May 1st, 2017

Potpourri for May

I would just like to comment that this is probably one of the most beatiful mornings I've seen in a long time.  I try with almost no success to hide my dislike for central Texas.  There is little here that entices me this far from water in the middle of the most red county in the most red of states.  But even a blind pig...  

It's a perfect sunny 70 degrees with an 11 mile an hour breeze and the trees all over our property are dancing in the light, happy to be so green and fed.  After feeding the dogs of our sick friend I just sat on their patio watching and soaking in this MayDay.

My amazing staff will have to do without me this afternoon. My bycicle is calling.

Mediocrity in my small business

This is a continuation of my post about living a mediocre life (  I suspect there will be more.

I never wanted to be an 'entrepreneur'.  Never occurred to me.  There was never a fire in my belly (other than GERD).  Mylife is ever the carousel and sometimes there are rings I see coming up and sometimes I grab them.  That is what happened.  I was bored one day and saw the ring. In June of 2010 I had the thought that I should leave my cushy, overpaid job at Prudential Financial in Florida and start my own business. How hard could it be?  On the 12th of August, my birthday, 2010 we arrived in Texas having quit my job, packed up our house (loaded by me into 3 of those Pod moving things), having filled up a big Uhaul truck with our car trailing behind and one dog in the cab with me, Dana, my wife, and having driven the RV behind me.  I had been to Georgetown, Texas once for a one week span the previous year when we did a house-sitting thing for her cousin.

I knew nothing about business, nothing about Georgetown, and almost nothing, it turned out, about fixing residential PCs.

So everything went well.  We burned through too much money but we had some at the time.  Our house in Florida sold at the top of the market in one week for our asking price.  And I had money saved up from Prudential. So we managed.  We lived in the RV in the beginning and slowly but surely built up the grains of sand that became our current life.

But back to mediocrity.  I had a fellow business person who entered the franchise in Houston about a year after I did.  He was an ex-oil engineer who bought the business out of boredom and because he had a sweet young wife who had just completed a marketing degree.  He once told me that what he most wanted was to see his competitors walking down the street, unemployed, broke and mumbling his name and about how he had crushed them.  That was his idea of business.

And another marketing 'guru', incredibly successful, whose marketing boot camp left me feeling like a complete failure while it seemed that the rest of the huge audience were revved up and ready to go.

And the well known sales training company who says that you should call the receptionist at a company and chat her up.  Then call someone else in that company and tell them that the receptionist (of course saying her name as if she was an old friend) recommended your company to them.  In other words, it is OK to lie to crack a sale.

I shrink from sales.  In the perfect environment I can show people that we're a good company who can get them where they need to go.  But I'm just as likely to turn off a potential sale.  I've been in a couple of presentations that resulted in our not getting the sale mostly due to the fact that they didn't like me.  Which was OK.  I didn't like them either.

My marketing is pretty good.  We have an amazingly solid and recognizable brand and I have put out, as of this month - actually as of two minutes ago when nearly 2000 email copies hit the street, three years of monthly newsletters which my customers like getting.  We have an OK web site that I should be updating more frequently.  All in all my marketing is good.

I've got three people who depend on this company for their livelihood and about a dozen who have, over the years, benefitted from working with us.

We are a half million dollar company in gross sales and there is the potential that we (and me) might be completely out of debt by end of 2017.

At the risk of seeming to be ungrateful and unappreciative of who we are and what we've done, we are a successfully mediocre company.  I actually think that is mostly good.  I've not crushed anyone.  I've not intentionally lied to anyone.  I've not intentionally cheated any customers.  Our Yelp reviews have our share of people who think we are the worst company on the planet but frankly the customer is not always right but does anyways does have the ability to act as if they are and publish it with impugnity.

We will never be much bigger than we are.  We will never be the best or even a particularly notable IT company.  I see all the more successful companies, local and national, and it is very difficult not see ours unfavorably compare.  I see the failed companies also but for some reason that does not lift me as much as comparing to the successful ones brings me down.

But but business operates like cycling, we turn over the pedals every day.  We show up and contribute.  Sometimes that is all we can do.  Sometimes that is enough.