Friday, 19 September 2008


J suited up for some meetings today and looked awesome. She has spent the last year getting a home-based business idea off the ground, and it is starting to bear fruit. I am hoping to be a retired house-husband in a few years time. It had better succeed wildly. The fun part of getting the business going was trying to cope with a pregnancy that was less than comfortable, but the idea is so good, even with her flat on her back with pregnancy pains (and then a newborn), the idea has taken root and people are starting to pay her good money for her product. Not bad for someone that has been largely confined to the couch for the last eight months. Now that she is on her feet and back to 100%, I'm looking forward to a Wealth Manager cold-calling us from the bank asking how we want to invest our new-found fortune.

Here's one hilarious sidebar to this business idea. J originally approached one of the Councils in the inner west with the idea of doing the work on their behalf (her product is something that almost every Council has in their strategic plan as a Good Thing that they should be doing, but none of them have been arsed so far to do it). The Council staff umm'd and ahh'd and eventually came back and said, "We are too busy this year to contemplate doing it", even though J would have done 99% of the work, and it was something that they were supposed to do every year for the last six years.

So she decided to do it herself. Bugger the Council and their "I'm too busy" staff attitudes.

All I can say is this - thank goodness for every Council employing a proportion of good-for-nothing nuff-nuffs. If it wasn't for them and their lack of get up and go, we wouldn't have this winner of an idea.

I'm going to have to get used to talking to the media, because she’s been getting increasing media coverage, and I occasionally answer the "office" phone and will probably find myself talking to a sponge-headed "journalist" before too long. I've listened with interest to a few phone interviews (as I've sat beside her blogging), and have found that what they print bears no relation whatsoever to what was said in the interview. They generally get the business name right, and that's about it. J might find herself being described as an "Albanian goat herder" next week, which doesn't bother us - so long as they promote the business, I don't care what picture they paint of us.

All the stuff on my "shelf of stuff" in the office was recently banished to a cupboard to make room for a business award that she has picked up. I can see that we are going to have to create an "ego wall" soon to have space for the stuff she is going to collect. That's led to being invited to speak to various groups of people around the place, which will probably create more media interest etc etc etc.... I wonder how long it will be before she is our new mayor.

I'm also sharing my desk and PC with J's first employee. It's an odd feeling - I am used to managing up to 40 people, but they were not employed by me. I did not have to pay their wages. J has actually created a job for someone else, and is putting money in their pocket. After reading about that dill John Murphy and his antics in parliament, I wonder how many politicians could say, "I have had to make the payroll for my employees". A move to a proper office is now on the horizon - there is only so long that she can continue to run this thing from our lounge room. Personally, I couldn't think of a better place to work from than the nearest couch, but the way things are going, we might have 10 employees next year, and we don't have a lounge room big enough to hold that many couches.

And then Kevin Rudd will tax or regulate the whole thing out of existence. John Murphy is our local MP - your taxes are required to stuff more beef stroganoff into his face and the mouth of his wife.

The whole idea of starting up your own business from home is just so cool. I've spent 20 years commuting into the city to work for someone else, and to work hours set by someone else, to put up with crap from people with sludge between their ears and to rewarded with a kick in the nuts when it is all over. There are no committees in J's business. There is no HR department. There are no executive toilets. There are no risk managers and pencil counters and auditors and policy managers and best of all, no powerpoint presentations. Our meeting room is any cafe within a 10km radius. The hours of work are those that you choose to do. Naps after lunch are not an issue. There is no web filtering policy or staff newsletter or dress code or hierarchy of chairs that are issued to staff at different levels within the organisation.

It makes me wonder why people want to climb the corporate ladder when they could lounge around on the small business couch.

1 comment:

bruce said...

I, more specifically my (grrrr) wife, bought into a shop 5 years ago. It was a nightmare and we watched many others businesses around us go slowly down then belly up. There was even one young guy who had done all the right things, NEIS scheme, brilliant concept, good financing... At the end he had an 80K mortgage at the age of 25yrs and nothing to show for it. He was ready to take a sledgehammer to all the fixed fittings he had installed, he said.

We were lucky enough to sell our white whale, at a quarter what we paid, to someone with stars in their eyes (who walked away after a year with nothing).

I also know people who had a factory and worked like slaves for 20 years, employed many people and did all the right things, lucky to sell the factory in the end at a big loss, still 200K in debt...

We don't say the words 'Small Business' any more in our house.

You would know the drill:

- watch your overheads
- be very wary of employing staff

Therefore, if you keep it simple, run from home, with only close family helping, you might avoid the pitfalls.