No more.   At least HALF of the team that I was a part of at my former company, may it rest in peace, have gone on to start their own businesses.  Now who in their right mind 3 years ago would have chucked the 401k, health plan, and unlimited free coffee to do that?  Off the top of my head I can’t think of anyone who left, voluntarily, to start their own business.  Now “incorporating” is just something you do before lunch.

While we may not all be back up at the salary level that were a year ago, I would venture to say that most if not all are much happier.  I hate to speak for everyone but, hey - this is my blog.  Submit comments if you disagree.  The coolest thing that i’ve seen is the collaboration and support, even if it’s just moral support, from former co-workers.   A really strong team of managers has turned into a great group of entrepreneurs who STILL know that in order to succeed you have to not only think outside the box, but do it together.   Now that I sound like a Jack Welch book, I’ll stop.     It’s just very cool….and I wanted to memorialize it.  Get it? Memorial Day?    Ha!  So lame…

So, I’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate the former associates of:  Circuit City, Linens N Things, WCI, Centex, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, Wamu, Countrywide… (you get the picture..obviously can’t list them all).    Uncle Sam has done for you what you could not or would not do for yourself.  It may be tempting to sit back on the “Obama Plan” and collect as long as you can but, if you’re like many of us, boredom and a drive for something more is going to kick in and you’ll be off on a ride that you won’t soon forget or regret.  Welcome.

 

Ok, I thought of another “I’ll Never”:

I’ll NEVER be one of those people that lives on their boat and never takes it out.  LOL    I’m not even going to put in here how long it’s been since I’ve taken my boat out…or even since I’ve started the motors.   sigh – I still consider what I’m doing to be “boating” though.                     Remember – my blog.

My List of “I’ll Never’s”:

Since I’m putting off working on a website right now, I’m going to write this first post.  There are soooo many things that I just swore I would NEVER do, for various reasons, that I have jumped in and done in the past 6 months.  Some are tiny, silly things and others are significant, to me at least.

I think I wrote about this before but I always swore that I would NEVER EVER own my own business because I was too risk averse.  I honestly can’t imagine doing anything else at this point but can’t say, “gee, I wish I had done this 10 years ago”.  I think that all of the experiences that I’ve had up until now have really prepared me for this and, if I’m successful, it will be because of those experiences and those people that I worked with.  (sniff sniff…kidding).   It’s still a struggle though.  Just when I start looking around for stuff to sell to pay bills, the phone starts ringing again.

The online stuff.  Sounds stupid but I said I’d never take the time to learn Dreamweaver, Flash, PHP, CSS, HTML, ect.   I now own 20 domain names with 15 active websites, 10 of which I have built myself and I find that I really enjoy doing that stuff and each website seems to get a little bit better.  I am not a fan of Flash but can create a banner or movie if I have to.

I’ve always kind of hated marketers and salespeople; thought they were sleezy and had fake jobs.  You can check out my website here:  http://www.rapidresponsemarketingpr.com.  lol   I’m doing some freelance pr and marketing on the side, mostly writing website and ad copy.  I am, at some point, planning on branching out into the offline seo marketing field.  There are a lot of offline small businesses that need help with their online presence.

What else? Oh, “I’ll never give up my weekly massages.  those are non-negociable.”  I haven’t had a massage since December and, frankly I don’t think they were helping anyway.  I’m in just as much pain and turmoil as I always was except now i’m in pain but have $200 more a month in my bank account.  That’s a lot of Aleve!

Ok…that’s enough for now.  I’m sure there’s more…I’ll just tack ‘em on to the end of other posts.  I’ll NEVER stop posting on here again.

I’m back… Well I never really left

I’ve decided to start posting here again.  I’ve become such a workaholic over the past 4-5 months that I haven’t taken any time to just stop and do a few things that I enjoy and this is one of those things.  I find writing on this particular blog highly entertaining for some reason, even if no one else is reading it.  I actually brainstormed about a month ago about a list of topics that I’d like to blog about.  I promptly lost the list but will try to recreate some of it on the fly here and then come back and work through those “issues”.  Let’s see:

  • My List of “I’ll Never’s” that I’ve completely torn through already this year
  • This Recession is a Great Thing for a lot of people
  • The return of the monopolies (no, not the boardgame)
  • Weird alliances with strangers
  • Surprises in Small Business Ownership & “Crime Scene Clean Up”
  • Internet “Guru’s” or “Guru’s” in general

So I think that will keep me moving for the next few weeks on here.  I actually have about 5 other blogs now but they are all niche/topic centered so somewhat boring in my opinion.  They hold a lot of articles, links, rss feeds, google-bot friendly food to build site rankings.  I’m not interested in doing that here and have only linked this particular blog to social networks like MySpace and Facebook.

This one is just for me, friends, family and maybe a few internet marketing clients if you have a sense of humor and don’t take yourself too seriously.

Working hard and not making a dime…

I have been remiss with the blog so am taking a few minutes to update.  I got a Meth Lab call a few weeks ago (Sweet!!!) for a home in Melbourne…other side of the state.  That took up a few days as it was just a testing  job but it was very exciting.  There were cops, guns, hazmat gear, suspicious smelling chemicals.  It was a good time.  We have no idea what the tenants were doing in there but it turned out they weren’t cooking Meth.  Dangit!  I did get paid for the testing gig and it was good to get out and get my feet wet figuratively speaking.

Other than that I have been working my tail off writing website copy (I challenge you to ask me ANYTHING about the history of computers or the internet) and other freelance projects and am only discouraged because I know that this is not enough to make ends meet.  Something will need to change in the next few months.  I am taking a little more time for myself and my internet marketing projects now.  I have 2 websites up and another one will be up by Monday.  I actually logged on here to create a blog for that one…but sidetracked I am once again grasshopper.

I have news!  I don’t care whether you care or not – I’m an Ebay Affiliate!!!! Yes!!!  They denied me last month, and rightfully so because I didn’t even have a website. lol.  I worked in earnest setting up a site, with a blog, twitter, squidoo lens, ezine article published, 500+ directory submissions, etc. etc. and then applied again this week.  Within 2 seconds of submitting my application I received an automatic denial.  Not letting my famed temper get the best of me, I sent them a kind email and outlined everything that I had done on my site and pointed out to them that it clearly took me longer than 2 seconds to set all of that up so I’d be grateful if a human being would look at it.  Shazam!  It worked!  That kind of stuff never works for me…   lesson learned.  perhaps.

I have to go set up another blog now…and Twitter, Squidoo, you get the picture…

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