[Courses] chapter five: Running A Business- A little monomania is good

Carla Schroder carla at bratgrrl.com
Tue Aug 20 04:54:26 EST 2002

Thanks very much for some great comments, Jenn. I'm going to add a little 
bit, all are welcome to chime in:

On Tuesday 20 August 2002 02:07 pm, Jenn Vesperman wrote:
> On Tue, 2002-08-20 at 15:26, Carla Schroder wrote:

> > Yes, I am suggesting that you dump your SO if they are whiny,
> > obstructive, and unhelpful. Why would you want a person like that in your
> > life for any reason?

I'm going to expand on this comment a bit, as it freaks out Chix everytime I 
say anything like it. I believe with all of my heart that people should 
follow their dreams, and find their true vocation, and do what they really 
really want. I am not advocating haring off on some silly get-rich-quick 
scheme- I am assuming you are smart, hardworking, and reasonably level-headed.

Men do this too, but women do it waaaay more: they give up too much of 
themselves. I think when you decide there is a certain something you want to 
do, you go do it. You do not let people derail you from your dreams, no 
matter who they are. No one is worth giving up your dreams for.

> I'm the daughter of a couple of small business owners. That experience
> has put me off ever running my own business, and I'm not entirely
> comfortable with contracting either.
> Being supportive of your partner running a business is not like being
> supportive of your partner's hobby. It's a life choice, and it's as
> profound a life choice as having children. Everyone in the family who is
> old enough to make the decision should be informed, and should have the
> right to veto it. Don't decide unilaterally.
> (For the record: we decided it as a family. I didn't understand what I
> was deciding, but that was my inability to understand, not my parents
> failing to try.)
> Here's what having a business in the house was like for me:
> * being on 'customer service' at all hours, no matter what. Your
> father's being run to hospital having cut his fingertips off? Never
> mind, someone has to answer the phone. Your sister-in-law is having a
> baby? Jenn, would you mind the phones? She's our first grandchild.
> (never mind that she's my first niece.)
> * family holidays? What family holidays? What are holidays?
> * it's 9pm on Sunday night. Why is this person ringing to get pricing?
> Hasn't he heard of office hours?
> * breaking off in the middle of any important discussion (or anger, or
> tears) because the phone is ringing
> * having near-strangers (employees) walk into your house any time of day
> (thankfully, not night) as if they have a right to be there - and they
> do. Breakfast in peace? Ha! Being sick in peace and quiet? Not a chance.
> Study at the kitchen table? Nope.

Awesome horror stories, I would never do it that way!

> That said, here are some ground rules for reducing the impact those
> around you:
> * your husband/children/friends are not your unpaid staff. Don't expect
> them to answer your phones, unless you _pay_ them to. And if you do pay
> them to, don't expect them to answer the phones outside the hours you
> pay for.
> * plan to take holidays. Plan to pay for someone to cover the business
> while you do. Accept that whoever you pay isn't going to have your
> enthusiasm, and that the business will be in a holding pattern at best.
> * pay people well. Don't give your husband/friend/family a cut-rate
> salary unless you expect cut-rate work.
> * don't turn your entire house into an office. Having stuff on the
> kitchen table is one thing. Having employees knock on the bathroom door
> to use the toilet while your husband is trying to soak out flu aches is
> entirely another.
> * have a temp on hand for times when there's a family event, so there's
> no discussion of 'ok, who minds the phone while we're at your mother's
> funeral?'

Excellent, every one.

> Hopefully you've chosen your SO based, in part, on having compatible
> life goals. Please, PLEASE don't just assume that if they don't want to
> run a business with you they're being obstructive and obstreperous.
> Presumably, you discussed what sort of life you want. They may see
> running a small business as destroying the kind of life they had in mind
> - the kind of life you two had hopefully discussed.
> It IS almost as big and intrusive a choice as having children. Treat the
> decision to run a business with the respect it deserves. Treat your
> partnership with the respect that that deserves, too.
> Decide together.

> Jenn V.

Well done, thank you.


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