Some people know that I used to co-own a business. It was called Dambert Lush, it was an electronics e-commerce website. My friend Damian Sheets and I owned it. It never really took off, and a lot of the reason for that was that we had no money to start it. Aside from the fact that electronics e-commerce websites are extremely plentiful, we just didn’t have the advertising money to get the name of DL out there. It was running for over a year but we shut it down because we couldn’t ever get it rolling well. I re-bought the domain recently and have it pointed to DarqFlare Enterprises.
Anyway, I bring this up because my MBA courses relate to starting a business. I mean, one of the reasons I’m getting an MBA is because I eventually want to start a successful business and work for myself. That’s a theme I’m sure you’ve seen pop up here on my blog time and time again. I want to work for myself, that’s my ultimate career goal. Even if it’s working hard, I want to work for myself. As I’ve said before, right now my ideal job is working on OMGN for a living.
In any case, my accounting class’ textbook has actually made me more aware that I want to start a business again. There are examples all over that book of people starting businesses, and they’re obviously always in reference to accounting systems to ensure that money is kept track of appropriately. Some of these businesses have been started with very low funds, albeit more funds than Damian and I had to start DL. But it all just reminds me of where I want to be and where I’m at now.
The start-up funds aspect of businesses is what’s staring me in the face right now. To start many businesses, you need to have seed money. There are many types of businesses, but the two that have been covered so far in more detail in the text are service-based businesses and inventory-bases businesses.
Service-based companies basically accept money to provide a service. There’s no inventory costs really and the start-up cost for a business like this is pretty low. Hell, this is a kind of business I could likely start without any funds, but the problem here is that the income from the business wouldn’t be high enough to cover my family’s expenses. Yet another limitation on me right now.
Inventory-based companies typically have to purchase merchandise then sell it back to other companies or consumers to make a profit. There’s a considerably higher amount of money involved in getting these types of businesses off of the ground since they’ve got to get inventory and a place to put it. This was what Dambert Lush was, but since we were a dropshipper, we didn’t have to hold inventory. Still, our marginal profits were really low and there weren’t enough of them. No advertising, remember?
Anyway, all of this introspection on starting a business and going into the accounting of businesses this semester has really told me that, yeah, starting a business is hard work, is more of a crapshoot than it should be and that you’re very likely to fail many times before getting it right. I’m alright with that and I’d be even more alright with that if I wasn’t married. See, I’d be much more inclined to take risks since it would just be me that I’m impacting. But I’m not. I have Laura to think about and the potential for having a family in the future.
A lot of Web 2.0 companies have started with guys living in their parents’ houses. Many of these people starting these new successful companies were single when they started them. They had relatively low costs of living and a lot of time to burn. I don’t fit the bill at all. Now I’m not blaming Laura or using her as a crutch here, I’m just being realistic. I’d have a much better opportunity and chance of success if I were single, didn’t own a home or any pets and had craploads of expendable time to put towards a big project that won’t make me any money for years.
However, I’m not in that situation. So I have to wait. Wait until Laura and I have more money stowed away for me to start a business with. Wait until we have fewer monetary obligations than we do now (i.e. vehicle payments and student loans). And if we have kids, then that’ll impact the likelihood of my starting a new venture. I’m just trying to figure out if it’s ever going to be a viable thing, me starting a business.
As I’ve said before, really the biggest thing keeping me from working on OMGN full time is the fact that I have to go out and earn a living. If I could pipe all of that time towards the site, I have no doubt it would grow and get bigger and better in stature as time went on. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. All of the responsibilities and obligations I’ve built into my life make it impossible to spend the kind of time and effort required to build OMGN into what I want it to be. Sure, you can say “work on it a little each day and it will grow!” but it won’t ever grow enough. Sites like OMGN require constant updating, which isn’t something I can do and it isn’t something I can expect people to do on my behalf for free or very, very damn cheap either. It’s just not feasible.
So here I am, wondering if I’ll really ever be able to start a business anytime soon. Sure, when I’m in my 40s sometime we’ll probably be in a much better financial position to take a risk like that. But let’s say for example I’m 48 then. I imagine by then we likely won’t have big money-draining kids with us by then, or at least we’ll be charging them enough in rent to make up the difference (haha). I’ll be 48 with about 25 years generated in my 401k and plenty of time in Laura’s IRA. Other financial retirement accounts will likely have money for us then as well. At the end of my 40s, would I rather just bide my time until I can retire, which may be very soon in my 50s, or put a bunch of money towards a business that may jeopardize my family’s financial well-being?
I may need to adjust my priorities. I do like my life as it is now. I love my wife, I’m enjoying my pursuit of higher education and I know I’m fucking good at my job. Sure, I want to move up there as well, that’s another shorter-term goal I have for my career. But maybe this whole starting a business thing just isn’t in the cards. Maybe I should just look at my life, adjust my priorities and be happy. But then again, that’s not my style now, is it? I’m a bit like Laura in this regard. I want bigger and better things for my family, for my career and for me. I want to achieve things and leave my mark on this world. I don’t want to settle, I don’t want to sit stagnant and watch other talented people in the world shape this world. I want to take my place with those people. I just hope I can reconcile my desires for grandeur with reality.