Owning A Business: A Story of Shame, Regret, and Peanut Butter
You know, life’s a funny thing. Wait, let me start that over: Life is a thing. It may contain some funny bits, but it certainly isn’t solely comprised of humour. You wouldn’t say a Baby Ruth is a peanut thing, would you? No, it’s a candy bar that houses peanuts in a few edible areas. I say this because I’ve been on a hell of a rollercoaster lately. Metaphorically speaking, of course. I haven’t been to a proper amusement park in ages, but more on that later (actually, probably not). I haven’t been writing much lately due to working my ass into the ground for a few shiny pennies and a couple of dirty ones that smell like old copper and a shoe store for geriatrics. Now those ages are past, and it’s time for me to once again strike the keyboard with the tips of my fingers similar to how fingertips strike keyboards when one is typing.
My first article posted here many, many years ago was a piece all about hunting for a job. In fact, I’ve talked about jobs a lot here, which is why I’m going to do it some more. Wait! Don’t go yet. It’s not as boring as it sounds; I promise. You see, just over two years ago I began a noble quest to start my own business. I gathered all the knowledge and experience I had accumulated in my chosen industry, and I arranged some meetings with rich old white guys. The meetings proved fruitful, and I was able to convince these rich guys to give me a lot of money. Like more money than I had ever seen. Money of a greater numerical value than I have the ability to count to. So began my career as a retail business owner. I hastily hired my best friend as a manager, and we got to work at building a store.
There were equal parts excitement, doubt, stress, and anticipation in our preparations. Here we were, two young guys with no college education, attempting to build a business. There were so many steps to take, and so many things we hadn’t thought of that needed to happen. We had to hire a demolition crew to tear down walls. We had to get insured. We had to install flooring and hire an electrician. We had to order product and we had to take our pants off. We had to lift weights and get loaded on cheap booze. My point is, there’s a lot that goes into opening a store for the public.
Our opening day was filled with shame and disappointment. I mean pride and excitement. You see, we had hired a marketing team that never saw eye to eye with us, and failed miserably to achieve any of the goals given to them. This meant we opened to the public with no advertising and no general knowledge of us being a thing. This meant we sat in our newly opened retail store with naught but ourselves. I paced the store, pulled at my hair, and probably pissed myself at one point or another. I felt like a had just taken a loan from the mob and bet on the wrong horse. What had I done? I just took a whole lot of money, spent it all on building this place, and here I am eating an entire extra-large delivery pizza to myself. I was frightened of the consequences of failure, but mostly I was frightened of this “real-life ghost” video I had watched on youtube the night before.
Well, despite our lack of marketing, people starting coming into our shop before long. Things were starting to look up. Success was on the horizon and, soon enough, the shop was making enough money to pay for two more employees. All of a sudden, we had regulars. Some regulars were wonderful people, and some would take pieces of my extra-large delivery pizza without asking and then would ask for some kind of deal. Some regulars drove me to fits of insanity. I recall one day sitting on the couch on our sales floor when our most notorious regular strolled into the shop. Well, it was more like he bulldozed into the shop, knocking over merchandise and shouting at the top of his lungs about god-knows-what with his shorty shorts falling off of his ass. I sat on the couch, petrified, while my trusty employee came to his aid. “WHAT YOU GOT ON SALE?!?!”, proclaimed the troubled idiot. “Well, we aren’t running any sales on this particular Wednesday, sir”, suggested my employee. “BUT WHAT ABOUT FOR ME!?! BUY ONE AT HALF PRICE, GET ONE FREE?!” The troubled idiot babbling incoherently, and my employee looking frazzled, I knew just what I had to do. I had to break out the laptop and pretend like I had “business owner” type of work to do in order to avoid an uncomfortable conversation full of fake smiles and feigning laughter. There I sat, laptop in my…lap, typing away for no reason at all. I brought up my email and hit the compose button. As this large, unwashed buffoon of a man howled at my employee, I began typing away as if to appear totally occupied and completely unable to be a part of their exchange. The troubled idiot was in the shop for a total of about 30 minutes. It was painstaking, arduous work typing for 30 minutes for no real reason, but I did what had to be done. The result of which I cannot show here for fear that I may be labeled “intolerant”, or “completely fucking mad”. The false email I had composed to no one consisted of around 2000 words. It was a short story about the troubled idiot whining about things while playing dungeons and dragons with people who didn’t like him. True story.
Business continued to pick up, and we were doing rather well. We began manufacturing product in our industry as well, and began a wholesale operation. Only business investors expect many a great things. Well, mostly they just expect a lot of fucking money. More than we were making, in fact. After more and more stressful months, my investors and I decided to part ways, and the retail shop was to be closed. It was then that an employee of mine and I decided to continue manufacturing product and start our own business sans investors. Nothing but wholesale and manufacturing. Dealing with the public isn’t my strong suit (despite the retail store’s high reviews and marks for customer service), and felt that this was inevitably a better career choice for myself. We’ve been at it since last September on our own, and have experienced a lot of successes and failures. Our industry is now facing its end due to the powers that be; like Old Yeller taken out to be shot, even though he probably didn’t even have rabies, was framed for murder, and had to support five children on minimum wage. Regardless, my business partner and I are looking at closing up shop. After two years as a business owner, I come to you now with a wealth of knowledge and wisdom. I have learned the secret to business and success, and I am prepared to share with all for a one-time fee of “read my shit”. Here’s the secret:
Don’t try. Seriously. Just don’t. Take some shitty job that pays you enough to not have to eat your own shoes, and suck everyone’s ass until they give you a little more money. It’s easier this way. Shit, I forgot the part about the peanut butter.