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Author: SeaPhantom Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 14985  
Subject: Reality Bites Date: 8/2/2003 3:12 PM
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Quite an interesting collection of people here. After reading most of the recent posts (at least those since the board was featured by TMF), its clear though, that "one size doesn't fit all." I guess everyone's story and their motivation to become or be self-employed range from, as one poster comments, "not wanting to be a wage slave" to necessity (as in the morning after you've become unemployed).

To many people's minds, I haven't had a "real job" since 1984 when I lost my last job on Madison Avenue (I was a mid-level VP-executive managing major client accounts for multinational advertising agencies)...I used to joke about "losing my job" by repeating an old Bobcat Goldthwait line that sort of went like this: "I lost my job...well, I didn't really lose it. Its just that when I went back to yesterday, someone else was doing it."

Once my 'reality bites' moment passed, I found myself an opportunity to become the Marketing Dir. of a start-up company (first mistake was not having equitable equity in the company) that was doing innovative things in the gift and awards/specialties industries. Once the product was finished, we were actually "on plan" for 9 months, generating sales of about $50K/month. Problem was that the 'entrepreneur' had the deadly combination of greed and stupidity that led to my departure, and the departure of his sales mgr. and customer service person (he was eventually maneuvered out of the business by some investors from Canada and he ultimately lost everything).

I then became a management consultant, and actually supported myself and family through about 1990, even latching onto an investment/marketing group for about 6 months of consistent salary. But everything fell apart at the beginning of the recession/depression of the early 90's.

Attempting to 'land on my feet' again, an associate of mine and I approached a local state university and were appointed Research Professors involved in community outreach and technology application for local businesses. It was a great "job" that included free office space and phones, but required that we secure grant funding in partnership with the university for compensation (we did three funded programs, the last of which was a federal grant to work as a "bridge" between the university and a federal research laboratory. This was 1992 and begins the story of a journey that has yet to finish...and definitely illustrates that in some cases, being a "wage slave" is alot better than being self-employed.

At the time of our federal grant, our budget was 10% of one other group, and 1% of the budget of a "politically preferred" group. The result was the while our efforts were more successful than the two other programs, our's being the least politically correct, our final report was never circulated to the federal agency or given due credit by the sponsor. (Here I say that not only does "reality bite" but "politics sux" - and yes, I am quite aware that politics is a reality). One of the results of our program was the founding of the business of which I am still CEO and still embroiled in keeping alive (without details, it is an innovative, technology-based company competing in a timely and high visibility area - we are a dedicated group of 7 people, mostly still 1/2 to 3/4 time except me who works full time).

Along the way, we've been on the brink of success or not a number of times...and continue to move toward our goals. I've also had quotations and sayings shared with me that pretty much sum up my whole "long strange trip" as a "technology entrepreneur" (I'm not sure that everyone will agree with all of these):

"NOTHING MORE DIFFICULT TO TAKE IN HAND, MORE PERILOUS TO CONDUCT, OR MORE UNCERTAIN IN ITS SUCCESS THAN TO TAKE THE LEAD IN THE INTRODUCTION OF A NEW ORDER OF THINGS...”

“THE INNOVATOR HAS FOR ENEMIES ALL THOSE WHO HAVE THRIVED UNDER THE OLD CONDITION AND LUKE WARM DEFENDERS IN THOSE WHO MAY DO WELL UNDER THE NEW.”

"EVERYTHING IS ALLOWABLE IF NOT SPECIFICALLY FORBIDDEN."

"FORGIVENESS IS EASIER TO ASK THAN TO SEEK PERMISSION AHEAD OF TIME."

"GREED IS A STRONGER MOTIVATOR THAN INTELLECTUAL INTEREST"

"WHEN SOME ARE ASKED 'TO DO' AND OTHERS ARE ASKED 'TO PREVENT, THE PREVENTERS WILL ALWAYS WIN."
(I don't agree with this one, since I have fought and won some battles against the 'preventers').

"IN THE END, OLD AGE & TREACHERY WILL OVERCOME YOUTH AND SKILL."


One size definitely does not fit all when you are "self-employed." I've got a number of investors (and therefore cannot walk away), and have gone through the "friends, relatives and angel investor" phases, and am now attempting to close a significant round of funding.

I wouldn't change a day of my life since I started my business, even though we still haven't crossed the ultimate goal line..."What a long, strange trip it's been."
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