< meta name="DC.Date.Valid.End" content="20050825"> Amendment Nine: Starting Your Own Shop

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Starting Your Own Shop

I've started businesses before. Even though technically I was an "owner" in them, it was materially different than now, where I am one of two "principals". Big difference. Some of the things I've noticed about starting your own shop are the following:

You can never rely on a common language once you start your own shop. You'll desperately want to fall back onto lingo and trade specific language which you've acquired over the years. But no one, not even people with fairly similar backgrounds, will ever be able to decipher exactly what it is you're talking about. The reason for this is simple, you're the boss. They want to emulate how you talk. When you're just one of several directors, that isn't a problem, everyone adopts their language to the way the "big boss" talks. But what I didn't realize is that when you're the big boss, and everyone is trying to adopt your language, they all sound like they are speaking in tongues. I spend an inordinate amount of time restraining my use of trade lingo because it simply gets in the way and makes my co-workers sound like raving lunatics.

Employees who aren't "principal owners" don't really understand that you own the place. It all seems like a corporation to them, and from the outside they are right. But from the perspective of a principal, when your staff purchases, say, a printer, they think they are purchasing it for the fund, or the firm, the institution, the "corp" or whatever. What they don't realize, and what doesn't even make sense to them immediately after you tell them, is that what they just did was buy you a printer. It seems to me this is because the vast majority of people in this country have never worked for themselves. They always work for someone else. This can make things complicated if you don't look out for it. Your sense of ownership and their sense of ownership are very, very different.

Starting up is easy and fun even though it is hardwork, moving from startup to management is a pain in the fucking ass. Seriously! Finding space, getting furniture, logos created, your first big money, all that stuff is exhilirating and meaningful. Turning all of that exhiliration into repetitive processes which can be scaled so that you don't have to make every single decision
is very, very hard. It all comes down to talent and drive. Finding people with the talent to go from startup to management is easy, finding people with the drive is hard.

Well anyway, about a year ago today I was staring at a business proposition on Excel. Now I stare at my name on the wall when I walk into work each day. Guess some reflections are warranted.