Let’s Start Up This Business

I have yet to blog about business, mostly because I’ve had nothing to blog about. No manner of schooling can fully prepare you for just how much physical work goes into any business. This, so far, is what I have learned.

Opportunities present themselves, despite the plan you make for your own enterprises. For months I have been researching technology, in order to launch a unique product. It’s been hard, and there is a lot more to it than I originally thought.

Then, an interesting email crosses my computer. It asks for my college to send someone to a music store that can fix sound amplification products. The school sent me out, since I am currently the only graduated member of the program, and I brokered an education deal with the music store to repair customer units.

Now, I’m knee deep into amp repair. I have two at home, one at the school lab, and many more on the way. The owner of the music store keeps asking me when I’m going to be bringing in business cards, so he can tell the other shops their repair woes are finally over. I’m still learning the trade, but very soon, I think he’ll get that wish granted.

How come no one told me I had the puzzle piece in my hand the whole time?
How come no one told me I had the puzzle piece in my hand the whole time?

I quit my grocery job with the understanding that I would launch my product, and maybe find entry level work somewhere in electronics. Now, I have the opportunity to start up my own business, and the sleepy dreams of never again working for another person wake me each morning.

The reality of it is, I need to learn more about the niche I’m entering. I’m picking stuff up rather quickly, but experience with more and varied issues is needed. Still, in this kind of work, with no one nearby that is involved in it, much of that training will have to be on the job. Since I am already conducting repair work through the college, for free, and no one is complaining about any turnover time, why not start doing it for money, sooner rather than later?

Starting up a business in California is tricky. We have more fees and paperwork than any state, and many of them are annually recurring. Tax laws and employee rules are stringent, with the numbers and lines of text continuing for books and books.

Still, I have resources at my disposal, a couple of degrees on my wall, and the encouragement of the industry. So, look for more of that soon!

The other side of my business, arcade game repair and resale, hasn’t seen nearly as much demand. I would have thought that finding people to buy classic game machines for decent prices would have been easy, but so far finding those customers has proven difficult.

I fixed those three Slick Shot machines I was working on, got them cleaned up, and put them out there for sale. After over a month on Craigslist and the local newspaper classifieds, the only hit I got was a scam attempt from Texas. I’ve lowered the price, and will be waiting to see how that goes.

You can learn a lot about the market by taking these two business examples and scrutinizing over them. On the one hand, I have an idea that I thought would be perfectly profitable, yet has shown me zero indications of this. On the other, a ready-made business; all I have to do is learn the trade.

From “Zero Effect”, which is a great film. Why didn’t I listen to Daryl Zero when he was talking about his?

When you take a business class, especially one in entrepreneurship, they tell you over an over that the first thing you need to do is find a hole to fulfill. In the case of amp repair, the hole has apparently been there a long time, just waiting for the right person to come along with a shovel. I’m still feeling out the arcade business, but my first impression is that there are not nearly as many people looking to put arcade machines in their homes as I would have thought; or probably would like.

I still think the market is out there, and close by to boot. I just have to find out where they are shopping.

Thankful for Considerations

I’ve spent the past month under the weather, and the last two weeks very ill. I’ve missed my blog, and so much has happened that I don’t dare attempt to recount the events verbatim. Instead, I’d like to focus on something I learned, while I sat on the couch and watched life occur around me and the television.

We, humanity as a species, are a selfish thing. As proof of our animal ancestry, the selfish nature that pumps from each of our hearts is a thriving necessity; a means of survival that kept us from extinction, when we needed it more than wisdom or caring. Without selfishness, there is no preservation. It is an instinct so powerful that it is impossible to overcome.

Look at the two-year-old child. Everything is his, and he will fight, scream, cry, and burst with anger when you tell him otherwise. He is too young to understand that society has a bevy of rules in place; rules to alter his behavior, to make him fit better into the mold of modern man. All he knows is that animal instinct for survival, that drive to take and hold on to.

We're all about ourselves until we're taught otherwise, but what kind of person is created when that isn't taught?
We’re all about ourselves until we’re taught otherwise, but what kind of person is created when that isn’t taught?

What it all boils down to is consideration. Consideration for others, and the ability to push aside one’s selfish individuality, in pursuit of mutual understanding, is something that governments, religious leaders, and popular culture have been trying to ingrain in us for centuries. Now that the foundation has been laid, how do we explain the dramatic differences we find in people, with regards to something so simple as consideration?

There is definitely a wide range…

Very recently, during the height of my illness actually, my lodger of the last six months finally moved out of my home. In the end I had to set a deadline, and the time remaining until its hour arrived pressed on slowly, with little said between us. It wasn’t so much that there was anger or animosity (at least not on my side) but more so that the gorged lack of consideration of his part, towards my situation, had become so enormous, that I could find very little to say that wasn’t to chastise or lecture.

I decided to say nothing at all, so little was his time left with us. I felt that he didn’t need me riding him about cooking my rice when I asked him to not eat my food, or kicking my wife’s clothes into the drier and potentially ruining all of her dresses because he needed right at that moment to wash his clothes, or putting my glassware into the sink after I told him they would break. He had to be under enough stress without having to worry about the fact that he never turned off the light when he left the house through the garage.

Then it hit me: I was trying to be considerate of his plight, but he was only doing for himself. There was no worry about being told that we needed him gone, or about the fiscal or emotional costs we incurred by harboring him. To him it must have been like a vacation living with us, regardless of our feelings, which had to have been obvious. No rent, money coming in from unemployment, problems all on the horizon but none in the here and now.

In the end, it was probably lucky that his lackluster attempts to look for work through a temp agency yielded results in the five weeks after I gave him notice. Still, it was apparent that he didn’t begin looking for a new place a few days before; when he saw that the wife was dead serious about him leaving on time. He moved out only a few days late, and on his way out left the guest bedroom and bathroom a disastrous mess for my wife to clean up, and jammed the outside trashcan so that we had to store our waste for the week elsewhere. I was sick in bed, but the only thing he said to my wife upon leaving was, “see you at Christmas”.

There are two major questions that arise here. The first concerns just how someone so lovingly taken in, when they needed help, could treat their benefactors so grossly. The second: knowing the selfish nature of the human being as we do, am I at fault for showing, perhaps, too much consideration?

The old saying about giving someone and inch holds true in nearly all things. We as a society have become our own checks and balances, letting one another know when the line has been crossed. Do we blame the person that walks far beyond that line, if we never tell them they’ve crossed it?

It's the chicken and the egg debate. Who is the real jerk here?
It’s the chicken and the egg debate. Who is the real jerk here?

We could find any number of reasons for why a man turns out the way he does. The “nature vs. nurture” debate continues, probably without end. Uncle Sam doesn’t put up posters telling people how to behave anymore. The Bible has so many different interpretations nowadays, that it must be challenging to find the truly righteous path. Popular culture has given way to social media, and now everyone has an opinion about our direction.

And I am as guilty of being inconsiderate as anyone. Heavy-handed as I am with dispensing demands for my version of a correct individual, I have on more than one occasion lost the potential for great friendships, with attempts at pushing people towards my version of their better self. Maybe, in the end, I’m the one who is showing the greatest lack of consideration, by encouraging those people to rise against their genetically infused selfishness; their defense mechanisms against the ravages of a scary and dangerous world.

After all, it’s pushing for what we want in all things that has allowed us to get to where we are today. Then, of course, with that being said, who could blame me for wanting something better for you and yours?

Say what you will. In the end, people will do what they have always planned on doing.